Module Catalogue 2021/22

SEL3421 : Contemporary Experimental Writing and Medicine

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Anne Whitehead
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module examines how contemporary experimental writing has engaged with, and responded to, current health debates, which may include such topics as disability, neurodiversity, the neoliberalisation of healthcare, and the politics of diagnosis and vaccination. Focusing on experimental writing of the twenty-first century, we will identify and explore a range of techniques used by contemporary writers to explore these themes. These could include the body/visuality of the text, the mixing of poetry and prose, the creative use of a source text, or techniques of erasure and anecdote.

Conceptual material will draw on critical medical humanities and critical disability studies. Throughout the module, we will ask how contemporary experimental writing positions itself in relation to the medical, considering whether it 'speaks back' to and contests medical frameworks, or whether it explores its entanglement within medical structures of knowledge.

Outline Of Syllabus

Writers studied on the module may include: Raymond Antrobus, Eula Biss, Anne Boyer, Joanne Limburg, or Molly McCully Brown.

The primary texts that we will study do not have a body of associated secondary criticism and so students will be required to close read them independently, in dialogue with the critical and conceptual material studied.

Textual forms: poetry, lyrical essay.

Keywords: disability, neurodiversity, race, gender, class, nation.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

An understanding of contemporary experimental writing's engagement with current health debates

An understanding of innovative formal techniques in contemporary writing

An awareness of key developments and debates in contemporary health/medicine

An engagement with critical and theoretical debates in disability studies and the medical humanities

Intended Skill Outcomes

To close read contemporary experimental writing and analyse its formal features and strategies.

To relate contemporary experimental writing to relevant medical/health debates and discourses.

To engage with critical debates about contemporary health/medicine, disability and neurodiversity.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:3016:30N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion421:0042:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading851:0085:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:3016:30N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study301:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the knowledge outcomes, as listed. Seminars develop this knowledge further and provide a structured learning space where students practise the skills of close textual analysis, critical debate and the evaluation of critical positions.

Students will participate in an online discussion forum where they will debate set topics and questions relevant to the module and that run alongside and extend the discussion in seminars.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M30N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module will be assessed by a mid-module essay of 1,500 words (30%) that asks you to close read a piece of contemporary experimental writing studied on the module, attending to its formal features and strategies. The end of module assessment will comprise a written essay of 2,500 words (70%) that examines the relation between contemporary experimental writing and current debates and discourses in health and medicine.

The mid-module close reading assesses knowledge of literary form and technique and is preparatory to the final assessment which will also practice these skills. The written essay expands on the first assessment by asking students to relate the close reading of a text to relevant critical debates on health, medicine or dis/ability.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.