Kaisa_2012_3_photo by Veikko Somerpuro

This basic course initiates students to critical literary analysis through the study of recent fiction.

10.12.2019 at 09:00 - 14.1.2020 at 23:59


Here is the course’s teaching schedule. Check the description for possible other schedules.

Tue 14.1.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 21.1.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 28.1.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 4.2.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 11.2.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 18.2.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 25.2.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 10.3.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 17.3.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 24.3.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 31.3.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 7.4.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 21.4.2020
14:15 - 15:45
Tue 28.4.2020
14:15 - 15:45



This is a basic course offered by the Department of Comparative Literature, targeted primarily at bachelor students in literatures and/or languages with little to no previous knowledge of literary theories and literature analysis. Exchange and visiting students are welcome; the course will be taught and assessed exclusively in English.

NB! Students who have already taken a similar course (same course code) should be put on the waiting list.
6 spaces for exchange students, who only speak English.


Students can be complete beginners. It is not necessary that the students have attended previous courses in literature/literary theories at university, but they may have already attended introductory courses in literary theories, such as “Introduction to Comparative Literature” (TTK-YL110).


On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1)Analyse the underlying structure of a text
2)Apply elements from literary theories from narratology (on intertextuality, time, focalisation and characters) to explain the choices made by the writers we study and to strengthen arguments in your essay. We will study the theories together in class.
3)Produce well-structured essays to present their analysis
4)Apply the MLA reference system when citing authors (the teacher will explain what this is)

They will also begin to develop the following skills:
1) Create their own personal interpretations of texts
2) Criticise literary theories and existing interpretations of texts
3) Appraise other students’ essays critically

Opintojen alussa.

Kursseja järjestetään jokaisena lukukautena.


This unit initiates students to critical literary analysis. Although the focus of this course is on fictional texts from the 20th century, the methods seen here will help students throughout their lives and subsequent studies when they have to critically assess all types of texts such as non-fiction, news articles and political discourses. Analysis will rely mostly on elements from narratology, stylistics and rhetoric.

The course will involve weekly reading and homework that students have to prepare before coming to class. 6 short stories (1 to 20 pages each) and 3 short novels (100 to 200 pages each) will be assigned as reading and serve as the raw material the students with decode with the help of the teacher.

Questions addressed by the course will be:

  • How can you be a critical reader and analyse the construction of a text?
  • How can you separate its elements (for example its sentences, paragraphs, rhythm, choice of words) and identify the role that each of them plays in realising the writer’s intention?
  • How can you build a convincing essay to communicate your analysis of a text?
  • What are the expectations of academic writing?

-Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925, 182pp.)
-Rushdie, Salman. “At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers”. East, West (1994, 20pp.)
-Quignard, Pascal. All the World’s Mornings (1991, 134 pp.). Originally published in French: Tous les matins du monde.
-Munro, Alice. Selected short stories from Dance of the Happy Shades (1968) and Open Secrets (1994). Each short story is around 25-page long.
-Selvon, Samuel. The Lonely Londoners (1956, 141 pp.)
-Liksom, Rosa. Selected short stories from Dark Paradise (1989). Originally published in Finnish: Tyhjän tien paratiisit.


The course is graded on a scale of 1-5. The overall grade is a compound of:
1) 4 essays written on the assigned reading (see list above). Each essay is around 2-page long only (850 words). Each essay analyses one of the novellas/novels given as assigned reading; students apply the essay-writing techniques seen in class, back up their arguments with general literary theories studied in class, and respect MLA citing practice and good scientific conduct. The exact grading criteria and expectations are given to the students at the beginning of the course.
2) Weekly homework, presence and participation are given a grade: students are expected to do the weekly homework and to be present and active in class. A minimum of 75% attendance is required. It means that the students cannot miss more than 3 sessions.

Alongside grades, students will receive individual feedback with suggestions for improvement.


In order to complete this course, it is necessary to attend minimum 75% of classes, do the homework and complete all essays, and the average of all your grades should be at least 1. There are no final exam or book exam.

You learn by doing: this is a practical course with a small number of students. This course is writing-intensive: you learn to write essays by writing many short essays rather than a long final one. The teacher gives the students tools and techniques to analyse texts and write well-structured essays; with the guidance of the teacher, the students apply these tools. Here are examples of activities that will be done in or out of class:

- the teachers and the students discuss questions on the assigned readings and/or homework
- the teacher explains techniques to analyse texts, gives a mini-lecture on a key theoretical point (for example, “focalization”) and shows in practice how to apply it to analyse a text
- the students apply this theoretical tool to a text extract (sometimes they work individually, sometimes in pairs or in teams)
- after they have studied the criteria that make a good essay, the students practice writing short essays (2-3 pages)
- after they have studied the MLA reference system, the students write a bibliography that respects academic norms

On Moodle, the students will find the syllabus, week-by-week programme, homework, and assessment criteria, in addition to helpful links (especially on ethical academic writing and MLA guidelines).