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Approaches to Literature


Admission requirements

Not applicable


This course provides an overview of the different approaches and theories in literary studies from classical antiquity until today. The subjects treated include classical poetics, hermeneutics, formalism and reader-response theory, psychoanalysis, structuralism and semiotics, deconstruction and poststructuralism, feminism and queer theory, cultural studies and cultural analysis, and aesthetics and politics.

Course objectives

In this course students are made familiar with the most important theoretical approaches to literature, each of which embodies a different approach to the literary object. In addition, students gain insight into the historical development of these different approaches and the ways in which they relate to one another. The reading material is entirely made up of texts written by the theorists themselves and comprises a number of classics. Students are encouraged to engage with these texts in a personal way, exploring their strengths and limitations by applying them to literary texts as well as film.


Check for schedules of courses and exams research master Literary Studies Roosters or for Media Studies Roosters

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Weekly reading assignments (no grade);

  • Two brief writing assignments (10% each);

  • Midterm writing assignment (20%);

  • Final paper: 60%.

The final grade is the weighted average of the writing assignments.

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 (7000 words including bibliography instead of 5000 words).

Re-examination via a rewritten version of the final paper


Classes; 13 × 3 = 39 hours
Assignments: 2 × 16 + 1 × 16 = 48 hours
Reading texts: 13 × 8 = 104 hours
Final paper: 79 hours


Blackboard is used to inform students and to post assignments, texts, visual material.

Reading list

  • Vincent Leitch (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Literary Criticism. Second, revised edition. New York and London: Norton, 2010

  • Additional reading material (literature, films) to be announced


Students have to apply for this course with the registration system of the university uSis. General information about registration with uSis you can find here in Dutch and in English

Contact / information

For information about the contents of the course contact the instructor, Mr. Prof. dr. F.W.A. Korsten or Mrs. dr. M. Kasten

For more practical questions and information about the research master Literary Studies please contact the secretarial office of the Arts and Culture Department, Huizinga Building, Doelensteeg 16, room 003. Tel. 071-5272 2687.
mail: and for the programmes of Media Studies contact the Secretary’s Office at P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C, E-mail:

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.
Coordinator of studies ResMA: Mr dr. B.P.M. Dongelmans, P.N. van Eyckhof 1, room 001b.