Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ENGL43330: Reading as a Writer

Department: English Studies

ENGL43330: Reading as a Writer

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • Students must hold a good BA degree in English or a related subject to be eligible for entry onto the MA programmes in the Department of English Studies


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to:
  • introduce students to a range of twentieth-century poetry and prose fiction selected for its implementation of particular formal techniques, as well as selected music and film;
  • enable students to read and analyse poetry and prose fiction with a writer's eyes, i.e. with a particular sensitivity towards poetic form, narrative architecture, voice/style, etc;
  • introduce students to the array of literary techniques available to writers of poetry and prose fiction, and familiarize them with the descriptive vocabulary for these techniques;
  • introduce students to the ways in which writers may be influenced by work in other forms, genres, and media.


  • Weekly lectures, offered by various members of the English Department, will consider various pairings of poets and fiction writers (as well as, occasionally, a poet or prose writer alongside a musician or film director) from 1900 to the present day, beginning with Henry James and Ezra Pound, then moving on to figures such as Elizabeth Bishop, Alice Munro, Thomas Pynchon, Claudia Rankine and David Lynch. We will focus on technical considerations such as syntax, structure, voice, image and point of view; and also on theoretical contexts such as Modernism, feminism, post-colonialism, and psychoanalysis. The emphasis will be on how writers utilise, or are influenced by, such contexts and techniques.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • students are expected to acquire a critical awareness of and descriptive vocabulary for literary techniques associated with poetry and prose fiction.
  • students are expected to acquire an awareness of the aesthetic decisions made by writers and their attendant effects and limitations.
  • students are expected to be able to situate such aesthetic decisions in literary and social contexts (Modernism, feminism, etc).
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • advanced close reading skills;
  • the ability to articulate written criticism of literary works that evaluates their success as works of art (as opposed to providing a thematic or contextual analysis) and expresses this evaluation in technical, analytical terms.
Key Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically;
  • an independence of thought and judgement, and ability to assess acutely the critical ideas of others;
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning;
  • professional organisation and time-management 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.
  • The guided discussion of selected literary texts, focusing on literary techniques, will facilitate the development of critical skills in the close-reading and analysis of poetry and prose fiction.
  • Two 3,000-word summative essays providing a technical analysis of published works of poetry and prose fiction will assess the student's ability to recognise, name and critique narrative architecture, poetic form, style and aesthetic effect.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Preparation and reading 279
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 40%
Essay 3000 words 60%

Formative Assessment:

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