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ENL3004 The Literary Canon: How to Read Great Books

Semester 2, 2021 Online
Short Description: Literary Canon: How Read Books
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 091523 - Literature
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Daniel Hourigan


Pre-requisite: ENL1000 or ENL1001

Other Requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


ENL3004 The Literary Canon is one of two capstone courses in the Literature Major. It conducts a thorough review of the core skills and knowledges in the literature major through a detailed set of case studies in the historical valuation or canonisation of great books. Students will write essays on several great books and canonical authors and be tested on their knowledge of the processes of canonisation and the textual effects associated with literary distinction. The course advances knowledge gained in first two years of English Literature courses and prepares students for postgraduate studies in the discipline area.


This course provides students with a range of strategies for reading 'great books'. A number of celebrated English literary texts will be examined in terms of their sophistication and value, framed within the context of historical debates about the cultural importance of Classic Literature and the social and political functions of an English literary canon.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate advanced academic and professional literacy by describing the formal characteristics of great books and critically applying this knowledge using specific examples drawn from different periods of literary history;
  2. critically evaluate the cultural importance of Classic Literature within the context of the formation of the English literary canon, with reference to a number of celebrated English literary texts;
  3. employ advanced ethical, research, and enquiry skills by researching, devising and expressing a complex argument which addresses objectives 1 and 2;
  4. compose pieces of writing that adhere precisely to disciplinary conventions, specifically tailored to developing these complex arguments in cogent fashion;
  5. consistently provide evidence of reflective practice and engagement with peer learning through participation in course discussions.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The canon: definitions, formation and problems 20.00
2. Foundational works 20.00
3. The rise of the novel 30.00
4. Modern and contemporary canons 30.00

Text and Materials

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Dickens, C 1999, Great Expectations, Norton, New York.
((Norton Critical Edition, edited by Rosenberg, Edgar.).)
Edgeworth, M 2014, Castle Rackrent, Norton, New York.
((Norton Critical Edition, edited by Twomey, Ryan).)
Plath, S 2005, The Bell Jar, Faber & Faber, London.

Reference Materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Bloom, H 1994, The western canon: the books and school of the ages, Harcourt Brace, New York.
Court, FE 1992, Institutionalising English literature: the culture and politics of literary study, 1750-1900, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.
Kramnick, JB 1998, Making the English canon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Ross, TT 1998, The making of the English literary canon, McGill-Queen's University Press, Buffalo.

Student Workload Expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 39.00
Independent Study 126.00

Assessment Details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT (2000 WORDS) 100 40 27 Aug 2021
RESEARCH ESSAY (2500 WORDS) 100 40 15 Oct 2021
READING QUIZ 100 20 22 Oct 2021

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    It is the students’ responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment Notes

  1. All students are to submit nominated assignments through Turnitin. Non-compliance with this request could result in assignment marks being withheld. Students should refer to the USQ instructions on how to set up a Turnitin account and submit assignments into Turnitin.

Other Requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.

  2. Assignments should be typed and must be double spaced. The new MLA style must be used in documenting all assessment items. See Study Desk for details.

  3. Tape recording of tutorials and lectures is prohibited except in special cases at the discretion of the examiner.

Date printed 8 November 2021