EL4003 - Representing the US: From Slavery to Terrorism

What will I learn on this module?

This module focusses on US literature, film and television and it asks you to think about US culture at large; it will introduce you to a range of significant US texts from the nineteenth century to the present. You will make connections between diverse texts ranging from writings of slaves in the nineteenth century to fiction that responds to the trauma of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. You will enjoy US literature, film and television across a range of periods – work from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries will be covered – and you will examine fiction, poetry, drama, film, and television in relation to the idea of a national literary canon and in the context of social and political change, from the Civil War to the War on Terror. As a survey module, it encourages you to examine how key works engage with questions of identity, slavery, the American Dream, trauma, freedom, and national security.

How will I learn on this module?

2 x weekly 1 hour lecture
1 x weekly 1 hour seminar

The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. You will hear two weekly lectures where you meet as a cohort. The lectures will establish the historical context and relevant intellectual and cultural contexts of the text. They will take place before other teaching on the module in preparation for the seminar discussion. You will then have an hour-long weekly seminar where you meet in small groups. In the seminar you will take part in conversations about the text where you look at critical work and make close readings, giving you the opportunity to confer and reflect on your critical responses to the primary texts.

The module will make appropriate use of the eLP (electronic learning portal) to provide you with module material, links to resources and discussion areas. Lecture slides and material for the seminars will be provided.

In addition to learning during contact hours with the module tutors, you will be expected to undertake both directed and independent learning. Directed learning will take the form of preparation for seminars (including both reading and the preparation of critical responses to the studied topics) either individually or in small groups. Independent learning generally will take the form of further reading and research, the consolidation of seminar materials and the completion of the assessment.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

By attending the lectures and seminars and undertaking the assignments you will achieve the module learning outcomes. As you enjoy engaging with a range of US texts the primary emphasis of the module will be on the development of foundational knowledge in relation to subject knowledge, critical analysis and application/synthesis. You will develop academic writing skills, critical thinking, reflective and research skills, time management and IT skills.

The module handbook provides details of lectures, seminars, reading lists and assessment criteria; lecture PowerPoint slides are made available on the e-learning portal. The module tutor will be available in lectures and seminars, as well as in office hours and on email/phone, to discuss any queries or concerns you have about how to excel academically on the module. Moreover, feedback on formative work and the first summative assessment will also serve as ‘feed forward’, giving guidance on how to improve during the module. In addition, you have a designated Personal Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Personal 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 Personal 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. an introduction to key American works in different genres from the nineteenth century to the present;

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. developed understanding of the ways in which texts respond to and are shaped by contemporary political and social issues;
3. developed skills in close textual analysis;
4. Ability to respond critically to film and television studies;

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. an improved awareness of the dominant forms and themes of US literature, film, and television;

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment

1) 5-10 minute presentation to be undertaken in seminar. You will be sent feedback via email.

The feedback you receive will allow you to ‘feed forward’, using the ideas from the presentation in your written assignments. MLOs 1, 3, 4 and 5.

Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

• Assignment 1 will consist of a 1,000 word book review (40%) of one nineteenth-century text studied on the module
• Assignment 2 will consist of a 2,000 word essay (60%)

1. 1000-word book review (40%)

This exercise will ask you to review one of the nineteenth-century texts on the module. You might struggle with writing skills, close textual analysis and structure in this first year of study. In response to this, the assessment strategy for this module is a combination of a book review and an essay. The book review provides you with the opportunity to closely analyse one nineteenth-century text studied on the module. You will be provided with nineteenth-century and contemporary book reviews as exemplars before the assessment deadline. MLOs 1, 3 and 5.

2. 2000 word essay

This essay will ask you to address one of the main issues or themes covered in the module in relation to at least two of the texts discussed in seminars and lectures.

The second assignment builds on the work you will have done for the book review. It will provide you with the opportunity to engage more closely with the primary texts and the critical debates in circulation around them. MLOs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 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 Q320

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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