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Course Description

Academic Year 2020-2021 • Grade 10 and above • Literature Sequence

American Literature

This course examines the rich, varied, and occasionally quirky textures of American literature from colonial times to the late twentieth century. Once again, we take a generally historical approach to the material, tracing the development of particular themes, ideas, and techniques of writing, and examining the kaleidoscopic interactions of the many strands of the American population and culture.

While Western Literature to Dante emphasized extensive reading and English Literature focused on intensive reading, this course puts the two together. We read for the long view and zoom in on occasion for close scrutiny where it is warranted. In the process, we dig into issues of theme and symbolic language in the works of the great nineteenth-century masters Melville and Hawthorne, and the evolution of different approaches to realism in its various guises. We also spend some time examining modern critical writing. Those who plan to go on to take literature courses in college are well advised to be at least forewarned about some of the directions critical thought has taken.

The textbook for the course is The United States in Literature, which, like England in Literature, is part of the “America Reads” series from Scott, Foresman. The series has long since gone out of print, and nothing nearly as good has emerged to replace it, but happily used copies are still available and circulating fairly freely. A number of novels and plays take their place alongside the course textbook.

Course Website: American Literature

Sections and Teachers

Section 1:

Instructor: Bruce McMenomy

Starts: September 2, 2020
Ends: May 26, 2021

Wednesday 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET

Tuition: $550.00



Prerequisites

The course has no absolute prerequisites, but English Literature or its equivalent is virtually required to assure success. If you have not taken my English Literature course, please contact me before enrolling in this one. We try to build on the cumulative skills of the previous years' work. World Literature introduces basic concepts of literary reading; Western Literature to Dante encourages extensive reading, while English Literature deals more with close reading. Here we attempt to combine techniques, looking minutely at some works while also reading an assortment of others in a way that will require a mixture of methods and techniques. For exceptions you must confer with the instructor to verify preparation.

Recommended background

This course expects a fair degree of preparation in literary discourse. I expect not only familiarity with the literary contents of English Literature but also the critical concepts we have developed: narrative voice and persona, negative capability, and something of the variety of symbolic language, as well as many of the techniques of close reading.

Textbooks and Materials

This textbook is required:

A Man for All Seasons (Vintage International) , Authors: Robert Bolt

ISBN: 0679728228

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: You may use any complete text edition of this play.


This textbook is required:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Norton Critical Edition) [Edition 3], Authors: Mark Twain, Thomas Cooley

ISBN: 0393966402

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: Please do not substitute another edition for this one. We will be using critical materials unique to this edition for class.


This textbook is required:

Moby-Dick (Norton Critical Editions) [Edition 3], Authors: Herman Melville, Hershel Parker (Editor)

ISBN: 0393285006

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: Please do not substitute any other edition. We will be using the special critical material unique to this volume, unavailable in other editions.


This textbook is required:

The Crucible (Penguin Classics) , Authors: Arthur Miller, Christopher Bigsby

ISBN: 0142437336

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: You may use any complete edition of this play.


This textbook is required:

The Old Man and The Sea , Authors: Ernest Hemingway

ISBN: 0684801221

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: You may use any available copy of this book.


This textbook is required:

The Red Badge of Courage (Norton Critical Editions) [Edition 4], Authors: Stephen Crane, Eric Carl Link (Editor), Donald Pizer (Editor)

ISBN: 0393930750

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: Please do not substitute another edition for this one. We will be using the unique materials available in this particular edition for class.


This textbook is required:

The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings (Norton Critical Editions) , Authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Leland S. Person

ISBN: 0393979539

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: Please do not substitute another edition of this book. We will be using the unique critical material in this volume, unavailable in other editions.


This textbook is required:

The United States in Literature (Three Long Stories) , Authors: James E. Miller Jr., Kerry M. Wood, Carlota Cardenas de Dwyer

ISBN: 0673293815

Best sources: Scholars Online Bookstore

Other information: Please get this edition. If you cannot find the Three Long Stories edition, the other one will do, but you will need to track down those three stories in some other format.


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