American Literature 1 (1836-1929) ENGLIT4083

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course covers the period during which a distinctively US literature could be said to emerge. It moves from addressing the 'American Renaissance' of the 1850s and writings by escaped slaves, to studying the realism and naturalism of the late-19th century, and concludes with readings of key figures from the 1920s.


1 x 1hr lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus


1 x 1hr lecture per week over ten weeks and 7 x 90min seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Literature and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Literature, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLIT4001  American Literature 1


Either close reading exercise or annotated bibliography (1500 words): 25%  

Essay (3000 words): 50%

Seminar contribution: 10%

Group [paired] presentation of 14 minutes: 15% (individual grade)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ study leading writers and key texts of United States literature, 1836-1929

■ consider these texts in the light of historical context

■ develop conceptual abilities and capacity for critical analysis

■ argue persuasively and with clarity of expression.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ write knowledgeably on the historical and literary circumstances from which the writing of the American republic emerges

■ analyse and criticise representative American texts of the period

■ make use of relevant secondary criticism, and deploy critical sources with accuracy and clarity

■ use electronic media and internet bibliographical sources intelligently 

■ communicate responses to the material studied on the course both orally and in written form through coherent and sustained argument.

■ Demonstrate resilience and time management through effectively planning, undertaking and submitting coursework.

■ Deal with change and new challenges by applying their disciplinary skills and knowledge to previously unfamiliar research areas and questions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.