ENG31950 Architecture and Narrative

Academic Year 2022/2023

From Lincoln’s “house divided against itself” to Bachelard’s “poetics of space,” architectural images reflect and order the American social and literary worlds. We can locate architectural models in a range of familiar national and narrative metaphors. This module asks students to expand upon the well-worn trope of a “house of fiction,” to consider the rich connections between American architectural and literary histories, forms, and contents. Together, we will sample gothic, realist, sentimental, modern, reform, and utopian fictions, exploring U.S. literary and material architectures of community and independence, freedom and constraint, empowerment and poverty, in the nineteenth century.

Our discussions of architecture and literature incorporate histories of natural and built environments, and readings in narrative theory, theories of space and place, material culture studies, and feminist geography.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

● Demonstrate ability to discuss complex ideas in class and in written assignments
● Perform close-reading of texts leading to nuanced analysis
● Work with key insights in space and place theory, critical race theory, social history, gender & sexuality.
● Demonstrate awareness of domestic architecture as it is shaped by (and shapes) race, gender, class, and sexuality.
● Discuss key elements of 19th century American domestic fiction

Indicative Module Content:

The course will begin with early American architectures of revolution, nation building, and enslavement, with readings from Hannah Crafts, and Edgar Allen Poe, and move to examinations of the natural and industrial worlds. We will consider the architecture of empire in Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona, and examine the evolution of the domestic novel and true womanhood in the Pauline Hopkins’s Contending Forces. At our conclusion, we will visit Anzia Yezierska’s institutional homes for immigrant women, and consider the radical contours of turn-of-century urban rental housing.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:

The course will take shape around weekly discussions (online and in-class), close readings, and a final essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Mid-Semester Short Close Reading Exercises(s) Unspecified n/a Graded No


Assignment: Final Essay and essay proposal Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Three Posted Discussion Questions
Classroom Discussion
Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback provided on essay proposal before final essay due date. Written feedback provided on close reading components during semester, on final essay after term.

Indicative Reading List (2020-22):
(To be finalized in late summer)

Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland (1798)
Hannah Crafts, The Bondwoman’s Narrative (1853-61)
Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces (1900)
Amy Richter, At Home in Nineteenth-Century America

Shorter (provided) fictions to include:
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anza Yezierska
Name Role
Dr Maria Stuart Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Wed 10:00 - 11:50