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Syllabus 2012-13


Module convenor:

Dr Nicholas Monk

Room G04a Millburn House

The 2012-13 module will be divided into 4 sections. Each section studies primary texts in relation to a selection of theoretical and contextual readings.

n.b. the secondary reading is subject to change

1. Revisioning the American Dream


Primary set texts


Week 1: Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby (1925)

Week 2: Hart Crane The Bridge (1930)

Week 3: Ralph Ellison Invisible Man (1952)

Week 4: Tony Kushner Angels in America (1993)

Week 5: Toni Morrison Paradise (1997)

Suggested Secondary Reading


Christopher Bigsby. “What, then, is the American?” The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 1-32.

Neil Campbell & Alasdair Kean. "Introduction," "New Beginnings: American Culture and Identity," & "Ethnicity and Immigration." American Cultural Studies. Routledge, second revised edition, 2006, 1-73.

Jim Cullen. "Introduction," "Chapter 6," "Conclusion." The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. Oxford University Press, 2004.

2. Cultural Geography - city, country, suburbs


Primary set texts


Week 7: Willa Cather My Antonia (1918)

Week 8: Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Week 9: Don DeLillo White Noise (1985)

Week 10: The Sopranos: Series 1 (DVD) (1999)

Suggested Secondary Reading


Jean Baudrillad. America. New York: Verso, 1988.
Leo Marx. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. London: Oxford University Press, 1964. (Introduction).

Venturi, Robert. Learning from Las Vegas. 1977. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1977. (Prefaces).


3. Borders and Conflict


Primary set texts


Week 1: Art Spiegelman Maus I & II (1980-1991)

Week 2: Michael Herr Dispatches (1977)

Week 3: Leslie Marmon Silko Ceremony (1977)

Week 4: Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian (1985)

Suggested Secondary Reading


Cathy Caruth. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1995. (See: Introduction to Recapturing the Past, 3-12 & Introduction to Trauma and Experience, 151-157.)

Thomas Doherty. "Art Spiegelman's Maus: Graphic Art and the Holocaust." American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography. 68. 1.1996: 69-84.

Tom Holm. Strong Hearts Wounded Souls: Native American Veterans of the Vietnam War. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

Peter Josyph. "Blood Music: Reading Blood Meridian." Sacred Violence: A Reader's Companion to Cormac McCarthy. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1995.

Richard Slotkin. Gunfighter Nation: the Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-century America. University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

Joy Porter and Kenneth Roemer. The Cambridge Companion to Native American Literature. Cambridge: CUP, 2005. (See: Introduction).


4. Identity


Primary set texts


Week 5: William Faulkner Light in August (1932)

Week 7: Adrienne Rich Later Poems Selected and New: 1971-2012 (2013)

Week 8: Michael Ondaatje In the Skin of a Lion (1987)

Week 9: Ana Castillo So Far From God (1994),

Week 10: tba

Suggested Secondary Reading


Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands: La Frontera. The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute: San Fancisco, 1997.

Neil Campbell & Alasdair Kean. "African Americans: 'I don't sing other people's voices'." American Cultural Studies. Second revised edition. Routledge, 2006, 74-99. (Because of copyright restrictions, you will need to consult a hard copy in the library.)

C.W.E. Bigsby & Roger Thompson. “The Black Experience.” Eds. Malcolm Bradbury & Howard Temperley. Introduction to American Studies. Third edition. Longman, 1998, 150-177.

Henry Louis Gates. "The Trope of the Talking Book." The Signifying Monkey: a theory of African-American literary criticism. Oxford University Press, 1988, 127-169 & 272-275.

Maggie Humm. Feminisms: A Reader. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992. (Introduction).

Eva-Marie Kroller. The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature [electronic resource]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. (Introduction).

Werner Sollors. "African Americans since 1900." Ed. Christopher Bigsby. The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 153-173.