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Literature 5C: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theories



This course introduces students (of English) to key theories about the production, reception and cultural work of literature. No previous knowledge of such theories is required. Key concepts are form, structure, language, the author, but also broader concepts such as gender, colonialism and popular culture. Students will study a selection of important theoretical articles and will apply the theories expressed therein to the analysis of classic as well as popular works of English-language literature.

Teaching method

Two hour seminar per week.

Course objectives

By the end of the course the student will have a basic knowledge of the history of literary theory and the various interrelationships and contradictions between the various theories. The student will show that he or she can actively apply these theories to the study of literature by writing a research essay, for which they will have to do some research in the university library, and by showing their knowledge of the technical terminology and insight into the relevance of the studied theories to literature in a final written exam.

Required reading

  • Various electronic texts on the Blackboard site.

  • Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan (eds.), Literary Theory: An Anthology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 2nd edition. Paperback.

  • Daniel Defoe, Captain Singleton (Oxford World’s Classics).

  • H.G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon (Penguin Classics).

  • Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. SF Masterworks. (Gollancz).

Test method

A research essay of 3000 words (50%) and a final written exam (50%).

Time table

Click here for the timetable


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail:


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


A Blackboard site for this course will be available one week before the start of the teaching semester.


The reading material for week 1 is available on the Blackboard site.