ENG4422 – Racial Violence and American Identity

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

In this course we will read a series of novels, short stories, and plays in order to explore the relationship between American identity, race, and racial violence.

We will:

  • look at literary representations of racial violence in texts ranging from the 19th to the 21st Century
  • consider the different ways in which race and violence are represented in literary texts
  • examine the ways in which these representations function as symbols, metaphors, or symptoms of the American condition, both in the past and the present

The readings will include both literary texts, and theoretical considerations of the way in which race and racial violence shape both the American imagination and the social landscape.  Our readings and our discussions will keep one eye on the contemporary state of affairs in the United States, and we will conclude the semester with readings focused on the eruptions of racial violence taking place over the last year and a half.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • master the basic social science and cultural approaches to the understanding of race in the United States.
  • have a working knowledge of the ways in which literary texts reflect, shape, and interact with history and culture.
  • understand the important underlying historical, cultural, and psychological causes of racial violence in the U.S.
  • know how individual and cultural identities are constituted by narrative patterns, metaphors and other literary and imaginative structures.


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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


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

Obligatory activity:

The allowed absence limit will cover all absences, including illness. You will not be granted valid absences with documentation, even when the absence is due to something beyond your control.

If the course has in-person teaching, and you are signed up for an in-person seminar group, you are to attend the teaching in the location found in the schedule.

If the course has digital teaching, and you are signed up for a digital seminar group, you must attend via Zoom with your camera on.

In certain circumstances, i.e. serious or chronic illness, you could apply for special needs accomodations.


All obligatory activities must be approved for you to sit the exam. All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester. Approved obligatory attendance and assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.


The form of assessment is a term paper of 10 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition.

You will be offered individual term paper supervision.

You are supposed to work on the assignment throughout the whole semester.

Assessment guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in 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.

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

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.


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

Autumn 2022

This course is taught irregularly

Autumn 2022
Teaching language