EL5005 - Geneses of English Literature

What will I learn on this module?

What are the mythological frameworks of western culture, and how have they influenced and informed literary texts? This module will introduce you to poems, plays, and novels which adapt classical and biblical narratives – including mythologies of ‘genesis’ (Eden, Troy), ‘metamorphosis’ (Actaeon, Christ), and ‘underworlds’ (Orpheus and Eurydice, Satan) – unpacking and analysing some of the most central narratives of British and American literature. Using cultural theory relevant to appropriation studies, you will learn how to locate and analyse classical and biblical narratives in literary texts in meaningful ways. Reading beyond literature, you will also learn about how these narratives are employed in popular music, film, television, advertising, and wider popular cultures.

Building upon work completed at Level 4 in narrative and appropriation studies on modules such as EL4006 ‘Concepts in Criticism and Culture’, this module offers you a more focused and in depth opportunity to read core narrative and mythology ‘types’ in a range of twentieth and twenty-first century texts. The module fosters key skills in textual analysis, and your tutor-led and independent reading and research tasks will supplement and support learning at Level 6.

How will I learn on this module?

Per week: 1 x 90 minute lecture & 1 x 90 minute seminar

You will learn via lectures and seminars, and through guided independent research. In lectures you will learn about primary source texts like Homer’s Iliad and the New Testament. Lecturers will encourage you to approach these texts as literature, teaching you the skills to locate and analyse important ‘origins’ of classical and biblical narratives. In your seminars, you will trace these narratives in other twentieth and twenty-first century poems, plays, and novels.

In addition to learning during contact hours, you will be expected to undertake both directed and independent learning. Directed learning will take the form of preparation for seminars (including both reading and the preparation of critical responses to the studied topics) either individually or in small groups. Your independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and research in preparation for your presentation and essay, the consolidation of seminar materials and the completion of the assessment.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Lectures, seminars and tasks for these will develop your academic skills as you engage with primary, secondary, theoretical and contextual materials to allow you to attain the module learning outcomes, and, more importantly perhaps, to enjoy reading and thinking about classical and biblical appropriations. The module handbook provides details of lectures, seminars, reading lists and assessment criteria; lecture PowerPoint slides are made available on the e-learning portal. The module tutor will be available in lectures and seminars, as well as in office hours and on email/phone, to discuss any queries or concerns you have about how to excel academically on the module. Moreover, feedback on formative work and the first summative assessment will also serve as ‘feed forward’, giving guidance on how to improve during the module. In addition, you have a designated Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Guidance Tutor’s role includes:
• monitoring your ongoing academic progress
• helping you to develop self-reflection skills necessary for continuous academic development
• directing you to further available services which can help them with their academic skills (e.g. Library’s Skills Plus)

You are advised to see your Guidance Tutor at least twice each semester to review your academic progress. The Guidance Booklet, which you receive at the start of your first year, includes structured materials designed to help you develop your self-reflection skills. These materials underpin the academic side of the regular Guidance meetings, helping you to learn how to best use the feedback you receive on your assignments, how to build on your strengths, and improve in the areas where you could perform better.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. A specialised knowledge of biblical and classical narratives, characters, and mythologies

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. An ability to analyse classical and biblical adaptation across a range of texts and genres
3. a capacity to select relevant primary and secondary materials and to deploy this evidence in discussing issues relevant to classical and biblical studies

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. an ability to use critical theories to interpret biblical and classical appropriations in their contexts and ours
5. skills conforming to relevant standards of good academic conduct in the expression of an informed argument in written and oral forms through completing the various activities prescribed

How will I be assessed?


You will complete an essay plan in preparation for your summative assessment in Week 11.


Oral presentation (30%)
The oral presentation provides you with an opportunity to offer your own insights into the primary text and/or key critical debates while also encouraging you to engage with and respond to the work of your peers. Many students find it difficult to contribute to seminar discussion and a formal and assessed presentation is one way of providing these students with a more structured format. The oral presentation further gives you practice in a key employability skills (verbal communication skills and the use of audio-visual aids).
MLOs 4,5.

2,500 word essay (70%)
The essay enables you to explore the texts covered on the module in depth and to engage with the key critical concepts and cultural contexts explored on the module. MLOs 1-5.

Feedback from the first assignment will inform your preparation of the second. Ongoing formative feedback will take place within the seminars as part of the continual discursive process of group analysis of the texts, themes and issues.

Feedback will be provided in typed form with additional verbal or handwritten comments, and you will be invited to discuss your individual feedback with the module tutor in a one-on-one tutorial.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code Q320

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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