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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3339 Lost in Fiction: The Metafictional Novel from 'Don Quixote' to 'House of Leaves'

20 creditsClass Size: 30

School of English

Module manager: Dr Jane Rickard

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Please note: this module is restricted to Level 3 students on BA programmes with English and visiting students.

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module examines a series of novels that reflect self-consciously on the processes of writing and reading, and on the relationship between the fictional and the real. Some of these novels offer witty parodies of specific literary genres, and some even parody literary criticism itself, but all are centrally concerned with the interaction between authors, texts and readers. The selection of novels covers a broad chronological and geographical range: we begin with extended consideration of the seventeenth-century Spanish work, , widely considered the first ever novel. We go on to examine a novel from each subsequent century, by English, French and Russian-American writers (and one film adaptation). We enter the twenty-first century with , an American novel set in contemporary Los Angeles. This broad range emphasises that self-conscious reflection on the very nature of fiction has been central to the development of the novel as a genre, and has never ceased to fascinate us. Among the questions to be considered are: How does the self-consciousness of these novels inform or complicate our own reading experience? To what extent do such metafictional works blur the distinction between art and reality? In what ways do works of fiction shape perception of the real world? How can literary theory and criticism deal with texts that already critique themselves?


- Students will explore intertextual relations between works from different historical periods and different countries.
- Students will deepen their understanding of the processes of reading, the development of the novel as a genre, and the relationship between literature and literary theory and criticism.

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.


On the module we will study the following 5 novels:
Cervantes, (1605, 1615) (Penguin Classics, 2003)
Laurence Sterne, (1759-67) (Penguin Classics, 1997)
Gustave Flaubert, (1857) (Oxford World Classics, 2004)
Vladimir Nabokov, (1962) (Penguin, 2000)
Mark Z. Danielewski, (2000) (Doubleday, 2000)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Film Screenings11.001.00
Private study hours184.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2250 words (including quotations and footnotes).50.00
Essay2250 words (including quotations and footnotes).50.00
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 15:24:14


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