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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: The American Novel 1970-2010 (ENLI10415)

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
SummaryThis course will explore a range of American novels written from the post-Vietnam era onwards, taking us into the new millennium. This forty-year span covers dramatic and far-reaching developments including the end of the Cold War, the age of the internet, and the onset of new crises around racial, gendered and sexual representation. The course is concerned with a period in the history of the US novel where the concerns and forms of high postmodernism ' a sceptical, ironic juxtaposition of high and low cultures, a rejection of (political) reality as an objective of narrative representation ' begin to evolve in interesting new directions that, in the examples we select for this course, address the intersection of formal experimentation and the tangible effects of power and history.
Course description The books on this course show how, over a period of forty years across the millennium, the American novel responded both discursively and formally to the rapid changes in the country's social and cultural construction. Students will engage with both the formal experimentation of postmodernism and the revival of realism as an aesthetic that it provoked; we will see how fiction addresses and responds to historical events; and explore how the often fraught racial politics of the period are staged within its fiction.
Topics to be covered in seminars will include: the myth of Hollywood; the Cold War, containment, and the 'end of history'; Vietnam and the New Left; the War on Drugs and racial politics; American politics during the 1990s; the financial crisis of 2008.
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) OR 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) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 30% 2,000 word mid-semester coursework essay

70% 3,000 word final essay
Feedback Written feedback will be provided on each assignment, and additional verbal feedback will be available from the course organiser on request.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct original, clear and coherent arguments about the modern America novel's depictions of racial politics, financial crises, and globalisation.
  2. Analyse literary texts using recognised methods of literary criticism to substantiate and illustrate those arguments.
  3. Evaluate and assess ideas from works of secondary criticism in order to bring them to bear on their own analyses of modern American fiction.
  4. Examine literary texts for evidence of stylistic and formal innovation, and illustrate their findings with examples from the novels on the course.
  5. Orally present the result of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
Reading List
Indicative reading list:
Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985)
Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays (1970)
Percival Everett, Erasure (2001)
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001)
Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land (1996)
Philip Roth, The Human Stain (2000)
Dana Spiotta, Eat the Document (2006)
Colson Whitehead, Zone One (2011)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their detailed knowledge of some of the key political and social issues that shaped American society between 1970 and 2010.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material.

Generic Cognitive Skills: through group work and completing assessed essays, students will have practiced identifying, designing, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline.

Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists.

Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
Additional Class Delivery Information one 2 hour Seminar per week;
plus one 1 hour Autonomous Learning Group per week (at time to be arranged)
KeywordsFiction; postmodernism; politics; American; New Left; Cold War; end of history.
Course organiserDr Alexandra Lawrie
Tel: (0131 6)50 8968
Course secretaryMrs Lina Gordyshevskaya
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