American Classics

Subject 673-343 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hr lecture and a 1-hr tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually 12.5 pts of first year English Literary Studies or Creative Writing

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Elizabeth Anne Maxwell


Anne Maxwell

Subject Overview:

n this subject, students will study major American literary works from the nineteenth century. Besides learning about the texts' style and the original historical contexts in which they were written and read, they will also be introduced to some of the key contemporary critical debates about these texts. Themes explored include the novel and Puritan culture, Gothic undercurrents in American writing, literary representations of the frontier and westward expansion, white and black writing on slavery and emancipation, and representations of male and female sexuality. The subject will also examine the views of American writers on the self, the powers of the mind, and American/European relations. Texts studied include novels, short stories, poems, and captivity and slave narratives.

Objectives: able to demonstrate a familiarity with some of the classic texts of 19th Century American literature;
have a broad understanding of the concepts of Manifest Destiny and the American frontier and how these have been portrayed in 19th century American literature;
have some knowledge of Puritan culture and how this has been portrayed in 19th century American literature;
have a knowledge of the literary conventions used in captivity narratives and slave writings and the impact these had on contemporary readers;
have a knowledge of how 19th century American writers have portrayed subjectivity and the inner world of the human mind;
have an understanding of the different ways in which 19th century American writers’ have treated the themes of slavery and racism;
have an understanding of what 19th century American writers have had to say about male and female sexuality and the institution of marriage;
have a knowledge of how 19th century writers have represented American/European relations;
have acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
have developed their capacity for carrying out independent research;
have developed their capacity for applying critical thinking and analysis to the texts they read;
have developed their ability to communicate in writing using the essay form.

Written work of 4000 words, comprising two essays of 2000 words 50% each, and one 15 minute class presentation as a hurdle requirement. The first essay will be due mid semester, the second at the end of semester. Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved formal extension will be penalised at 2% per day. Students who fail to submit up to 2-weeks after the final due date without a formal extension and special consideration will receive a fail grade for the piece of assessment.

Prescribed Texts:

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop

  • The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
  • Benito Cereno and Billy Budd (Melville)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (Poe)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin (Beecher Stowe)
  • Pudd'nhead Wilson (Twain)
  • Collected Poems (Dickinson)
  • Daisy Miller (James)
  • The Awakening and other Stories (Chopin)
  • The Complete Poems (Whitman)
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have the ability to critically analyse and discuss a wide range of reading materials through participation in class discussions, the reading of critical essays and the writing of scholarly essays;

  • have the capacity for independent and targeted research as a result of preparing for class discussions and writing scholarly essays;

  • have the capacity for creative thinking through participation in discussions and the writing of essays that apply critical and theoretical ideas to the reading and interpretation of texts;

  • have the capacity for critical self-awareness through participation in discussions and the reading of critical texts;

  • have the capacity for lucid and logical argument as a result of careful essay planning and writing;

  • be competent in the use of library and other information sources such as on line websites and search engines through the researching and writing of essays that require the use of these resources.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English
English Literary Studies Major

Download PDF version.