This course is discontinued

ENG4374 – American Literature in the Fifties and Sixties

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course focuses on American literature during a very exciting time of transition, the period between 1950 and 1970. This was a breakthrough period for important minority groups in American society, both in terms of politics and in the field of literature. At the same time, the prevalence of social criticism in fiction, poetry, and drama was made even more visible by the anti-communist hysteria (McCarthyism), the flowering of the counterculture (especially represented by the members of the Beat Generation), and the growing protest against the Vietnam War. Many of the novels on our reading list (like Catch-22 and On the Road) have later become cult classics.

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.
  • developed an understanding of the relationship between literature, culture and politics.


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.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.


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 course uses portfolio assessment. The portfolio consists of a seven-page essay , and a final two-hour classroom exam.

The topic for the paper will be chosen by the student in consultation with the teacher. You will recieve feedback on a first draft.

You must submit your final paper in Fronter within a certain deadline.

Previously given exam assignments:

Examination support material

English-English 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

If you have missed the class room exam because of illness, you can apply for a postponed exam. Please contact the exam administrator.

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