Literary Pleasure

Subject ENGL40010 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2
Total Time Commitment:



Admission to the postgraduate certificate, diploma or fourth year honours in English & theatre studies.



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Clara Tuite

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the uses and abuses of literary pleasure, considering it as a category of analysis that develops 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 affect, 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.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject will:

  • have an understanding of the category of literary pleasure as it has developed since the eighteenth century;
  • have an understanding of current debates in literary aesthetics that engage the relations between pleasure and value; and
  • have a familiarity with a range of literary-critical, cultural-historical and theoretical approaches to the category of literary pleasure.

Written work of 5000 words in the form of one research essay 100% (due in the examination period). Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% (or 10 out of 12) classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Any student who fails to meet this hurdle without valid reason will not be eligible to pass the subject. All required written work must be submitted in order to pass the subject. Essays submitted after the due date without an extension will be penalised 2% per day. Essays submitted after two weeks of the assessment due date without a formally approved application for special consideration or an extension will only be marked on a pass/fail basis if accepted.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader including primary materials by Edmund Burke, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Katherine Mansfield, Christina Rossetti and AC Swinburne will be available.

  • J Austen, Sense and Sensibility.
  • A Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
  • J Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.
  • CA Duffy, Rapture.
  • I Kant, Critique of Judgment.
  • M Proust, Swann's Way, In Search of Lost Time, Vol 1.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject:

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

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