Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ENGL53830: Literary Masculinity at the Fin-de-Siecle

Department: English Studies

ENGL53830: Literary Masculinity at the Fin-de-Siecle

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap 20


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to examine the different ways in which masculinity might be 'performed' in literature from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth;
  • to investigate the nature of the construction of such catergories as 'masculine' and 'effeminate', focussing particularly on the association of the former with imperialism, violence and sport, and the latter with high culture;


  • Britain in the 1890s contained, for instance, both Oscar Wilde and Rudyard Kipling, and the module will consider a range of texts from decadent poetry to adventure stories, alongside such historical and cultural themes as Empire, violence, pathology, homosexuality and sport. Other writers that might be considered include Edward Carpenter, Joseph Conrad, Robert Louis Stephenson, George Gissing, E M Forster, John Buchan and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Texts - and given the nature of this topic, fiction in particular - will be read from the point of view of how versions of masculinity are created textually. The role that literature has played in the history of English masculinity will also be investigated, such as the literary afterlife of Oscar Wilde, or the relationship between the creation of Imperial ideology and boys' stories. It is not necessarily intended to reach a consensus on the 'essential nature' of Late Victorian and Edwardian masculinity, but rather to plot the movements and strategies of this textual aspect of gender within the works and historical period examined

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • to possess detailed knowlegde of a literary topic across a fixed historical period;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • to assess and deploy a range of theoretical approaches to the study of gender;
  • to synthesise a critical reading from non-fictional discourses both historical and theoretical alongside imaginative literature;
Key Skills:

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

    • Through a variety of teaching activities and approaches, seminars will facilitate the development of communication and critical skills. Sessions will introduce broad topics and genres, contexts and frameworks to aid conceptual understanding and specific texts for analysis as well as encourage individual interpretation and enquiry. Formative written work and consultation with the module tutor will operate as learning tools, allowing the investigation and testing of ideas and readings. Two summative assignments will assess the competencies and outcomes outlined above and foster advanced independent study.
    • 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
    Essay 3000 words 50%
    Essay 3000 words 50%

    Formative Assessment:

    One essay (2,000 words maximum).

    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