Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL2055 American Words, American Worlds

20 creditsClass Size: 81

School of English

Module manager: Prof Andrew Warnes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at 'A' Level in English Language or Literature or equivalent or an achieved mark of 56 or above in a Level 1 module in English. 

This module is mutually exclusive with

ENGL2080Contemporary Literature

Module replaces

ENGL3290 - American Words, American Worlds

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module invites you to consider American literature after 1900 in its broader context. By closely reading key US literary works, we will discuss a range of American “worlds” that respond in different ways to the national culture. We ask how these works represent the ascent of US global power as well as the country’s self-image as a democratic exception. We also prioritise African American writing among other traditions historically marginalised within the national culture.


On successful completion of this module, students should possess an increased knowledge of American literature and an enhanced awareness of some of the preoccupations of American culture in the period from 1900 to the present. They should have augmented their critical and analytical skills with respect to different kinds of texts, including poetry, and further developed their skills in essay writing and oral presentation.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
1. Understand a range of major United States literary texts written after 1900;
2. Comprehend the wider contexts (social, cultural and political) relating to these texts
3. Engage with leading scholarly debates about these texts and contexts
4. Carry out close reading of literature in the development of sustained and independent argument.


This module examines American texts in their cultural contexts in the period from 1900 to the present, the so-called American century. It consists of a series of probes that reflect three preoccupations. The first is geographies, including the frontier, the suburbs, and the city and America's global reach. The second is memories, which we take to embrace both personal reminiscence, as in autobiography and 'confessional' poetry, and cultural memory, as in Toni Morrison's 're-memories' of African American history. The third is technologies; here we will look at a variety of responses -- in poetry, drama, fiction and film -- to the objects and media that increasingly occupy American life. In the course of seminars and lectures, we will often be asking whether, and how, the chosen texts may usefully be described as distinctively 'American.' In addition to studying the set texts, students will be invited to draw on their own interests in film, painting, photography, music, or other forms to explore the broader terrain of American cultures and society.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Participation in seminar discussion.
- Feedback from Close Reading exercise submitted in week 9 and returned before the end of teaching term and the submission of the final assessment in the examination period.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Critique1000 words in length25.00
Essay2500 words in length75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 11/06/2024 11:40:26


Browse Other Catalogues

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

© Copyright Leeds 2019