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

Undergraduate Course: American War Fiction (ENLI10385)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will look at American war narratives from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. There is no duplication between materials in this course and those on courses taught by myself and other colleagues in the field of American literature. The popularity of 'The Modern American Novel' fourth-year Core course, and the comments from students on that course that they have little or no knowledge of American history and/or literature beyond their pre-honours lectures, suggests that this would be a popular addition to our third-year course provision. The breadth of historical coverage on the course, and the diversity of narrative styles considered - historical romance, naturalism, fractured modernism, parody, new journalism, popular adventure, postmodern historiography - will allow students to consider how formal questions impact on historical interpretations of war and its aftermath.
Course description The study of fictional war narrative necessarily entails engagement with a number of intellectually, emotionally and pedagogically challenging issues, such as: the relationship between personal trauma and broader sociopolitical events; the difficulties inherent in literary representations of war and conflict; the Othering of enemy combatants, and of civilians; the tension between hegemonic political/historiographical discourse and individual representations of war and its aftermath; the importance of war in the formation of American political discourse. As the course is directly interested in narrative fiction of the USA, critical attention will be paid to the ways by which writers sought to represent: the USA¿s growing military and economic power, the centrality of the Civil War (1861-5) to both American history and literary culture, the search for adequate literary forms to describe experiences of World Wars I and II, and of America¿s wars on Vietnam and Iraq, and the place of journalism in this search.
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
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as cross disciplinary, "Freshman Seminars", civilisation or creative writing classes are not considered for admission to this course.
Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having four or more literature classes at grade A.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to war fiction as an engagement with historical and historiographical issues
  2. Demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to war fiction as an engagement with questions of the representation of trauma
  3. Communicate their understanding of these issues through reference to both primary and broader contextual materials
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of some specific political, historical, and broadly cultural aspects of the history of the USA, as they may relate to the primary materials
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of historical developments in the genre
Reading List
Primary texts
Introduction: American slavery and African American authorship:
Walt Whitman selected poems, and ¿The Real War Will Never Get in Books¿ (1882) [all on LEARN]
Herman Melville, Israel Potter (1855)
Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
William March, Company K (1933) WWII:
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
John A. Williams, Captain Blackman (1972)
Tim O¿ Brien, The Things They Carried (1990)
Joan Didion, Salvador (1983)
Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (2012)
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 10 characteristics:
Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of a range of the principal theories and concepts of literary analysis in relation to their reading and discussion of the course material;
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessed essays and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, 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.
KeywordsAmerican fiction,war,trauma,historiography,modernity,new journalism,politics
Course organiserDr Keith Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 3048
Course secretaryMr Michael Butler
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