Representation, imitation and fiction; concepts of realism; realism in literary history; conventions of realist representation; realism in different genres and media; objectivity and subjectivity; the role of the reader; writing and research; realism and intervention, realism beyond representation?




This course is intended to introduce you to the practice and methods of critical reading, analysis and writing by focusing on realism in literature, its definition, features and function in different genres, discourses and media. The course will offer you opportunities to develop critical reading skills and to question and analyze the role of representation in fictional and non-fictional texts. Regular exercises and assignments will be designed to explore and discuss different aspects of writing critically about literary texts, leading up to the writing of a short essay.




We will meet for three hours every week. The first two hours will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion and short exercises, focusing on analytical concepts, historical contexts and critical issues with reference to the set texts. In the third hour, the class will be divided into two groups, with each group attending a writing workshop every other week. There will be a discussion forum on Moodle to which you will be encouraged to contribute regularly in order to deepen your learning.




Assessment will be continuous and based 100% on coursework, including the following:

Contribution to discussion (in class and online) 20%
3 short writing assignments 30%
Term paper (incl. peer-reviewed draft) 50%






Extracts from Pam Morris, Realism (London: Routledge, 2003)

Fictional texts (available online below):

  • Charles Dickens, extracts from Sketches by Boz: Illustrative of Every-Day Life and Every-Day People (1836), 31 pages (download PDF)
  • Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess” (1842), a poem
  • Henry James, Daisy Miller: A Study (1879), 36 pages (download PDF)
  • Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), 53 pages (download PDF)
  • Virginia Woolf, extracts from Monday or Tuesday (1921), 14 pages (download PDF)
  • Angela Carter, “The Merchant of Shadows” (1993), 20 pages (download PDF)

If you intend to take this course, begin reading these texts before the semester starts.



Last updated: 26 July 2018