Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
American Literature in the Twentieth Century
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay Assignment  1 x 3000 word essay  70%
Semester Exam 0.1 Hours   Oral Presentation  (1 x 10 minute individual oral presentation)  30%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed or missing essay  Resubmit 1 x 3000 word essay  70%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit Oral Presentation  Resubmit a 1 x 10 minute oral presentation  30%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. demonstrate a critical knowledge and understanding of twentieth-century American fiction in light of its social, historical, and political contexts;

2. reflect critically upon issues of gender, class, and/or race as they are represented in twentieth-century American fiction;

3. attend responsively to the formal and stylistic features of the texts studied on the module;

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

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


This specialist option module is designed to introduce students to a representative sample of twentieth-century American fictions (both novels and short stories). The essential texts will be considered in light of their various historical, social, and political contexts, touching on issues of class, gender, race, and community. At the same time, students will be encouraged to undertake detailed close readings of key passages and to consider matters of style, form, and narrative technique. In this way, they will learn to combine contextual and formalist modes of reading and interpretations, resulting in more sophisticated forms of critical understanding.

Brief description

The main objective of this module is to provide a stimulating introduction to the range and diversity of American fiction 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, the Cold War, and the post-war growth of consumer capitalism. Students will be encouraged to explore the different thematic preoccupations and formal strategies which develop from the various social and cultural experiences of Americans during the century, relating texts persuasively to their informing contexts. Questions of gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality will be examined critically and contextually. However, students will also be encouraged to explore the language and forms of the texts studied in detail, developing modes of attention and interpretation that are alert to the subtleties of style, rhetoric, and figurative expression.


Week 1 Introduction; Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Week 2 Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Week 3 William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Week 4 William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Week 5. Zora Neale Hurston, The Complete Stories

Week 6 Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-five

Week 7 Don DeLillo, White Noise

Week 8 Don DeLillo, White Noise

Week 9 Toni Morrison, Paradise

Week 10 Toni Morrison, Paradise

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written: by developing a sustained critical argument Oral: through class discussion, small group exercises, and individual oral presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent and directed research and reading
Information Technology By using word-processing packages; using AberLearn Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials; by submitting assignments via turnitin
Personal Development and Career planning Through increased critical self-reflection and the development of transferable, ICT communication and research skills
Problem solving By evaluative analysis and the use of critical skills
Research skills By directed and independent research; by synthesizing information in an evaluative critical argument
Subject Specific Skills Through the reading, writing and researching skills involved in the interrogation of literary texts; through comparative models of reading and understanding; and through the conceptual/theoretical analysis of works of imaginative literature in relation to a range of other non-literary texts.
Team work Through group work in seminars; and through preparation for paired presentations in seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 6