Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study

    American Studies, English, Literature

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Summary module description:
    This module explores some of the key aspects of the American novel in the period of 1850 to 1900. We will consider the stylistic and thematic variety of the fiction, moving from Harriet Beecher Stowe?s descriptions of slavery through to the scenic stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, and the naturalistic war narrative of Stephen Crane. We will place the writing in a range of contexts, including nativism, consumerism, gender and racial politics, changing conceptions of nature and the body, and the reaction against the modern.

    The module aims to develop students? ability to describe and discuss the central concerns and techniques of American novelists of the latter half of the nineteenth century. It will encourage students to analyse stylistic or modal tendencies in relation to authors? social and political concerns.

    Assessable learning outcomes:
    Assessable outcomes

    By the end of the module, students will be expected to:
    - demonstrate a nuanced understanding of critical terms and concepts such
    as realism, local colour, and naturalism
    - provide an informed and authoritative sense of the social and political contexts
    of US fiction
    - engage with the broader theoretical issues generated by the texts

    Additional outcomes:
    Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner.

    Outline content:
    This module investigates the continuities of American fiction in terms of its commitment to realism, but students will also look at important shifts in preoccupation and method. Texts and authors include: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom?s Cabin (1852); William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885); Henry James, The Bostonians (1886); Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895); Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896); Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900).

    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Written exam 50%
    Written assignment including essay 50%

    Other information on summative assessment:
    Summative Assessment Methods (%) - work which always contributes towards the overall module mark:

    Formative assessment methods:
    Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

    Students write one formative essay, of between 1500 and 2000 words. Feedback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 2250-2500 words, or the equivalent placement report.

    Penalties for late submission:
    The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
    where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
    where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

    The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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