BA Art History and English Literature

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:

Unit code ENGL33071
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


Ulysses, according to T.S. Eliot, is ‘the book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape.’ The aim of this course is to read all of James Joyce’s magnum opus, carefully and in detail, in order to examine the book’s influence and effects, its complex origins in ‘semi-colonial’ Dublin, its distinctive structure, its formal and linguistic features and innovations, as well as the instruction and the sheer pleasure to be derived from a close and prolonged engagement with the text. We will usually read two episodes each week, in addition to important theoretical, critical and philosophical texts that have tried to elucidate aspects of Ulysses.


- To read and reflect on one of the most important texts in twentieth-century literature
- To consolidate and extend students’ level-2 understanding of the wider provenance and effect of modernist experimentation in the arts and to prepare students for postgraduate study of modernism and of postcolonial studies
- To invite students to think in detailed and informed ways about the relationship between modernism and modernity
- To develop students’ skills of close reading to level-3 standard
- To familiarise students with the key critical and theoretical debates about the novel

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:
- Appreciate and evaluate the variety of ways of reading Ulysses
- Identify and explain some of the main formal qualities of Ulysses
- Engage critically and theoretically with some of the novel’s main themes: domination and resistance, nationality and ethnicity, history and tradition, home and exile, etc.



Week 1




Week 2


Telemachus and Nestor

Week 3

Proteus and Calypso

Week 4

Lotus Eaters and Hades

Week 5

Aeolus and Lestrygonians

Week 6

Scylla and Charybdis, and Wandering Rocks

Week 7

Sirens and Cyclops

Week 8

Nausicaa and Oxen of the Sun

Week 9


Week 10

Eumaeus and Ithaca

Week 11


Teaching and learning methods

1-hour lecture and 2-hour seminar 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Evaluate different critical, theoretical and philosophical approaches to the text, and in so doing formulate their own understanding of the text
- Discuss and analyse Ulysses, its provenance and influence
- Recognise and grasp the some of the various innovations and decisions of the novel at the level of form and language
- Articulate a critical position on the place of Ulysses in relation to modernism and literary history more widely 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Use and reflect on an appropriate critical vocabulary for analysing a distinctive, demanding and original work of literature
- Articulate a cogent critical account of particular episodes in the novel and of the novel as a whole
- Make reasoned judgements about critical debates and controversies to do with the novel
- Assess the utility of critical, philosophical and theoretical methods and concepts for reading Ulysses


Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Digest and analyse information at an advanced level appropriate to level-3 work
- Communicate persuasively in speech and in writing
- Identify, develop and substantiate original arguments
- Solve problems of analysis and research in seminars and in assessed work
- Work effectively both independently and as part of a larger group  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Produce a cogent and compelling argument about an aspect of the text
- Explore an unfamiliar text collaboratively in seminars
- Discuss and analyse arguments and interpretations
- Frame, research and compose a project on a subject that is both complex and demanding
- Work with the tutor and with other students in order to navigate and explore the text as well as to develop and refine critical judgements about that text  

Employability skills

Analytical skills
will train students to analyse and to think critically as well as self-critically
Group/team working
work independently and collaboratively with the tutor and the seminar group.
The novel will hopefully challenge students¿ preconceptions about what works of literature are and do. It is a demanding text therefore, and will require students to think on their feet.

Assessment methods

Close-reading exercise (2,000 words) (30%)
Critical essay (4,000 words) (70%)


Feedback methods

• Written feedback on essays 1 and 2
• Tutorial discussion of essay plans
• Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Please buy the Annotated Students’ Edition of Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics), the one with an introduction by Declan Kiberd. You should read Ulysses before the course starts. It would also be advantageous to read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, preferably the Oxford University Press edition edited by Jeri Johnson.   

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Robert Spencer Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Timetable for 2019/20:

Lecture: Mon 12pm - 1pm

Seminar 1: Tue 3pm - 5pm

Seminar 2: Fri 2pm - 4pm

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