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SEL3428 : Freedom and Imagination: US Literature 1850-1900

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor James Annesley
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


•       To develop students’ knowledge of US literature from the second half of the 19th Century.

•       To read specific texts in terms mediated by an account of the social and historical contours of US society in this period.

•       Introduce students to key historical developments the period and other relevant social contexts.

•       To foster practices of reading that combine close analytical skills with wider insights into historical contexts and theoretical debates.

Outline Of Syllabus

Freedom and Imagination will give students the chance to develop their knowledge of US literature from the second half of the 19th Century by reading texts in terms mediated by an account of the social and historical contours of US society in the period, particularly the pressures created by Slavery/Post Slavery, the American Civil War, Westward Expansion and the annexation of territories from Native Americans, First Wave Feminism in the US (following the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848) and other relevant social contexts. Through the course of the module, we will be reading Henry David Thoreau’s, Walden, Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, Charles Chesnutt’s, The Marrow of Tradition, Frederick Douglass’, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and other texts from the period.

The module will include discussion of the following topic areas:

‘Written by Himself’: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

Melville's vision of conquest

This World is not Conclusion’: Emily Dickinson’s Poems

Thoreau’s civil disobedience: Walden

Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Violence and reconstruction: The Marrow of Tradition

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion168:0068:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading190:0090:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity91:009:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to the texts, providing key historical contexts and interpretive frameworks.

Small group sessions offer students the opportunity to sharpen their critical and analytical skills; to review concepts from lecture; and to express their own opinions and ideas.

Study groups are preparatory and exploratory: they offer students the opportunity to explore set readings and discussion questions in a collaborative setting.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A853000 words
Prof skill assessmnt1A15Participation in class activities plus a portfolio of reflective and self-evaluative exercises, approximately 600 words.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1M1500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The end-of module essay will give students the chance to offer an extended analysis of texts and ideas covers on the module.

The formative assessment will be linked to the end of module essay and work in terms that will direct support for the development of the final essay.

The assessment of participation in the module's small group teaching activities looks to engage students with the material, deepen their insight into the core debates and underwrite involvement in all aspects of the module.

Reading Lists