Module Identifier EN33320  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Katharine E Wright  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Michael J Smith  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 essays (2,500 words each)100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate a broad knowledge of the diversity of literatures of the USA in the 20th century;

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

3. demonstrate an understanding of the social and political contexts in which the set texts were written;

4. describe the differing themes and formal strategies which develop from the ethnic and regional experiences of America during the 20th century;

5. explain issues of gender and class in relation to the themes and forms of the set texts;

6. engage in coherent oral discussion of the texts;

7. 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.


1. 'Women in their Places'
Reading: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland

2. 'The Decline of the West' I
Reading: Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

3. 'The Haunted South'
Reading: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

4. 'The Decline of the West' II
Reading: F.Scott Fitzgerald, Diamond as Big as the Ritz

5. 'Brave New World' I
Reading: Arthur Miller, All My Sons

6. 'Brave New World' II
Reading: Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

-7. 'Persecuted by Paranoia'
Reading: Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

8. 'Liberating Laughter'
Reading: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5

9. 'Hyphenated Americans'
Reading: Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior

-10. 'Consumer Fiction'
Reading: Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Faulkner, William (1996) As I Lay Dying Vintage 0099479311
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1996) The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and Other Stories Penguin 0140622381
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (2001) Herland Women's Press 0704347008
Hemingway, Ernest (2004) A Farewell to Arms Arrow Books 0099910101
Kingston, Maxine Hong (1981) The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts Pan 0330264001
McInerney, Jay (1994) Bright Lights, Big City Penguin 0140232761
Miller, Arthur (1988, c1958) All My Sons (collected in Plays: One) Methuen Drama 0413158101
Pynchon, Thomas (1967) The Crying of Lot 49 Cape
Vonnegut, Kurt (1991) Slaughterhouse-Five Vintage 0099800209
Wilson, Sloan (2005) The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Penguin 014118826X
** Recommended Background
Donaldson, Scott, ed. (1990) New Essays on A Farewell to Arms Cambridge University Press 0521387329
Ludwig, Sami (1996) Concrete Language: Intercultural Communication in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo Peter Lang 082042966X
O'Donnell, Patrick, ed. (1991) New Essays on The Crying of Lot 49 Cambridge University Press 0521388333
Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia, ed. (1999) Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: A Casebook Oxford University Press 0195116550


This module is at CQFW Level 6