Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 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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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitEnglish
OfferedClayton First semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Patrick Spedding


Previously coded ENH2055


The unit explores how and why we read literature from the past. It addresses the challenges that face readers in attempting to explore early modern literature and of becoming an engaged and interested reader of that literature. How do we -- scholars, students, readers -- find texts that illuminate, complicate, question the topics that concern us? What challenges do such texts present us in terms of both discovery and interpretation?

The unit raises fundamental questions such as: What are we looking for in the texts we read? Can we, or should we, use literature to understand what authors and their contemporary readers thought about an issue: using literary texts as sociological and historical artefacts? Or should we, or do we, read an ever-widening circle of texts as an exercise in pleasure-seeking, or as a way of looking for a universal truth about the human condition, or the nature of truth or beauty?

Students will be encouraged to consider these question via a series of self-guided explorations of literature from the past, relating texts they have chosen to a corpus of contemporary literature.


Students successfully completing this unit will be able to:

  1. Identify problems of interpretation that face readers of literature from the past, especially when they encounter unmediated text;
  2. Locate primary works within a particular genre or relevant to a research objective, primary works related to each other, and primary works identified by scholars as being closely related to a given text;
  3. Identify critical debates concerning the use of literary texts as sociological and historical artefacts;
  4. Argue their interpretations clearly and persuasively in oral and essay form;
  5. Communicate ideas and position effectively in discussion.


Written work (3,000 words): 67%
Class test (1,500 words): 33%

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Twelve 1-hour lectures per semester
Twelve 1-hour tutorials or seminars per semester

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


First year sequence in English, CCLS or Literary studies.