American Identities (Q3254E)

15 credits, Level 4

Autumn teaching

'What is an American?' Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur asked in the 18th century, when the American colonies were on the verge of revolution. That question has never really gone away. Whether as a self-proclaimed Republic, a slave-holding society, a 'nation of immigrants' or an imperial world power, America has had to invent and re-invent its national identity time and time again, from colonial times to the present.

On this module we study how Americans in different periods and different regions have thought, written, debated and talked about themselves in relation to their country in autobiography, poetry, fiction, and film. We ask how race, gender, and sexuality impact on notions of American citizenship, and we find out how to become an American, now and in the past. We will come across contradictory conceptions of American identity that may surprise us, as well as stereotypes and familiar tropes of optimism, individualism, and the right to bear arms.


48%: Lecture
4%: Practical (Workshop)
48%: Seminar


50%: Coursework (Essay)
50%: Examination (Seen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 24 hours of contact time and 126 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2017/18. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: