Literature and the Political - 2017

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Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 1
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: No
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem2
  • Availability for 2018: Sem2
  • Assessment: Analysis Task - Practical Criticism (10%) , Essay 1 (30%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

The relationship between politics and literature is never simple. Writers have always addressed political issues: supporting or resisting revolution, analysing the ethics of war or the sophistries of political language, interrogating ideas of power embedded in gender, class, ethnicity, industrialisation and sexuality. Literary language can make available subversive and powerful critiques of dominant political structures and hierarchies just as it can normalise inequality and stifle dissent. Poets and novelists participate in the dissemination of myths, stereotypes and narratives that privilege certain worldviews over others. Covering writing from the Renaissance to the present this unit addresses a series of political issues as they are constructed in literary texts, and looks at the aesthetic forms writers invent and deploy in order to reflect, produce and contain change.

At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. critically engage and respond to a wide range of literary texts
  2. develop analytical and research skills that can be applied to past and present cultural and literary debates
  3. communicate historical and theoretical concepts in scholarly written forms
  4. demonstrate a greater understanding of the way in which literary texts and literary language function to produce political critique
  5. achieve a greater understanding of the historical and often hierarchical deployment of concepts of gender, class and ethnicity
  6. engage in informed critical discussion on unit content with peers and tutors, to respond to others' points of views, and to argue a critical position.
  • Analysis Task — Practical Criticism (10%)
  • Essay 1 (30%)
  • Essay 2 (40%)
  • Participation — Online Participation (20%)

There are no prerequisites for this unit.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Introduction to the politics of the literary
2Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Poetry of Dissent
3Theft, Imperialism and the Politics of Detection: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four
4To the Barricades: George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
5Displacement and Survival: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
6Because You Died: The Poetry of the First World War
7Outsiders and Entitlement I: Christos Tsiolkas, Loaded
8The Politics of Fascination: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko
9The Politics of Desire: William Shakespeare┬┐s Sonnets

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online Quizzes/Tests
  • Online assignment submission
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a unit.

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

Required textbooks

  • Loaded (Vintage Classic)

    By:Christos Tsiolkas

    ISBN: 9780091831080


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Oroonoko

    By:Behn, Aphra

    ISBN: 9781612193243


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings


    ISBN: 9780860685111


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Sign of Four The

    By:Doyle Arthur Conan

    ISBN: 9780241952962


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Picture Of Dorian Gray

    By:Wilde (ed. Bristow)

    ISBN: 9780199535989


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Antony And Cleopatra

    By:Shakespeare, William

    ISBN: 9780199535781


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

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