Skip to main content

Approaches to Text

Module information>

Academic Direction
Goldsmiths, University of London
Also part of
BA English
Modes of Study

This course introduces you to essential concepts in modern literary study, enabling you to become a more observant, perceptive and analytical reader and critic in your own right.You are introduced to the history and nature of literary studies, and to contemporary critical debates. You learn a vocabulary in which to discuss literary language, ideas of literary convention and genre, poetic rhythm and form, and the nature of narrative voice and narrative structures.You are also introduced to debates about the relation of texts on the page to texts in performance, and to wider questions about the interpretation of texts.

Learning outcomes

By completing the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Apply accurately the basic terms and concepts of literary critical and cultural analysis to a range of literary and non-literary texts.
  • Discuss and evaluate contemporary debates about the nature of literary studies.
  • Understand the interpretative issues raised by modern literary theory, and their relevance to the reading of a range of literary and non-literary texts.
  • Identify and productively explore some of the most significant technical means by which texts produce meaning.

Essential reading

  • M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (Heinle Languages, 2008), ninth (international) edition.
  • Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), third edition
  • Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), new edition.
  • Martin Montgomery, Alan Durant, et al., Ways of Reading: Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature (London: Routledge, 2006), third edition.
  • D. Walder (ed.), Literature in the Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), second revised edition.