Module Identifier EN11020  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Matthew R Jarvis  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Clive Meachen, Dr Christoph P Lindner, Mrs Carol M Marshall, Mr Michael J Smith, Dr Martin Padget  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours  
  Seminars / Tutorials   10 Hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment A reading portfolio of approximately 4000 words, which will demonstrate active critical engagement with the core texts across the module and the issues raised in both lectures and seminars.100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will be able to:
- an analytical approach to the literary texts set for study and a critical attitude towards published scholarship on the subject of those texts

- an ability to analyse the forces at work in forming a literary canon and in calling it into question

- an ability to conduct elementary research and to develop writing skills through conducting different sorts of assignments

- an ability to develop small group work within seminars and to make individual and group presentations

Brief description

This module introduces students both to a range of American literature from the colonial period to the end of the nineteenth century and to the skills needed to analyse and critique American literature in its historical context. It focuses on the role of literature in dramatizing and debating the myths and realities of American experience. Simultaneously it investigates the relationship between literature and society, while also paying attention to literary genre. For students taking American Studies, it will develop the skills and knowledge required for the interdisciplinary study of American culture at Part II.



There will be 2 x 1 hour lectures per week, making a total of 20 lectures during the semester.   

1. Introduction/Native American oral literature
2. Learning Skills: Using the library for American Studies research

3. Creating Puritan New England
4. What is an American: Enlightenment and revolutionary voices

5. Creating an 'American' literature: Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe
6. The American Renaissance: an introduction

7. Transcendentalism and the Utopian impulse in American literature
8. Three key figures: Emerson, Thoreau and Fuller

9. The American Romance: an introduction
10. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, I

11. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, II
12. Herman Melville's fiction

13. The literature of slavery and abolition
14. The lives of slaves: Frederick Douglass and Frances Harper

15. Democratic vistas: The poetry of Walt Whitman
16. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

17. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the South and slavery
18. Emily Dickinson's poetry

19. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
20. Conclusion: American literature at the end of the nineteenth century

Seminar Timetable and Set Texts

1. Introduction

2. Cultures in Contact: Native Americans and Europeans: A selection from Handsome Lake (Seneca), 'How America Was Discovered'; John Winthrop, 'A Modell of Christian Charity'; Mary Rowlandson, 'A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson', in Heath Anthology

3. Myths, Tales, and Legends of the Antebellum Period: Washington Irving, 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'; Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Fall of the House of Usher' and 'Ligeia', in Heath Anthology

4. The American Renaissance: A selection from Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Nature'; Henry David Thoreau, 'On Civil Disobedience'; Margaret Fuller, from' Woman in the Nineteenth Century', in Heath Anthology

5. Nathaniel Hawthorne: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance

6. Herman Melville: Herman Melville, Benito Cereno, in Heath Anthology

7. The Literature of Slavery and Abolition: A selection from Frederick Douglass, 'Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave'; Frances Harper, 'The Slave Mother', 'Free Labor', 'The Colored People of America', and 'Woman's Political Future', in Heath Anthology

8. Walt Whitman: Walt Whitman, 'Song of Myself', in Heath Anthology

9. 'The Rest Is Just Cheating': Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

10. Women at the End of the Nineteenth Century: Emily Dickinson, a selection of poems from the Heath Anthology; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 'The Yellow Wallpaper'


This module is at CQFW Level 4