Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This year-long Level 4 module is designed to introduce students to a selection of the generically diverse writings of William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Percy Bysshe Shelley - many of which were the product of literary partnership and/or collaboration. It aims to foster literary understanding and appreciation of these works by highlighting their collaborative aspects, and by exploring their imaginative engagement with the literary and political culture of their day. The module will not only provide in-depth study of particular works, but will also encourage a broader awareness of the links between literary works and their intellectual, social, and cultural contexts.


  • This module will explore two extraordinary creative partnerships between men and women across two generations of the same literary family: William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft in the first generation, and Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley in the second. The module will focus mainly on works which were the product of creative interaction and/or literary collaboration, and will consider how individual contributions to this literary dialogue were shaped by a shared belief in the civic responsibility of authorship. The approach will be generic as well as thematic: special attention will be given to the range of different genres (e.g. political treatise, memoir, novel, lyrical drama, verse tragedy) adopted by each writer in their search for a role as a commentator on public affairs. Works to be covered may vary from year to year, but will normally include (not necessarily in this order): Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the Wrongs of Woman; Godwin's Political Justice, Caleb Williams, and Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Valperga; and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and The Cenci.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be expected to gain detailed knowledge of a selection of major late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century works, ranging from political treatises through novels to long poems, and of the social, intellectual, and cultural contexts which stimulated and provoked their authors. They should also have developed a greater understanding of the cultural and historical contexts of literary works, and of the nature of Romantic creativity.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should have acquired the ability to analyse literary texts from a variety of critical perspectives, should be familiar with secondary scholarship in the relevant fields, and should have developed their skills in literary-critical appreciation, in scholarly investigation, and in formulating advanced critical arguments.
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students are encouraged to develop advanced conceptual abilities and analytical skills as well as the ability to communicate an advanced knowledge within seminars. The capacity for advanced independent study is demonstrated through the completion of two assessed pieces of work.
  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for presenting their ideas or findings (sometimes electronically) to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
Preparation and Reading 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One Summative Essay 3,000 words 50%
One Summative Essay 3,000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of not more than 2,000 words.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University