ENG4422 – Racial Violence and American Identity

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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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.


Seminar, two 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.

Students should submit a qualification essay between 1 500 and 2 000 words at an appointed time during the course. This essay must be approved by the seminar leader in order for the student to be qualified to take the final exam. Read more about guidelines for obligatory activities.

All obligatory assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.


The exam is a term paper of 10 standard pages. Students will have an opportunity to receive commentary on drafts of their papers. You are supposed to work on the assignment throughout the whole semester.

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

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






Autumn 2017


Autumn 2017

Teaching language