EL6042 - Postwar US Writing

What will I learn on this module?

This module will enhance your understanding of postwar American literary culture in its broader social, political, and
economic contexts. Mid-century America was a time of profound contradictions: while US citizens lived under the shadow the bomb, many experienced unprecedented economic prosperity and access to new material comforts. We will explore how national paranoia
about the spread of communism and the nuclear arms race sat alongside – and fed into – the postwar image of the American ‘good life’, an image of suburban conformity underpinned by the growth of advertising and consumer culture. We will consider how postwar fiction and poetry challenges this demand for conformity in both content and form: through its complex representations of the American cold war experience and its innovative narrative and poetic strategies. The texts on this module offer insights into postwar attitudes towards a diverse range of topics, including national and international politics, work, leisure, and domesticity, gender and sexuality, and race and ethnicity.

How will I learn on this module?

1 x weekly 1.5-hour lecture and workshop
1 x weekly 1.5-hour seminar

The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Each week, a 1.5-hour lecture will establish the critical and contextual framework for the text under discussion. Seminars will provide you with the opportunity to explore your own ideas and opinions about the texts and the wider issues they raise about postwar America. You will be invited to share your ideas with the seminar leader through small-group exercises, presentations, and debate.
In addition to learning during contact hours with the module tutor, you will be expected to undertake both directed and independent learning. Directed learning generally will take the form of preparation for seminars where you will be expected to contribute to discussion. This preparation will be guided through study questions circulated in advance.
Independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and investigation, the consolidation of seminar notes, and revision/preparation for the assessment of the module.
Students are also invited to book individual tutorial slots with the module tutor for further support and advice, such as help with essay planning and further feedback on written work.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Lectures will introduce you to literary, historical and theoretical concepts and contexts that will help you to develop your understanding of the primary texts. Lectures will also offer you guidance on how critics have received the primary texts, and so offer direction for further reading and research. Study questions circulated in advance of seminars will prompt critical analysis of the primary texts and prepare you for seminar discussion, where you will be able to explore your own ideas with other members of the group, engage in lively debate, and ask questions. The e-learning portal will provide helpful information about the module which you can draw on at any time. There you will find the module guide, which provides details of lectures, seminars, assessments and learning aims. You will also have access to the assessment criteria, a digital reading list, advice on how to present your written work, and all the presentation slides and handouts from lectures and seminars. The e-learning portal also contains information on the module tutor’s contact details and office hours. If you have any queries of concerns about the module or assessments you can speak to the tutor during lectures and seminars and also book an individual tutorial.
Feedback from your first assessment will also provide you with advice on how to improve as you complete your second assessment. In addition, you have a designated Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Guidance Tutor’s role includes:
• monitoring your ongoing academic progress
• helping you to develop self-reflection skills necessary for continuous academic development
• directing you to further available services which can help them with their academic skills (e.g. Library’s Skills Plus)
You are advised to see your Guidance Tutor at least twice each semester to review your academic progress. The Guidance Booklet, which you receive at the start of your first year, includes structured materials designed to help you develop your self-reflection skills. These materials underpin the academic side of the regular Guidance meetings, helping you to learn how to best use the feedback you receive on your assignments, how to build on your strengths, and improve in the areas where you could perform better.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Enhanced knowledge of the different literary trends and movements within postwar American fiction and poetry

2. An understanding of the postwar American literary culture within its wider social and historical contexts

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. The ability to apply knowledge and understanding of historical and theoretical ideas and concepts to literary texts

4. Enhanced abilities in close and comparative textual analysis

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. An improved cultural awareness of shifting twentieth century ideas about class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and nationality

How will I be assessed?

Formative (practice) assessment
1. Presentation within seminar.
Each student will present a short, informal presentation during one of the seminars. Your presentation should offer an analysis of an extract from one of the set texts, which should be contextualised within postwar American culture more broadly. This presentation will help you to develop your abilities in close and comparative textual analysis (MLO 4) and in your application of historical and theoretical concepts (MLO 5) and therefore help prepare you for the summative (assessed) components of the module. The presentation also helps foster important skills in verbal communication. Written feedback on each presentation will be given by the seminar tutor.

Summative (graded) assessment

1. 2,000 word essay on a single text (40%)

The first assessment will allow you to focus in depth on a single text, writing an essay in response to a set of questions. The aim here is to ensure you are able to successfully apply your knowledge and understanding of the period and your abilities in close and contextual reading to express a critical analysis of one of the core texts. This assessment tests your skills in written expression, research, close textual analysis, and contextualisation. Feedback will be provided using the Departmental template and comments on the script. This assessment addresses MLOs 1-5.

2. 3,000 word essay on two texts (60%)
The second essay enables you to build on the skills exercised in the first essay, incorporating feedback from the first assessment. Your skills in textual comparison will be further enhanced as you will be asked to synthesise your analysis of two or more core texts. This will also expand the range of your knowledge and understanding of postwar writing, as you will be researching and writing on different texts from the one you addressed in the first assignment. Like the first essay assignment, this assessment tests your skills in written expression, research, close textual analysis, and contextualisation assessment and addresses MLOS 1-5. Feedback will be provided using the Departmental template and comments on the script.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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