Analytical Approaches to the Text: Literature and Culture

sunclockInstructors: Prof. E. Pancheva, Prof. V. Trendafilov, Associate Professor Z. Katalan, Associate Professor M. Pipeva, Dr. G. Niagolov, Dr. V. Budakov, Dr. L. Terziev

Course email:

Password: bunuel13


Primary goal: to prepare students for the new format of the state exam.

This course aims at improving students’ analytical skills and developing further awareness of the mechanics of critical reading and writing. Reviewing ground that has already been covered in the Literature courses, the instructors will draw attention to the following areas of critical enquiry: a literary work’s historical and cultural context, its content, its controlling themes and ideas, its form, and possible links with other literary or non-literary texts. In essence, then, this course is designed to increase students’ capacity to approach literary texts from different critical angles.

The students will be expected to participate in the following activities:

  • critical discussions of specific literary texts and their contexts
  • writing critical responses to specific questions
  • peer reviewing



By the end of this course, students should demonstrate the ability to:

  • think critically about the thematic content and the rhetorical strategies of literary texts
  • discuss a literary text’s form in relation to themes and ideas
  • make meaningful links between text and context
  • add a broader intertextual and/or metatextual perspective to their analysis
  • construct coherent written responses to specific questions
  • confine themselves to statements that are relevant to the question at hand (no sweeping generalizations and empty rhetoric)
  • use appropriate tone and language for an academic audience
  • use a reasonably wide range of vocabulary and structure
  • handle, with few or no mistakes, basic sentence elements such as complete sentences, verb/subject agreement, verb tenses, mechanics of quotations, and parallelism



The Literature segment of the exam will be based on four excerpts from literary texts, two of which will be drawn by a student on the day of the exam. The students will choose one of these excerpts and work on it.

The texts will be from four different periods/traditions: Medieval and Renaissance Literature; Enlightenment and Romantic Literature; Victorian, Modernist and Postmodernist Literature; American Literature.

The texts could belong to any of the following genres: prose, epic, poetry, drama.


Word limit:

Prose – about 300 words

Poetry – up to 30 lines

Drama – between 300 and 350 words


The author will have been covered in the lectures and/or the seminars. If the excerpt is from a novel, the novel itself will have been discussed in the seminars.

Five types of questions will be attached to each excerpt:

  1. Questions focused on context: history, culture, genre, and/or tendency.
  2. Questions focused on content: the position and the status of the excerpt within the work.
  3. Questions focused on themes and ideas.
  4. Questions focused on narrative techniques, imagery, rhyme, rhythm etc.
  5. Questions focused on intertextual links and metatextual techniques.

The students will be expected to write a coherent analytical response (300-400 words) in which they should dwell on as many of the abovementioned questions as they can.

The time allotted for completion of the response is 90 minutes.




Context 20 points
Content 10 points
Themes and ideas 20 points
Form 20 points
Intertextual links andmetatextual techniques 10 points
Accuracy, range of vocabulary and structure 10 points


Pass level: 54 points



Each of the instructors will give a quiz crafted according to the format of the state exam. The students’ performance in the course will be graded on the basis of seven analytical responses that they will write in class. The grade on the writing component of the course will be formed as an arithmetic mean of all seven grades. It will account for 80 % of the final grade. The remaining 20 % will depend on students’ participation in class activities.



Academic Honesty:  No form of cheating will be condoned in this course.

Attendance:  This is a student-centered course. You will be involved in different forms of interaction with your peers. Therefore, if you are absent, you will not just miss some ‘invaluable’ pieces of information that will come from the instructor’s mouth; more importantly, you will miss the opportunity to communicate with and learn from your fellow students. Moreover, a significant proportion of your semester grade depends on your active participation in class. More than two absences will make us lower your participation grade considerably. In case of illness, you should notify us and present a medical certificate.

Consult group email for assignments, guidelines, or other classroom material.  Request notification so that new material reaches you in time.



1 Febr 22 Introduction Assoc. Prof. Z. Catalan
2 Febr 29 Medieval LiteratureSir Gawain and the Green Knight Dr. G. Niagolov
3 March 7 Medieval LiteratureDiscussion Dr. G. Niagolov
4 March 14 Renaissance LiteraturePhilip Sidney,  Astrophil and Stella Dr. G. Niagolov
5 March 21 Renaissance LiteratureDiscussion Dr. G. Niagolov
6 March 28 Literature of the EnlightenmentJonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels Dr. V. Budakov
7 April 4 Literature of the EnlightenmentDiscussion Dr. V. Budakov
8 April 11 Romantic LiteraturePoem by John Keats Dr. L. Terziev
9 April 18 Romantic LiteratureDiscussion Dr. L. Terziev
10 April 25 From Victorianism to ModernismJoseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness Assoc. Prof. Z. Catalan 
11 May 9 From Victorianism to ModernismDiscussion Assoc. Prof. Z. Catalan
12 May 16 From Modernism to PostmodernismT.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men Prof. V. Trendafilov
13 May 30 From Modernism to PostmodernismDiscussion Prof. V. Trendafilov
14 June 6 Overview and Final Discussion Assoc. Prof. Z. Catalan
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