Skip to main content

Unit information: Contemporary Multi-Ethnic Writing of America in 2020/21

Unit name Contemporary Multi-Ethnic Writing of America
Unit code ENGL20019
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Theo Savvas
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to allow students to develop an appreciation for the diversity of American literature in the later twentieth century. Edward Said observed in Culture and Imperialism that the U.S. at the end of the twentieth century was ‘contrapuntal and often nomadic,’ a ‘porous network rather than a discrete entity’. This unit allows students to explore such diversity through Native American, African American, Asian American, Jewish American and Chicano/a literature from 1970 to the present: and to consider the relationship of these literatures to the dominant mythologies of the United States; the rise of transnationalism in American studies; and the way in which the wedding together of different cultures is reflected in narrative styles. We will consider these texts in a historical and literary-historical framework and students will be encouraged to develop a more expansive understanding of the term “American literature”.

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have

(1) developed a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the diversity of late twentieth century American literatures;

(2) reflected critically upon the relationship of these literatures to the dominant mythologies of the United States;

(3) developed a more expansive understanding of the term “American literature”;

(4) written critically and analytically upon this literature.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

Cao, Lan, Monkey Bridge (1997).

Cisneros, Sandra, House on Mango Street (1984).

Morrison, Toni, Beloved (1987).

Mukherjee, Bharati, Jasmine (1989).

Singer, I.B., Enemies (Orig. English edition in 1972).

Welch, James, Winter in the Bone (1974).