American studies

Writing the New Nation: 1800-1900

Module code: Q3168
Level 4
15 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

American Literature to 1890 II introduces you to the major trends and texts of a multi-ethnic America from Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper to Emily Dickinson and Henry James. These are not simply 'authors', in the modern sense, writing 'great books', but diverse voices constructed by class, gender, race, nationality and religious persuasion. Some texts articulate ancient native traditions and myths, others come to terms in writing with experiences of migration, captivity, conflict, and slavery. Central to the module are questions of national identity, and the role that literature plays in both constructing and communicating an 'American experience'.

Module learning outcomes

  • Knowledge of major trends and concerns in American literature from 1800 through to 1890.
  • An understanding of the interrelation between literary writing and social, political and economic practices.
  • The ability to analyse these different forms of discourse and to use a professional critical vocabulary to describe them.
  • The ability to communicate such lines of argument, understanding and analysis in written form.