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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3268 Transformations

20 creditsClass Size: 20

School of English

Module manager: Dr Ian Fairley

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at ‘A’ Level 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).

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Our principal object of study is Ovid’s Metamorphoses in its first English translation. Our principal objective is to explore the nature and necessity of metamorphosis in the conception of human life and death. We shall develop our inquiry through attention to two of Shakespeare’s plays informed by the translation of Ovid, to later English versions of certain key episodes in the poem, and to modern thinking about metamorphosis. Our interest in transformation will take us, among other places, into dream, magic, love, hate, and the passage between human and non-human states.


This module aims to develop a secure knowledge and appreciation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in English translation. It will explore the reanimation of the poem’s transformational concerns in Shakepearean drama. Its range of texts will engage the ancient and the modern, myth and theory, in order to foster a creative understanding of metamorphosis and the human potential for transformation.

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;
- 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.
- 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.


Metamorphosis is central to how human beings have imagined themselves as human beings through time and across cultures. This module will explore the subject of metamorphosis in a number of ways. In the first place, it offers the chance to get to know one of the foundation poems of European literature, the Metamorphoses of Ovid (first decade, C.E.). We shall study Ovid’s poem in its first full English translation of 1567 by Arthur Golding. The vigour of Golding’s early modern ‘Englishing’ of Ovid will be complemented by later versions of some of the poem’s key passages in the Module Folder. In Metamorphoses men and women are transformed by love and violence into flora, fauna, stones and stars. Our reading will dwell on a number of myths whose vitality has ensured their own metamorphosis in later art, literature and music, including the stories of Echo and Narcissus, Diana and Actaeon, and Orpheus and Eurydice. As Golding’s text can be heard at certain points in Shakespeare’s plays, we shall take two such coincidences as the occasion to think about transformation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. There will also be an opportunity to attend to more recent instances of our subject, such as Franz Kafka’s short story Metamorphosis, and to engage with critical thinking in the century since Kafka about the nature of metamorphosis and the relationship between animal and man.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

Reading, preparation of seminars, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars
- Feedback on assessed essays

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,700 words (including quotations and footnotes).33.30
Essay2,750 words (including quotations and footnotes).66.70
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: 11/05/2022


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