Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL2202 Imaginary Friends: the consolations and consequences of story

20 creditsClass Size: 20

School of English

Module manager: Dr Helen Iball

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

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.

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

We will study examples of prose, films, plays and performances which represent storytelling as a response to human self-containment and isolation. Some of these texts address loneliness whilst other examples explore curiosity about the lives of others, to the extreme of intrusive behaviours such as stalking and surveillance. Amongst the texts studied are affirmations of empathy and community, particularly through shared experiences accessed by reading books and engaging with other art forms. Elsewhere in the set texts, creativity is depicted a means to construct potentially exploitative and abusive scenarios: one example is the power of an author over people and/or their stories; another is the re-invention of self via online platforms with deceitful intent. David Shields’s Reality Hunger (2010) provides a framework for understanding contemporary culture as ‘at once desperate for authenticity and in love with artifice’. Through stories invoking other stories, and characters that novelists have borrowed from conceptual artists, conventional distinctions between art forms are blurred. Literary fictions become entangled with ‘real’ everyday lives, which in turn loop back towards representation as the protagonists visit art galleries and surf the web. In these playful experimental spaces, substantial investigations are staged: where and what is public or private? Who and what is a stranger? How and where might solace and human connection be found? What is being represented as the intention of contemporary art, drama, performance, prose fiction and non-fiction – and, intended or not, what might be the personal and socio-political consequences?


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ways in which the set texts respond to and comment upon socio-political circumstances of human experience, particularly in terms of: a) solitude, loneliness, isolation; b) connections, understanding, and empathy; c) intrusion, manipulation and exploitation.
- Apply a critical understanding of story, metanarratives and autofiction to the set texts and to comparative studies across these texts.
- Explore in seminars and in writing (and, optionally, through a creative portfolio), interfaces between reader/audience response and the production of new texts.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement
- generating and expressing creative responses to stimuli
- critical reasoning
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance
- IT skills
- efficient time management and organisation skills
- the ability to learn independently

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.
- Generating and expressing creative responses to stimuli.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.


We will start with a comparative study of three or four texts which accord with Rebecca Solnit’s assertion that books are ‘the solitudes in which we meet’. This will be an opportunity to explore lyric essays alongside metafictional novels and metatextual stage/screen dramas. We will also contextualise these materials with reference to David Shields’s Reality Hunger (2010). Next, we will discuss two or three texts in which imagination is channelled to exploit and abuse human connections. The concluding section of the module is a case study on a constellation of metafictions which criss-cross disciplinary boundaries of art, performance, and literature. Informed and inspired by this case study, and launched with a creative writing workshop, there will be an opportunity to create your own metanarrative/s in response to any of the module’s set texts.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours186.00
Total Contact hours14.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Opportunities in seminars and creative workshop. Opportunities during weekly drop-in consultation hours throughout term time, including tutorial discussion of essay ideas. Written feedback and the opportunity for a tutorial on the first essay. Opportunity for discussion of essay question/creative writing for the second essay. These tutorial opportunities are available during weekly consultation hours across the teaching semester.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2250 words critical and comparative account of independent study and seminars50.00
EssayEssay of 2250 words OR 1250 word creative writing plus 1000 word critical contextualisation50.00
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: 29/04/2022 15:24:12


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019