1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. American Classics
  4. Print

American Classics (ENGL20023)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeENGL20023
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

In this subject, students study a selection of major American literary texts from the nineteenth century. They learn about the original historical contexts in which the texts were written and read, and they are introduced to some of the key contemporary critical debates about these texts. Topics explored include the novel and Puritan culture, the Gothic undercurrents of American writing, white and black writing on slavery and emancipation, literary representations of the frontier, the civil war, American masculinity and the ‘New Woman’. The subject will also examine the texts in relation to Romanticism, Naturalism and Realism. Texts studied include novels, short stories, poems, and captivity and Slave narratives.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate a familiarity with some of the classic texts of 19th Century American literature;
  • have a broad understanding of the concepts associated with the American frontier and how these have been portrayed in 19th century American literature;
  • have a working knowledge of American religions traditions, including Puritan culture and how this has been portrayed in 19th century American literature;
  • have a knowledge of the literary conventions used in captivity narratives and slave writings and the impact these have had on readers;
  • have an understanding of the different ways in which 19 th century American writers’ have treated the themes of slavery and racism;
  • have an understanding of what 19th century American writers have had to say about the changing ideas of masculinity and femininity in 19th century American Culture; and
  • have an appreciation and understanding of the changing nature of artistic and literary traditions, class relations, gender roles, and the workplace in American society.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, student should gain the following generic skills:

  • the ability to critically analyse and discuss a wide range of reading materials through participation in class discussions, the reading of critical essays and the writing of scholarly essays;
  • the capacity for independent and targeted research as a result of preparing for class discussions and writing scholarly essays;
  • the capacity for creative thinking through participation in discussions and the writing of essays that apply critical and theoretical ideas to the reading and interpretation of texts;
  • the capacity for critical self-awareness through participation in discussions and the reading of critical texts;
  • the capacity for lucid and logical argument as a result of careful essay planning and writing; and
  • be competent in the use of library and other information sources such as on line websites and search engines through the researching and writing of essays that require the use of these resources.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects

106-228 American Classics

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • An essay of 1,500 words (40%), due mid semester
  • One essay of 2,000 words; a take-home examination (50%), due in the examination period
  • A 10-minute class presentation of 500 words (10%), due during the semester
  • Hurdle: This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorElizabeth Maxwell
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursTotal 30 hours: a 1 hour lecture and a 1.5 hour tutorial per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    A subject reader will be available.

    • The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
    • Benito Cereno and Billy Budd (Melville)
    • Uncle Tom's Cabin (Beecher Stowe)
    • Huck Finn (Twain)
    • Collected Poems (Dickinson)
    • Daisy Miller (James)
    • The Awakening and other Stories (Chopin)
    • Walden and Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)
    • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (Poe)
    • The Red Badge Of Courage (Crane)
  • Subject notes

    Students who have undertaken 673-343 American Classics are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 20 July 2019