Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Engaging with the changing nature of writing over time and analysing a work in the context of the period in which it was written are key foundational skills for the emerging literary studies scholar. In this unit, students will survey different periods of literary production in the rich tradition of literature in English, including the Early Modern period, the Renaissance, the Romantic era, the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries and learn the characteristics of each of these periods. 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. 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 a chronological schema that will be the foundation of future literary analysis.

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 a range of knowledge of literary periods and forms from different eras (GA5, GA9) 

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

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference 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 key debates within literary studies 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 
  • transnational flows of literature 
  • 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 face-to-face class exercises and formal assessments through which first year 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 lens 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 first-year students with a low risk, relatively lightly weighted assessment task that is both diagnostic (since this is an introductory unit) and formative. It will introduce the students to 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 in order to show how discourses about the issue are taken up in the text. 

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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