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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3031 Sex and Suffering in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

20 creditsClass Size: 36

School of English

Module manager: Professor Robert Jones

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

ENGL32120 Sex and Suffering in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module examines two relationships central to the ‘rise of the novel’ as a popular and sophisticated form. In the first instance we will consider the contest between identity and desire, focussing on novels in which sexual longing and violence play a considerable role. Looking at the development of the novel more closely we will consider how the experience of trauma takes a key role in the development of literary characterisation and narrative forms.


The module explores ideas of sexuality, sexual violence and emotional suffering as represented in the eighteenth-century novel, focussing on developments after 1740. It consequently examines the development of the novel as a literary genre, paying particular attention to narrative forms and characterisation.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
1. demonstrate knowledge of debates about sexuality and gender identity as they occurred during the eighteenth century.
2. identify and analyse key features in the development of the novel as form.
3. engage critically with current debates in eighteenth-century studies concerning gender, literary form and the relationships between them.
4. articulate understanding in dialogue with peers and in a carefully argued academic essay.


The module examines the form and development of the novel to explore how representations of the experience of trauma take a key role in the development of literary characterisation and narrative forms. It promotes student engagement with critical and theoretical approaches to both the novel-as-form and identity. The texts showcase a variety of the best eighteenth-century writing, for example the major novelists Samuel Richardson and Jane Austen, to focus investigations of questions of gendered and sexual performance.

Teaching methods

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

Private study

184 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Weekly dialogue in small-group seminars including discussion of weekly discussion board posts; opportunities for one-to-one meetings in tutors’ weekly support hours; opportunities to meet with departmental Writing Mentors; individual written feedback on mid-semester assignment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 words100.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:39:49


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