The objectives of this course include developing students’ understanding of the history and cultural progress of our country by examining perceptions and experiences conveyed in literature.
Students will examine both nonfiction and fiction texts written in America by Americans. They will explore the nation’s voice as it develops from the early American settlers to present day modern Americans. Throughout the course students will determine what it means to be American, as well as evaluate the process that Americans have taken to establish an identity over the years by examining: informational materials, advertisements, prose both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and more.
This class emphasizes project based learning and writing. The number of multiple-choice tests will be less than five for the entire course.
Time periods of literature to be covered include the following:
- Native American Literature
- Puritan Literature
- Colonial Literature
- Gothic Literature
- Regionalism and Naturalism
- The Harlem Renaissance
- Modern Literature
- Contemporary Literature
This course is designed to be a survey of American Literature. However, the focus of this class is depth rather than breadth. Within each literary time period, the class will strive to delve deep into the writers and ideas of that time. Due to this quest for deeper understanding, revisions to plan and goals of the course may be revised as the year progresses based upon time constraints and other unforeseen circumstances.
Regardless of how far the class makes it through the literary timeline, every effort will be made to address all aspects of the course goals. By achieving those course goals, students will take steps to be able to:
- Analyze and contextualize the evolution of American culture through literature reflective of American literary periods by exploring the customs and norms of each period as revealed through unique perspectives from a variety of authors;
- Improve their analytical skills by understanding rhetorical strategies: that form is related to function, that meaningful writing requires authors to choose the most effective voice and genre according to their purpose and audience;
- Ascertain an author’s purpose and flesh out the specific strategies and techniques the author employs to achieve accomplishment, and understand that effective writing (including fiction) conveys an argument;
- Express maturity in their own writing through a variety of sentence structures and syntactical methods as well as through sophisticated diction;
- Learn to appreciate literature by reading aesthetically and not just efferently (simply to glean information);
- Analyze, compare and evaluate various works of literature – read between the lines;
- Understand that effective authors of fiction, nonfiction and poetry carefully consider their stylistic choices as they pertain to purpose and audience;
- Discern and analyze the rhetorical strategies authors employ and consider applying some of these strategies to enhance their own writing when appropriate;
- Demonstrate serious engagement with the readings through close reading and analytical writing;
- Participate in active class analytical discussions;
- Express analysis and practice writing skills through academic writing assignments and in-class essays;
- Express themselves through creative writing and free writing;
- Apply steps of the writing process as they write;
- Apply spelling, proofreading, basic grammatical and editing skills to augment their writing;
- Continue to develop sophisticated sentence structures and syntax – subordination and coordination;
- Demonstrate a knowledge of the basic design and types of multi-paragraph essays;
- Transcend the five-paragraph essay form;
- Improve their vocabulary skills primarily in the context of the literature;
- Develop and apply the study and research skills necessary for academic success;
- Develop and apply oral and presentation skills;
- Develop and apply listening skills.
The structure of each lesson about any given literary time period or specific piece of literature will follow the idea of RELEVANCE, BACKGROUND, READING, and ACCOUNT:
- In the RELEVANCE stage, the class will seek out ways the subject matter still applies to the world of this day and age in order to increase interest and buy-in for the learning to come.
- The BACKGROUND stage will entail looking into what was happening in the country’s history to prompt the particular type of literature.
- The READING stage is self-evident — literature will be read.
- For the ACCOUNT stage, students will be held accountable for their learning through projects and writing assignments.