Literary Pleasure

Subject 106-457 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: .
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate certificate, diploma or fourth year honours in English.
Corequisites: .
Recommended Background Knowledge: .
Non Allowed Subjects: .
Core Participation Requirements: .


Clara Tuite
Subject Overview:

This subject examines the uses and abuses of literary pleasure, considering it as a category of analysis that develops historically from the eighteenth century with the emergence of literature as an institution and disciplinary formation. Through a series of literary, theoretical and critical readings, students analyse the singularity of literary pleasure, whilst engaging it in its institutional, economic, social, affective and corporeal locations. The subject introduces students to current debates in literary aesthetics that engage the fraught relations between pleasure and value. Students trace these debates historically, moving from Edmund Burke's vocabulary of aesthetic affects, Kant's 'castrated hedonism', and eighteenth-century writings on the dangerous pleasures of novel-reading, through nineteenth-century art-for-art's-sake theories, utilitarianism and late Victorian 'New Hedonism', to Marxist and social practice accounts of literary value, and contemporary queer theory. Many influential theories have been notoriously unable to account for the specific forms and values of literary pleasure: asking why is a key focus of the subject. Students consider literary pleasure through three main modalities: affect; utility and uselessness; taste and consumption. Topics include literary dandyism and relations between writing, leisure and work; aesthetic, culinary and sexual taste regimes; reproduction and anti-reproduction models of literary pleasure.

Assessment: Written work of 5000 words in the form of one research essay, 100% (due at the end of semester). A hurdle requirement of attendance at a minimum of nine tutorials will operate in order to pass the subject.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop
Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • acquire skills in research through competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources; through the successful definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;

  • acquire skills in critical thinking and analysis through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the questioning of accepted wisdom and the ability to shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments; through attention to detail in reading material; and through openness to new ideas and the development of critical self-awareness;

  • acquire skills in theoretical thinking through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;

  • acquire skills in creative thinking through essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;

  • acquire skills in social, ethical and cultural understanding through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the social contextualisation of arguments and judgments; through adaptations of knowledge to new situations and openness to new ideas; through the development of critical self-awareness in relation to an understanding of other cultures and practices;

  • acquire skills in intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas through essay preparation, planning and writing as well as tutorial discussion; through effective dissemination of ideas from recommended reading and other relevant information sources; through clear definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research; through confidence to express ideas in public forums;

  • acquire skills in time management and planning through the successful organization of workloads; through disciplined self-direction and the ability to meet deadlines.

Notes: .
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (English Language)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (English Literature)

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