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 Rethinking American Fiction
Code ENGL210
Coordinator Dr DM Hering
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 30


The aims of this module are as follows:

- To enable students to engage with a cross-section of American literature from the 20th and 21st centuries

- To allow students to become conversant with the major critical contexts of this era, to understand how these critical debates are conducted.

- To provide students with the materials to perform a critique of American literature and culture.

- To attract students who are interested in approaching the study of American literature as an inherently international practice.

- To develop skills in the comparison of literary and critical/theoretical writing, and in the understanding of how to apply theoretical contexts to contemporary literary contexts.

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) On completing this module students will have acquired a knowledge and understanding of a range of twentieth and twenty-first century American Fiction.

(S1) Communication skills: Ability to discuss the cultural discourse of American literature of the 20th and 21st centuries in a seminar group.

(S2) International awareness: An understanding of American literature and culture as a global matter.

(S3) Assessment planning skills: Ability to create a piece of formative assessment and develop it, through feedback and academic support, into a summative piece of written coursework.

(S4) Independent research and essay writing skills: Ability to research and develop ideas in the form of an assessed essay.



Topics covered will include: America’s global relations; American citizenship and race/legacies of slavery; American modernism; the great depression; postwar anxieties and the cold war; American approaches to gender and sexuality; paranoia and conspiracy; regional writing; the 1990s and the ‘end of history’.

Texts/authors on the syllabus may be subject to change and are intended here to show the kind of reading required for each week.

Writers studied may include Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Willa Cather, Thomas Pynchon, Jhumpa Lahiri, Flannery O’ Connor and Colson Whitehead.

Assessment will be via:

- A 1000 word formative assessment (a plan for the assessed coursework at the end of the module)

- A 3000-3500 word summative assessment which will take the form of a coursework essay

- A Take-Home Exam (24 hours, not scheduled by SAS)

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be taught by 1 x weekly 1-hour tutorial with small group (F2F or online, as can be accommodated), and 2 x weekly 1-hour remote online workshops with whole cohort.

Self-Directed Learning Description: During this time, students will be required to read ahead to fulfil their required weekly reading, and also to read more widely from an extensive list of secondary material which will be provided by the convenor - this will be made available via VITAL and the library e-reading list. VITAL will also give students access to a series of blended learning options (links to online materials) that will enhance their learning. This time will also be used to write up assessment, both formative and summative.

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
Assessment ID: Exam. Not scheduled by SAS, 24 hours duration, re-sit opportunity, anonymous.  24    67       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Summative Essay Anonymous Assessment: Yes Resit opportunity: Yes    33       
Assessment ID: Essay Plan Assessment Description: Formative Anonymous Assessment: No Resit opportunity: N/A         

Recommended Texts

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