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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.
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.
Last updated: 26 November 2022