Literary Pleasure (ENGL40010)
HonoursPoints: 12.5Not available in 2022
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This subject examines the uses and abuses of literary pleasure, considering it as a category of analysis that develops from the eighteenth century with the emergence of literature as an institution and disciplinary formation. Through a series of literary, theoretical and critical readings, students analyse the singularity of literary pleasure, whilst engaging it in its institutional, economic, social, affective and corporeal locations. The subject introduces students to current debates in literary aesthetics that engage the fraught relations between pleasure and value. Students trace these debates historically, moving from Edmund Burke's vocabulary of aesthetic affect, Kant's "castrated hedonism", and eighteenth-century writings on the dangerous pleasures of novel-reading, through nineteenth-century art-for-art's-sake theories, utilitarianism and late Victorian 'New Hedonism', to Marxist and social practice accounts of literary value, and contemporary queer theory. Many influential theories have been notoriously unable to account for the specific forms and values of literary pleasure: asking why is a key focus of the subject.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should have:
- an understanding of the category of literary pleasure as it has developed since the eighteenth century;
- an understanding of current debates in literary aesthetics that engage the relations between pleasure and value; and
- a familiarity with a range of literary-critical, cultural-historical and theoretical approaches to the category of literary pleasure.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain generic skills in:
- research through competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources; through the successful definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;
- critical thinking and analysis through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the questioning of accepted wisdom and the ability to shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments; through attention to detail in reading material; and through openness to new ideas and the development of critical self-awareness;
- theoretical thinking through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;
- creative thinking through essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;
- social, ethical and cultural understanding through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the social contextualisation of arguments and judgments; through adaptations of knowledge to new situations and openness to new ideas; through the development of critical self-awareness in relation to an understanding of other cultures and practices;
- intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas through essay preparation, planning and writing as well as tutorial discussion; through effective dissemination of ideas from recommended reading and other relevant information sources; through clear definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research. through confidence to express ideas in public forums; and
- time management and planning through the successful organization of workloads. through disciplined self-direction and the ability to meet deadlines.
Last updated: 12 November 2022