American Literature module (EN32001)

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • PRE-1900 Century module


Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious and dying in a Baltimore gutter, after marrying his 13 year old cousin and inventing the detective story.

Walt Whitman wrote letters to the sweethearts of injured Union soldiers, nursed the dying and composed the great poem of America which wouldn't end until he did.

Henry David Thoreau was thrown in jail for tax evasion, tried to live without money and wrote 'Resistance to Civil Government'.

Herman Melville joined a ship's mutiny in Tahiti, got himself captured, jailed, and finally escaped to produce some of the greatest sea stories ever written.

Frederick Douglass, born into slavery, spent his childhood watching his aunt being whipped until she bled, fought back against his master, disguised himself as a sailor to escape North, founded several newspapers and married a white woman in 1884.

These are just some of the writers of the American Renaissance. This module examines non-fiction, fiction and poetry which show us a distinct American identity in the process of being formed. If we want to understand what America is now, we first need to know what it was then.


Dr Tim Morris


This module will be taught by one weekly one-hour lecture plus one weekly two-hour seminar over 11 weeks.


  • Class presentation 20%
  • Annotated bibliography 20%
  • Research essay 60%


  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Selected Stories
  • Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Stories
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems
  • Herman Melville, ‘Bartleby’ and ‘Benito Cereno’
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life

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This module is available on following courses: