EN2WA-Writing America

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1 or A-Level (A*, A or B)
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Sue Walsh

Email: s.a.b.walsh@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The module is concerned with literary constructions of American identity in American literature, focusing on some of the ways in which imaginative writers have perceived and defined the New World in relation to the Old and helped to shape or contest the nation's sense of cultural distinctiveness. The module will examine both the diversity of American voices and the emergence of common preoccupations, including myths of the frontier, Manifest Destiny, personal and political liberty, and the the construction of race, gender and sexuality.

The module has three broad aims: to promote students’ knowledge and understanding of some of the central works of nineteenth-century American literature; to equip them to recognise some of the principal concerns that have informed the American imagination; and to provide a critical framework for analysing the role writers have played in the formation and interrogation of America’s national identity.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:
•identify and analyse distinctive literary characteristics of the selected texts
•recognise and discuss recurrent issues in America’s shifting self-representation
•conceptualize some of the ways in which nineteenth-century American
literature articulates or responds to cultural tensions of its era
•engage critically with the ideas presented in lectures, seminars, and/or
secondary materials
•organize and articulate a coherent written argument in coursework essay
and under timed examination conditions.

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. The module will also enable students to develop a critical sense of the role cultural productions play in the formation of national, cultural and self-identities.

Outline content:
Since the module is concerned with literary constructions of American identity and requires an examination of both the diversity of American voices and a sense of the emergence of common preoccupations, the set texts for study will include Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems. Seminar leaders may supplement these texts with other materials in order to expand on common themes or introduce alternative perspectives.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A combination of lectures and structured seminar discussion, for which students are required to do preparatory rerading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative essay. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 1
Seminars 10
Tutorials 0.5
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Guided independent study 139.5 37
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 67
Written assignment including essay 33

Other information on summative assessment:
Summative Assessment Methods (%) - work which always contributes towards the overall module mark:

Formative assessment methods:
Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

Students write one formative essay, of approximately 1500 words. Feeback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 1800-2000 words, or on the equivalent placement report.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 22 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Key Readings List:
    You can view a Key Readings list for this module here: http://readinglists.reading.ac.uk/lists/1141CCE6-601F-545B-AF1A-2DBEC2814222
    N.B. Reading lists may change before the module starts.

    Last updated: 10 April 2017

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