This course is discontinued

ENG2334 – American Literature in the Fifties and Sixties

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course focuses on American literature during a very exciting time of transition, the period between 1950 and 1970. These were decades characterized by contradiction: prosperity and inequality, consumerist complacency and fear of nuclear holocaust, the civil rights movement and the war on Vietnam.

American literature responded to these contradictions with an intense burst of creativity and self-transformation  The period is rich with new literary voices,  new ways of approaching traditional forms, and the emergence of new perspectives and traditions.

We will focus on three of the period’s major literary trends: the counter-cultural movement of jazz-inflected “Beat” poetry, the emergence of postwar African American literature as a major voice in American culture, and the beginnings of a new phase in literature that interrogates American culture from a feminist or womanist perspective. We will consider how the texts on the syllabus fit into their historical and cultural moment, but more importantly, we will consider the lasting impact of these texts and the ways in which they help us think about our contemporary situation.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • developed a broad insight into the literary and ideological landscape that dominated American culture in the fifties and sixties, through the discussion of a set of representative and challenging texts.
  • developed your critical reading and writing skills through individual and group work.


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.


Recommended previous knowledge

It will be an advantage for the students if they have taken ENG1304 – American Literature, the survey course in American literature, but this is not a requirement. The course assumes a good proficiency in written and oral English.


Seminar, 2 hours per week, for 10 weeks, 20 hours in all.

Attendance is obligatory at least 8 out of 10 seminars. Additional absences must be justified by documentation given to the exam coordinator.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The exam form is a portfolio. The portfolio consists of a five-page essay on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with the teacher, and a final two-hour classroom exam.

You must submit your final paper in Fronter within a certain deadline. Read more about submission procedures.

Previously given exam assignments:

Examination support material

EnglishEnglish dictionary.



Language of examination


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

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Feedback from our students is essential if we are to provide the best possible education. As a student at the University of Oslo you will be asked to participate in various types of evaluation of our courses. Every time a course is given, we ask students to participate in mid-term evaluations, and periodically we ask them to participate in periodic evaluation of the course.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course





Teaching language