Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
09 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA Q20212 Film and Literature,
MA QV2312 Film Studies,
MA Q20012 Literature,
MA W8F912 Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment,
MA T72012 American Literatures

Module description

This module prepares postgraduate students to explore and select research topics to develop a short unmarked proposal for their dissertation, the more extensive dissertation outline and then the dissertation itself as guided by an academic advisor. It focuses on enhancing student abilities to use methodologies, major concepts, and approaches to pursue independent research in literary and cultural issues.

In the Autumn term, students consider what constitutes research and increase their skills in library, online and archival research. Development of bibliographies and managing references are also addressed in a workshop environment. Skills in structuring research questions, dissertation proposals and critical writing are the focus of other workshops where discussion is emphasised. The module's elements focus on how to explore different approaches to studying and analysing the issues posed by texts and developed in research questions.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to enable each student to identify their research interests and provide each student with the skills to effectively organise and express the arguments and points of view key to the research field selected. Workshop sessions promote exchange, questioning, experimentation and discussion. A key aim is to assist the student in accessing and connecting individual creativity to the creativity of the works under study. Embarking upon a dissertation project should be an exciting challenge that fosters personal growth and expression as well as critical and analytical disciplines.

Module learning outcomes

Based on workshops given by library personnel, students should feel confident in accessing library research resources, including online resources. Training in reference management and the provision of related software supports the organisation of independent research and increases student confidence in engaging with a research field. Students should understand how to use archival resources and the benefits that they offer in developing original points of view. Writing critical responses to articles, chapters, books related to student research interests, not necessarily connected to the proposal should assist in understanding how to evaluate and structure arguments about literary and cultural issues. Based on the guidance given in structuring research questions, selecting a topic and building a bibliography, students should be able to write a short dissertation proposal (200-300 words) which is not be marked—the emphasis is on flexibility and experimentation. Participation in a writing workshop should increase confidence and pleasure in writing both the proposal and ultimately the dissertation itself. Prepared by lecture/workshops on reader response, the history of ideas and issues surrounding authorship, students should feel able to address theoretical, stylistic and editing issues in literary and cultural topics. Guidance on the marked dissertation outline should provide students with a good basis on which to develop their proposal into a 2000-2500 word research outline to underpin the elaboration of the 12,000 word dissertation to be completed. That should enable the student to better discuss research issues with the academic advisor assigned to support the student through the dissertation process.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Fortnightly 2-hour lecture/workshop.


  • Stanley E. Fish. (1976) 'Interpreting the "Variorum"', in Critical Inquiry: The University of Chicago Press. vol. 2, pp.465-485
  • Wright, Chantal. (2016) Literary translation, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Parker, Deborah; Parker, Mark. (2005) 'DVDs and the director's intentions', in The philosophy of film: introductory text and readings, Malden, Mass: Blackwell Pub., pp.123-131
  • Holland, Norman N. (1975-10) 'Unity Identity Text Self', in PMLA. vol. 90 (5) , pp.813-
  • Cook, Jon. (c2005) 'Creative Writing as a Research Method', in Research methods for English studies, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. vol. Research methods for the arts and humanities
  • Paul Grimstad. (2014) 'Against Research: Literary Studies and the Trouble with Discourse', in American Literary History. vol. 26 (4) , pp.647-663
  • Spike Lee. (2005) Do the right thing, London: Universal.
  • Nelson, Robin. (2013) Practice as research in the arts: principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wellek, RenĂ©; Warren, Austin. (1949) Theory of literature, London: J. Cape.
  • Iser, Wolfgang. (1972-24) 'The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach', in New Literary History. vol. 3 (2) , pp.279-
  • Ilic, Melanie; Reid, Susan Emily; Attwood, Lynne. (2004) Women in the Khrushchev era, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • (2010) Practice as Research: approaches to creative arts enquiry, London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Booth, Wayne C; Colomb, Gregory G; Williams, Joseph M. (c2008) The craft of research, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Eco, Umberto. (2015) How to write a thesis, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Hayden White. (1980) 'The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality', in Critical Inquiry: The University of Chicago Press. vol. 7, pp.5-27
  • Sousa Correa, Delia da; Owens, W. R. (2010) The handbook to literary research, London: Routledge.
  • Heath, Stephen. (2005) 'Against authorship', in The philosophy of film: introductory text and readings, Malden, Mass: Blackwell Pub., pp.118-122
  • Donald F. Bouchard. (1977) 'What Is an Author?', in Language, counter-memory, practice: selected essays and interviews, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press., pp.113-138

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   Literature Review     25% 
Coursework   COMPULSORY: Dissertation Proposal (for Supervisor allocation)     0% 
Coursework   Dissertation Plan/Outline    75% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


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



External examiner

Dr Rebecca Katherine Tillett
The University of East Anglia
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 21 hours, 15 (71.4%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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