Instead of an Introduction

How to use this Course
Technical Requirements

A great number of introductory texts to literary studies already exist, and usually English departments offer introductory courses of some sort as part of their undergraduate curriculum. The question therefore arises: What is the point in having an online introduction to literary studies? Why should one bother about presenting another introductory course on the net? In other words: What’s new about this course?

The answer to all these questions is by no means simple. In a nutshell, however, one can summarise the advantages of this course as follows:

The course is multifunctional and can be used in a variety of ways (e.g., as a supplement to an already existing course; as a tool for self-study activities and independent revisions of course materials; as a general study aid in the context of English studies at large).
It enhances your understanding of related topic areas in literary studies by showing up networks of terms and concepts applied to different genres.
It offers opportunities for constructive and creative learning by providing practical tools and know-how.
It presents materials in an interesting multimedia fashion by using audiovisual examples to illustrate terms and concepts.

Furthermore, instead of being swamped with huge amounts of theoretical information, you are provided with an easily accessible summary of the most relevant concepts and methods, which you can apply directly and thus improve your interpretive and reading skills. Nevertheless, this course can only be a starting point for further studies. By no means does it try to exhaust the presented topics. On the contrary, the introductory texts and the references to other authors should be used as a first guide to finding out more about a given topic area. Be inquisitive and explore the world of literary studies!


How to Use this Course

Since this introductory course is mainly aimed at students at the beginning of their studies, the overall structure of this course is fairly simple and provides an easy-to-follow guide to some of the core areas of current English literary studies. Like any other academic discipline, literary studies also have a set of clearly defined terms which can be applied when reading and discussing literary texts. An introduction to general concepts is provided in the section Basic Concepts under and a more detailed exposition of Analytical Tools for the analysis of prose, drama and poetry is given under in the navigation at the top and bottom of each page. The course is structured in such a way as to show up related and overlapping topic areas. In the various sections on drama, poetry, prose fiction and film studies, you will find links to the other sections. References in the text are primarily to other introductory works, which will help you widen your knowledge of a specific topic area. A complete list of all primary and secondary sources is given in the bibliography .

There are several longer demonstrations how theoretical concepts can be applied in practical analysis. These examples are indicated by an owl in the margin (like the one in this margin), asking the all-important questions: SO WHAT? Most importantly, this course offers numerous practical exercises, which you can do at home and in your own time. Thus, you can set up your own learning module according to your personal needs and interests.

The scroll on the left side of each page provides links for recommended further reading, a pdf-version of the course to print out, a glossary of important terms and exercises for you to test your knowledge.

The only thing that remains to say now is: Explore the wonderful world of literature and have fun!


Technical Requirements

To take full advantage of the multimedia tools on diverse pages of this site you need to install FlashPlayer 6 or higher on your computer (Use the right button of your mouse and choose save target under in the menu popping up). This site was created for Netscape 4+ or Internet Explorer 4+. Please make sure that your browser accepts javascripts.