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2011/12 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3249 Literature and the Sea: The Seafarer to The Shipping News

20 creditsClass Size: 40


Module manager: Dr Laurence Publicover

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2011/12

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at 'A' Level in English Language or Literature (or equivalent) or an achieved mark of 56 or above in a Level 1 module in English (or its non-UK equivalent). Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students.

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

'Consider them both, the sea and the land', writes Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, 'and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life.'When authors confront the secretive, alien, and unfathomable oceans, they often do so in order to ask questions about themselves. From The Odyssey onwards, the sea has afforded inspiration for a rich and strange sub-genre of literature: poems, plays, and novels have contemplated the sea's mystery and depth; recorded the terrors and excitements of voyaging across its surface; and attempted to understand its attractions. On this course we will examine some of the finest sea-writing in English. Beginning within the medieval period, and moving chronologically through Shakespearean drama, Romantic poetry, nineteenth-century novels, and twentieth-century texts, we will engage with writers who, despite being in many respects very different, share a fascination with, and a desire to understand, the sea. Authors studied will include Shakespeare, Marvell, Byron, Coleridge, Melville, Conrad, Auden, T.S. Eliot, Plath, Rich, and Proulx.


Students will analyse writing in English that concerns itself with the sea, moving from the medieval period (The Seafarer), through the Renaissance and the nineteenth century, and into the late twentieth century (The Shipping News). (The 'New Thalassology' is a burgeoning area of scholarship, and the module will thus give the students the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of the discipline.)

Learning outcomes
Students will become aware of how authors of different periods write about the sea in order to think about God, desire, death, gender difference, ethics, the rational and irrational, the nature of the self, and other matters. They will also analyse the different modes and genres through which authors 'read' the sea.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


The core texts will be Pericles, The Tempest, Moby-Dick, Lord Jim, and The Shipping News. Students will also be provided with an anthology of poetry, including works by Marvell, Byron, Tennyson, T. S. Eliot, and Plath.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (content to be determined by the module tutor).
- The 5 additional hours may include lectures, plenary sessions, film showings, or the return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution
- 1st assessed essay

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,700 words33.30
Essay2,750 words66.70
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: 07/02/2012


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