Declaring Independence: 19th Century US Literature - EN675

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 30 (15) DR C Hurley

Pre-requisites

None

Restrictions

Not available as wild

2019-20

Overview

When the Long Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the "United States" were history's "greatest poem" he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson's dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.

In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such "Old World" traditions as racialised slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.

Details

This module appears in:


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Examination (3 Hours) (50%)
Close Reading Exercise (2,000 words) (20%)
Essay (3,000 words) (20%)
Seminar Contribution (10%)

Indicative reading

Tyler, R (1787) The Contrast in Norton Anthology of American Literature Ninth Ed. Vol. A (2017) (London: Norton and Company
Brown, C. (2011), Wieland (London; Norton and Company)
Melville, H, (2002) Moby-Dick (London: Norton and Company)
Jacobs, H. (2001) Incidents in the Life of A Slave-girl (London: Norton and Company)
Norris, F. (1997) McTeague (London: Norton and Company)
Chopin, K. (1994) The Awakening (London: Norton and Company)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an informed understanding of American literature of the 19th century across a number of genres and sub-genres.
2 Demonstrate knowledge of some of the major literary, cultural and historical issues that mattered to the writers of the period and that were specific to the development of American literature.
3 Demonstrate awareness of some recent developments in the critical understanding of American literature.
4 Demonstrate a developing sense of the different forms of writing in this period and a capacity to analyse them critically.

9. The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Apply the skills needed for academic study and inquiry
2 Synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of texts and contexts; ability to synthesise material from a number of sources in a coherent creative whole
3 Frame oral criticism of diverse sources sensitively and incisively
4 Develop powers of communication and the capacity to make a case, in spoken and written form, with clarity, organisation and conviction
5 Enhance confidence in the presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
6 Understand, interrogate and pursue a variety of theoretical insights and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives

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