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ENH2195 - The Poetics of Memory

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Ms Sofia Kostelac


South Africa Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit examines the emergence of a 'literature of testimony' after the Second World War through exploring a range of contemporary texts as sites of reclaimed or reconstructed histories. The chosen texts represent a variety of negotiations with the past and memory. Students explore the range of questions and debates which emerge at the intersection of history and fiction. Focusing on the ways each text reflects certain key aspects of its historical and cultural context and to the literary modes and strategies involved in their production, students are encouraged to compare and contrast texts from different socio-political configurations.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. demonstrate a critical awareness of the ways in which certain literary texts encourage us to re-evaluate standardised notions of historical discourse, fictional and imaginative discourse and historical 'truth';
  2. appreciate the uses of literature in revising and opposing dominant socio-political discourses
  3. be able to perform a close reading of a literary text, demonstrating a sensitivity to the particular devices, language and strategies employed;
  4. demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the major theoretical approaches which may be brought to bear on literary texts;
  5. be able to employ and evaluate such theoretical approaches in an interpretation of a text;
  6. handle the critical concepts and language appropriate to discussion of contemporary texts;
  7. demonstrate a development of the skills of analytic and critical discussion introduced at first year level.


Tutorial attendance and portfolio: 10%; Short essay (900 words): 20%; Long essay (1150 words): 25%; Examination: 2 hours (2000 words): 45%.

Contact hours

Four (Two x 1 hour lectures and two 1 hour tutorials)