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  3. American Fiction: The 20th Century

American Fiction: The 20th Century (ENGL40015)

HonoursPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelHonours
Subject codeENGL40015
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

In this subject students will study a range of major works of American fiction from the twentieth century in their historical contexts. Examples chosen range across the movements of realism, modernism, postmodernism and neo-realism. Students will be encouraged to identify and trace a number of themes that reoccur over the century and which seem important to American writers. The list is not definitive but may include such ideas as the role of the writer and fiction, the problems of gender, sexuality, class and race but also war, consumerism, surveillance and authority, the environment and technology. Drawing on class readings, class discussions and critical articles they will develop their own essay topics.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate a familiarity with some of the key texts of 20th century American fiction;
  • have a broad understanding of the political, social and cultural changes affecting American fiction from the early to the late early-20 th century and how these have influenced the subject matter and styles of 20 th century American fiction;
  • have an overview of some of the more important and critical and theoretical works issuing from North America and how these can be usefully applied to the reading of American fiction;
  • have acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
  • have developed their capacity for independent research;
  • have developed their capacity for critical thinking and analysis; and
  • have developed their ability to communicate in writing.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students 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 a class paper and an extended scholarly essay;
  • the ability to both develop and modify one's thinking by participating in class discussions and writing an essay that requires one to respond to literary critics ideas;
  • the capacity for independent and targeted research as a result of preparing a class presentation and writing a scholarly essay;
  • 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 making ethical judgements and informed political choices as a result of engaging with and discussing texts by people from different social and cultural backgrounds to oneself;
  • the capacity for critical self awareness through participation in discussions and the reading of critical texts that acknowledge where one's ideas and assumptions come from as well as what kinds of social privileges one enjoys;
  • the capacity for lucid and logical argument as a result of careful essay planning and writing;
  • competency 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; and
  • the ability to organise oneself and manage one's time efficiently and effectively through the successful completion of a class paper and a written essay by the due date.

Last updated: 11 November 2018