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American Literature and Culture

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

The concept of "America" has been explored by authors from the United States and around the world. This course offers students the opportunity to investigate literary expressions about the American experience in texts from a range of genres (for example, poetry, drama, short story, novel, essay, and film) from the early colonial period to the contemporary era. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing texts in their literary, social, historical and cultural contexts.

Learning outcome

By the end of the course, students are expected to have acquired knowledge about:
  • America's diverse literary tradition.
  • The relationship between the American literary tradition and its social, cultural, and historical contexts.
  • Literary mediations of important historical events and sociocultural debates.
  • Perspectives on and debates about what defines, or characterizes, "Americanness".
  • The different cultural traditions and philosophies that inform American literature.

By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Analyze and understand literature about America from diverse perspectives and multiple historical periods and literary genres.
  • Interpret texts by conducting close readings and deploying relevant techniques and terms from literary studies.
  • Explain the sociocultural significance of the selected texts and authors.
  • Identify relevant trends and movements that distinguish different literary periods within American literature.

General competence
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • Use correct, varied, and precise English in order to participate in intellectual conversations about issues in literary and cultural studies.
  • Analyze what others have written or said, then summarize their arguments and assumptions.


This course focuses on literature from and about America from the early colonial period to the contemporary era. By reading a diverse range of literature, students will explore conceptualizations of America through topics such as American exceptionalism, the American dream, American democracy, immigration and Americanization, modernity and modernization, postmodern America, post-WWII America, and post-9/11 America. In addition to providing a sampling of the diversity of beliefs and perspectives expressed in American literature, this course aims to develop students' critical understanding of American culture and society by situating literary works in their literary, social, historical, and cultural contexts.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended previous knowledge

The course presupposes a solid command of written and spoken English.


Written exams, mid-term and final
Weight Duration Marks Aid
1914 to present1/25 hoursA - FExam aids available at the teachers' discretion
Beginnings to 19141/25 hoursA - FExam aids available at the teachers' discretion
Written exams, mid-term and final. Exam aids will be available at the teachers' discretion.
Duration: 5 hours per exam. Students must pass both exams to earn a final grade in this course. English language and academic writing skills are taken into account in the grading, as well as the course content.

Coursework requirements

Compulsory assignment 1
Students who get one or more assignment assessed as not approved at their first attempt, are given one opportunity to hand in a revised assignment.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator
Eric Dean Rasmussen
Course teacher
Peter Paul Ferry
Programme coordinator
Margrethe Melin

Method of work

Lectures and online resources.
Students are expected to do all the required reading before attending the lectures.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
American Literature and Culture (LENG175_1) 15
American Literature and Culture (ENG165_1) 10
American Literature and Culture (MENG165_1) 10
English Literature after 1950 (ENG130_1) 5
Other Voices - Global English Literature (ENG130_2) 5
English Literature after 1950 (ÅEN130_1) 5

Open to

English Language and Literature - Bachelor's Degree Programme, One-year programme, History - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Religious Studies - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Nordic Language and Literature - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Teacher Education including an MA.

Course assessment

Quality control by students is a central element of the UiS plan to improve teaching. In the Department of Cultural Studies and Languages this system includes student evaluation of courses in the form of an end-of-semester rating of at least two courses within each subject during one academic year.


Literatur will be published as soon as it has been prepared by the course coordinator/teacher

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

Sist oppdatert: 29.09.2020