This course is discontinued

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The so-called ‘return to history’ of the last few decades within Anglo-American literary theory and scholarship – be it in the form of New Historicisim, Feminism, Gay and Queer Studies, Post-colonial Studies or the History of the Book – has also meant a ‘return to the author’, albeit in new ways. This course will investigate the historically variable roles of the author, how this figure has been culturally constituted and the different perspectives on how relevant the author has been for the interpretation of texts. We will be reading a selection of literary texts from the 18th century until today, by authors such as Dr. Johnson, the Brontës, and Joyce, Coetzee and Didion, writers who, in more or less direct ways, have inhabited and shaped various historical models of authorship. Alongside the study of these texts, we will be reading some of the most significant theoretical contributions to the field. During the course we will examine topics such as the prevailing interest in biographical information, the genre of biography, restrictions imposed upon the author, anonymity and pseudonymity, literary forgery, and, in relation to the historical construction of the author function, aspects such as copyright, censorship, economy, and the impact of new media technologies.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • acquired knowledge of the historical and contemporary role of authorship in Western societies;
  • developed skills in literary interpretation and socio-cultural analysis;
  • learned how to use historical sources and discussion of theoretical texts.


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.

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


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the master program in literature, LeP or other suitable master programs.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with ENG4329 – The Return of the Author (discontinued)


Seminar, two hours per week for ten weeks, 20 hours in all. A minimum of 80% attendance is required, as well as contributions in the form of one oral presentation (pass/fail).


A term paper of 10 standard pages (topic to be decided between teacher and student).

All written papers must be accompanied by a declaration concerning cheating Obligatorisk erklæring vedr. fusk

Language of examination


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.

Marks will be published on Studentweb no later than three weeks after the submission date/exam.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

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.

Facts about this course





Teaching language