Module Identifier EN11020  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr William G Slocombe  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr John Phiilp Wrighton, Dr Martin Padget, Professor Timothy S Woods, Dr Matthew C Francis, Dr Helena Grice, Mrs Nicky Cashman, Mrs Carol M Marshall, Dr Luke A Thurston  
Course delivery Lecture   20 x 1 hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 1 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment A writing 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%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will be able to:

1. an analytical approach to the literary texts set for study and a critical attitude towards published scholarship on the subject of those texts;

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

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

4. 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.



1. Module introduction / Native American oral literature
2. Creating Puritan New England

3. Creating an `American' literature: Washington Irving
4. American Gothic: Edgar Allan Poe

5. The American Renaissance: an introduction
6. Transcendentalism: Key Issues

7. Three key figures: Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller
8. Essay Writing: Good practice in written assignments for American Studies

9. The American Romance
10. Nathaniel Hawthorne

11. Herman Melville's fiction
12. Personal skills and development

13. The literature of slavery and abolition
14. Democratic vistas: The poetry of Walt Whitman

15. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn I
16. Women's Rights in teh Nineteenth Century

17. Emily Dickinson's poetry
18. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper

19. Course conclusion: American literature at the end of the nineteenth century
20. Module Panel

Seminar Outlines and Weekly Reading

Note: unless specified, all page references are to the sixth edition of The Norton Anthology of American Literature (five vols), edited by Nina Baum et al..


2. Cultures in Contact: Native Americans and Europeans
Reading: "The Iroquois Creation Story" and "Pima Stories of the Beginning of the World" (A: 21-23 and 24-26); John Winthrop, "A Modell of Christian Charity" (A: 206-217); Mary Rowlandson, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (A: 309-340)

3. Myths, Tales, and Legends of the Antebellum Period
Reading: Washington Irving, "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (B: 980-992 and 992-1013); Edgar Allan Poe, "Ligeia" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" (B: 1525-1534 and 1534-1547)

4. Emerson and Fuller
Reading: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (B: 1106-1134); Henry David Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government" (B: tbc)

5. Thoreau and Hawthorne
Reading: Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown," My Kinsman, Major Molineux," and "Rappachini's Daughter" (B: tbc)

6. Herman Melville
Reading: Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno" (B: 2371-2427)

7. The Literature of Slavery and Abolition
Reading: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (B: 2032-2097); Frances Harper, "The Slave Mother", "The Tennessee Hero", "Free Labor", "An Appeal to the American People", "The Colored People in America" (provided)

8. Walt Whitman
Reading: Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" (B:2232-2274 or C: 122-166)

9. "The Rest is Just Cheating"
Reading: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (C: 219-407)

10. Women at the End of the Nineteenth Century
Reading: Poems by Emily Dickinson (B: 2503-2544 or C: 170-212); Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (C: 832-844)

Note: Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are also available in paperback, and for students who will not be taking module EN11120, it might be cheaper to buy them in that format. Other students will be using Package 2 (Vols. C, D, & E) of The Norton Anthology of American Literature as a core text for EN11120 .

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Baym, Nina, et al (eds) (2003) The Norton Anthology of American Literature Volumes A & B. Norton 0393977935
** Recommended Text
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1981) The Yellow Wallpaper Virago (or in Norton Anthology, see notes above) 0860682013
Mark Twain (1994) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Penguin (or in Norton Anthology, see notes above) 0140620648


This module is at CQFW Level 4