American Literature and Culture - Master's Programme in English

Academic year 2021/2022

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In the Master's Programme in English, specialising in American Literature and Culture, you will study American literature in relation to such fields as transnationalism and migration studies, the risk humanities, critical finance studies, the environmental and energy humanities, and black studies. Combining course work with research training and a thesis project, the programme gives you a broad understanding of its subject while you develop your own interests and advance as a researcher.

Why this programme?

It has arguably never been more challenging yet important to understand America's culture than right now. This Master's Programme in English, specialising in American Literature and Culture, offers a curriculum for engaging with this demand in which you will engage closely with key texts that have shaped America's literary culture from the revolutionary period to its contemporary global position. It offers an opportunity to engage with the rich diversity of American writing, from the canonical to the neglected and contemporary.

The programme will introduce you to new critical and theoretical perspectives on this literature, and enable you to gain a deeper and broader perspective on issues which profoundly affect American literature as well as contemporary life and scholarship. These issues include questions of migration and borders, colonisation and empire, race and ethnicity, security and finance, environmentalism, and media.

The programme offers a first-rate foundation for research students, both from Sweden and abroad, who wish to reconsider literature's role in the construction, interrogation and revision of a nation's culture and identity. It is also an excellent preparation for students who wish to continue on to doctoral studies.

During the programme you can expect to:

  • gain a deep and broad perspective on issues which profoundly affect American literature as well as contemporary life and scholarship
  • combine course work with research training and a thesis project
  • be a part of the only programme of its kind in Sweden
The programme draws upon the research and teaching strengths of staff at the Department of English. You will have access to advanced-level teaching and research training in a wide range of aspects of American literature and culture in a research-driven environment that will encourage your own development as an independent scholar.

Student profile
You are passionate about literature, American literature in particular, and its history and politics. You value critical and innovative thinking, and enjoy drawing connections between literature and other concerns, ranging from questions about ethnicity to the environment and beyond.

You like working independently and in an international environment. Your social skills are very good and you enjoy articulating your thoughts and expressing your opinion in front of your fellow students. You are willing to take responsibility for your own success and you are used to planning your own work.

A PhD education is a distinct possibility in your future so you would value coming in close contact with current research and prominent researchers in your field, and developing your skills as an independent researcher.


The programme leads to a Master of Arts (120 credits) with English as the main field of study. After one year of study, it may also be possible to obtain a Master of Arts (60 credits).

All specialisations of this programme


The Master's Programme in English consists of two years of full-time study. Over the course of the programme, you will take four core courses (each worth 7.5 credits) in American literature and culture. You will also complete two capstone courses taking the form of reading courses (each worth 7.5 credits) in which you have the option to focus on topics and authors in American literature, and complete a degree project worth 30 credits in this area.

In addition, you are required to take six courses (worth 45 credits in total) from a range of modules on literature, theory, and contemporary critical debates. Many of these modules include elements on American literature, allowing you to study this literature transnationally and comparatively. You may also opt for an internship worth 7.5 credits in your third semester or study abroad.

Your capstone courses combine a small number of seminars with independent work and collaborations with your fellow students. In the first course you will read deeply into the body of writing of a single author and criticism on this writer. In the second course you will delve into a particular area of research or literary critical problem.

The author and research areas on offer vary from year to year. These courses are designed to involve students in the kinds of research that literary studies currently demands, including: working with primary sources and archival materials; reviewing the critical literature; using online databases of historical newspapers, periodicals, and other cultural materials; exploring relevant contexts in literary, linguistic, and cultural history; experimenting with new methodologies. They provide training for your 30 credit Master's thesis.

Courses within the programme

Semester 1
Literary Theory* 7.5 credits
Genre, Mode, Literary Form* 7.5 credits
Rethinking 19th Century American Literature 7.5 credits
Modernism and Modernity in America 7.5 credits

Semester 2
Literature and Intersectionality* 7.5 credits
Archives of Empire* 7.5 credits or Cultures of Migration and Diaspora* 7.5 credits
Inventing America: The Writings of the Colonies and Early Republic 7.5 credits
Reading the Contemporary: Post-45 American Literature and Culture 7.5 credits

Semester 3
Environmental Writing* 7.5 credits OR Risk Humanities* 7.5 credits
Book History and Material Cultures* 7.5 credits or Literature, Media, Technology* 7.5 credits
Capstone Course I: Research Topic* 7.5 credits or Practical Placement 7.5 credits
Capstone Course II: Single Author Study* 7.5 credits

Semester 4
Degree project 30 credits

* This course is common to students specialising in American Literature and Culture as well as students specialising in English Literature.

The four core courses are complementary and are designed to deepen and broaden your knowledge of the diversity of American writing:

Inventing America: Letters of the Colonies and Early Republic
This course explores the literary traditions that come out of the European conquest of North America: the literature of exploration; Puritan writing; captivity narratives; Native American oral traditions; Enlightenment publications; early republican fiction up until the 1830s. These cultural expressions are mined for what they reveal about issues of violence, conquest, religion, race, and nationhood.

Rethinking Nineteenth-Century American literature
This course offers forceful strategies for engaging with canonical texts, protest novels, women's writing, urban literature, slave narratives, and popular fiction. It examines the critical implications of transnational perspectives, critiques of imperialism, disability studies, race studies, environmental criticism, affect studies, gender analysis, or other cutting-edge approaches for the study of nineteenth-century American literature.

Modernism and Modernity in America
This course focuses on the intersections of technology and mass culture, race and nativism, narratives of progress and urbanisation, consumerism and industrialisation characteristic of modernity in America, and explores how modernist literature has reflected, interrogated, and revised the narratives of modernity.

Reading the Contemporary: Post-45 American Literature and Culture
The course explores US literature against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the American century, and will focus on such crucial issues as the rise and waning of postmodernism, the program era, cold war and security cultures, the rise of finance, the culture of the anthropocene, the literature of social movements, the nonhuman turn, just to name a few possibilities.

Learning experience

For many of your courses you will meet weekly in small seminar groups for two hours. Seminars are taught to the extent that the student members meet regularly with a tutor. The working style is exploratory and you will be expected to engage with primary sources, develop and express your own opinions and to work towards independent arguments in your coursework.

In your reading courses, you will be expected to occasionally work more independently or collaboratively with fellow students. The final element of the programme is your thesis, a piece of independent research about 15 000 words long written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor. Our programme assists you in progressing toward more independent and collaborative forms of working and researching. You are examined both orally and in writing. Usually you will write approximately 4 000 words for each of your courses.

English is the working language of the department of English. In the Master's programme, instruction, class discussions, and examinations are in English, as are all teaching materials.

Studying at Uppsala, you will be part of a community of staff and students with different international and cultural backgrounds. You will usually encounter our staff in small conversation-driven seminars. We foster an intimate, active research community through our research seminars, and lively visiting lecturer and conference events where visitors, staff, and students gather in conversation.


Completing the Master's Programme in English, specialising in American Literature and Culture, will help you develop and refine your research and analytical skills in ways that will prepare you either for doctoral study or for employment beyond the university. Our programme has been producing successful graduates for over ten years and provides excellent preparation for doctoral studies and an academic career. It also aids you in developing key skills valued by employers in journalism, publishing, tourism and creative industries, and other related educational and vocational careers.

Our graduates work at universities (such as University of Michigan, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Uppsala University, University of London) or have obtained positions in the public and social sectors (such as Cambridge Health Alliance).

Career support
During your whole time as a student UU Careers offers you support and guidance. You have the opportunity to partake in a variety of career activities and events, as well as receive individual career counselling. This service is free of charge for all students at Uppsala University. Learn more about UU Careers.


Below you will find the details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and tuition fee. For information on how to apply and what documents you need to submit, check the application guide. For this programme, besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit two programme-specific documents: 1. a statement of purpose; 2. one or two independently written academic essays totalling no less than 8 000 words. The issues treated in the essay and the method used should preferably be relevant to the selected specialisation of the Master's programme.

These two programme-specific documents should be sent via email to
Submit all other supporting documents to as instructed in the application guide.

American Literature and Culture

120 credits

Autumn 2021, 100%, Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application deadline: 15 January 2021

Application code: UU-M5151 Application

Language of instruction: English

Requirements: A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university. The main field of study must be English or an equivalent subject.

Selection: Students are selected based on:

  • a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and
  • a statement of purpose (1 page) and
  • the quality of the Bachelor's thesis/degree project.
Tuition fee-paying students and non-paying students are admitted on the same grounds but in different selection groups.


If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.

Application fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 50,000

Tuition fee, total: SEK 200,000

Contact and further resources


For programme-specific questions, please contact the Study Counsellor

+46 18 471 12 47

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:

Department of English

Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 L

Box 527, 751 20 Uppsala

018-471 1247 018-471 1245

Programme start and registration

Once you have been admitted to the Master's Program in English, you must register to begin your studies. Once you have activated your student account, log in to Ladok for students and register for the program's first course called Literary Theory. To keep your place, you must register no later than 22 August. The department will arrange your registration for the other courses within term 1.

If you have been conditionally admitted, you must prove your eligibility before you can register. Contact the program's study counsellor no later than 23 August, to be sure to keep your place.

If you are placed as a reserve, you will be contacted by email if you can be offered a place. We start contacting reserves no earlier than 23 August.

The program starts with information and teaching on 30 August. More about the program start can be found on the program's page in Studium.

Last modified: 2022-05-13