Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS3595 Heroines: Representations of Mythological Women from Antiquity to the Present

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Dr Paul White

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

FREN3591Heroines: Representations of Mythological Women from Antiqui

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module looks at representations of the heroines of ancient myth through the ages. Focusing on four classical figures - Helen of Troy, Medea, Phaedra, Dido - it will consider the various ways in which writers have responded to their stories in literature, from antiquity through the medieval and early modern period to the modern era. Over the centuries writers have returned again and again to these heroines, each age creating them anew, rewriting their stories and casting them in unexpected roles. There will be an opportunity to read texts by major Latin, Greek, French and English authors (texts in Greek, Latin and French will be studied in translation; the module is taught and assessed in English). We will explore questions of gender and genre, virtue and transgression, power and freedom. And we will consider the ways in which representations of mythological heroines have been used to put ethical and political questions to the test; to explore the complexities of the mind and the shocking extremes of human behaviour; and to do new and unexpected things with literary form and genre. Classical heroines were imagined not only as passive, suffering figures, or embodiments of insane vengeance, but as fascinatingly complex agents of their own stories. It was the depiction of female figures of myth that gave writers the opportunity to challenge narratives of heroism and subvert the expectations of readers.


To provide research-based teaching in one of my specialist areas.
To equip students with an understanding of ancient myth and modern engagements with it.
To introduce students to a wide-ranging and comparative approach to the reading of literature, and to a range of literary genres and traditions; to enable them to understand texts in their proper historical and cultural contexts.
To interrogate theoretical issues relating to gender, genre and reception.
To read and closely analyse literary language.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- comparatively analyse literary texts written in a range of periods and languages (in English translation);
- demonstrate wide-ranging and detailed understanding of the historical, cultural and literary contexts of set texts;
- engage critically with theoretical issues relating to gender, genre and reception;
- gather, evaluate and use information from secondary sources, demonstrating an understanding of the main trends in the secondary criticism and an ability to describe and comment on particular aspects of current research;
- communicate effectively, both orally and in writing


The first semester will include introductory lectures on myth, literary genre and classical reception and will focus on the figures of Medea (Euripides, Ovid, Seneca, Chaucer, Corneille, Anouilh) and Dido (Virgil, Ovid, Boccaccio, Jodelle, Marlowe). The second semester will look at Phaedra (Euripides, Ovid, Seneca, Racine; and modern performances); Helen (Euripides, Ovid, Giraudoux, modern poetry selection) and others. Lectures will be complemented by linked seminars.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be expected to prepare for seminars by (a) reading set text selections; (b) preparing individual and group presentations; (c) reflecting on specific research questions; (d) carrying out bibliographical research.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Informal formative feedback will be given on seminar presentations and discussions throughout the year. Students will be given the opportunity to write an unassessed practice commentary in the second semester, which will prepare them for the examination (comparative commentary). Written feedback will be given to the students on both the practice piece and on the assessed piece.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2500 words40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

The format of this examination may be subject to change should the situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic allow. Students will be informed well in advance if this becomes the case. 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 15:22:47


Browse Other Catalogues

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

© Copyright Leeds 2019