Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Republican Visions (ENLI10328)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe aim of this course is to explore the various ways in which a number of key modern American writers have interrogated and refashioned the rhetoric and the ideology of the American Republic. To this end, the course begins by identifying and discussing some of the central ideological constituents of the discourse of American republicanism (the idea of American "exceptionalism," the claims of manifest destiny, the rhetoric of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the importance of the tradition of Puritan redemption, and so on). Having established this ideological background, the course proceeds to examine the way that nine writers have drawn upon the historical and cultural repertoire of American republicanism in order to consider the influence of this intellectual inheritance upon contemporary ideas of subjectivity, cultural value and the relationship between politics and ethics.
Course description The aim of this course is to explore the various ways in which a number of key twentieth and twenty-first century writers have sought to explore and re-imagine the idea and values of the American republic during periods of radical social transformation. The course begins with a general introduction to some of the historical, cultural and political themes which recur between the selected texts. It then proceeds along a chronological itinerary which includes John Dos Passos' radical modernist examination of the rise of the American Empire at the beginning of the twentieth-century and the social crises which accompanied an emerging phase of monopoly capitalism in USA, William Faulkner's searing vision of southern plantation culture and the construction of "whiteness" in Absolom! Absolom!, Ralph Ellison's militant modernist critique of the fate of contemporary black life in a culture of anti-blackness in Invisible Man, Thomas Pynchon's post-modern exploration of the politics of McCarthyism, the counter-cultural 1960s and the rise of the "corporate personality" in The Crying of Lot 49, Norman Mailer's "existential" account of the 1967 anti-Vietnam War March on the Pentagon as radical critique of some of the central ideological constituents of the discourse of American Republicanism (such as the idea of American "exceptionalism," the claims of manifest destiny, the rhetoric of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the importance of the tradition of Puritan redemption) in The Armies of the Night, Toni Morrison's subaltern account of the traumatic reality and legacy of the slave experience in Beloved, Philip Roth's revisionary reinterpretation of American republican values from the perspective of the Jewish-American experience in American Pastoral, Marilynne Robinson's unsparing examination of the idea of ethical action in a time of political violence in Gilead, before concluding with James Baldwin's and Paul Beatty's twinned accounts of the politics of race in modern American culture in The Fire Next Time and The Sellout.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) AND Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) AND Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Other Study Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) one hour per week Autonomous Learning Group
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%).

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course the students will have achieved three specific learning outcomes. First, they will have learnt to identify the various formal constituents of the discourse(s) of American Republicanism. Secondly, they will have developed the ability to interrogate the often complex relationship between the modalities of literary narrative and the forms and structures of historiographical writing. And, third, the course's continuing emphasis upon generic and discursive constructions such as "realism", "modernism", "postmodernism", "historiography" and "ideology" will encourage them to develop a conceptual sophistication that will serve them well in each phase of their Honours education.
Reading List
Week One: Introduction to the Course.

Week Two: The Rise of the American Empire: John Dos Passos's The Forty-Second Parallel.

Week Three: Southern Culture and the Politics of Whiteness: William Faulkner's Absolom! Absolom!

Week Four: (in)Visible Blackness in the Culture of White Supremacy: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.

Week Five: Paranoid Culture/Paranoid History: Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49.

Week Six: Festival of Creative Writing.

Week Seven: Existential Politics and the Republican Legacy: Norman Mailer's The Armies of the Night.

Week Eight: Not a Story to Pass On: Toni Morrison's Beloved.

Week Nine: Essay Completion Week.

Week Ten: Paradise Lost?: Philip Roth's American Pastoral.

Week Eleven: From Civil War to Civil Rights: Marilynne Robinson's Gilead.

Week Twelve: Modern American Culture and the Politics of Race: Paul Beatty's The Sellout.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited, with priority given to students taking degrees involving English or Scottish Literature and Visiting Students placed by the Admissions Office. Students not in these categories need the written approval of the Head of English Literature before enrolling.
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar - 2 hours per week for 10 weeks;

plus attendance for one hour each week at Autonomous Learning Group - times to be arranged.
KeywordsRepublicanism America Poetry
Course organiserDr Lee Spinks
Tel: (0131 6)50 3616
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information