Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Dr Chris Worth


Previously coded ENM4620


This subject offers a study of theories of literature and covers a range of topics and questions which lie at the heart of thinking about creativity, literature and interpretation. No previous theoretical knowledge is assumed, but the unit is appropriate for students already interested in asking questions of a general nature about the practice of literature and criticism.


This subject will not discuss 'primary literary texts' (novels, plays, poems), but 'texts about literature' and 'texts about criticism' ('literary criticism', critical discourse, what readers and critics do) 'texts about texts'. We shall examine the practice and assumptions behind the activities called critical judgement and critical reading in relation to a wide variety of theories. The rationale of this subject is literary, not philosophical. In addition to surveying a wide range of types of critical discourse, we look at the often unexamined, or so-called 'axiomatic' principles and practice of literary creation from both the writer's and reader's points of view. The literary criticism listed below under 'Readings' may be no less imaginative, fictional, creative, or 'textual', than the literary works some of them claim to 'explain'. Criticism may seek to take the place of the text in the same way that the text may seem to take the place of 'reality'. Do not expect a final set of transportable 'truths' to emerge at the end. The emphasis of the course is placed on the questions we ask of literature and of criticism when we engage in reading and in the production of texts: questions about where literature belongs in human experience; its relationship to and difference from other sorts of discourse: its definition; the terminology we use to describe it; assumptions about the role and function of literature in society, and so on. Such questions have been asked by many writers and critics from the time of Aristotle to the present day.


Exercises (4000 words): 50%
Essay (4500 words): 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Chris Worth

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week