Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

In this unit, students will survey different periods of literary production in the rich tradition of literature in English. This unit will require students to place texts within their geographical and historical context while developing an understanding of how the function, form and meaning of literature changes over time. Students will be introduced to the cultural context, including artistic debates and developments of movements such as realism, modernism and postmodernism. The aim of this unit is to gain knowledge of a wide range of literature while developing an ability to communicate these understandings clearly.

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 - Describe literary works of a variety of types (GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form (GA9)

LO3 - Locate and employ a variety of critical sources relevant to developing a coherent argument about writing and literature (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10)

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to enhance the understanding of examples of literature (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO5 - Identify and discuss developments in forms of literature over time (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 

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 and content may include:

  • a selection of literary texts across a range of periods
  • location and interpretation of these texts within their historic and cultural contexts
  • contemporary issues in specific texts
  • literary movements and their impact on literature
  • reading, gender, genre and taste
  • censorship and the dangers of literature
  • critical debates about the formation of the literary canon
  • colonisation, post-colonial, decolonisation themes including Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other world Indigenous perspectives

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses a series of class exercises and formal assessments through which students will gain a foundational knowledge of content including literary periods, significant authors and their works and styles and forms of literature. This will involve exercises in promoting an understanding of the chronology of literary periods, the development of the English language and the concept of the canon. Students will also hone their skills in the close reading of texts in order to generate deeper levels of analysis. Students will participate in exercises in close reading of texts to apprehend meanings at a deep level and be able to summarise content knowledge and use close reading skills to generate interpretations linked to historical and cultural contexts. This ability to relate meaning to context will be developed through class activities and formal exercises in which students will investigate texts through an understanding of the culture from which they emerged.

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

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

Assessment task one will be provide students with a low risk, relatively lightly weighted assessment task that is both diagnostic and formative. It will develop the skills necessary to read a literary work with reference to its historic context.

The second task requires students to demonstrate their ability to take up a particular issue and offer an interpretation of a literary text in terms of how that issue is represented. This task will require students to place the work within a cultural and historical context.

The final task is summative and requires students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of literary works and styles over the periods in question and to be able to locate these within cultural and historic contexts. This assessment will also require students to describe some key debates in literary studies.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Close reading task

This task tests ability to locate works within cultural contexts and produce analyses which take this context into account


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA9

Research Essay

This essay requires students to interpret a literary work through reference to its historical context


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Summative Task/Exam

This assessment requires students to demonstrate an ability to locate a work within its historical context and discuss some of the ways in which literary history is constructed


LO1, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Aldana Reyes, Xavier. Horror: A Literary History. British Library, 2016.

Bru, Sascha, et al. Literature Now: Key Terms and Methods for Literary History. Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

Ghosh, Ranjan, and Miller, J. Hillis. Thinking Literature across Continents. Duke University Press, 2016.

Goulimari, Pelagia. Literary Criticism and Theory: from Plato to Postcolonialism, 2015.

McHale, Brian. The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodernism. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Ortolano, Scott, and Hammill, Faye. Popular Modernism and Its Legacies: From Pop Literature to Video Games. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Pugh, Tison., and Margaret E. Johnson. Literary Studies: A Practical Guide. Routledge, 2014.

Rosenstone, Robert. Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students. Routledge, 2017.

Sodeman, Melissa. Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History. Stanford University Press, 2014.

Sutherland, John. A Little History of Literature. Yale University Press, 2017.

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