ENG-10036 - Literature as History: Writing the Americas
Coordinator: James H Peacock Room: CBB0.025 Tel: +44 1782 7 33140
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours:
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2020/21


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2020/21

Abraham Lincoln, upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom¿s Cabin, in 1862, is alleged to have said: ¿So you¿re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.¿ Whether or not this story is apocryphal, it illustrates how influential a literary text might be on the course of history. Literary texts emerge from within their historical contexts: they are rich historical documents in their own right; thus they shape our understanding of history. This module offers first-year students the chance to explore the close relationship between literary texts and the history of North America in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Major works of North American literature are read for their historical value and considered alongside other historical sources, shedding light on key aspects of North American history: examples might include slavery, Civil Rights, the women¿s rights movement, and post-World War Two counterculture in the McCarthy era.

To equip students with knowledge of key works of American literature from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
To enable students to explore the historical contexts in which literary works were produced.
To give students insight into the ways in which literary texts function as primary sources for the study of American history.
To give students practice of contextualised close reading of American literature alongside other historical sources.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Show understanding of how literature aids our understanding of North American history.
: 1,2
Show knowledge of the historical factors that influenced the production of North American literature.
: 2
Demonstrate research and planning skills and the ability to present that research effectively in oral and written forms.

: 1,2
Employ skills in close analysis of form and content.: 2

Study hours

11 hours: Lectures
11 hours: Seminars
2 hours : Workshop
1 hour : Presentation feedback
75 hours: Seminar preparation and personal study
25 hours: presentation research and preparation
25 hours: preparation and writing of online thread responses

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Presentation weighted 40%
Group presentation
In the workshop scheduled for week 6, students will give a presentation in groups of 2-3, of 10-12 minutes in length, on one of the module's set texts, looking at the literary text in its historical context and as a primary historical source. The group will receive a single mark.

2: Online Tasks weighted 60%
Reflective and critical writing online thread
Students will be required regularly to contribute to an online discussion thread, critically commenting on the texts and ideas discussed in the lectures and seminars. At the end of the module, their writing will be assessed for the evident engagement with the module, for criticality and also for the quality of the writing. Total wordcount: 2,000.