This live online American Literature course is a college prep high school-level survey of American authors, poets, and essayists. On completion, students may earn college credit by taking the American Literature Clep Exam.
The course provides students in 9th through 12th grade with the skills necessary to interpret and evaluate a variety of genres found within the body of American Literature. By reading novels, short stories, and poems, students will gain a clearer understanding of how the written word portrays the values and beliefs of the country in which it was penned. Together we will take a close look at the American writers, as well as their works, to aid our understanding of how literature reflects both the person who wrote it and the period in which it was written. From early Native American myths to modern essays, students will be able to envision the many challenges and joys that went into building this nation.
Literary genres and techniques are explained so the reading that follows allows for fuller comprehension. Students will learn to note specific patterns and writing styles employed by authors and then be able to provide their own explanation of the meaning of the work being discussed. Learning to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, is vitally important and a goal I have for each of my students. This is an excellent course to help students expand their vocabulary, as well as whet their appetites for further reading. It works well on its own but is also a terrific accompaniment to an American History course.
Some of the literary techniques and devices we will explore include symbolism, characterization, plot lines, summarization, narration, background knowledge, cause and effect, rhyme, foreshadowing, flashbacks, archetypes, and figurative language, to name just a few.
This is 32-week course. Our live class meets once a week on Tuesdays. Students are expected to be in class unless they have notified the teacher that they will be absent. Students who miss a class are expected to watch a recording of the class as soon as they are able. Participating in class discussions is highly encouraged and is one of the ways students can learn to express themselves confidently as they prepare for future academic course work. Students can also respond to questions posed during class by posting in the chat box.
Each week students will be assigned reading which we will discuss during our next class session. Reading assignments will typically range from 20 to 60 pages. Homework, either in the form of answering comprehension questions found in the textbook or responding to prompts provided by the instructor, can be expected each week. This prepares students to come to class ready to engage with the instructor, as well as their peers, as they analyze that week’s reading selection. Students can also interact with peers by responding to the occasional Discussion Board prompts posted. Here students can share ideas and questions about the subjects we are exploring. Some weeks students will be assigned longer essays (one to three pages) to allow for a deeper analyzation of a topic. This also provides an opportunity for the instructor to offer students guidance on writing original and thoughtful literary responses. Additionally, there is one creative project assignment for this course that permits students to respond to literature in a non-written form. This has been the highlight for many former students who have created artwork, short films, costumes, musical arrangements, and other unique expressions showcasing their talents.
Students are expected to submit their work on time via our Canvas page. Arrangements to submit work late should be made in advance for cases such as vacation or other academic commitments. The time commitment for this class is approximately 5 to 10 hours per week.
Upon completion of this course students will understand the various literary and social movements that have helped shape American writing since its founding. Students will see how historical events impacted writers and the works they created, will be able to identify literary elements and techniques, they will be able to distinguish the unique traits found in a variety of literary genres, and be able to analytically respond to a work of literature.
Highly motivated high school students may choose to enroll in the Honors level of this course. Honors level students will complete two longer interpretative papers of a literary subject of their choosing. For the longer papers, I offer a deep evaluation of both style and content. Students will have their papers back with my suggestions within 2 to 3 weeks of submission. Former students have said these evaluations have been beneficial as they prepare for higher level writing in college. Honors level students will also have additional essay assignments through the course of the year. Students will also be supplied with additional (supplementary) reading suggestions.
Who should enroll?
Any student in grades 9 through 12 may take this course. There are no prerequisites, but students should be comfortable reading up to 50 or more pages per week.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Sound card and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
Students can expect their homework to be evaluated and graded weekly. Most homework, if submitted on time, will earn full credit. Since homework is due the day of live class sessions, I try to have all homework graded before the next class.
I provide written feedback on all essays (short or long). If a student has a question about the homework or anything else regarding the class, they are encouraged to send me and email. I normally respond within 24 hours.
Examples of Student Projects
Class Sample: (edited to protect student privacy)