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Reading Joyce's Ulysses

Overview

  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6

Module description

James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) was among the most influential and controversial literary texts of the last century. In its depiction of the events of one day in Dublin in June 1904, it offers an extraordinarily heightened social realism. Yet it also offers an extensive, explosive level of experimentation with language and literary form. The novel has generated its own industry of commentary and interpretation, but remains unread by many outside the academic world. This course offers students the opportunity to venture into Ulysses for the first time, or to read it all over again, for the length of an entire course.

We will move slowly through the text, normally at the rate of one chapter a week. This will necessarily get us reflecting on the kind of reading that the book requires of us, and the challenges it has posed to twentieth century readers and critics. While Ulysses itself will be our primary focus, no one should expect to get through the course without engaging with some of the secondary literature available. (This includes the extensive collection of books and periodical materials on Joyce in the University of London Library, Senate House.) Many now classic works of Joycean criticism are still available, but students are also strongly encouraged to read into recent work on Joyce and to situate themselves in relation to contemporary critical debates.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • an understanding of the text of Joyce's Ulysses
  • situated Ulysses in a historical and literary context
  • developed skills of close reading and sensitivity to texts
  • knowledge of the history of Joyce criticism.