Course Detail

ID 2087
Course ID EES85X1
Course Name Ap eng lang - american literary history
Years Active 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
Terms Active 1
On Course Selection Form Yes
Course Placement Yes
Special Permission Course No
Credits Awarded 1.0
Retakeable No
Rules Fulfilling
Eligibility Rule

Additional Course Information

Additional Information for Course Exceptions Required? No

This course stresses the importance of chronology in the study of American literature. Authors, like us, are directly and indirectly influenced by those who came before them. James Baldwin read Richard Wright, and Jhumpa Lahiri references Nathaniel Hawthorne. Who are the favorite writers of famous writers? If we continue to trace the American lineage back, can we create a map of influence? 

When we probe the collision and cross-pollination of ideas, the boundaries between the contemporary and the classic, the self and the other, whiteness and blackness begin to blur. Reading challenging texts can provide space for us to think out loud, make mistakes, and discover false dichotomies. We aim to appreciate and interrogate big ideas in American intellectual history, but we also aim to appreciate and interrogate our own ideological boundaries and differences. You will play the devil’s advocate, entertain multiple interpretations, and imagine possible worlds.

As a college level writing course, American Literary History will go beyond the basic five-paragraph essay to consider appropriate scope, flow, style, and voice. The writing process will be emphasized, specifically proposing ideas, reconsidering strategies, developing precision, and revising essays. Genres may include literary, comparative, and rhetorical analysis, as well as the research paper incorporating criticism and theory.

Guiding questions:

  • What dominant cultural mythologies, narratives, and ideals are created or challenged?
  • Who feels like an outsider and what commentary can an outsider offer?
  • How is the American experiment and experience still evolving today?
  • How are American writers in conversation with each other across time and space?
  • What literary movements developed throughout American history?
  • How are writers influenced by historical, social, cultural, and political context?

Jonathan Edwards: selected sermons

Nathaniel Hawthorne: selected short stories

Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass

Henry David Thoreau: Walden

Kate Chopin: The Awakening

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby 

Richard Wright: Native Son

August Wilson: Fences

Suzan-Lori Parks: Topdog/Underdog

Julia Alvarez: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

Junot Díaz: Drown

Jhumpa Lahiri: Unaccustomed Earth

Ayad Aktar: Disgraced

Selected essays by: bell hooks, Shelby Steele, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Gloria Anzaldúa, Amy Tan, Jia Tolentino, Annie Dillard, Ralph Waldo Emerson  

Students should have at least a 92% average in English.

Syllabus There is no syllabus listed