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CLS3100 - Reading the canon: critical approaches

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader(s): Milicent Vladiv-Glover


Clayton First semester 2009 (Day)


The Unit will explore texts (in English translation) with origins in ancient Greek literature and examine how the classical material is transformed in later texts belonging to the European literary canon, understood in Harold Bloom's sense. Each text will be studied in the context of its poetics and the historical moment of its production. Various critical approaches will be used to interpret the canon, including structuralism, psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology and ecocriticism.


On completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Successfully analyse works of the classical and modern literary canon
  2. Employ effectively, in order to produce a reading of a literary text, tools of various theoretical orientations
  3. Discriminate between various analytical approaches, such as structuralism, psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology, historical poetics and ecocriticism
  4. Read the texts of the canon in their aesthetic and historical contexts
  5. Critically appreciate the radical intertextuality of the canon and be able to identify classical allusions or transformed classical themes and motifs in post-classical texts of the canon
  6. Express their research findings in original critical essays and seminar papers
  7. Observe scholarly methodology and convention of presentation and citation of material in essays and seminar papers
  8. Be able to give feed-back on their reading in an one-hour examination.
  9. Students attempting this unit at third-year level will be required to demonstrate greater sophistication in handling the theoretical tools in application to the analysis of the literary texts.


Essay (2500 words): 55%
Class presentation (1000 words): 20%
Test (one hour): 20%
Class participation: 5%

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week



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