ENGL 103 B24: Reading Spaces in Literature


ENGL 103 B24, “Reading Spaces in Literature,” is a course that delves into the multifaceted relationship between literary texts and the spaces they inhabit. This course explores how authors use settings, landscapes, and environments to create rich and immersive worlds, shape characters, and convey themes. Over the course of this 3000-word exploration, we will delve into the key themes and concepts covered in this course, offering an in-depth analysis of the readings, discussions, and insights provided to students.

Course Overview:

The course is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills, improve their analytical writing

Key Themes and Concepts:

Setting as a Character

One of the central themes of the course is the idea that the setting in a literary work can function as a character in its own right. This means that the physical environment, whether it’s a Gothic mansion, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or a bustling city. Students are encourage to analyze how the setting influences the plot and character development. This concept forces us to consider how characters are shape by the spaces they inhabit and, in turn, how they shape their surroundings.

Psychological Spaces

In addition to the physical setting, the course explores the concept of psychological spaces. This involves examining how characters’ internal thoughts and emotions create their own unique spaces within the narrative. By reading works that delve into the human psyche, students gain insight into how authors use mental and emotional landscapes to explore themes such as identity, trauma, and memory.

Urban vs. Rural Spaces

“Reading Spaces in Literature” also delves into the dichotomy between urban and rural settings. This theme is particularly relevant in today’s world, where the clash between city and countryside is a constant source of tension. The course examines how literature reflects the contrasting experiences and challenges faced by characters in these two types of spaces, as well as the social, economic, and cultural forces at play.

The Supernatural and the Uncanny

Supernatural settings, haunted houses, and the uncanny are prevalent themes in literature. This course introduces students to how authors use these elements to create a sense of mystery, fear, and awe. Through readings of works like Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” or Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of terror, students learn how settings can be used to evoke strong emotional and psychological responses.

Narrative Structure and Space:

The course also investigates how narrative structure and space intersect. How do authors use spatial organization to enhance their storytelling? This theme encourages students to explore how the arrangement of scenes, settings, and places can impact the reader’s experience and understanding of the narrative.

Social and Cultural Spaces:

Literature is a reflection of society and culture. The course analyzes how authors use spaces to represent and comment on the social and cultural norms of their time. From Jane Austen’s drawing rooms to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s depiction of post-colonial Nigeria, students examine how space serves as a microcosm of larger societal issues.

Readings and Texts:

To fully grasp the complexities of these themes and concepts, students engage with a diverse range of literary texts. Some of the texts that may be included in the curriculum are:

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

An exploration of the wild and haunting moorlands as a reflection of the characters’ turbulent emotions and relationships.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

An examination of the opulent but hollow spaces of the Jazz Age, revealing the emptiness of the American Dream.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

A journey through the mythical town of Macondo, highlighting the influence of magical realism on the narrative and its characters.

“Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

A unique work that challenges the conventional notion of space and explores the imaginative landscapes of cities.

“Neuromancer” by William Gibson

A cyberpunk novel that transports readers to a futuristic and dystopian world, illustrating the interconnectedness of technology and space.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

An exploration of post-apocalyptic spaces and the fragility of civilization.

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

A deep dive into the confined spaces of a man’s room, where he undergoes a literal transformation.

Discussion and Analysis:

Throughout the course, students are encouraged to engage in in-depth discussions and critical analysis of the readings. This involves exploring the interplay between the narrative and the spaces described within the texts. Class discussions often revolve around questions like:

  • How does the setting contribute to character development and relationships in the text?
  • What emotions or atmosphere does the setting evoke, and how does this impact the reader’s experience?
  • How do psychological spaces or mental landscapes reveal the inner workings of the characters’ minds?
  • In what ways does the urban or rural setting serve as a commentary on social and cultural issues?
  • How does the spatial organization of the narrative influence the story’s structure and impact?

Additionally, students are encouraged to develop their analytical and critical writing skills by producing essays that delve deeply into the texts and concepts explored in the course. These essays allow students to demonstrate their understanding of how settings in literature can be seen as dynamic, integral elements of the narrative.


ENGL 103 B24, “Reading Spaces in Literature,” is a course that challenges students to think beyond the words on the page and consider the profound impact of settings and spaces in the world of literature. By exploring the course’s key themes and concepts, engaging with a diverse range of texts, and participating in discussions and analyses, students gain a deeper appreciation for the way in which authors use spaces to convey meaning, evoke emotions, and provide insight into the human condition. This ENGL 103 B24 course is a journey through literary landscapes, inviting students to see the worlds within words in new and thought-provoking ways.

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