Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL32460 Writing America

20 creditsClass Size: 41

For full module descriptions of our level 2 and 3 undergraduate modules (including details of preparatory reading, texts for purchase and required unassessed work) please see the Undergraduate Module Handbook in the English Organisation on the VLE.

Visiting and Exchange Students must read this information before selecting modules.

Module manager: Professor Bridget Bennett

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is not approved as a discovery module


- To introduce students to American literature in its cultural context.
- To prepare students for more advanced work in American literature and culture.
- To enhance students' critical and analytical skills with respect to written texts.
- To enhance students' skills in oral presentation and essay writing.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement
- critical reasoning
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance
- IT skills
- efficient time management and organisation skills
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


Writing America serves primarily as a key and important foundation to US American literature and its cultural contexts for those students who think they may wish to take further Options in the subject or who may intend to take the Level Three core American Words, American Worlds. At the same time we expect no prior engagement with American literature and it is also suited to students who would like to know more about American literature more broadly. The module introduces students to some of the key concepts that have animated both US letters and their critical reception. It takes writing to be a dynamic act and asks how the writing of ‘America’ participated in the nation’s development. Organised around the core contexts/concepts of Domesticity, Slavery and Citizenship, the module interrogates some of the most significant literary texts of the United States in the nineteenth century.

The module examines how these texts reveal, negotiate and elide the central preoccupations of the still-young United States by situating them in the broader contexts of the developing nation’s relationships with Europe, with the Americas as a hemispheric formation, and with its own citizens and non-citizens. How did the United States’ early preoccupations with nationhood and democracy obfuscate the country’s imperial ambitions? What is the relationship between statehood and national identity? What does it mean to call the United States (a state formation) ‘America’ (a national formation)? What is claimed by that choice? How do the issues of slavery and American Indian removal problematise the ideals of democratic citizenship upon which the United States were founded? How does the Civil War look different when viewed through the domestic lens of Alcott’s Little Women? What does it mean that the action of one of the nation's most celebrated novels – Moby Dick -- largely takes place at sea? By taking this course you will encounter the works of the poets Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, writers of fiction such as Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Herman Melville, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, writers of slave narratives such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, polemicists such as W.E.B. DuBois.

The course combines weekly seminars with weekly lectures, giving you an unusually deep and contextualized access to the texts we engage with and preparing you either to be introduced to new interests or to develop existing engagements. We work from an anthology that contains introductions, mini-essays and other works which you are encouraged to engage with to widen your knowledge.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) and weekly lectures (10 x 1 hour).

- Private Study: Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars
- Feedback on assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,250 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2018


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019