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Semester 1

Body in Literature (ENLI10110)

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English Literature





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Visiting students must have completed 4 English Literature courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses, and we do not consider civilisation & other interdisciplinary courses, freshman seminars, writing/composition courses or film/cinema/media courses; visiting students who have taken multiple courses in literature in other languages, should have passed at least one course in English Literature as well. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission, and priority will be given to students studying on exchange within English Literature. **This is an *Option* course. Please note that students can only enrol in one Core and/or one Option 3rd year English Literature course per semester, with no exception. Students enrolled in this course therefore cannot enrol in any further Option courses during this semester** Please note that 3rd year English Literature courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course examines some of the most influential ways in which literary writing has depicted and explored the human body, and discusses arguments about identity, gender, race, desire, sex, violence, beauty and monstrosity. The human body has been depicted in a wide variety of different ways across a range of cultural and historical contexts. It has been described, variously, as a biological entity, clothing for the soul, a site of cultural production, a psychosexual construct and a material encumbrance. Each of these different characterisations brings with it a range of anthropological, biological, political, theological and psychological discourses that explore and construct identities and subject positions. The body is at once a locus of invention and self-expression, and also an object of domination and control. In contemporary culture it is also located at the heart of debates about race, gender and sexuality. This course considers the ways in which the human body has been a central object of discussion in literature from the Renaissance onwards and explores the politics and philosophy of bodily representation.

Course Description

We will discuss the variety of ways in which literature has presented the human body by reading a range of literature published from the early-modern period to the end of the twentieth century. These literary texts will be read in the light of critical and theoretical arguments drawn from sources that present varied perspectives on embodiment. The ability to read literary and theoretical writing independently and with precision and confidence that students have gained from their prior study of English Literature will be essential for the successful completion of this course. On the basis of preparatory reading of literary texts and other writing drawn from a range of disciplines, discussions will focus on the literary, philosophical, theological, psychological, social, cultural and political implications of different manners of writing about embodiment. In order to fully prepare for these discussions, students will be required to work in advance in smaller 'autonomous learning groups' to produce material which will be presented to the class in a variety of forms (written reports posted to the course VLE, informal contributions to discussion, and more formal verbal or written presentations). The structure of reading and analysis on the course is broadly comparative: we will explore the similarities and differences between the set texts, and examine the various types of analysis made possible by the critical and theoretical modes of reading which will be introduced as the course progresses. Key topics for discussion this year will include: the meanings of beauty, ugliness and monstrosity; desire and sexuality; gender, race and representation; violence and death; identity, power and performance.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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