Ethnicity and Diversity in American Literature, 1950-2000

Module code: AM2013
Module co-ordinator: Dr Catherine Morley

American and literary studies have been transformed in recent decades by a new emphasis on the work of writers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and the different perspectives they offer on American culture. At the same time, contemporary writers from such backgrounds have started making a great literary and cultural impact both in the United States and abroad.

In this module you will study a range of ethnic writing - including novels, short stories, and poems - published in the second half of the 20th century. We will examine works by Jewish American and African American writers and examples of Native, Asian and Hispanic literature, and we will look at parallels and contrasts between different ethnic perspectives. We will explore issues of alienation, integration and multicultural identity by considering how writers have responded to their particular cultural circumstances. We will look in particular at literary genre and style and how African, Native, Hispanic and Asian American writers have adapted and/or challenged stylistic and generic conventions for their own purposes.

Topics covered


  • 11 hours of lectures
  • 11 hours of seminars
  • 178 hours of guided independent study


  • Passage analysis, 2,000 words (40%)
  • Essay, 3,000 words (60%)