English (ENGL) 316

Approaches to Literary Theory and Criticism (Revision 2)

ENGL 316 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s).

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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ENGL 316 is an introductory level course designed to familiarize you with a variety of critical perspectives and help you understand literary works more profoundly by integrating literary theory in your response to these works. ENGL 316 also aims to prepare English program students for ENGL 423, which deals with some of the more contemporary literary theories covered in English 316 in more depth.


  • Chapter 1: Defining Criticism, Theory, and Literature
  • Chapter 2: A Historical Survey of Literary Criticism
  • Chapter 3: Russian Formalism and New Criticism
  • Chapter 4: Reader-Oriented Criticism
  • Chapter 5: Modernity and Postmodernism: Structuralism and Deconstruction
  • Chapter 6: Psychoanalytic Criticism
  • Chapter 7: Feminism
  • Chapter 8: Marxism
  • Chapter 9: Cultural Poetics or New Historicism
  • Chapter 10: Cultural Studies: Postcolonialism, African-American Criticism, and Queer Theory


To receive credit for ENGL 316, you must complete two essay assignments, two discussion forum posts, and a final examination. In order to pass the course, you must achieve a composite grade of at least D (50 percent) and a minimum grade of “D” (50 percent) on the final exam.

Activity Weighting
First discussion forum post 5%
First Essay 20%
Second discussion forum post 5%
Second Essay 20%
Final Exam 50%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Abrams, M. H. and Geoffrey Galt Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 11th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.


Bressler, Charles, E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 8th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

Lodge, David and Nigel Wood, eds. Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. 3rd ed. London: Pearson Longman, 2008.

Stott, Jon C., Raymond E. Jones, and Rick Bowers, eds. The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction. 4th ed. Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2006.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a student manual/study guide.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, January 5, 2016.

View previous syllabus