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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL2045 Body Language: Literature and Embodiment

20 creditsClass Size: 305

School of English

Module manager: Rachael Gillibrand

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What does it mean to be ‘human’? Can technology change who we are? How do we navigate the relationship between the body and the mind? This module explores the relationship between embodiment, language and representation across literary forms, genres, and periods. We examine how creative writers and critical theorists have imagined this relationship between material bodies and literary representation, in order to better understand the possibilities and limitations of literary expression.


The module aims to:
- Provide students with a firm grounding in key fields of critical theory that may be encountered in more depth at level 3;
- Introduce students to a range of critical approaches to embodiment, materiality and identity;
- Consider the ways literary representations of embodiment are in dialogue with critical and cultural discourses around difference (especially gender, race, and dis/ability);
- Equip students with concepts, theories, and critical vocabulary that will support their analysis and interpretation of literary representations of the body;
- Deepen the critical sophistication of students’ work through engagement with, and application of, critical theory;
- Develop students’ confidence and initiative, particularly regarding research independence and working with theoretical concepts and arguments.
- Develop critical and ethical awareness around embodied difference, identity politics, social, political and economic contexts, and the lived experience of the body.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
1. Engage with, apply and evaluate selected concepts from critical theory and understand their relevance to literary studies.
2. Effectively analyse representations of the body in a diverse range of literary and critical theory texts.
3. Integrate an engagement with critical theory & concepts into close readings of literary texts.
4. Demonstrate developing research skills, including identifying and locating relevant scholarship and conducting independent research into selected texts, theories, and/or concepts.


While the body itself is substantial, and full of sensation, the ways in which we understand and experience our own bodies and those of others are produced through the stories we tell. Thinking about embodiment can help us to examine the scientific, biomedical, cultural, political and social narratives and fantasies that circulate in the worlds we live in.

The module will be organised into sections on gender, race, and ability that will encourage students to think critically about the ways in which literature shapes our understanding of the body, and how embodiment influences our understanding of literature. Students will be introduced to major critical approaches to the writing and reading of embodiment, which may include gender studies, disability studies, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, biopolitics, and the medical humanities.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar discussions continually enable all students to articulate and develop questions, ideas, and arguments, and to benefit from the feedback from other students and the tutor.
Tutors’ weekly office hours provide a further regular opportunity for formative feedback.
Feedback (written and oral) on summative work (see below) also has a key formative function.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Critique1000 words25.00
Essay2500 words75.00
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: 29/04/2024 16:13:46


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