American Literature and Culture (ENG175)

Reading and analysis of selected works of American literature in a variety of genres (novels, short stories, poetry, drama, essays, etc.) and historical periods (from the early-colonial period to the present) that address key developments and events in American history and culture. Emphasis will be placed on understanding how literary texts relate to their social, historical, artistic, and cultural contexts.

Course description for study year 2023-2024


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Language of instruction



This course, American Literature and Culture, focuses on interpreting literature from and about the United States of America from the early colonial period to the present. By reading and analyzing a diverse range of intellectually serious and formally skillful literary works by acclaimed American authors, students will explore thematic topics such as: American exceptionalism, the American dream, democracy and civil rights, ecology and the environment, immigration and Americanization, modernity and modernization, postmodernity and post-WWII America, and post-9/11 America.

In addition to providing a sampling of the diverse beliefs and perspectives expressed in American literature, this course aims to develop students' critical understanding of American culture and society by situating literary texts, meaningfully, in relevant social, historical, and cultural contexts. In the process, students will develop valuable critical, analytic, and interpretive skills and enhance their ability to communicate effectively in English.

Learning outcome


The student will gain knowledge of:

  • how intellectually serious and formally skillful literary texts and artifacts have contributed to the USA's diverse literary tradition;
  • significant relationships between American literary texts and their particular social, cultural, and historical contexts;
  • literary mediations of important historical events and sociocultural debates;
  • diverse sociocultural situations, traditions, and philosophies that inform American literature.


By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • analyze and understand American literature from different perspectives and multiple historical periods and literary genres;
  • interpret texts by conducting close readings and deploying relevant techniques and terms from literary and cultural studies;
  • explain the sociocultural significance of selected texts and authors;
  • identify relevant trends and movements that distinguish different literary periods within American literature.

General competence

By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • use correct, varied, and precise English to participate in informed conversations about issues in literary and cultural studies;
  • analyze what others have written or said, then summarize their arguments and assumptions.
  • demonstrate critical, analytic, and interpretive skills using formal English 

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

The course presupposes a solid command of written and spoken English.

It is strongly advised that students, in addition to fulfilling the Higher Education Entrance Qualification, also have good results from specialized courses in English from Upper Secondary School. 

For students with a background other than the Norwegian school system, a level of competence in English corresponding to C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is recommended.


Home exam(s)

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Mid-term home exam - 1914 to present 1/2 24 Hours Letter grades
Final written home exam - Beginnings to 1914 1/2 24 Hours Letter grades

Two written home examsForms of assessment: A mid-term, written home exam (1914-Present) and a final, written home exam (Beginnings to 1914).Weight: 1/2 for each examDuration: 24 hours/examMarks: A-F
• Exam aids will be available at the teachers' discretion.
• Students must pass both exams to earn a final grade in the course. 
• English language and academic writing skills are taken into account in the grading, as well as the course content, and documentation of primary and secondary source material (if used).

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Eric Dean Rasmussen

Course teacher:

Peter Paul Ferry

Study Adviser:

Margrethe Melin

Method of work

Lecture with in-class discussion and activities (in-class and online). Online discussion and resources. 

Students are expected to: 

  1. Attend every class, unless health reasons and/or an emergency make attendance that day impossible. Register each absence in Canvas.
  2. Do the required reading and study exercises before each class session.
  3. Annotate (take notes in) course texts, primarily books, and have them at hand during class.
  4. Spend approximately 19 hours per week studying for this course, including class meetings and out-of-class preparation.
  5. Contribute to class discussions, both verbally and in writing; take notes and annotate course books during class; participate in study exercises, both in class and online.
  6. Make use of online resources accessed via Canvas.
  7. Check Canvas and UiS student email daily for updates and information.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
American Literature and Culture (LENG175_1) 15
American Literature and Culture (ENG165_1) 10
American Literature and Culture (MENG165_1) 10
English Literature after 1950 (ENG130_1) 5
Other Voices - Global English Literature (ENG130_2) 5
English Literature after 1950 (ÅEN130_1) 5

Open for

English Language and Literature - Bachelor's Degree Programme, One-year programme, History - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Religious Studies - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Nordic Language and Literature - Bachelor's Degree Programme, Teacher Education including an MA.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


The syllabus can be found in Leganto