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 2023-24 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) Students will acquire analytical skills and vocabulary appropriate to university-level work and be able to use them appropriately in relation to a range of sources from different historical periods and social contexts.

(LO2) Students will gain the ability to construct and support argument in written or spoken forms suitable for academic work and be able to participate constructively in group discussions.

(LO3) Students will gain awareness of cultural, theoretical and historical contexts of literature and language use.

(LO4) Students will have the ability to write well-constructed prose, reflecting appropriate scholarly knowledge and independent response within a sustained argument.

(LO5) Students will have knowledge of one or more specific literary historical periods and the language and genres associated with it/them.

(LO6) Students will have the ability to demonstrate research and evaluative skills that support wider literary or linguistic analysis, criticism, and/or data collection.

(LO7) Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the evolution of American literature from the late eighteenth century up to c.1900.

(LO8) Students will be able to demonstrate their own critical understanding of American literature of the period and its tradition of criticism.

(S1) Students will gain the ability to analyse and interpret sophisticated texts closely and critically.

(S2) Students will gain the ability to construct and support argument in both written and spoken forms.

(S3) Students will gain the ability to write with appropriate subject knowledge, using appropriate approaches and terminology.

(S4) Students will gain the ability to identify and assess relevant information and data, and argue independently in response.

(S5) Students will gain the ability to critically evaluate research materials.

(S6) Students will gain the ability to undertake independent research, and to develop a sense of research attitude.

(S7) Students will gain the ability to manage their time and projects through coursework and a timed exam paper.



This module will build on the introduction to American Literature in ENGL117 Literature in Time, but ENGL117 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:
This module will be taught by 1 x weekly 1-hour tutorial with small group and 2 x weekly 1-hour workshops with whole cohort (F2F or online, as appropriate).

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)              
Private Study 267


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
One two-question written exam. Scheduled by SAS, 24hr duration. There is a resit opportunity. This is an anonymous assessment.  24    67       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Plan or draft for assessed essay. This is submitted by email or in person and is not anonymous.         
One assessed essay. There is a resit opportunity. This is an anonymous assessment.    33       

Recommended Texts

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