Introduction to the Study of Literature Including Literary theory

This course is part of the programme
Bachelor's study programme Slovene Studies (1st Level)

Objectives and competences

The basic aim is to introduce students to the conceptual, terminological and methodological system of thinking about literature.

Students distinguish between literary and "normal" language; they learn to recognize style (according to period, genre, text); they master the acoustic level of stylistic analysis and sound symbolism; the verbal, semantic and syntactic level of stylistic analysis; they recognize modes of verbalization and the construction of the literary text. They distinguish between the subject of the text and the author; they master the concepts of perspective, motif and theme as presented in time and space. They are able to determine literary figures and their functions in a story. In narrative texts they identify fabula (fable), and other stories, narrative rhythms; types of narrators (and focalization); the diegetic exchange between the narrator and the literary characters. In drama they recognize the role of dialogue (for narrative, characterization and theme) and pay attention to the relationship between text and performance. For poetry they recognize the relation between the lyrical subject, theme, motif and verse as well as the co- and anti-oriented elements (sonic, harmonic, semantic).

They become familiar with the basic concepts of literary theory, such as mimesis, multi-layered meaning, hermeneutics, the classical, intentionality, literary types and genres, the difference between narrative and story, the characteristics of the literary and the modern epic, lyric poetry / prosody, literary translation. They become aware of the importance of broader cultural awareness in creating and understanding literature, as well as the role of the environment or milieu. The students follow paradigm shifts and develop a critical attitude towards the concerns of authorship, style and critical authority. They become familiar with the basic concepts and ideas of structuralism, deconstruction, textuality, postmodernism, heteroglossia, new historicism, postcolonialism, semiology and reception theory. In terms of literary means, they master the use of allegory and irony ideas, as well as the ideas of allusion, alienation, bricolage and metafiction. They become aware of "word crimes" such as plagiarism, permissiveness and literary lies, as well as the role of the "ghost writer."


This course forms the basis for all other literary theory courses and offers the terminological foundation for the study of literature in all literature courses. It is linked to linguistic subjects, since literature is indelibly linked to the organization of language; it is also linked to other theory courses. Through the treatment of text types in modern society and culture, it is linked with the course "Writing Genre Texts," and by genre "theory" it is also linked with cultural studies and the field of gender studies.


<Using examples from literature and certain general laws governing the literary work, this course introduces the basic concepts of general literary theory. Students will systematically learn about literature with regard to the composition of the literary work, according to literary types and genres in chronological ordering, according to theoretical orientation and the methods of literary criticism, as well as according to the evaluating of the literary work. The course devotes attention also to newer developments in literary criticism, from narratology to postcolonial studies, questions of genre, the literary canon, as well as intertextuality, again on the basis of examples from Slovenian and world literature.

Intended learning outcomes

Students acquire the basic concepts of literary criticism: from general terms, to literary phenomena and types, to rhetorical means and methodological orientations. They master the key terms and concepts by means of which literary criticism analyzes and characterizes literature, its basic building blocks, which allow it to function, as well as its positioning in space and time.


• Avsenik Nabergoj, Irena, 2011: Literarne vrste in zvrsti: stari Izrael, grško-rimska antika in Evropa. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (II. del knjige).
• Culler, Jonathan D, Literarna teorija: zelo kratek uvod [Literary theory: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011, več izdaj]. Ljubljana: Krtina, 2008.
• Kmecl, Matjaž, Mala literarna teorija, 4., popravljena in dopolnjena izdaja. Ljubljana: Mihelač in Nešović, 1996.
• Kos, Janko. Literarna teorija, DZS, Ljubljana 2001.
• Sutherland, John, 2012: Kako deluje literatura: 50 ključnih pojmov [How literature works. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011]. Prevedla Seta Knop. Ljubljana : Cankarjeva založba.

Selected chapters from these works:
• Auerbach, Erich, Mimesis: prikazana resničnost v zahodni literaturi. Prevedel in spremno besedo napisal Vid Snoj. Ljubljana: Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura, 1998.
• Dolinar, Darko, Hermenevtika in literarna veda. Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije, 1991 (Literarni leksikon. Študije; zv. 37).
• Eco, Umberto, Šest sprehodov skozi pripovedne gozdove. Prevedla Vera Troha, spremna beseda Tomo Virk. Ljubljana: Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura, 1999.
• Iser, Wolfgang, Bralno dejanje: teorija estetskega učinka. Prevedel Alfred Leskovec, spremna beseda Darko Dolinar. Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis, 2001.
• Jauss, Hans Robert, Estetsko izkustvo in literarna hermenevtika. Prevedel in spremno besedo napisal Tomo Virk. Ljubljana: Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura 1998.
• Juvan, Marko, Intertekstualnost, Literarni leksikon 45, DZS, Ljubljana 2000.
• Kos, Janko (ur.) et al., Literatura: leksikon. 5. izdaja. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 2009 (izbrana gesla).
• Kos, Janko, Postmodernizem. Ljubljana: DZS, 1995 (Literarni leksikon. Študije;zv. 3)
• Kralj, Lado, Teorija drame, Literarni leksikoni 44. DZS, Ljubljana 1998.
• Pogačnik, Aleš (ur.), Sodobna literarna teorija, zbornik Temeljna dela, Ljubljana 1995.
• Schlegel, Friedrich, Spisi o literaturi. Prevedel in spremno besedo napisal Tomo Virk. Ljubljana: Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura, 1998.
• Virk, Tomo, Strah pred naivnostjo: Poetika postmodernistične proze, Novi pristopi, Ljubljana 2000.


Passing the written exam, tests during the year and a seminar paper. Passing the written tests and the seminar paper are the pre-condition for writing the exam.

Lecturer's references

Dr. Irena Avsenik Nabergoj, a literary historian and professor of art history, is an associate professor of literature at the University of Nova Gorica and a Senior Research Fellow in the field of literary studies at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. She gained experience as an editor and phonetician during her four years of employment at RTV Slovenia; she has also worked for the newspaper Finance.

Her research focuses on Slovenian and comparative literature, literary theory, literature and mythology, and literature and other art forms. To date her studies have dealt with: the themes of love and guilt in Slovenian literature; the literature of Slovenian writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially Ivan Cankar; representations of reality and truth in literature; the image of Jews in Slovenian Literature; and Biblical motifs in modern Slovenian and European literature.

In 2009 she received the Zois Award for significant achievements in the field of literary studies.

1. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena, 2005. Ljubezen in krivda Ivana Cankarja. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 2005 (zbirka Kultura), 794 strani, ilustr.
2. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena, 2008. Mirror of Reality and Dreams: Stories and Confessions by Ivan Cankar. Frankfurt am Main [etc.]: Peter Lang, 309 strani, ilustr.
3. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2009. Longing, Weakness and Temptation: From Myth to Artistic Creations. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, XII, 321 strani.
4. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2010. Hrepenenje in skušnjava v svetu literature: Motiv Lepe Vide, (Zbirka Kultura). Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 726 strani, ilustr.
5. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2011. Literarne vrste in zvrsti: stari Izrael, grško-rimska antika in Evropa. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 623 strani; 2. del knjige je pripravljen v souredništvu s prof. dr. Dietrom Lampingom, Univerza v Mainzu.
6. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2012. Power of Love and Guilt: Representations of Mother and Woman in the Literature of Ivan Cankar, 463 strani. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang – Inernationaler Verlag der Wissenschften.
7. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2013. Reality and Truth in Literature: From Ancient to Modern European Literary and Critical Discourse, 223 strani. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress.