"If I can get to the heart of Dublin, I can get to the heart of all cities in the world. In the particular is contained the universal." (Joyce)

The stylistic brilliance of Joyce is generally acknowledged. He celebrates the richness, fertility and infinite possibilities of ordering the world that lie within language. He subverted narrative conventions and experimented with new forms to produce art that still has the power to startle. A study of the key text will reveal the distinctive features of Joyce's art.




This course has three main aims:

  1. to acquaint students with the major work of, arguably, the greatest C20th prose writer in English.
  2. Joyce has acquired an unwarranted reputation for difficulty; another aim of this course will be to reveal just how accessible and entertaining his writing can be; students will be helped to cultivate an aesthetic appreciation of Joyce's literary style and characterization.
  3. to situate Ulysses within its socio-political, historical and literary contexts.



Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. appraise and demonstrate an understanding of the aesthetic qualities of Ulysses (this aligns with PLO1: Identify and analyze issues and topics in the study of English literature and linguistics through various approaches);
  2. undertake analyses of the text and demonstrate through discussion, argument and writing their critical reading skills as well as their personal perspectives (this aligns with PLO2: Formulate critical questions and investigate topics through research, analysis and writing);
  3. deploy in their analyses a range of critical tools and to show an awareness of a number of critical perspectives on the text: Feminist, Deconstructionist, Post-colonial etc. (this aligns with PLO3: Identify and express their own perspectives regarding disciplinary issues and compare them to those of others);
  4. show they are conversant with the socio-political, historical and literary contexts in which the text was written (this aligns with PLO4: Demonstrate an appreciation of the global dimensions and cultural diversity within English language and literature);
  5. demonstrate an appreciation of the global dimensions and cultural diversity inherent in the work of (polyglot) Joyce (this aligns with PLO4: Demonstrate an appreciation of the global dimensions and cultural diversity within English language and literature).




During the course students will examine three of Joyce's works. However, most of the time will be devoted to the study of Ulysses. Students will be able to situate the book in its socio-political, literary and historical contexts. This course will not be a series of lectures. The classes will take the form of group discussions and readings augmented where appropriate by audio‑visual materials. Students are expected to buy a copy of Ulysses. The other texts are readily available in the HKU library and other HK libraries. For their essays (see below) students will be expected to read around the topics they have chosen/been assigned.




The course is assessed 100% by coursework. This comprises three components: 20% for attendance, group-work and class participation; 40% for a portfolio of exercises arising out of the work done in class; 40% for a final essay (1,500-2,000 words).




Recommended Readings:

  • Dubliners (1914)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  • Ulysses (1922) 
  • A detailed reading list of critical and biographical material will be provided on the commencement of this course.



Last updated: 21 June 2018