ENG1304 – American Literature

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course provides a general introduction to American literature, where the main focus is on the nineteenth and the twentieth century. Attention will be paid to the ways in which literary texts speak to the reader, and the syllabus texts will be studied in terms of developments in literary history and the history of ideas.

Wherever relevant, the teaching will draw on the wider historical, social and cultural context from which the texts spring.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • have an overview of American literature, its central themes, literary periods, and key artistic features
  • can analyze literary texts in a variety of genres
  • can write an essay that makes literary-critical arguments
  • can express yourself in appropriate academic English


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Lectures are open to the public. Seminar teaching requires admission to the course.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course assumes a good proficiency in written and oral English


Lectures, 1 per week for 10 weeks. Seminars, 1 per week for 8 weeks. 36 hours in all.

Obligatory activity:

  • Attendance is obligatory at least 6 out of 8 seminars. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absence or postponements here. Please note that absence exceeding 50 % of all seminars may not be approved, regardless of any excuses.
  • An essay of 5 pages (2 000 words) turned in by a stated deadline. You will get written feedback on your essay.

All obligatory activities must be approved for you to sit the exam. All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester. Once the course requirements have been fulfilled, they remain valid for the current and the next two semesters that the course is taught.

As a full-time student you are expected to spend at least 12 hours a week studying for this course.

ENG1304 consists of lectures, in which you learn about some central aspects of each primary text and its historical, cultural and/or literary contexts, and seminars, which consist mainly of student-driven literary discussion. This means that while it’s fine to prefer listening to talking, you should be prepared to contribute to discussions throughout the term. The more of your week you spend exploring the primary texts yourself (or in conversation with classmates), the more you will get out of seminars.

In seminar weeks, two of those hours are spent in seminars with your teacher, two hours is spent attending lectures, and eight hours are free for your own studies. In non-seminar weeks, two hours is spent attending lectures, and ten hours are free for your own studies. These hours should be spent reading, making notes on and reflecting on primary texts, exploring secondary texts and criticism, completing the assignments given by your seminar leader, and preparing to contribute your own viewpoints and ideas to class discussions. You may also want to spend some of this time working on your essay writing skills and discussing the course material with other students.

You are expected to come prepared to each seminar. This means that you have completed the assigned reading and any other assignments given by your seminar leader.

ENG1304 requires you to study secondary literature on our primary texts, and to learn how to make use of it in your own written work. Over the course of the term, you should learn how to use the university library's resources, both physical and online, to find relevant secondary literature.


The form of assessment is a 4–hour written examination.

Previously given exam assignments and assessment guidelines

Written examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

You will have access to an online dictionary. You are not allowed to bring your own dictionary to the exam.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language