Shaping the American literary landscape

Course Dates: 26/09/19 - 21/11/19
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Patricia Sweeney

Discover writers who made fiction so potent in the second half of the American century. Includes James Baldwin, John Updike, John Cheever, Tim O'Brien, Joan Didion and Marilynne Robinson.


What is the course about?

An exploration of fiction by writers who made an impact on the American literary landscape of the second half of the 20th century. Ranging from the 1960s to the end of the1980s, the texts chosen reflect the experience of a changing culture. Novels, stories and essays explore the alienation and the excitement of the city and the rise of suburban culture. Second wave feminism and the Vietnam war all contributed to creating a new kind of American voice.

No class 24 October.

Tutor biography:
Patricia Sweeney is Programme Coordinator for Literature and Film at Build, with specialist teaching interests in modern and contemporary literature, drama and film adaptation. In addition to her work at Build, Patricia has taught literature courses for the Open University and Literature, Drama and Film courses for Birkbeck, University of London.

What will we cover?

Novels, short stories and essays by James Baldwin, John Updike, John Cheever, Tim O'Brien, Joan Didion and Marilynne Robinson. You will need to get two texts: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Faber & Faber) and
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (Fourth Estate). All short stories and essays supplied by the lecturer.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Extend your reading of modern American fiction.
- Recognise and respond to the works of the writers.
- Begin to understand the influence of a range of literature from the1960s to the 1980s.
-Understand the cultural and social contexts in America when these works were published
- Evaluate and discuss the work in a more informed manner.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Some previous literary study would be useful but anyone with an interest in the subject is welcome.
You will need an enthusiasm for reading and discussing a range of texts in large and small groups.

You will be willing and able to do some reading outside the class.
You will be interested in listening to,and learning from, the responses of other students to the work discussed.
You will have a commitment to developing your analytical skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

A mixture of lecture, discussion, whole and small group work. There will be some close reading of texts. You will be expected to read the relevant texts before each session.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Faber & Faber)
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (Fourth Estate)
All short stories and essays supplied by the lecturer.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look up Literature courses in the prospectus under Humanities or on the website under History, Culture and Writing at

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Sorry, this course is now full

Course Code: HLT156

Full Thu, eve, 26 Sep - 21 Nov '19

Duration: 8 sessions (over 9 weeks)

Full fee: £119.00
Senior fee: £119.00
Concession: £52.00

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.