EN3CRM-‘Eyes on the Prize’: Literature of the US Civil Rights Movement

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Grace Ioppolo

Email: g.j.ioppolo@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module will explore the history and literature of the US civil rights movement from the late 1940s to at least the passage in 1964 of the Civil Rights Act. Each week, the seminar will begin with a viewing of a segment of the landmark American Public Broadcasting Service documentary series Eyes on the Prize in order to provide a succinct history of the legal, cultural and social processes, aims and effects of the struggle for civil rights for all Americans. After viewing a segment of this documentary, each week’s seminar will take a foundational text written during or about this civil rights struggle as the subject of discussion. The texts in the class may include: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Letter from Birmingham Jail and I Have a Dream by Dr Martin Luther King, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Go Tell it On the Mountain by James Baldwin, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Fences by August Wilson, and a variety of poems, as well as online and other material, particularly that which provides context on such subjects as school and university desegregation. Of particular importance will be a study of such American foundational documents as The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and The Emancipation Proclamation.

This module is designed to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of the ways in which American authors, historians, and journalists, political activists, members of the clergy and other writers became spokespersons in the fight against racial prejudice and for the passage of the US Civil Rights Act. The aim is to understand the ways in which literature, including novels, poetry, plays, memoirs and other prose tracts, could be instrumental in making changes in law, education, society and culture. The end point should be an understanding of how and why literature can create society rather than simply reflect it.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide sweep of American literature from the 1940s to the modern day
•Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the US civil rights movement from the 1940s
•Recognize the importance of genre and form in poetic, prose and theatrical representation
•Research, organize and articulate a scholarly critical argument in writing

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.

Outline content:
This course will examine the ways in which all forms of literature can have historical, cultural, legal and social importance. It will expand and/or complement students’ other 2nd and 3rd year studies of American literature and culture and provide a solid basis for UK students for further study of American literature, culture and history at undergraduate and post-graduate level both in the USA or the UK.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. 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
Seminars 33 1
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 126.5 39
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:
Students write one formative essay, of approximately 1500 words. Feedback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 2250-2500 words, or the equivalent placement report.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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 in 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:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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