AMS-10025 - Starting Out: An Introduction to American Literature
Coordinator: Oliver Cg Harris Room: CBB1.053 Tel: +44 1782 7 33016
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2019/20


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2019/20

Students taking this module can expect to spend 22 hours in lectures, seminars and workshops.
`Starting Out' introduces students to a number of important nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary texts, to major themes in American literature (the Gothic, the city, commodity culture, the `American Adam', constructions of gender, class and race) and to relevant historical contexts (the Revolution, slavery and Civil War, the Great Depression, Vietnam). The module is designed to introduce students to the standards and conventions of university-level work and to develop appropriate writing and research skills. Core texts typically include: Washington Irving, `Rip Van Winkle'; Edgar Allan Poe, `The Fall of the House of Usher'; Herman Melville, `Bartleby'; Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, `The Yellow Wallpaper'; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; William Burroughs, Naked Lunch (extract); and Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried.
The course combines a variety of traditional learning activities (lectures and seminars) with small group work carried out in workshops, plus an individual consultation if required. The module has been designed to make student workload manageable, with shorter reading assignments enabling students to prepare for longer texts.

To introduce students to some prominent C19 and C20 literary texts, major themes and historical contexts. To develop essay writing and basic degree-level research skills.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate transferable skills including time management, teamworking, data gathering and analysis. will be achieved by assessments: 1,2, 5
Demonstrate skills of textual interpretation and argument, orally and in writing, using electronic and other resources as appropriate. will be achieved by assessments: 2,3,4,5
Describe and evaluate basic features of disciplinary scholarship relating to the study of American literature. will be achieved by assessments: 1,3,4
Describe and evaluate key features of C19 and C20 American literature, showing knowledge and understanding of specific themes and issues as well as of appropriate critical methodologies and historical contexts. will be achieved by assessments: 2,3,4
Demonstrate basic skills in identifying and evaluating relevant and high-quality secondary sources. will be achieved by assessments: 3,4
Develop oral presentation skills. will be achieved by assessments: 5
Achieve satisfactory standards of written style and presentation, learning the importance of careful revision and proof-reading of written work. will be achieved by assessments: 2,3,4

Study hours

10 x 1-hour lectures
8 x 1-hour seminars
2 x 2-hour workshops
10 minutes individual feedback per student
127 hours 50 minutes lecture, seminar and assessment preparation.

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Webct weighted 0%
Diagnostic quiz
Start of module quiz to prompt reflection upon the nature of literary value and inform structured discussions of the literary canon.

2: Exercise weighted 0%
Formative exercise based on training workshop
Following a training workshop designed to develop key subject-specific and transferable skills, students will complete a proofreading exercise. The aim is to establish basic writing and research skills and to familiarize students with academic standards and conventions. Students will receive individual feedback within 2 weeks of submission (written proforma and 10 minute individual appointment). The exercise will be submitted with the Short Paper.

3: Short Paper weighted 30%
Close reading exercise based on training workshop
Following a training workshop designed to develop close reading skills, students will submit a 750 word close textual analysis of one of two passages from the module set texts. The assessment develops time management skills and an awareness of the importance of close reading in literary critical work. Students will receive individual feedback within 2 weeks of submission (written proforma and 10 minute individual appointment).

4: Essay weighted 60%
2,000-word essay (plus or minus 200 words)
Essay topics will be provided in module documentation.

5: Class Participation weighted 10%
Assesses the quality of participation in seminars.
Encourages development of time management, oral presentation and teamworking skills in seminars. Information on marking criteria will be made available to students.