2023-2024 / LROM0210-1

History of reading and the use of literary texts*


30h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in ancient and modern languages and literatures5 crédits 
 Bachelor in ancient languages and literatures : classics5 crédits 
 Bachelor in information and communication5 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : German, Dutch and English5 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in history5 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : musicology5 crédits 
 Bachelor in ancient languages and literatures : Oriental studies (Registrations are closed)5 crédits 
 Bachelor in philosophy5 crédits 
 Bachelor in French and Romance languages and literatures : general5 crédits 


Alvaro Ceballos Viro, Vera Viehöver

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Almost everyone spends several hours a week, or even a day, exploring fictional worlds, whether in the form of novels, plays, films, TV series, video games and so on. What do we make of them? What do we learn from them? How do they change us? To what extent do these representations modify our beliefs, attitudes and behavior?

We could say that this course is about our relationship with fiction in general, except that we're going to focus particularly on literature (and that literature, as we'll see, doesn't always equate with fiction).

In order to do this, we must first identify the literary as a particular, historically situated pragmatic regime. We'll then look back at the history of literary reading: the conquest of new audiences, new spaces (from the train station to the web), the transformation of practices (from intensive to extensive reading, from silent reading to audiobooks), prescription, censorship, pathologizing discourses on literary reading, reading practices in relation to their sex (do women read in the same way as men?).

Finally, we'll study all these phenomena which, from a cognitive point of view, characterize literary reading: selection, emotional reaction, 'identification' (in its various meanings), narrative absorption, the basic relations that link literary fictions with the real world (overlapping what has sometimes been called 'modes'), over-interpretation, etc.

This cours will be taught in French.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

- to know the milestones in the history of reading;
- to be able to explain the characteristics of factual, fictional,false and misleading documents, diction, etc.;
- to be able to explain different modes and practices of reading;
- to be able to explain the kind of relationship to the world that underlies literary interpretation;
- to be able to reflect on one's own reading practices and the ways in which literary fiction is experienced.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Frequent reading is desirable.
Although the bibliography is basically in French, the ability to read scientific texts in English will be an asset.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Reading of texts. Practical exercises in the classroom and at home. Oral presentation of an article prepared at home, with feedback.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Blended learning

Additional information:

Face-to-face teaching, with possible remote sessions, due to force majeure.

Recommended or required readings

All required and optional readings will be available on eCampus, with the exception of Uses of Literature, by Rita Felski (Blackwell Pub., 2008), which is in its entirety a recommended reading.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Additional information:

Active participation in the course.
In-class written exam designed to measure the acquisition of the skills covered by the learning outcomes.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

N.B. For organisational reasons, sessions in the 2023/2024 academic year will often be grouped into several 4-hour blocks, with schedules to be agreed with participants.


Université de Liège
Dép. de Langues et littératures françaises et romanes - Littérature espagnole

Université de Liège
Dép. de Langues modernes - Littérature allemande

Association of one or more MOOCs