LIT232 : American Dissent

Convenor(s): Prof Adam Piette


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

This module will be exploring varieties of dissent and counterculture in twentieth century United States through readings and contextualization of significant literary texts. We will look at black, feminist and radical writing, as well as representations of counterculture in novels, plays and poetry. The module will be structured around four key moments in dissentient
cultural history in 20th century America: the Depression, civil rights, Vietnam and the rise of feminism, including key postmodern novels of paranoia following the end of the Cold War.


Two hours of seminars every week for eleven weeks — one hour will be devoted to group discussion of the weekly assigned reading, with appropriate close analysis of the texts and historical/cultural overview. The second hour will consist of 10-minute student presentations of initial drafts/ideas for their seminar essays plus discussion, followed by a short informal lecture providing supplementary historical and theoretical contexts for the core texts being studied that week. Both hours aim to develop student communication skills, encourage group problem solving, and are designed to broaden students’ knowledge of the representation of history and culture in literary texts.


Formal assessment will be based on two essays, 1500 and 2500 words weighted 40% and 60%, in which students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to respond creatively and critically to the texts, historical contexts and intellectual issues examined in the course, to contrast and compare texts from differing periods of the 20th century in the U.S., and to relate their discussions to the historical and cultural contexts established through seminar discussion and individual research. Both essays will test students’ ability. Deadlines will be issued at the start of the semester.

Contact Details

Professor Adam Piette, tel: 0114 222 8494

Information last changed: Thursday 07th of April 2016 :: 01:16:28 PM (BST)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK