Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Declaring Independence: American Literature to 1900
Code ENGL201
Coordinator Dr HL Murray
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2020-21 Level 5 FHEQ First Semester 30


The aims of this module are: to trace the historical development of American literature through the American Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century; to examine burgeoning movements such as American Gothic and Transcendentalism among other topics; to analyse how American writers engage with the subject of their nation, especially with the stated ideals of the new republic; and to explore the different formal means they employ to express American identities.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) On completing this module, students will be able to demonstrate awareness and understanding of: - the evolution of American literature from the seventeenth century up to c.1900

(LO2) The range of styles with which American writers of the period describe their past or situate themselves in relation to American culture

(LO3) The tradition of criticism of this literature

(LO4) The ability to demonstrate their own confident critical understanding of American literature of the period

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Academic writing (inc. referencing skills)

(S2) Improving own learning/performance - Reflective practice

(S3) Time and project management - Personal organisation

(S4) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis

(S5) Information skills - Critical reading



This module will build on the introduction to American Literature in ENGL111 Literature in Time, but ENGL111 is not a pre-requisite. You will develop greater knowledge and understanding of how American history and culture influences its literature and the specific literary styles writers work in.
Students should purchase a copy of The Norton Anthology of American Literature Volume B (8th or 9th edition) and specific novels as directed. Additional shorter texts will be available electronically. The secondary Reading List will comprise of books and articles available electronically or in the library collection.
Students will be expected to read all directed primary and secondary material in preparation for contact hours. Additional secondary reading will be listed each week for further preparation.
Potential topics and writers include:
From subject to citizen (Crevecoeur, Wheatley)
Literature of the frontier (Cooper, Sedgwick, Black Hawk)
The individual and s ociety (Thoreau, Hawthorne)
The Other (Poe, Melville)
Writing for freedom (Douglass, Jacobs, Stowe)
Democratic vistas and transcendental visions (Whitman, Dickinson)
Multi-ethnic literature of the United States (Chesnutt, Zitkala-Sa)
The New Woman (Chopin)

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching method: whole cohort sessions; small group sessions

Description: The whole cohort sessions provides students with contextual information to study primary texts and an opportunity to ask lecturers questions. They feature larger group discussion of module topics and development of skills related to assessment. Small group sessions (9-10 students) involve close reading and small group discussion of primary texts.
Schedule directed student hours: 33
Unscheduled directed student hours: 267
Attendance recorded: Yes

Description of how self-directed learning hours may be used: Reading the primary text, reading secondary texts from Reading List, preparing answers to tutorial questions.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 11



Timetable (if known) 60 mins X 1 totaling 11
  60 mins X 1 totaling 11
    60 mins X 1 totaling 11
Private Study 267


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
for 20/21 is a take home exam One two-question written exam. There is a resit opportunity. This is an anonymous assessment.  -2250 words    67       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
One assessed essay. There is a resit opportunity. This is an anonymous assessment.  2700-3000 words    33       
Plan or draft for assessed essay. This is submitted by email or in person and is not anonymous.  1500 words         

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.