Syllabus for Writing American Selves: Fictional and Non-Fictional Self-Portraiture

Amerikanska porträtt: självbiografi då och nu


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 5EN140
  • Education cycle: First cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: English G2F

    Explanation of codes

    The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:

    First cycle

    • G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
    • G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
    • G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
    • GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

    Second cycle

    • A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
    • A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
    • AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2010-10-20
  • Established by: The Board of the Department of English
  • Applies from: Autumn 2010
  • Entry requirements: English A1 and English B1
  • Responsible department: Department of English

Decisions and guidelines

The course is a freestanding course.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the component students will
- have good insights into the genre of autobiography and its variants
- have an awareness of the importance of the gender perspective and ethnicity in texts belonging to the genre
- have some familiarity with the critical conversation about the genre of autobiography
- be able to apply an academic approach to primary and secondary literature
- be able to present a literary analysis orally and in writing with greater independence and with greater linguistic correctness
- be able to actively and independently participate in seminar discussions.


The course analyses selected American literary works from the middle of the 17th century to the present. The texts are chosen from a broad spectrum of fiction and poetry, more traditional autobiographies, and hybrid forms. The emphasis lies on issues of "truth," gender, race, ethnicity, and morality. Basic concepts and methods of literary criticism are applied.


Group instruction. Teaching, class discussions and examination are in English. All teaching material is in English.


Examination is done in the form of continuous assessment and written final examination. Grades used are either Fail, Pass, or Pass with Distinction.

Students who do not achieve a passing grade on the regular examination will have another opportunity to take the examination within a reasonable period of time after the regular examination.

Students who fail a certain examination twice have the right upon request, following consultation with the head of department, to have another examiner appointed.

Course level in relation to degree requirements

Subject depth needed for a Bachelor degree requires another 82.5 credits for first-cycle studies in the main field of study, of which at least 15 credits should be a degree project.

Transitional provisions

For transitional regulations in the case of changes in the syllabus, please contact the student adviser.

Other directives

The course cannot be counted toward a degree together with the courses English C1, C3 HS4, HS5.

If the syllabus or course reading for a component has been changed, students have a right to be examined under the original syllabus and course reading on two occasions during the following semester. Normally this right then expires. Otherwise there are no limitations on the number of examination opportunities.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Spring 2022

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Douglass, Frederick Andrews, William L.; McFeely, William S. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, written by himself : authoritative text contexts criticism

    Second edition.: New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017

    Find in the library


  • Leaves of grass and other writings : authoritative texts, other poetry and prose, criticism Whitman, Walt Moon, Michael; Bradley, Sculley; Blodgett, Harold William

    New York: Norton, 2001

    Find in the library


  • Stein, Gertrude The autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

    Vintage Books ed.: New York: Vintage Books, 1990

    Find in the library


  • Wright, Richard 1908-1960 Black boy (American hunger) : a record of childhood and youth

    1st HarperPerennial ed.: HarperPerennial:

    Find in the library


  • Kingston, Maxine Hong The woman warrior : memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts

    Vintage international ed.: New York: Vintage international, 1989

    Find in the library


  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi Between the world and me

    Melbourne, Victoria: Text Publishing Company, 2015

    Find in the library


In addition, a selection of texts online, in Studium and photocopied material.

Reading list revisions