ENG4436 – English Literature and Human Rights

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

As one literary critic puts it, we live in an age of human rights, meaning that here in the West the narratives and images of human rights have become a part of daily life.

Human rights are represented in various forms in all branches of the media, in street campaigns, and on bookshelves. Yet, rarely do we stop and think about what human rights are, how they are narrated here in the affluent West, how they structure our ways of thinking and seeing ourselves and others.

This seminar is designed to investigate these issues and more, and in order to do so we will read a wide array of texts-historical, theoretical, fictional, autobiographical, and visual-that will help us to examine the discourses of human rights representation in detail and from a variety of angles.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • have an expanded understanding of the various ways that literature engages with the current political landscape regarding issues of human rights and recognition
  • can engage in theoretical debates concerning human rights, representation, spectatorship, and power
  • are familiarity with cultural theory and its relationship to literary studies
  • can produce a research paper on a topic you develop yourself
  • have academic writing skills


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

The course has a capacity of 15 students. ILOS will not provide additional capacity if there are more applicants.


Seminar, two hours per week for ten weeks, 20 hours in all.

Attendance is obligatory at least 8 out of 10 seminars. Additional absences must be justified by documentation given to the exam coordinator.

All obligatory attendance and assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.


The form of assessment is a term paper of approximately 10 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition.

You will determine the topic for the term paper together with the lecturer.

You will be offered individual term paper supervision.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






This course is offered irregularly


Teaching language