Logo of University of Essex

MAAmerican Literatures

University of Essex
United Kingdom, Colchester
Tuition fee To be confirmed
More information



Gain a rich understanding of the variety and interconnections of American writing, exploring major poetic, fictional, non-fictional and dramatic works. American literature is topical and contemporary; Author Junot Díaz’s book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was declared the best novel of the 21st century (so far!). This is just one of the novels that you will have the opportunity to study on this course.

At Essex, we challenge the study of the United States as a territorially bound space by embracing an expanded conception of ‘America’, which explores the richness of U.S. and Caribbean literatures in dialogue. This allows you to formulate sophisticated analyses of the role of space and place in the production of American writing and identities.

You explore how cultural geography may be integrated into literary history, concentrating on American literatures topics including:

- How violence and conflict have shaped writing across the American tropics
- The difference between reality and the “American Dream”
- Caribbean modernities and post-colonialism
- US nationalism and regionalism in literature
- African American literature

Our department is ranked Top 20 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015) and in the Top 200 worldwide (QS World University Rankings), and three-quarters of our research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

Programme structure

Year 1

Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
War, Violence & Conflict in the American Tropics
US Nationalism and Regionalism
“There is a Continent Outside My Window” : United States and Caribbean Literatures in Dialogue
The New Nature Writing (optional)
Writing the Novel (optional)
Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography (optional)
Dramatic Structure (optional)
Literature and Performance in the Modern City (optional)
Early Modern to Eighteenth Century Literature (optional)
Georgian and Romantic Literature and Drama (optional)
Adaptation (optional)
Documentary and the Avant-garde: Film, Video, Digital (optional)
Film and Video Production Workshop (optional)
Advanced Film and Industry: Production and Industry (optional)
African American Literature (optional)
Sea of Lentils: Modernity, Literature, and Film in the Caribbean (optional)
Writing Magic (optional)
Literature and the Environmental Imagination: 19th to 21st Century Poetry and Prose (optional)

Career opportunities

We offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers, and others are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
Application period has ended
Suspended for 2020 entry

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! Fall semester 2021/22
Application period has ended
Suspended for 2020 entry

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States