Courses » American Literature and Culture

American Literature and Culture


The course aims to inculcate an appreciation of specific American authors and texts, along with the literary history of the United States. Participants will also get familiar with the relation between American literature and important related historical and socio-cultural developments.  The course also aims to foster an understanding of the development of various genres, forms, and themes in select American literature.


Familiarity with English/American literature



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Aysha Iqbal Viswamohan 
is professor of film studies, drama and popular culture in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras. Among her several books are Behind the Scenes: Contemporary Bollywood Directors(ed.) Sage: New Delhi, 2017, Post-liberalization Indian Novels in English: Global Reception & Politics of Award London: ANTHEM, 2013.  Her books on communication include English for Technical Communication, and English for Nurses and English for the Hotel Industry


Week 1   
 Introduction to the course. Henry James. The Portrait of a Lady. Introduction to Henry James and his works Plot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 2    
Week 3   
 Theodore Dreiser. An American Tragedy.Plot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 4   
 Eugene O’Neill. Desire under the Elms.Introduction to Eugene O’Neill and his worksPlot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 5   
 American RomanticismEdgar Allan Poe. “Annabel Lee.”Flannery O’Connor. “Good Country People.” 
Week 6    
Ernest Hemingway. The Sun Also RisesPlot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 7    
Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence. Plot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 8 
   Lillian Hellman. The Children’s HourPlot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 9  
  Arthur Miller. A View from the Bridge.Plot/character/literary techniques/style
Week 10   
 Hart Crane. “To Brooklyn Bridge.”Pulp fictionScience fiction Counter Culture
Week 11    
Christopher Hitchens “Jewish Power, Jewish Peril.”Conclusion.


Primary texts:

1.    Henry James. The Portrait of a Lady.
2.    Theodore Dreiser. An American Tragedy.
3.    Eugene O’Neill. Desire under the Elms.
4.    Ernest Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises.
5.    Edgar Allan Poe. “Annabel Lee”. 
6.    Flannery O’Connor. “Good Country People.”
7.    Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence.
8.    Lillian Hellman. The Children’s Hour.
9.    Arthur Miller. A View from the Bridge.
10.    Hart Crane. “To Brooklyn Bridge.”
11.    Christopher Hitchens. “Jewish Power, Jewish Peril.”

Secondary texts:

1.    Bertens, Hans & Theo D’haen. American Literature: A History, Routledge, 2014.
2.    Baym, Nina. Norton Anthology of American Literature vol 1 and 2 , WW Norton & Co. , 2012.
3.    Gray, Richard. A History of American Literature (Blackwell, 2004)
4.    Bradbury, Malcolm and  Ruland, Richard.  From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature , Penguin, 1991.
5.    Salzman, Jack. The Cambridge Handbook of American Literature. Cambridge University Press, 1986.

  • The exam is optional for a fee.
  • Date of Exam: April 27th 2019 (Saturday).
  • Time of Exam: Morning session 9am to 2 noon; Afternoon session: 2pm to 5pm
  • Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
  • The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published.

  • Final score will be calculated as : 25% assignment score + 75% final exam score
  • 25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of  Best 8 out of 12 assignments
  • E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.