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James Joyce’s Ulysses


Admission requirements

A BA degree in English Language and Culture or equivalent degree


This course offers a detailed study and analytical reading of Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce (1882-1941), one of the most innovative and influential writers in English of the twentieth century. We will place his work in its historical, literary, cultural, political, and theoretical contexts. Questions to be addressed among others will be: what are the major contributions of Joyce to the development of Modernism? How ‘Irish’ is Joyce? How ‘European’ is Joyce? How much does Ulysses rely on Homer’s Odyssey? We will also closely analyse the language(s) and form(s) of the text. For each week we will read two chapters from Ulysses, coupled with an article or articles from the Cambridge Companion to Joyce, the Cambridge companion to Ulysses, and James Joyce in Context. This will enable us to familiarize ourselves with some of the recent scholarly work on Joyce and his text.

Course objectives

Based on the assumption that participants have already acquired the basic skills for the analysis of literary texts, this course aims to extend these skills both in terms of textual analysis (close reading) and contextual approach (cultural-historical as well as theoretical). Students will be encouraged to share analytical and theoretical views on Ulysses in class discussion, and to focus research skills on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course in the form of a final research paper.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

13 3-hour seminars

Assessment method


Evaluation of this course will be on the basis of:

  • participation in class discussion (10%);

  • 5 writing assignments/ responses to set questions in the course of the semester (ca. 400 words each). Each of these assignments will be graded out of 10, according to the usual criteria set for essays and exams. The average grade of these 5 assignments will be 30% of final mark; all assignments have to be handed in in order to receive a final mark. There is no resit opportunity for a fail for a weekly assignment.

  • a written end of term paper of about 5,000 words; The essay must meet academic standards, that is, it must contain a critical analysis of one or more aspects related to Joyce, and it must incorporate critical use of relevant secondary scholarly material. Each essay must be written according to the guidelines of the MLA Stylesheet if you are a student of the track English. Other students may use the style sheet they are accustomed to work with.
    ResMa students who take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (7,000 words instead of 5,000 words).


  • participation in class discussion (10%);

  • 5 writing assignments/ responses to set questions in the course of the semester (ca. 400 words each). average grade of these 5 assignments will be 30% of final mark;

  • a written end of term paper of about 5,000 words (60% of final mark).


You need to have a sufficient grade (6.0 or higher) for both the assignment component and the end paper in order to pass. If the final grade is lower than 6, students may only resit the final research essay.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • James Joyce, Ulysses: Annotated Student’s Edition, with an introduction and notes by Declan Kiberd (Penguin)

  • Homer: The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles (Penguin)
    N.B.: students are required to purchase this particular edition of Ulysses.
    We’ll also read scholarly essays from the following collections:

  • Derek Attridge, ed., The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (Cambridge UP, 2004; (2nd edn)

  • Sean Latham, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ulysses (Cambridge UP, 2014)

  • John McCourt, ed., James Joyce in Context (Cambridge UP, 2009)
    N.B.: The essays in these collections can be accessed via the Leiden University Library online catalogue; you can download individual chapters as PDF files. Surf to UBL and search for ‘cambridge companion Joyce’ et cetera. You will be asked to log on to your ULCN account.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


It will be useful to have read or have basic knowledge of Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before taking this class.