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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This level-three course offers an introduction to American literature and culture between 1850 and 1950, a century in which the United States was transformed from a rural economy to an industrialised super-power. You will learn about the key writers of this period, the issues that sparked their imaginations, and the literary strategies which they adopted, or at times invented, to express their response to the changing world around them. This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Dan Wall

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • English (EL)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • EL30HJ American Literature to 1900 (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

American Innovation explores literature written in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the Second World War, analysing the work of major writers in historical and political context. Between 1850 and 1950, America experienced three major wars, and was transformed from a developing rural economy to a world super-power. These dramatic social and cultural changes are reflected, and sometimes resisted, in the writing of the age. This course considers the rise of a distinctively American perspective in literature, and it looks at how writers of the period experimented with new forms and styles. It engages with the themes of conflict, gender, race and religion through the work of writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner.

Further Information & Notes

1 one-hour lecture per week

1 two-hour seminar per week

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: continuous assessment: Two essays, each 2500 words (each 40%); group project (10%); seminar assessment mark (10%).

Resit: 1 comparative essay (3,500 words) (100%)

Formative Assessment

Essay feedback will be given in written form. Students will also have opportunities to discuss their progress with their tutor. This course also includes extensive use of group work and peer review.


Detailed written feedback on the essays. Detailed oral feedback on the presentations. Peer review of presentations.

Course Learning Outcomes


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