Introduction to Literary Studies

Objectives and competences

  • To introduce the different definitions of literature, the basics of literary theory and the fundamental relationships between various literary approaches;
  • discuss the fundamental concepts of the most prominent theoretical directions and understand their practical application;
  • present the essential elements for an independent analytical study of literature;
  • prepare students for study and participation in other literary theory courses;
  • encourage close and critical reading of theoretical texts and the acquisition of academic writing skills.


No conditions for entry. The course represents the theoretical basis for other literary courses.
Requirements for the exam: presence and active participation in lectures and the completion of a written explication.


The course introduces students to the fundamental issues of the definition of literature (conventional use of language, discourse, literariness, fiction, readers' perspective, canon, ideology, Other and otherness, intertextuality and intermediality), its roles, and the distinctions and contradictions that affect the definition of literature, particularly in relation to other fields. These questions form the foundations of the scientific study of literature or literary methodologies and literary effects.

The course introduces literary terms and concepts essential for analytical literature studies. Through the introduction of the cenral literary terms and concepts, students are also introduced to the fundamental definitions of literature from the perspectives of different theoretical traditions.

On the one hand, the course introduces the basics of the relationship between rhetoric (rhetorical figures, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche), poetics (types, genres and subgenres) and stylistics, and on the other hand, the basics of narrative theory (forms, roles, models, elements, presentation, perspective), which are necessary for the elementary analysis and interpretation of fiction or drama texts and their contexts.

In addition, the course offers an overview of the theoretical fields whose approaches, ideas and concepts have had a significant influence on the academic study and reading of literature: Formalism (scientific method, literariness, alienation), Phenomenology (immanent reading, Lebenswelt), Hermeneutics (being, meaning), Reception Theory (the role of the reader, the reading process, the implied reader, reading pleasure), structuralism (structure, relationality, sign, myth, dialogism), post-structuralism (writing, deconstruction, discourse, author) and psychoanalysis (unconscious, dream logic, sublimation, anxiety of influence).

The examination of knowledge in the course is oriented in such a way that, through the writen explication of the selected theoretical text, it encourages close and critical reading of the theory and the acquisition of academic writing skills, and through active participation in the seminar, the independent use of the presented literary concepts and methods

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
(Student ...)

  • learns about the fundamental definitions of literature and the analytical approaches that derive from them;
  • understands the similarities and differences between different theoretical approaches and their limitations;
  • learns the basic theoretical concepts for the study of the different elements and the diverse dimensions of literature;
  • learns the principles of academic writing and critical reading of theoretical texts.

(Student ...)

  • acquires the ability to read and compare literary approaches;
  • develops an understanding of analytical tools and their practical use in reading literature;
  • learns to read literature from different perspectives;
  • learns to understand one's reading position concerning other perspectives.



  • Culler, Jonathan D. (2008). Literarna teorija: zelo kratek uvod. Ljubljana: Krtina, 2008. / Literary theory: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Catalogue slv Catalogue eng
  • Eagleton, Terry (1996). Literary Theory: An Introduction. Malden; Oxford; Victoria: Blackwell Publishing. ) Catalogue
  • Virk, Tomo (2003). Moderne metode literarne vede in njihove filozofsko teoretske osnove. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta. Catalogue
  • Virk, Tomo (2001). Primerjalna književnost danes - in jutri?. Primerjalna književnost, letnik 24, številka 2, str. 9-31. E-version


  • Baldick, Chris (2001). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. E-version
  • Pugh, Tison in Johnson, E. Margaret (2014). Literary Studies: A Practical Guide. London; New York: Routledge. E-version
  • Wurth Brillenburg, Kiene in Ann, Rigney (2019). The Life of Texts: An Introduction to Literary Studies, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • K obvezni literaturi se vsako študijsko leto določijo tudi znanstveni članki in literarna dela za obravnavane teme na predavanjih in delo v seminarju.


Written explication (prerequisite for the exam). 20 %

Active participation in the seminar. 30 %

Written exam (which can also be passed with partial tests). 50 %

Lecturer's references

Assoc. prof. dr. Kristina Pranjić graduated in comparative literature, and Russian language and literature at the University of Ljubljana. She defended her doctoral thesis on the concept of objectlessness and non-representational poetry and visual art in symbolism and the avant-garde at the same institution. From 2019 to 2021 she led the research project Yugoslav Avantgardes and Metropolitan Dada (1916–1927): A Multidirectional and Transnational Genealogy, financed by the Slovenian Research Agency. She is employed as an associate professor at the School of Humanities and the School of Arts of the University of Nova Gorica, where she holds the modules “History and Theory of Art and Media” and “Discourses in Practice”, and coordinates the Literary Studies program track on BA and MA levels.

Selection of articles:
1. PRANJIĆ, Kristina. Change must come: Yugoslav avant-gardes and metropolitan Dada. In: BRU, Sascha (ed.). Crisis: the avant-garde and modernism in critical modes. European avant-garde and modernism studies, vol. 7. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2022, pp. 297–312.
2. PRANJIĆ, Kristina. The emergence and establishment of Yugoslav dada: from Prague to Zagreb (1920–1922). Svět literatury, 2021, vol. 31, no. 64, pp. 89–103.
3. PRANJIĆ, Kristina. Zenitistični koncept barbarogenija kot kritika zahodnoevropske kulture = Zenithist Concept of a Barbarogenius as a Critique of the Western European Culture. Primerjalna književnost. 43.3 (2020). 139–157.
4. PRANJIĆ, Kristina. Premagati silo gravitacije na presečišču umetnosti in tehnologije: primer ruskega konstruktivizma = Overcoming Gravity at the Intersection of Art and Technology: The Example of Russian Constructivism. Časopis za kritiko znanosti Journal for the Critique of Science, Imagination & New Anthropology. 277.47 (2019). 102–116.
5. PRANJIĆ, Kristina. Brezpredmetnost in ekonomičnost v poeziji = Objectlessness and Economy in Poetry. Slavica Tergestina 22 (2019). 50–68.

Assist. Prof. Primož Mlačnik, PhD, received his doctorate at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FDV) of the University of Ljubljana (UL), where in 2020, he defended his doctoral dissertation entitled The Relation between Melancholy and Modernity in the Case of Franz Kafka's Literature. He is a researcher at the Centre for the Humanities, Faculty of Humanities (FH), University of Nova Gorica (UNG), within the TILDA project (Transformations of Intimacy in the Literary Discourse of Slovene ''Moderna'' 2021-2024), funded by the Research Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation of the Republic of Slovenia (ARIS). At the FDV UL, he has been previously involved in numerous courses in Cultural Studies and Literature. Currently, at the Faculty of Arts (FF) of UL, he lectures on the course Cultural Policies and the Book in the European Union and Slovenia, while at the FH UNG, he lectures on various courses in the field of literary studies and cultural studies. His research interests mainly include cultural studies of detective fiction and critical-theoretical case studies of Slovenian detective novels. He also works as a writer.

Selection of articles:
1. MLAČNIK, Primož. From minor literature to neoliberal noir : the detective novels of Sergej Verč. Caietele Echinox. 2022, vol. 43, str. 77-92.
2. MLAČNIK, Primož. Virus : neoliberalni detektiv v imuni slovenski družbi. Filozofski vestnik. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 43, št. 1, str. 181-200, 217-218.
3. MLAČNIK, Primož. Udomačeni Slovenci v detektivskih romanih Avgusta Demšarja. Jezik in slovstvo. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 67, št. 3, str. 5-15.
4. MLAČNIK, Primož. Dekonstrukcijskost manjšinskih detektivskih romanov Sergeja Verča. Studia Historica Slovenica : časopis za humanistične in družboslovne študije. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 22, št. 3, str. 859-886, ilustr.
5. MLAČNIK, Primož, STANKOVIĆ, Peter. The disappearance of political jokes in post-socialist Slovenia. Communist and post-communist studies. Sep. 2020, vol. 53, no. 3, str. 172-188.
6. MLAČNIK, Primož. Minor literature in the case of Brina Svit = Literatura mniejsza na przykładzie Briny Svit. Przekłady Literatur Słowiańskich. 2020, tom 10, cz. 1, str. 207-223. Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach.
7. MLAČNIK, Primož. Kafka ʺShanghai-Edʺ : Orientalist China in Kafkaʹs fiction and Kafkaesque phenomena in China. European journal of interdisciplinary studies. May-Aug. 2019, vol. 5, iss. 2, str. 36-44.
8. MLAČNIK, Primož. Kulturistike - kulturološka branja beletristike. Slavia Centralis. [Tiskana izd.]. 2019, letn. 12, št. 2, str. 46-57.
9. MLAČNIK, Primož. The deconstruction of Freud's theory of melancholy. Družboslovne razprave. [Tiskana izd.]. sep. 2018, letn. 34, št. 88, str. 113-131.
10. MLAČNIK, Primož. The influence of Franz Kafka's literature on aspects of critical cultural theory. Slavia Centralis. [Tiskana izd.]. 2021, letn. 14, št. 1, str. 249-259.