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English language and English-speaking Cultures


Dawson C.

Course director


Students will study the selected set texts and influential criticism of those texts. Each student will then also select one writer to focus on in addition to the set texts and will prepare and deliver a presentation analysing one passage from that writer’s work in light of its historical context and of the secondary literature. Students will also, across the course of the semester, write a critical paper of 5-6 pages, comparing the work of their chosen writer with one of the set texts. The paper will also engage with the secondary literature to present a clear thesis.

Attendance is compulsory. It is not possible to submit a paper without having fully attended the course, and it is not possible to take the exam without submitting a paper.


This course aims to illuminate the present time and its emergence from historical events and narratives, and in particular the role of English language and culture in those narratives. Gender relations and identities are taken as key themes, and the historical context is illustrated around canonical texts from the present day, and from 50, 100, 200 and 400 years ago.
Students will learn to read and engage with both primary and secondary literature in English and will develop their own analytical and writing skills.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

Class time will be divided between lectures and writing workshops. Classes will begin with lectures or interactive seminars about the individual texts, their historical contexts, and the contemporary resonance of the themes they raise. The second part of class will sometimes be devoted to a specific stage of the writing process, offering students an opportunity to consult one another, and to get advice and input from the instructor at each stage. Students will identify the primary texts to focus on, find and select from the relevant secondary literature, and identify the key passages to analyse and the relevant commentary to discuss, before choosing a thesis to defend, drawing up the outline of a paper to defend it, and then drafting, editing and redrafting to produce a polished finished product.

In preparing their presentations, students will generally work together in pairs. The presentations will together build up a thorough understanding of the development of English-language written culture in context.

Examination information

Students will be graded on their presentations and on their written paper, which they will have the opportunity to discuss in a final oral interview.

40% of the grade will be awarded for the written paper itself.
40% of the grade will be awarded for the performance in the final oral exam, which will consist in a discussion of the written paper. The paper itself is therefore to be considered an integral part of the exam and no student may take the exam without first having attended the course and submitted a completed paper.
20% of the grade will be awarded for the presentation in class