Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: The Canon of Female Beauty in Literature: Tradition and Modernity

Course unit code: 569579

Academic year: 2020-2021

Coordinator: Cristina Alsina Risquez

Department: Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics

Credits: 6

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 150


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Cultural trip





-  Seminar





-  Experimental workshop




Supervised project


Independent learning






This subject is taught entirely in Catalan. However, students may use either English, Catalan or Spanish for presentations and written work. Other languages may also be accepted, subject to approval by the teaching staff.



Competences to be gained during study


Basic and general competences

— Capacity to apply the acquired knowledge to problem-solving in new or relatively unknown environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to the field of study.


— Capacity to interpret texts from different eras and cultural traditions.


— Capacity to develop independent thought: critical and self-critical capabilities, capacity to develop original problem-solving strategies, capacity to generate new ideas, and capacity to delimit an object or field of study in terms of the construction and representation of cultural identities.


— Knowledge forming the basis of original thinking in the development or application of ideas, typically in a research context.


— Capacity to integrate knowledge and tackle the complexity of formulating judgements based on incomplete or limited information, taking due consideration of the social and ethical responsibilities involved in applying knowledge and making judgements.


— Capacity to communicate conclusions, judgements and the grounds on which they have been reached to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear and unambiguous manner.


— Skills to enable lifelong self-directed and independent learning.


— Capacity to understand: identification of concepts, problems and key questions in debates on the construction of cultural identities.


— Capacity for reflection: awareness of one’s own thought process, and ability to acknowledge and appraise different theories and points of view in the field of literary and cultural studies.


— Capacity to manage information: capacity to extract and integrate information from different sources, making effective use of libraries, archives, newspaper archives and other resources (particularly digital resources) relevant to research in the humanities.


— Capacity to conduct basic research and monitor recent developments in the international scientific community in the fields of cultural studies, literary studies and gender studies.


— Ability to work in a team (capacity to collaborate with others and contribute to a common project / capacity to work in cross-disciplinary and multicultural teams).


Specific competences

— Interpretation of texts and primary sources related to the genre.


— Capacity to identify and apply literary, sociological and cultural theories that address the theme of identity (with regard to gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.).





Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

• Understand from a historical, ideological and aesthetic perspective the paradigm shifts in the concept of female beauty and its impact on Western literature.
• Develop the ability to recognise typologies, symbolic and ideological functions, stereotypes, influences and descriptive techniques in a range of genres and eras. 
• Develop the capacity to construct robust, complex arguments that address the state of the art on an international level.
• Develop the capacity to manage information effectively, to identify the literary, sociological and cultural theories and methodologies applicable to specific cases, and to contribute clearly and accurately to discussions of literary and cultural issues.


Referring to attitudes, values and norms

• Demonstrate a respect for all reasonably argued and well-founded viewpoints.



Teaching blocks


1. General introduction

2. Female beauty in classical literature

3. The descriptio puellae in Romance literature

4. The Renaissance canon of beauty

5. The new concept of beauty in the Baroque

6. The return to the models of classical antiquity: “noble simplicity and calm grandeur” (Johann Joachim Winckelmann)

7. From Romanticism to Postmodernity: evolution of the canon of female beauty



Teaching methods and general organization


The general methodology combines theoretical and practical learning, through lectures and practical applied activities which may include directed debates, group work, oral presentations, written assignments and research tasks. 



Official assessment of learning outcomes


At the end of the course a group or individual activity will be carried out on the acquired knowledge. This exercise is worth 40% of the final grade.

At the end of the course, before the official deadline stated in the Faculty’s academic calendar, students submit a written assignment worth 60% of the final grade. The subject will be approved by the lecturer. Specific instructions regarding the length and format of the assignment can be found on the Virtual Campus.


Students must complete both assessed exercises to be eligible to pass the subject.


Examination-based assessment

Students who are unable to meet the requirements for continuous assessment may change to the single assessment option, in which case a written request must be submitted before the deadline stipulated by the Faculty.


Single assessment consists of a written assignment (approximately 4,000 words) worth 100% of the final grade, which must be submitted before the official deadline stated in the Faculty’s academic calendar.

Repeat assessment

The procedure for repeat assessment is the same as that established for single assessment.