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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL32120 Sex and Suffering in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

20 creditsClass Size: 20

School of English

Module manager: Dr Robert Jones

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students.

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 hours186.00
Total Contact hours14.00
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 unassessed essay

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

This module will be assessed by one essay of 4000 words (including quotations and footnotes). Students will also be required to submit a 1700 word essay. This does not form part of the assessment for this module, but is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed essay will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:24:12


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