Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 X 3000 WORD ESSAYS  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate a broad knowledge of American literature in the 20th century and an understanding of the social and political contexts in which the set texts were written'

2. descripe issues of gender, class, and/or race in relation to ethnic and regional experiences of America during the period and examine their representation in the set texts;

3. engage in coherent oral discussion of the texts;

4. read literary texts in an informed and critical manner;

5. write about the subject in a well structured and argued manner.

Brief description

The main objective of this module is to provide a general introduction to the wide range and extraordinarily rich diversity of the literatures of the United States of America in the twentieth century. Particular attention will be paid to the way in which literary texts record and respond to the social, political, and economic crises of the two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Cold War. Emphasis will also be placed on the differing themes and formal strategies which develop from the various ethnic and regional experiences of Americans during the century, and issues of gender and class in relation to theme and form will be systematically examined. Although the novel is given some priority as a genre, an attempt has been made to keep a balance, so that drama and poetry are also represented in the selection of required reading.


This module is a level 3 option module that is offered to both Year Two and Year Three students (Year Two students take the 20-credit form; Year Three take the 30-credit form). The difference between the two is determined by assessment, not by course content or delivery. It remains suitable for both English and American Studies students, but is intended primarily for American Studies students.


Week 1. Twentieth Century American Literature: an introduction

Week 2. World War One - `The Italian Front'
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Week 3. `The Roaring Twenties'
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and Other Stories

Week 4. `The Great Depression'
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Week 5. World War Two - `The American Dream'
Arthur Miller, All My Sons

Week 6. `Post-war American Identity'
Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Week 7. `Narrating War'
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Week 8. `Paranoia and Cultural Chaos'
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

Week 9. `Hyphenated Americans'
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts

Week 10. `Urban Consumer Culture'
Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication * Written communication in the form of essays * Oral presentations in small groups * Oral communication in seminars
Improving own Learning and Performance * Developing own research skills * Time management
Information Technology * Use of electronic resources and e-learning technologies (electronic databases and Blackboard) * PowerPoint for group presentations * Production of written work using word-processing program
Personal Development and Career planning * Critical self-reflection * Development of transferable communication and research skills
Problem solving * Formulating and developing an argument
Research skills * Independent research for presentations * Independent research for assignments
Subject Specific Skills Ability to ¿compare and contrast¿ between texts; Ability to comment on relationship between society and literary forms
Team work * Group work for oral presentations

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
Faulkner, William (1996.) As I lay dying Vintage Primo search Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1996, c1963.) The diamond as big as the Ritz and other stories /F. Scott Fitzgerald. Penguin Primo search Hemingway, Ernest (2004) A Farewell to Arms Arrow Books Primo search Kingston, Maxine Hong (1981.) The woman warrior :memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts /Maxine Hong Kingston. Pan Primo search McInerney, Jay. (1994.) Bright lights, big city. Penguin Primo search Miller, Arthur (1988, c1958 (va) Plays /Arthur Miller; introduction by Arthur Miller. Methuen Drama Primo search Pynchon, Thomas (1967.) The crying of Lot 49 /by Thomas Pynchon. Cape Primo search Vonnegut, Kurt (1991) Slaughter House-Five Vintage Primo search Wilson, Sloan (2005) The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Penguin Primo search
Recommended Background
Donaldson, Scott, ed. (1990.) New Essays on A Farewell to Arms Cambridge University Press Primo search Ludwig, Sami (1996.) Concrete language :Intercultural Communication in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo P. Lang Primo search O'Donnell, Patrick, ed. (1991) New Essays on The Crying of Lot 49 Cambridge University Press Primo search Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia, ed. (1999) Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: A Casebook Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6