Department of English Language and Literature
Semester 1, 2006/07
EL5221: The Linguistic Analysis of Literature



A/P Ismail S Talib

Brief Module Description

This interface module deals with some of the ways that linguistics and discourse analysis can be used for the analysis of literature. Among the topics covered are the grammatical features in literary texts, the sounds of poetry, and discourse situations in fictional narrative. This module will be useful for higher-degree students who want to use literature in their study, including those who have to use the language of literature for a more comprehensive examination of a particular area of linguistic research. Higher-degree literature students with a good linguistics background may also consider doing this module.

Aims and Objectives

The basic aim is to expose students to the analysis of literary texts, using linguistic and discourse analytical tools, and the purpose underlying such an analysis. The similarities and differences with the approaches to other texts will also be discussed. As this is a graduate level module, students are expected to deal with the linguistic analysis of literature more widely, more critically, and with more depth than the corresponding undergraduate module. Students should also arrive at a more mature understanding of how an interpretive and qualitative approach to language can enhance their thinking not only about the language of literature, but about language in general.


As this is an advanced module with a small number of students, the exact syllabus will depend on the interest of the particular batch of students, but it is likely that the syllabus will cover at least two of the following:

  1. The grammatical features of literary texts, which may cover the following features: clause types or patterns, and the frequency and significance of some grammatical categories.
  2. The sounds of poetry: taking a more linguistic perspective of scansion
  3. Discourse analytical perspectives of the text: discourse situations, speech and thought presentation, pragmatics of literary texts


Class Participation (students have ample opportunity to participate during discussion sessions): 10%
Term Paper: 15%
Project (including presentation): 15%
Test: 10%
IVLE Participation 10%
Final Examination: 40%
Total: 100%

Modes of Teaching and Learning

Although the teaching is lecture-based, the lecture sessions are interactive, and students are expected to respond accordingly. The last hour of the three-hour sessions will involve discussions among students on the topic dealt in the previous week. For their project work, students are encouraged to explore less conventional ways of presenting their analyses.

Basic Reading List


Handouts on the WWW (see the schedule for their application to the appropriate lectures).

Supplementary Readings

Hasan, Ruqaiya. Linguistics, Language and Verbal Art. Deakin UP, 1985.
Leech, Geoffrey N. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman, 1969.
--- & Michael H. Short. Style in Fiction. London: Longman, 1981.
Short, Michael H. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays, and Prose. Harlow: Longman , 1996.
Talib, Ismail S. The Language of Postcolonial Literatures: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2002.
Wales, Katie. Dictionary of Stylistics. Second Edition. London: Longman, 1991.

Workload Per Week

Lecture hours per week: 2
No. of hours per week for projects and assignments: 3
No. of hours per week for preparatory work: 5
Total hours per week: 10

Last revised: 26 September 2006.