ENG32080 Social Networks in Fiction: from Jane Austen to Conan Doyle

Academic Year 2023/2024

The module will introduce students to the use of computational techniques in literary analysis, focussing specifically on social network analysis. This course will examine how fiction imagines national and communal identities and explores anxiety about gender, migration, urbanisation and colonialism at periods of intense social, cultural and political change. The module will examine the different role of social networks in highly influential and popular novels of the period. The primary texts are very well known, but the module will demonstrate how the use of social network analysis can open up new perspectives and insights. Students will be trained to do this and practical experience and exercises will be provided. Illustrations of how social network analysis of fiction works and substantial content on Pride and Prejudice are available at www.nggprojectucd.ie.

Key Texts: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813); Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1839); Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890); Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Critical understanding of the individual texts on this course and of the ways in which social networks are embedded in 19th century fiction; 2. Awareness of the historical, social and imperial contexts of the novels studied and the role of gender, ethnicity and class within their social networks; 3. Ability to make compare and contrast texts from the different writers, genres and time periods studied; 4. Enhanced use of online and digital resources for independent learning; 5. Be able to prepare a text for social network analysis and produce a social network visualisation; 6. Demonstrated ability to produce short literary pieces for blogs, websites, etc.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Each weekly 2 hour slot will begin with a lecture style presentation by the lecturer, followed by a seminar/workshop focussed on practical activities aimed at learning how to complete the practical components of the course, e.g. creating a character dictionary, using online digital resources, writing a literary blogpost. These workshop components are very closely aligned with the assignments and are essential to complete assignments successfully. In semester 2, this course will trial a webinar component which will run parallel to the regular seminars to demonstrate these practical components. This is specifically aimed to assist students who due to ill health or other factors miss out on the weekly classes. This will be linked to a flexible schedule for submission of assignments, but it will still be subject to the overall university timetable for exams and assessment. Assignments for this course are designed as learning activities, to develop a deeper understanding of the course content and to develop confidence in using and creating digital content. Because of this, students will get opportunities at 3 different stages in the semester to catch up with an assignment they have missed or to submit an additional assignment to improve their grade. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Students are required to complete 4 short assignments from Weeks 3-10, with regular catch up weeks. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% Yes



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be available online via Brightspace for each assignment within 2 weeks of submission. The module co-ordinator and contributing lecturers will also be available to meet students face to face in their office hours as required. The purpose of this feedback is to indicate strengths and weaknesses of the assignments submitted and to incrementally improve assignments over the semester.

Name Role
Professor Gerardine Meaney Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Karen Wade Lecturer / Co-Lecturer