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SEL3373 : Women of Virtue and Women of Pleasure: Sensibility in the Age of Reason (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Laura Kirkley
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aim of this module is to analyse how literary constructions of women of virtue and women of pleasure developed in the course of the long eighteenth century. Students will develop knowledge of a range of canonical and non-canonical texts, including English translations of important French texts from the period. We will focus particularly on the transnational rise of the literature and culture of Sensibility, examining how sentimental discourses were invoked to depict women both as arbiters of moral virtue and creatures of excessive sensuality.

Students will gain a thorough knowledge of the historical and cultural contexts in which literary texts were written, combining this knowledge with some gender and feminist theory to examine cultural shifts in attitudes to female desire and definitions of female virtue. We will connect these historical and cultural changes with formal and generic developments in the literature of the period, particularly the rise of the novel. The module enable students to analyse early feminist efforts to politicise the discourse of Sensibility and to comment on the construction of feminine identities at the intersection of discourses of gender, race, and class.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus comprises a range of genres, including poetry, novels, and conduct literature. Due to the transnational focus of the module, some of the texts are English translations of eighteenth-century French texts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion218:0036:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture131:0013:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading118:0088:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities121:0012:00Seminar preparation, including posting to the discussion board.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Drop-in session
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lecture materials introduce students to knowledge outcomes relevant to the module. They address themes common to the authors studied and encourage the students to think comparatively.

Seminars develop this knowledge and enable the practice of skills, namely close textual analysis and interpersonal communications. The independent study hour gives students the chance to develop their research skills and prepare for the seminars in terms that give them genuine ownership over the material. In addition, students will be required to participate in a Canvas discussion board.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M25850-word collaborative blog post
Written exercise1A753,000-word collaborative blog
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M500-word blog post plan.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In the formative assessment, students will be required to plan a blog post that meets the assessment criteria for the mid-module assessment. It will prepare students for both their summative assessments by giving them the opportunity to engage with constructive feedback on: their analysis of at least one module text; the content, style and accessibility of their blog post; their plans to make use of the web-based format.

For the mid-module summative assessment, students will work in groups to write a collaborative blog post that demonstrates the continuing relevance and importance of at least one module text. This 'low stakes' summative assessment will enable students to develop the skills they need to succeed in the 'higher stakes' final assessment.

In the final assessment, students will work in groups to produce a blog with multiple posts which demonstrate the continuing relevance and importance of at least two module texts in relation to a key module theme. Each student will be responsible for writing one post, but the thematic focus and structure of the blog will be designed collaboratively.

Reading Lists