English - Free topic 4: Love and the Novel and Queer and Feminist Methods

Course content

Love and the Novel (Tina Lupton)

The history of conjugal love as a concept coincides historically with the rise of the novel as a literary form.  This course sets out to explore that coincidence.  What has the role of novels been in giving romance its narrative form?  How closely tied has the logic of marriage been to the conventions of plot and happy ending?  We’ll explore these questions even as we look at the queer and less easily narrativized forms of affection and affiliation that the novel has also supported – between friends, family, lovers.  And we’ll ask what the trajectory and future of the novel as a genre might look like as we track it into our own century where the forms of love that can be told seem more open than ever.  


Students will write two short essays for the class in which they will be expected to draw on the readings (in narrative and queer theory and around the idea of friendship) provided in the four workshops taught as the other part of this portfolio course.  



  • Jane Austen, Prejudice and Prejudice
  • Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’urbervilles
  • D.H.Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
  • Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming Pool Library
  • Ali Smith, How to Be Both
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People
  • James Baldwin, Another Country



Queer and Feminist Methods (Heather Love)

 This course serves as an introduction to foundational concepts in queer and feminist studies, with a focus on questions of representation, intimacy, history, and temporality. Beginning with Roland Barthes’s structuralist account of love and loss A Lover’s Discourse, we will address both canonical texts and current debates in these fields. Discussions will focus on reading practices; desire and narrative; domesticity and its discontents; the ethics of historical recovery; and forms of intimacy beyond the couple and the family. Readings by Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault, Nancy Armstrong, D.A. Miller, Laura Mulvey, Leo Bersani, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, David Halperin, Carolyn Dinshaw, Michael Warner, and others. 

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

‘Love and the Novel’ will be taught in a weekly 2-hour seminar throughout the semester and ‘Queer and Feminist Methods’ is planned to run as 4 workshop days in February, March, April and May (dates t.b.a.)

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline June 10th 2020
2 essays (5-7 pp. 12 pt. 1 ½ sp) for ‘Love and the Novel’ (each counting as 25 % of the final grade).
Student conference in the final workshop for “Queer and Feminist Methods” in which students are encouraged to draw on the novels as well as the theory studied in the course (counts 50 % of the final grade).
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5