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SEL3016 : Orgasms, Odalisques, Onanism: Desire and the Body at the Fin de siècle

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stacy Gillis
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces students to how sexual desire was understood in the U.K. at the turn of the century (1890-1930). With the rise of popular interest in psychoanalysis, the emergence of sexology as a discipline, fears about degeneration, and the stylistic figurations that spoke (both literally and figuratively) to the frissons of desire, how was sexual desire constructed, controlled and codified at the fin-de-siècle? The module introduces and investigates theories of sexology, anthropology and psychoanalysis to read authors such as Elinor Glyn, E.M Hull, and Georgette Heyer and texts such as *The Yellow Book* and the newspaper reports of the Oscar Wilde trial. By the end of the module, students will have a sophisticated understanding of how pleasure was understood and signified at the fin de siècle. This module is assessed by a study group chapter; a portfolio outline; class participation; a portfolio (students complete two of the following: online exhibition; blog; exhibition critical introduction; research notebook).

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures and seminars will concentrate on specific aspects of this period (including psychoanalysis, sexology, degeneration, and anthropology). The texts/authors studied on the module will vary from year to year. An indicative syllabus may include novels, short stories, journalism and criticism by Elinor Glyn, E.M. Hull, Georgette Heyer, and Bram Stoker as well as texts such as *The Yellow Book* and the newspaper reports of the Oscar Wilde trial. This second half of the module is driven largely by students' interest and there is the opportunity for students to introduce texts from the period in which they have an interest into the work of the module. There are also presentation and exhibition workshops.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1541:00154:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to ways of thinking about desire and the body. Seminars are used for critical analysis of the primary and secondary reading, for student presentations. Workshops are used to introduce students to archival work in Special Collections and to creating presentations. Study groups supplement the seminar work and will be based around questions set by the module convenor.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M15Study Group Chapter (approx 600 words)
Report1M10Portfolio Outline (approx 400 words)
Prof skill assessmnt1A5Class Participation
Portfolio1A70Consists of 2 (out of a choice of 4) assignments: online exhibition; blog; exhibition critical introduction; research notebook.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Aural Examination1MN/A
Computer assessment1MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

*Summative Assessment*
A) Written Exercise: Each study group will collectively write a chapter of a novel or a short story, requiring them to think about the impact of tone, structure, plot and character.
B) Report One: Each student submits an outline of the contents of the portfolio.
C) Professional Skill Assessment: Each student is assessed on seminar participation.
D) Portfolio: Each Students Essay: The portfolio consists of TWO (out of a choice of FOUR) assignments, each of which demonstrates a critical engagement with secondary reading, critical analysis and research and writing skills. (ca. 3000 words although there is some variability depending on what two components have been chosen).

*Formative Assessment*
A) Oral Presentation: Study groups will reflect critically upon their work for the module in a group presentation.
B) Computer Assessment: Each student will post regularly on the discussion forum in order to explore concepts and texts across the seminar groups.

All the assessment models require the students to demonstrate a facility with the intended learning outcomes.
Study abroad international students will complete all of the assessment but may submit the essay electronically if s/he has returned home.

Reading Lists