School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
The module is organised on a chronological basis, moving from Chaucer to Monty Python and beyond, taking in on the way a selection of comic texts from authors such as Shakespeare, Wycherley, Pope, Swift, Austen, Dickens, comic verse and performances by contemporary comedians. The lectures place the texts/performances in their historical and cultural contexts, while the seminars focus on the week’s specified text for analysis and discussion. Key comic modes such as parody, wit, and satire are analysed, along with recurring topics of humour: religion, politics, sex, and gender. The major functions of laughter – for stereotyping, for self-defence, for reform, rebellion, or release of tension – are highlighted as we explore their continuity over time and their difference in specific literary and cultural contexts.
The module is organised on a chronological basis, moving from the medieval to the present. The syllabus explores a selection of comic texts from authors such as Shakespeare, Wycherley, Pope, Swift, Austen, Dickens, comic verse, Monty Python and performances by contemporary comedians on screen and in stand-up. The lectures place the texts in their historical and cultural contexts, while the seminars focus on the week’s specified text for close reading and discussion. Both the lectures and the smaller groups are consistently concerned with the module’s over-riding questions about the nature of literary laughter. Concepts such as wit and satire are analysed, along with some of the recurring topics of humorous writing: religion, politics, sex and gender. The major functions of laughter – for stereotyping, for self-defence, for reform, rebellion, or release of tension – are highlighted for both their continuity and their difference in specific literary and cultural contexts.
-threshold -Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: •Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas •Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner •Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers •Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic •Little evidence of background reading •Some uncertainty over language and syntax •Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative •In creative work: superficial •Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium
-good -Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: •Discusses ideas adeptly •Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired •Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant •Shows analytical and clear thought •Gives evidence of relevant reading •Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. •A few minor errors here and there. •Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class •In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium •Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps
-excellent -Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities: •Discusses ideas with confidence and precision •Demonstrates maturity and sophistication •Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant •Shows independent, analytical and clear thought •Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading •Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language •Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought •In creative work: displays considerable originality •Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production
- Analyse comic texts or performances in English from a variety of genres and from a range of historical periods.
- Communicate the analysis of the comic texts on this module in a structured and coherent argument.
- Demonstrate critical awareness of the interrelationships of text, genre, literary tradition and cultural context in the creation of comedy.
The first assessment on the module is either a critical essay relating to two texts studied on the module thus far or a 1000-word piece of creative writing, accompanied by a 500-word commentary.
Exam (Centrally Scheduled)
1-hour exam. Commentary on an unseen passage of a comic text. The one-hour close reading is done in class.
The final assessment is a 1000 word essay examining the comic techniques and purposes of comedy employed in texts covered in the later part of the module.