LIT103 : Early American Literature

Convenor(s): Duco van Oostrum


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

General Information

This course aims to offer an introduction to early American literature, from the time of the Puritan settlers to the late nineteenth century. It includes representative samples of prose, fiction and poetry, which examine the compelling issues of the time - slavery, self government, man's relationship with the natural world, the establishment of political, social and cultural conditions - while at the same time articulating, in different ways, their authors' understanding of what an American Literature should, or could, mean.


Teaching will be in the form of one 1½ hour seminar each week. In these seminars you’ll have the opportunity to share your ideas and discuss them with other students and your tutor. The main emphasis will be on close reading of the style as well as the content of the set texts. You’ll also be encouraged to consider how writers utilise literary forms to engage with various historical developments. One of the most distinctive features of this course is the variety of resources available through the WebCT site. You will be expected to use this resource as part of your preparation for each week's class. In order to encourage this, you will have to post weekly responses on the course's Bulletin Boards. As with attendance at seminars, participation in these learning tasks is mandatory.

You will also be taken on a trip to the new slavery museum at William Wilberforce House in Hull. This will supplement your learning in the final few weeks of the course.


The course is assessed in three ways. Assessment will be by way of weekly responses to be posted on the course's WebCT site (10% of assessment) and two formally submitted assessments. The first written assessment will be a 1,500 word essay on texts studied in weeks 1 to 6, worth 35%. Assessment two will include two pieces: one short piece of writing (1000 words, 20%) based on the trip to Wilberforce house, and an essay of 1500 words (35%). Assessment dates to follow.

Contact Details


Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:40:06 PM (BST)


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