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Ten Critical Challenges for Creative Writers

  • Module code: CW7002
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

The module is designed to introduce students to some issues of critical and literary theory. The module is also designed to make students more aware of how their work impacts upon wider literary, cultural, political and philosophical issues. Awareness of these theories and of some of the issues surrounding the production and reception of literary texts will stimulate them, encouraging creative and conceptual thinking.  The module will explore debates about literature and the practice of creative writing through readings of essays and texts that are relevant to criticism and theory.  The academic component of the assessment will support the creative work with the objective that students will also have to demonstrate critical, academic, analytical skills.

Aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • permit the study of critical and analytical writing as a form of creative non-fiction
  • emphasise the value of critical reading and critical writing for creative writers
  • develop skills in the sophisticated close reading of literary texts with a view to enhancing creative practice
  • engage intellectually with the theory and practice of creative writing
  • produce experimental creative work that challenges conventions of form and content

Learning outcomes

  • show understanding of the conventions and practice of critical and analytical writing
  • engage in sophisticated critical reflection upon your own creative work and the work of others
  • exhibit advanced skills in the close reading and comprehension of literary texts and genres
  • demonstrate a developed understanding of a range of theories and arguments concerning literature and the practice of creative writing
  • produce work that is conceptually challenging and theoretically bold

Curriculum content

  • In this module you will be introduced to key critical problems that face both writers and readers.  These are both practical and theoretical problems.
  • You will engage in exploring issues relating to writing, textuality and the creative process.
  • Through analysis of texts, and discussion of major debates surrounding writing and reading, you will develop new ways of thinking about your practice. 
  • Through engagement with theories and issues discussed above, you will explore new ways of composing critical essays and your own creative writing.
  • You will be guided towards and given strategies for submitting your assessment for this module by your seminar tutor. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your learning with your Personal Tutor during the course of the semester

Teaching and learning strategy

The curriculum will be delivered through a series of weekly one-hour full-cohort lectures followed by one-hour seminars in smaller groups.

The lectures will introduce you each week to a different and important "problem" that faces creative and critical writers, such as "History", "Gender", "The Author" and "History".  You will think through the ways in which such questions – and the modes of analysis and theories developed to reply to them - can be applied to the practice of creative writing.

Seminars will allow you to discuss the issues raised by the lecture in smaller groups and to further analyse and discuss key assigned texts; they will also allow you to practice the skills required for the assessment under the guidance of a tutor, and to workshop some of your critical and/or creative writing.

Students' work will usually be circulated in advance of the workshop to the tutor and the group by email, and work can also be posted on Studyspace. Announcements and information relating to the module as well as additional learning resources will be made available on Studyspace where necessary.

Your seminar tutor will be a practised, professional writer who has experience of the curriculum content. You will also be given a Personal Tutor to guide you through your studies through a series of one on one and group meetings. These are not module specific and are intended to help you think critically about the most effective use of you time on the programme, as well as pointing you towards ways in which you can become a professional writer.

 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures and seminars 22
Guided independent study 278
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module will test your abilities in creative-critical writing, as well as your ability to comprehend and analyse critical texts. It will also test skills in practical research, assimilation of information, argument, self-reflection and close reading.

ELEMENT OF ASSESSMENT

1: A piece of creative work 2500-3000 words

This should be an experimental piece that explores one of the issues discussed on the course through innovations in form and content. You are encouraged to write outside your usual style to produce work that challenges, experiments with or reflects upon preconceptions of form/ genre/ language. The piece should be substantially different from the work you are writing for the workshop. The piece should be innovative and challenging but held together by a core idea. It could be a short story, a fragment, an autobiographical account, a narrative poem, a pastiche or a parody of another work or it could be something altogether different. 

2: A critical essay 2500-3000 words 

The critical essay will address one of the issues discussed in the course. The critical essay will be a rigorous academic essay with a strong argument that discusses in detail a theoretical approach to your chosen problem, evaluating the usefulness and relevance of this theory from the point of view of a creative writer. You will have to demonstrate knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to literature and apply this knowledge in your discussion of a specific literary problem. You will be expected to refer to appropriate critical and theoretical literature in your argument.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
show understanding of the conventions and practice of critical and analytical writing Creative piece/critical essay
engage in sophisticated critical reflection upon your own creative work and the work of others critical essay
exhibit advanced skills in the close reading and comprehension of literary texts and genres critical essay
demonstrate a developed understanding of a range of theories and arguments concerning literature and the practice of creative writing produce work that is conceptually challenging and theoretically bold Creative piece/critical essay

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Coursework Piece of creative work 50
Coursework Critical essay 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Barry, Peter, Beginning Theory: An Introduction To Literary and Cultural Theory, third revised edition (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009).

Bennet, Andrew and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction To Literature, Criticism and Theory, fourth edition (Harlow: Pearson, 2009).

Lodge, David and Nigel Wood, Modern Criticism and Theory, A Reader, third edition (Harlow: Pearson, 2008).

Bibliography recommended reading

Adorno, Theodor, The Culture Industry (London: Routledge, 2001)

Barthes, Roland, A Roland Barthes Reader (London: Vintage, 2000)

Belsey, Catherine, Critical Practice (London: Routledge, 2001)

Benjamin, Walter, Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, (London: Pimlico, 1999)

Chomsky, Noam and Foucault, Michel, The Chomsky-Foucault Debate on Human Nature (New York: The Nw Press, 2006.)

Davis, Garrick, Praising It New: The Best of the New Criticism (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008)

Deleuze, Giles and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (London: Coninuum 2004)

Derrida, Jacques, Writing And Difference (London: Routledge, 2004)

Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008)

After Theory (London: Allen Lane, 2003)

Freud, Sigmund, The Penguin Freud Reader ed. Adam Phillips (London: Penguin, 2006)

Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality Vols 1-3 (London: Penguin, 1998)

Jameson, Fredric, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1992)

Gass, William H, Finding A Form: Essays (Cornell University Press, 1997)

Lacan, Jacques, Ecrits: A Selection (London: Routledge, 2001)

Macherey, Pierre, A Theory of Literary Production (Milton Park: Routledge, 2006)

Marx, Karl & Fredrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Oxford: Oxford World Classics, 1998)

Vendler, Helen, The Music of What Happens: Poems, Poets, Critics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988)

Zizeck, Slavoj, Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan In Hollywood and Out (London: Routledge, 2007)

EXPERIMENTAL TEXTS (a short list)

Novels:

Most Modernist novelists, poets and playwrights – for example Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dos Passos, DH Lawrence, Kafka, Proust, Brecht, Breton, Conrad, Cocteau, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Herman Hesse, Ibsen, Wyndham Lewis, Lorca, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, Eugene O'Neil, Nabokov, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, YB Yeats – are all highly experimental.

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