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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL32120 Sex and Suffering in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

20 creditsClass Size: 40

For full module descriptions of our level 2 and 3 undergraduate modules (including details of preparatory reading, texts for purchase and required unassessed work) please see the Undergraduate Module Handbook in the English Organisation on the VLE.

Visiting and Exchange Students must read this information before selecting modules.

Module manager: Dr Robert Jones

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students. Enrolment priority will be given to Level 2 students for a restricted period (as detailed in the School’s Module Handbook).

This module is not approved as a discovery module


The module explores ideas of sexuality, sexual violence and emotional suffering as represented in the eighteenth-century novel, focussing on developments after 1740.

The module consequently examines the development of the novel as a literary form, paying particular attention to narrative forms and characterisation.

Learning outcomes
Students shall

- Gain an understanding over debates about sexuality and gender identity as they occurred during the eighteenth century.
- Appreciate key features in the development of the novel, as form.
- Demonstrate an ability to engage critically with current debates in eighteenth-century studies around gender, literary form and the relationships between them.


The module examines two relationships both of which are central to the 'rise of the novel' as a popular and sophisticated literary form. In the first instance we will consider the contest between identity and desire, focussing on novels in which sexual longing and sexual violence play a considerable and unsettling role. We will pay particular attention to moments when desire appears to corrode a stable sense of selfhood, or when the experience of suffering offers ambiguous compensation for loss or injury. Looking at the form and development of the novel more closely we will consider how representations of the experience of trauma take a key role in the development of literary characterisation and narrative forms. It will be important throughout the module to engage with critical and theoretical approaches to both the novel-as-form and identity. The texts have been selected to showcase a variety of the best eighteenth-century writing, including the major novelists Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding, while providing a tight focus on questions of gendered and sexual performance.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours184.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus 2 x 1 hour lectures and 2 x 2 hour workshops.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution.
- Feedback on short unassessed conference paper.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayThis module will be assessed by one essay of 5000 words (including quotations and footnotes). Prior to writing the essay each student will give a short unassessed conference paper to the rest of their group on which they will receive individual feedback. This does not form part of the assessment for this module, but is a requirement and MUST be delivered. Students who fail to submit the unassessed conference paper will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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