Course Detail

ID 2096
Course ID EES86QAM
Course Name American lit eng 6
Years Active 2020, 2023, 2022, 2019, 2021
Terms Active 2
On Course Selection Form No
Course Placement No
Special Permission Course No
Credits Awarded 1.0
Retakeable No
Rules Fulfilling
Eligibility Rule

Additional Course Information

Additional Information for Course Exceptions Required? No

American Literature is a semester-long core English course for juniors not enrolled in an AP English Language & Composition course. Students will encounter a variety of texts and authors considered central to the notions of the history, national identity, art and culture of the United States. It is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters, and students especially interested in this area of study are allowed to enroll during both terms of their junior year. Students taking both will encounter a completely different reading list in each semester.

Students will read texts from a variety of eras in each semester. The intent is to expose students to a wide range of style, genre, and content, while allowing for meaningful comparisons between texts from different parts of our nation’s history.

The story of American Literature is largely our break with European traditions to build our own culture through the contributions of our vast diversity. Themes during each semester may include: individualism, freedom, national identity, the minority experience in America, gender, war, immigration, progressivism, the urban experience, American Romanticism, and the American Dream.

Students can expect to read traditional texts of the American canon, by the likes of Franklin, Douglass, Hawthorne, Emerson, Twain, Wharton, and James. But each term will include modern and postmodern authors, such as Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Philip Roth, and Tim O’Brien.

Students who do not request a fall selective or who cannot be programmed for the fall selective(s) of their choice will automatically be programmed for American Literature in the fall. Students enrolled in a selective for the fall semester will automatically be programmed for American Literature in the spring. 

Some big questions the course will address include:

  • What is the meaning/significance of the American Dream, and in what ways has it changed/remained constant over time?
  • In what ways does American literature look to/represent a break from previous literary traditions and forms?
  • What new “voices” does American literature introduce into the national consciousness and conversation?
  • What archetypal images and stories animate American literature and why do they continue to resonate so powerfully?
  • In what ways is the American landscape – particularly the concepts/experience of “wilderness” and the frontier – central to American literature?
  • In what ways does American literature reflect – and shape – the country’s politics, social movements, and the larger zeitgeist?
  • What is the meaning of a Faustian Pact, and in what ways is it central to our experience of America and the literature that reflects and shapes it?
  • In what ways does American literature reflect the tension between the community and the individual?
  • In what ways does American literature reflect the tension between assimilation and preserving cultural heritage?
  • What “ghosts” haunt America, and how is their presence reflected in our literature? In what ways do American writers grapple with American history?
  • What do we mean by “American literature” in a country so big and geographically, racially, ethnically, politically, and socially diverse?
  • In what ways are American writers engaged in a conversation with each other, and how can we best participate in the conversation?
Syllabus There is no syllabus listed