Modern American Literature 2 ENGLIT5116

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This semester two offering represents the second part of Modern American Literature's core course, and while functionally separate from MAL core course 1 (so that students from other pathways may take one course), both will be taught in four five-week units whose focus will be coordinated to present a coherent foundation for the study of modern American literature, introducing contemporary critical frameworks, key cultural trigger points, and a diverse range of literary texts. Rather than tracing a chronological line (which makes the course vulnerable to changes in staff leave patterns), each five-week unit will address a specific iteration of five key foci or themes that are developed and explored across the two semesters. These themes-e.g. Cities, Institutions, Movements, Entertainments, Anthologies-represent the courses' efforts to see writers and canons in dynamic contexts, to promote dialogue and effective comparisons between sessions, and to suggest different routes that students may pursue in more detail across the degree as a whole.


10 x 2 hour seminars

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses



1 x 2,500-word mid-term exercise - 50%

1 x 2,500-word final essay - 50%

N.B. The even split is designed to conform with the 2x5 week sub-division of the course.

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Familiarise students with the social and cultural history of Modern American Literature, building on any previous experience they may have;

■ Allow students to explore the aesthetic, social and political conflicts of the period as instantiated in texts;

■ Encourage students to engage critically with questions of genre, periodicity and canonicity;

■ Expand students' knowledge of historical and contemporary approaches to Modern American Literature;

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Analyse relationships between Modern American Literature and the cultural, political and social history of the period;

■ Critically engage with a range of different critical approaches to Modern American Literature;

■ Discuss the ways in which writers of Modern American Literature approached questions relating to the organisation of society and the nature of identity;

■ Assess a wide range of critical and theoretical approaches;

■ Frame arguments effectively in speech and in writing at an advanced level.

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.