Seeking the Dream: introduction to 20th century American literature

Course Dates: 19/01/23 - 09/03/23
Time: 19:30 - 21:30
Location: Online
This course explores the diversity and musicality of American literature, and its role in shaping our perception of the American Dream. Drawing on a range of texts including poetry, short stories, novels, speeches and historical documents, this course follows the development of 20th and 21st century American literature from the poetry of Amy Lowell in the early 20th century to the post 9/11 literature of Cormac McCarthy. You will look at how historical events, geographical locations and complex social issues have inspired and shaped American literature.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £179.00 Senior fee £179.00 Concession £116.00

This course has now finished

Course Code: HLT208

Finished Thu, eve, 19 Jan - 09 Mar '23

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course explores a variety of texts by American writers from ten periods of the Twentieth Century. In Week One, we will explore the poetry of Amy Lowell’s Imagism, followed by a dip into Modernism in Week Two by reading extracts of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. In Week Three, we will delve into the Great Depression, accompanied by our reading of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. We will move into the 1950s for Week Four to discover the Beat Generation by reading extracts from On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Personism and the lunch poems of Frank O’Hara will be the topic of Week Five while Week Six will provide a reflection on slavery through analysing extracts from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. In Week Seven, we will consider the narratives of place through our reading of the short story ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx and in Week Eight we will examine the lack of nature in the post-9/11 novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Each week there will be secondary texts, which may include extracts from essays, poems, novels and letters to enable us to set each writer’s work within a larger literary tradition. Photography, music and video will also be included in some sessions.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

We will read a selection of poems and extracts from short stories, speeches and novels. These will all be read and
discussed in terms of form, structure, theme, technique, style, characterisation and their appeal or success as literary texts. In our analysis of the texts, we will consider the different contexts in which they were created, particularly the biographical, geographical and historical context, as well as the literary context.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• analyse poetry and prose to better understand a writer’s language choices
• discuss a text with reference to a variety of different contexts: historical, literary, biographical and geographical
• explain important elements of plot and characterisation within longer short story and novel extracts
• evaluate the significance of form and style
• use key terminology within your discussions of literary texts.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The level of this course is introductory. No previous knowledge of literature is necessary. However, learners will ideally need the following skills and attributes:

• an enthusiasm for reading and discussing a range of texts within large and small groups
• a willingness and ability to do reading outside the class
• an interest in, and ability to listen to, the responses of other students to the work discussed.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

A variety of teaching methods will be used, including short lecture with PowerPoint presentation, small group work using secondary text extracts, whole class discussion.

Work outside class is to read the relevant text/s in preparation for the upcoming week.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Literature: A course booklet will be provided which will contain poems and prose extracts as well as secondary text extracts which will be used for small-group discussions.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please look for other literature courses at under History, Culture & Writing/Literature.

Woody River

Woody River has fifteen years of experience teaching literature, language, creative writing and academic writing. She has worked within secondary, further, higher and community education. With a First Class BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing, as well as an MA in Creative Writing, Woody has a vast knowledge of British and international literature across different genres and forms and is particularly interested in European and Japanese literature.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.