Theory of Literature

lfial1550  2021-2022  Louvain-la-Neuve

Theory of Literature
5.00 credits
30.0 h + 7.5 h
Dufays Jean-Louis; Dufays Jean-Louis (compensates Lisse Michel); Lisse Michel;
Main themes
This course contains two sections which are linked to each other: a series of formal lectures (13 to 15 sessions of 2 hours) and sessions of practical exercises in small groups (4 sessions of 2 hours).
a) The formal lectures will start by comparing the main modern definitions of a text, reading, and literature. They will briefly review the history of the issue of literary genres. They will then analyse the component elements of dramatic, poetic and narrative texts. The emphasis will be on analysis: we will look in turn at the components of diegesis (plot, characters, space, time), narration (the narrator's stances, narration time) and the shaping of the text, narrative genres (epics, stories, novellas, novels etc.) and the different categories such as realism, magic realism, fantasy and detective stories.  Finally, using examples, we will look at the different ways an analysis can be made of the processes involved in reading literature. 
b) The practical exercise sessions, which will ideally be organised in subject groups (GERM / ROGE / CLAS / LAFR / ROM) of between 15 and 20 students, are designed to provide practice in reading texts on literary theory in depth, thus preparing students for the requirements of the examination. Grouping by subject will enable students to read written texts in their language speciality (i.e. French, English, Dutch, German, Greek or Latin) and to deal with issues that the lecturers in their subject wish to highlight. Texts will be chosen both to enhance the teaching material for the formal lectures and to complement and introduce them.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

- To be able to identify the relationship between literary output and the concept of genre by referring to the main definitions and approaches which have been put forward in criticism.
- To be able to use the main components to analyse a poetic, narrative or dramatic text; and in this way to use the basic methodology to analyse works from different genres in future literature courses.
- To use a methodology for reading texts that is informed by literary theory.
a) First, the magistral lessons opposites several modern conceptions of the notion of literature and of the act of reading. On a second time, it introduces to the problematic of the literary genres. Finally, it analyses the constitutive elements of the dramatic text, of the poetic text and of the narrative text.
b) The exercises, which are organized in specialized groups (GERM, ROGE, GLOR-LAFR, ROM and minors), train the students to read with accuracy texts of literary theory, which are chosen in order to emphasize the contents of the magistral lessons, as a complement or as an opening related to these lessons.
Teaching methods
The formal lectures contain many examples and group analyses where active student participation is required. The practical exercises are designed to make students take an interactive approach to the reading of four theoretical texts, under the supervision of a teaching assistant. 
Evaluation methods
The assessment is written and consists of two parts: an examination which focuses on the knowledge and the detailed understanding of the course contents (via a MCQ of 40 questions) and practical work (via two open questions) and a personal work.
The personal work will consist in showing how different theoretical texts chosen from the course bibliography allow to answer a problem-question that the student has asked. The paper should be between 8,000 and 10,500 characters in length and should be based on a minimum of one hundred pages from three different theoretical texts, and should be written according to the detailed instructions given in the first lecture and available on the Moodle site LFIAL1550.
The written work must be handed in to the teacher's pigeonhole by Friday 17 December 2021 before 12 noon (January session) or by Tuesday 16 August 2022 before 12 noon (September session). Any work not handed in or handed in late will be marked as zero.
Weighting: 14 points out of 20 for the examination part (including 10 for the MCQ and 4 for the two questions on the practical work), 6 points out of 20 for the work.
Other information
Course material : a large bibliography, classified by themes ; a portfolio of reference articles ; a detailed plan of the course ; an index with the main concepts.
Teaching team : The course and the workshops will be given by a multidisciplinary team of teachers (Germanists, Classics, Romanists) who will share the interventions out among themselves according to their skills.
Online resources
  • DUFAYS Jean-Louis, LISSE Michel et MEUREE, Christophe, Théorie de la littérature. Une introduction, Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia-Bruylant, 2009 (Intellection), 208 p.
Une bibliographie détaillée de plus de 300 titres est mise à la disposition des étudiant sur le site Moodle.
Teaching materials
  • DUFAYS Jean-Louis, LISSE Michel et MEUREE, Christophe, Théorie de la littérature. Une introduction, Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia-Bruylant, 2009 (Intellection), 208 p.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Bachelor in Ancient and Modern Languages and Literatures

Minor in French Studies

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures: German, Dutch and English

Bachelor in French and Romance Languages and Literatures : General

Minor in Literary Studies