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James Joyce’s Ulysses


Admission requirements

A BA degree in English Language and Culture or equivalent degree


This course offers a detailed study and analytical reading of Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce (1882-1941), one of the most innovative and influential writers in English of the twentieth century. We will place his work in its historical, literary, cultural, political, and theoretical contexts. Questions to be addressed among others will be: what are the major contributions of Joyce to the development of Modernism? How ‘Irish’ is Joyce? How ‘European’ is Joyce? How much does Ulysses rely on Homer’s Odyssey? We will also closely analyse the language(s) and form(s) of the text. For each week we will read two chapters from Ulysses, coupled with an article or articles from the Cambridige Companion to Joyce, the Cambridge companion to Ulysses, and James Joyce in Context. This will enable us to familiarize ourselves with some of the recent scholarly work on Joyce and his text.

Course objectives

Based on the assumption that participants have already acquired the basic skills for the analysis of literary texts, this course aims to extend these skills both in terms of textual analysis (close reading) and contextual approach (cultural-historical as well as theoretical). Students will be encouraged to share analytical and theoretical views on Ulysses in class discussion, and to focus research skills on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course in the form of a final research paper.


The timetable is available on the Literary Studies website.

Mode of instruction

3-hour seminar per week.

Course Load

The course load is 280 hours:
39 hours of tutorial
117 hours of reading primary and secondary material (weekly reading of 9 hours per week)
48 hours of weekly assignments (4 hours per week) based on your reading of primary and secondary material
76 hours for research and writing of the research end paper.

The hours above are an approximate calculation only. Some students read fast and write slow and vice versa.

### Assessment method
Evaluation of this course will be on the basis of active participation in class discussion (10%) + short weekly writing assignments (ca. 300-400 words each) (30%) + a written end paper of ca. 5,000 words (60%). N.B. although all students are required to hand in their weekly assignments, only a selected number will be marked every week. All weekly assignments have to be handed in in order to receive a final mark. There is nor resit opportunity for a fail for a weekly assignment.
You need to have a sufficient grade (6.0 or higher) for both the assignment component and the end paper in order to pass. If the final grade is lower than 6, students may only resit the final research essay. Attendance is compulsory. Unauthorized absence will mean that you will fail to get credits for the course.
ResMa students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (7,000 words instead of 5,000 words).


Blackboard will be used to provide students with specific information about (components of) the course, and to post the weekly assignment topic/ research question.

Reading list

-James Joyce, Ulysses: Annotated Student’s Edition, with an introduction and notes by Declan Kiberd (Penguin)
-Homer: The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles (Penguin)
N.B.: students are required to purchase this particular edition of Ulysses.

We’ll also read scholarly essays from the following collections:
-Derek Attridge, ed., The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (Cambridge UP, 2004; (2nd edn)
-Sean Latham, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ulysses (Cambridge UP, 2014)
-John McCourt, ed., James Joyce in Context (Cambridge UP, 2009)
N.B.: The essays in these collections can be accessed via the Leiden University Library online catalogue; you can download individual chapters as PDF files. Surf to UBL and search for ‘cambridge companion Joyce’ et cetera. You will be asked to log on to your ULCN account.


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final paper for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Jurjen Donkers.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher: Prof.dr. P.T.M.G. Liebregts

Literary Studies departmental office

Coordinator of studies:


It will be useful to have read or have basic knowledge of Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before taking this class.