Skip to main content Skip to navigation

North American Literature Syllabus

Autumn Term, Room and Time TBC. Tutor: Deborah Toner (


Week 1: Introduction to North American Literature

Week 2: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855-92), and the American Epic

Week 3: Walt Whitman (again) and Essay Writing Skills

Week 4: John Updike and 1950s America


Week 5: John Updike and American Masculinity

Week 7: Cormac McCarthy and the American West

Week 8: Confronting the Other: Mexico in All the Pretty Horses (1992)

Week 9: Cormac McCarthy, Post-Apocalyptic America, and American Masculinity

Week 10: Film screening and Discussion: The Road (2010)


Books to Buy

John Updike, Rabbit, Run (1960)

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses (1992)

Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)


NB: On using internet sources

I have listed quite a lot of online sources – websites as well as journal articles on JSTOR and MUSE. These are intended to supplement (not substitute) your wider research and reading, since library resources can often be limited when a lot of students are trying to read the same books.

Make sure to fully reference all web resources that you use in your essays, just as you would for books and articles. You do not need to include the html address when referencing articles from journals that you have accessed via JSTOR or MUSE. You MUST include html addresses, plus all author, webpage and website information when you refer to any other online resource.

I strongly advise that you refrain from cutting-and-pasting material from websites into your notes, as this can lead to accidental plagiarism if you then copy this material from your notes into your essays unacknowledged or unchanged.

Finally, most of the websites I have included are traceable to recognised academic sources such as universities, scholarly organisations and libraries and, as such, are pretty reliable and of a high scholarly standard. Wikipedia, Sparknotes, Questia and other such sites have no guarantee of reliability and are generally quite basic in their levels of analysis. Use of websites such as these should only be used as an initial, introductory source and should not be relied upon to provide material for essays.


whitman cover

updike cover

mccarthy cover