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10 cp from 200-level unit in Literature or English

Unit rationale, description and aim

The impact of digital technology is apparent in every aspect of human life and understanding the dynamics of debates about literary culture and the impact of digitisation is vital to many professions. In literary studies this impact ranges from new digital reading practices to experiments in hypertext fiction which both alters how we interpret literature and shifts our understanding of the meaning and effects of the literary. In this unit the student will explore key technological changes and their impact on reading strategies, literary archives and methods of literary criticism. Students will work with a range of primary and secondary texts in order to investigate key topics and developments in this field. Applying a range of literary and cultural approaches, the student will contribute to analyses and debates generated by the rise of digital technology. The aim of this unit is to develop a student's capacity to construct sophisticated and well-informed analyses of the impact of digital technology on literary culture.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate broad and deep knowledge of a range of literary theories and periods and apply these to a variety of literary texts in order to generate new interpretations of texts (GA4, GA5, GA9) 

LO2 - Devise, develop and communicate complex ideas and concepts concerning digital literatures using both critical and creative approaches including audio, digital, oral, visual or written form as appropriate (GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO3 - Locate, interpret and appropriately reference a range of texts and critical resources and use them to sustain a nuanced evidence-based argument in a self-devised project (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Critically analyse evidence and synthesise scholarship in digital literatures according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the discipline (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10) 

LO5 - Describe and analyse the role of literary/digital texts and archives in imagining and interpreting the world (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics may include: 

Reading and Digital culture 

  • Screen reading and cognitive processes 
  • New forms of reading: text and twitter 
  • Online reading communities 

Writing and Digital Culture 

  • New forms of writing: hypertext and experimental 
  • Games as a form of literature 
  • Modes and genres in e-fiction 
  • Small scale online publishers 
  • Self-publishing and the end of cultural gatekeepers 
  • Fan fiction 

Archives and Digital Analysis 

  • The digital archive: print to electronic records 
  • Digital literature and digital literacy 
  • Big Data: Franco Moretti and ‘distant reading’ 

Active techniques in investigating literary culture 

  • Locating and using advanced primary and secondary materials in questions of reading, publishing and archiving 
  • Approaches to analysing literary culture 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In the spirit of the unit’s content, this unit will be delivered as a fully online digital experience. The unit embraces active learning involving online activities through which students will:  

1) Gain a deep understanding of the content covered in the unit.  

The active learning activities in this unit include reading, writing, discussion and online debates aimed at promoting analysis and synthesis of class content, paying particular attention to the dynamics of debates about literary culture and the impact of digitisation. Students will examine a range of positions within each topic in order to understand the complex relationship between literary culture and new digital forms. 

2) Acquire, develop and hone skills fundamental to the discipline of literary studies.  

This will include the sharpening of skills in close reading; the ability to place texts within a wider literary culture; the ability to identify relevant and high-quality secondary sources and incorporate them into their own research and analysis; the ability to take a position within debates and to communicate their findings in a scholarly manner. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

Before attempting the research essay or investigative tasks, students need to have a strong foundation knowledge of how reading and literary cultures have evolved in response to digitisation. The purpose of the first assessment is to develop a sound knowledge of the field of evidence, including primary works of electronic literature and secondary works which examine key concepts in digital literature, such as the experience of reading digital materials, the growth of electronic forms and the formation of digital literary communities. Students will be required to demonstrate awareness that each of these areas is accompanied by debates concerning impact and likely future developments. This investigative task develops a capacity to discover apposite sources, critically analyse them and insert evaluative statements into the context of existing debate.  

Students build on these skills in locating and analysing resources to find, synthesise and critically evaluate evidence related to a specific issue within digital literary culture in an individual research task. This will require students to generate a thesis which will be justified by evidence accumulated through close reading or other forms of analysis of primary and secondary works – this thesis will also be placed within the context of existing debates in the field.  

The third assessment is an explorative task that invites students to use the resources of a digital archive to make a specific statement about a literary issue. The point of this assessment is to explore the range of archives available and to develop evidence that could only be generated by digital tools. These may include digital text analysis, developing a concordance, tracking the presence of key words and so on.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Investigative Task 

The key purpose of this assignment is for students to develop skills in understanding and participating in the complex field of evidence and debate relevant to reading and literary culture in a digital age. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Research Task 

The key purpose of this assessment is to foster skills in analysis, synthesis, writing skills and research. The task will encourage students to construct an evidence-based argument concerning an issue within digital literary culture, while demonstrating an understanding of competing positions and/or approaches. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Explorative Task 

The purpose of this assessment is to apply skills in locating and exploring a digital archive to make statements about an issue related to literature. 


LO3, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Bode, Katherine. Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History. University of Michigan Press, 2018. 

Bode, Katherine. Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field. Cambridge University Press, 2012. 

Earhart, Amy E. Traces of the Old, Uses of the New: The Emergence of Digital Literary Studies. University of Michigan Press, 2015. 

Eskelinen, Markku. Cybertext Poetics: The Critical Landscape of New Media Literary Theory. Bloomsbury, 2012. 

Hammond, Adam. Literature in the Digital Age. Cambridge University Press, 2016. 

Moretti, Franco. Distant Reading. Verso, 2013. 

Murray, Simone. The Digital Literary Sphere: Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era. Johns Hopkins, 2018. 

Rettberg, Scott. Electronic Literature. Polity, 2019. 

Ross, Shawna, and O'Sullivan, James. Reading Modernism with Machines: Digital Humanities and Modernist Literature. Palgrave, 2016. 

Salazar, Juan F. and Gauthier, Jennifer. Global Indigenous Media: Cultures, Poetics, and Politics. Duke University Press, 2008. 

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