Introduction to European Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
27 March 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


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

One hour lecture and one hour seminar


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Formative: Essay plan and introduction 0%
Coursework Essay (2,000 words) 90%
Practical Participation 10%
Exam 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Joanna Rzepa
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 22 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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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