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SEL2202 : Writing New Worlds, 1688-1789

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Laura Kirkley
  • Lecturer: Dr James Harriman-Smith, Dr Leanne Stokoe, Dr Joseph Hone
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To study writing produced in Britain and beyond during the ‘long’ eighteenth century;
To develop students' ability to consider literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts;
To analyse textual form and content in detail;
To communicate their critical responses to these texts in speech and writing.

Many genres and forms will typically be considered – fiction, drama, poetry, children’s literature, travel writing, life writing, and so on – and this material will be placed in its historical, cultural and social contexts. The overarching intellectual aim of the module will be to enable students to understand how encounters with new peoples, places and ideas were reflected in, mediated by, and sometimes actually created in, literature.

Outline Of Syllabus

The core idea of this module is that the literature of this period engages in diverse and complex ways with the discovery, understanding, and representation of ‘new worlds’ – not only geographical new worlds, but also social, cultural, and political ones too. Such engagement took place as many phenomena that we now recognize as modern (scientific experiment, celebrity, global trade, feminism) began. As we study works of prose, poetry, drama, letters, biography, and other kinds from the 1680s to the 1780s, we will examine how new worlds of such force were written into being that they still shape our thinking today.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion125:0025:00Mid-module essay preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion144:0044:00End-of-module essay preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Weekly seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities118:0088:00Weekly reading for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00End-of-module essay workshop
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00Weekly study group tasks
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide an overview of contextual and critical debates, either for specific texts or for the period more generally. Structured guided learning and small-group teaching offer the opportunity to link these debates to detailed engagement with the texts. Independent study, both alone and in peer study groups, is essential to equip students to engage with other learning methods. Workshops supplement students' understanding of specific texts and provide additional opportunities to hone academic skills necessary for the module assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A100A 3000-word keyword essay
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MA 1500-word keyword essay on a limited number of module texts
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A mid-module, 1500-word formative essay will provide students the opportunity to practise writing on eighteenth-century material and constructing their own argument in response to a keyword prompt. Extensive feedback and support will be provided.

The end-of-module 3000-word essay will also take the form of a keyword essay, allowing students to consolidate the skills honed in the formative in order to make an argument that embraces the breadth and depth of material on this module.

Reading Lists