Introduction to European Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
09 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA Q300 English Literature,
BA Q303 English Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q320 English Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q321 English Literature (Including Year Abroad),
MLITQ391 Literature,
BA Q210 English and Comparative Literature,
BA Q211 English and Comparative Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q212 English and Comparative Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q218 English and Comparative Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA P530 Journalism and Literature,
BA P531 Journalism and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA P532 Journalism and Literature (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module introduces students to major European writers. The works selected are novels, novellas, short stories and plays, all of which are significant on a European scale because they sparked particular movements, or were representative of crucial moments in literary innovation.

Works are studied in a chronological order to convey the development of literary genres, forms, styles, contents and ideas. Ranging across German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian literatures, the module explores how authors from different nations contributed to a larger sense of European literature.

Although the texts are studied in translation, students wishing to read them in the original language are welcome to do so. Students are also encouraged to compare different translations of the same work.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. to provide students with an introduction and overview of a selection of major European writers

2. to enable students to develop a critical understanding of the role of key European works in sparking or representing particular movements or crucial moments in literary innovation.

3. to provide students with an understanding of the development of European literary genres, forms, styles, contents and ideas.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. identify major European writers and works which had a significant impact on the development of European literature

2. critically appraise and evaluate the role of the selected European works in contributing towards literary innovation.

3. have a chronological understanding of the development of key European literary genres, forms, styles, contents and ideas

4. investigate, compare and critically evaluate the ways in which different European authors have contributed to a larger sense of European literature.

Module information

General Reading:
1. Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. Marcus Musa (London: Norton Critical Editions, 1977). Excellent notes, as in all Norton editions.
2. Jean Racine, Phèdre, Dual Language Edition, trans. Margaret Rawlings (London: Penguin, 1992). Bilingual edition, in which Racine's original alexandrines can be seen. Translated by an actor, who has taken into consideration the text's speakability and breathability by a modern actor. Also look at Phedre, trans. Ted Hughes (London: Faber, 1998) for a reworking by one of the great poets.
3. Pierre Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro (1778), in Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro in The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, trans. John Wood (London: Penguin, 1964).
4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, trans. David Constantine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
5. Friedrich Schiller, The Robbers, in The Robbers and Wallenstein, trans. F.J. Lamport (London: Penguin, 1979).
6. Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (1835), trans. A. J. Krailsheilmer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999 and later editions).
7. Nikolai Gogol, 'Diary of a Madman' (1835), 'The Nose' (1835-36), 'The Overcoat' (1842), in The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (London: Granta Books, 2003 and later editions)
8. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Double, in Notes from Underground and The Double (London: Penguin Classics, 2012).
9. Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1915), trans. and ed. Stanley Corngold (Norton Critical Edition) (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996 and later editions)

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: Weekly 2-hour lecture/class plus online activities. We will offer a mixture of tailored online, digital, and campus-based teaching where it may be possible and as appropriate, along with personalised one-to-one consultation with academic staff.


  • Gogol, Nikolai Vasil'evich. (1995) Overcoat and the Nose: Penguin Books.
  • Cohn, J. (no date) ''Don't Trust Anybody, Not Even Us': Kafka's Realism as Anarchist Modernism', in Studies In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century Literature. vol. 35 (2) , pp.295-315
  • David F. Bell. (no date) '"Thérèse Raquin": Scientific Realism in Zola's Laboratory', in Nineteenth-Century French Studies: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Greenfield, Sumner M. (1955-12) 'Poetry and Stagecraft in La casa de Bernarda Alba', in Hispania. vol. 38 (4) , pp.456-
  • (2008) Vita Nuova, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Garcia Lorca, Federico; Edwards, Gwynne. (2007) House of Bernarda Alba, London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Kafka. (2010) Metamorphosis, Beijing: People's Literature Publishing House.
  • Lépine, Jacques-Jude. (1994) 'Phaedra's Labyrinth as the Paradigm of Passion: Racine's Aesthetic Formulation of Mimetic Desire', in Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture. vol. 1 (1) , pp.47-62
  • Zola, Émile; Thorpe, Adam. (2014) Thérèse Raquin, London: Vintage Classic.
  • Petrarch. (2006) Canzoniere: Carcanet Press.
  • Alexandra K. Harrington. (2013) 'MELODRAMA, FEELING, AND EMOTION IN THE EARLY POETRY OF ANNA AKHMATOVA', in The Modern Language Review. vol. 108 (1) , pp.241-
  • Le Doeuff, Michèle. (2010-03) 'Beauvoir the Mythoclast', in Paragraph. vol. 33 (1) , pp.90-104
  • Beitchman, Philip. (©2011) The theatre of naturalism: disappearing act, New York: Peter Lang. vol. v. 185
  • De Beauvoir, Simone. (2009) The Woman Destroyed: Harper Perennial.
  • Hattingh, Herselmann. (1995) 'Being and the dialectics of irony: A reading of some of Milan Kundera's novels', in Literator. vol. 16 (2) , pp.95-121
  • Racine, Jean; Rawlings, Margaret. (1991) Phèdre, New York: Penguin Books. vol. Penguin classics
  • Dolske, Gwendolyn. (2014-02-17) 'Existential Destruction: de Beauvoir's Fictional Portrayal of Woman's Situation', in Women's Studies. vol. 43 (2) , pp.155-169
  • Picone, Michelangelo. (1998) 'Theories Of Love And The Lyric Tradition From Dante's "Vita Nuova" To Petrarch's "Canzoniere', in Romance Notes. vol. 39 (1) , pp.83-93
  • García Lorca, Federico; Maurer, Christopher; Brown, Catherine. (2002) Collected poems, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Mann, Thomas. (2009) Tonio Krger: Echo Library.
  • Kafka, Franz; Hofmann, Michael. (©2017) The burrow: posthumously published short fiction, [London], UK: Penguin Classics.
  • Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna; Thomas, D. M. (2009) Selected poems, London: Vintage Classic.
  • Gillespie, Gerald. (1992) 'Mann and the Modernist Tradition', in Approaches to teaching Mann's Death in Venice and other short fiction, New York: Modern Language Association of America. vol. Approaches to teaching world literature
  • (2012) 'Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832): The German Bildungsroman', in The Cambridge companion to European novelists, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cornwell, Neil. (2006) 'Chapter 7 'Kafka: Otherness in the labyrynth of the absurdity'', in Absurd in Literature, Manchester: Manchester University Press., pp.184-198
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von; Constantine, David. (2012) The sorrows of young Werther, New York: Oxford University Press. vol. Oxford world's classics
  • Shephard, R. (1989) 'Tonio Kröger and Der Tod in Venedig: From Bourgeois Realism to Visionary Modernism'', in Oxford German Studies. (18-19) , pp.92-108

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Formative: Essay Plan and Introduction     0% 
Coursework   Academic Portfolio (2x 500 word text analysis plus 2,000 word essay)    95% 
Practical   Participation     5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Mary Mazzilli, email:
Dr Mary Mazzilli
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
University of Chichester
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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