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English Literature: US Literature - Cultural Values from Revolution to Empire - MSc

Course Description

Programme description

The programme examines a range of US literary and historical contexts, introducing ways in which the production of an idea of 'America' is variously achieved and contested between 1776 and the present.

You will explore the way literary, cultural, political and philosophical texts have contributed to the development, interrogation and revision of American identity and culture between 1776 and the present day.

You will be introduced to the rich diversity of American writing over the past 250 years by academic staff who can offer outstanding research and teaching expertise in this fascinating field. The compulsory courses, specifically developed for this masters programme, offer you the opportunity to think critically about some of the most pressing concerns in literary and cultural studies.

You will find a wealth of resources on hand at the University’s many libraries and the National Library of Scotland, which holds both the Hugh Sharp Collection (more than 300 volumes) of first editions of English and North American authors, and the Henderson Memorial Library of Books on America (more than 700 volumes), containing 19th and early 20th century works mainly on cultural history, description and travel, sociology and biography, and relating mostly to the Civil War.

Programme structure

You will take two courses per semester, one compulsory and one chosen from a range of options, each consisting of a weekly two-hour seminar. You will also take courses in research skills and methods. After your two semesters of taught courses you will work towards your dissertation, with supervisor support.

Compulsory courses:

  • Enlightenment to Entropy: Writing the American Republic from Thomas Jefferson to Henry Adams
  • New Beginnings to the End of Days: Writing the American Republic from Reconstruction to 9/11
  • Research Skills and Methods.

Option courses may include:

  • Poet-Critics: the Style of Modern Poetry
  • Modernism and Empire
  • Cities of Literature: Metropolitan Modernities
  • Global Modernisms: Inter/National Responses to Modernity
  • Victorian Transatlanticism
  • Contemporary American Fiction
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this programme will gain:

  • a detailed knowledge of a range of literary writing that responds to and informs concepts of American identity
  • an understanding of the role of political and ideological structures in the production of national historiographies
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

Career opportunities

You will develop research and analytical skills that can be extended into future advanced study in English literature. You will also be equipped with skills that could be beneficial for a teaching career or a role within a cultural institution. The array of transferable skills you will acquire, such as communication and project management, will prove highly valuable to potential employers in whatever field you choose to enter.

Visit the English Literature: US Literature - Cultural Values from Revolution to Empire - MSc page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in English literature or a relevant discipline. All applicants must also meet our English language requirements.

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