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Module QXP-3093:
Experimental Writing

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr James Wilkes

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To introduce the idea of literary experiment and explore it in particular contexts.
  2. To examine reasons why innovative writers either break literary conventions or invent rules and constraints of their own.
  3. To place literary experiments with a hisotrical, political and cultural context.
  4. To explore the work of key figures in twentieth and twenty-first century literary experiment
  5. To explore the practical aspects of experimental writing, from a critical-creative perspective.

Course content

Writing in all genres breaks conventions of literary form in order to express or produce cultural change. Histories of experimentation continue throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, influencing poetry, prose and new hybrid forms. The influence of ideas from Dada and Surrealism will lead into an examination of visual texts, including 1950s concrete poetry and later developments in digital writing. The resurgence of modernist techniques such as collage and the cut-up will be traced in later postmodernist twentieth century fiction and poetry. The module explores the work of an international range of writers such as Tristan Tzara, Gertrude Stein, Eugen Gomringer, Kurt Vonnegut, Steve McCaffery, Caroline Bergvall, Claudia Rankine and Lyn Hejinian. Practical experiments in different forms of writing lead to a portfolio of innovative writing and the ability to put it in context.

Assessment Criteria


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


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


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

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the work of key figures in literary experimentation.

  2. Be able to place literary experimentation within a historical trajectory.

  3. Understand the idea of literary experimentation.

  4. Understand the practical aspects of experimental writing, either from a critical or creative perspective.

  5. Know the reasons why writers might experiment with literary forms.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Mid-term Essay or Anthology Introduction 40
Portfolio 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

One two-hour seminar per week for 11 weeks
One one-hour study group per week for 11 weeks
Private study 167
Study group 11

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Resource implications for students

Some books are recommended for purchase, but are also in the library.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: