Reading the Contemporary: Post-45 American Literature and Culture

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 5EN523

Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
English A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 23 January 2019
Responsible department
Department of English

General provisions

The course is included in the Master's Programme in English.

Entry requirements

120 credits. English A1, B1 and C1, or 90 credits in a language subject or in literary studies.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course students will be able to

  • identify and discuss the themes, concerns, and formal strategies of post-45 American literature, and situate this literature within its socio-historical and cultural contexts;
  • show a solid knowledge of some of the major theoretical and critical arguments regarding this literature;
  • demonstrate methodological awareness in interpreting and discussing post-45 literature;
  • gather and process critical material;
  • show proficiency in the use of critical material in a written literary analysis;
  • show a good ability to participate, orally and in writing, in a discussion of literary works in fluent English.


This course explores US literary culture between the Second World War to the present. Through selected readings of both canonical and less-known texts, it focuses on such crucial issues as the rise and waning of postmodernism, the program era, the Cold War, neoliberalism and finance, the culture of the Anthropocene, the literature of social movements, and narratives of the nonhuman turn. Throughout it engages with how new methodologies, periodizations, and thematics have redefined the study of contemporary literature.


Group sessions. Instruction, class discussions, and examinations are in English. All teaching materials are in English.


Assessment takes the form of a final exam in the form of an essay at the end of the course. The final essay may be replaced by, or supplemented with, alternative assessment elements, such as shorter essays assigned during the course, journals, or portfolios. Grades are fail, pass, or pass with distinction.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Students who fail a regular examination will be offered a make-up examination within a reasonable period of time after the regular examination.

Students who fail an examination twice have the right to apply to the head of the department for permission to change examiners.

Other directives

If the curriculum or the course literature for a course module is changed, students have the right to be examined on the original curriculum and course literature on three occasions during the following three terms. After these three opportunities, the right normally expires. No other limitations apply regarding the number of examination opportunities.

Transitional provisions

Please contact the student counsellor for transitional regulations in connection with changes in the curriculum.