English ( American Literature) week 1


Test Prep: American Literature CLEP

Course Description: Student will receive an overview of American literature from the founding of the nation to contemporary pieces. Literary study will be infused with historical applications for a better understanding of the social and historical context of the readings. Literary terms and elements of poetry will be discussed throughout this course. Vocabulary will include literary terminology as well as general terminology important for high school students to learn. Grammar instruction will be given through various writing assignments. Writing assignments will include Responses to Literature journal entries, a Reflective Essay, a Poetry Explication Essay, a Rhetorical Analysis, a Persuasive Research paper, and a final writing project with a Literary Analysis. Students will have a few novels assigned for outside class reading. Chapters will be selected and assignments given with a deadline of the end of the week. This will help students practice meeting deadlines and it will help us move through more of the literature available to us.

The writing in Responses to Literature should:
•    show that they understand the main character(s) and the plot of the text
•    show that they understand the overall meaning or message of the piece
•    share their feelings, judgment, opinions, or evaluation based on careful reading of the text
•    support their points about the characters and theme with evidence and examples from the story
•    demonstrate an understanding of the historical and literary elements common to that particular time period as we’ve learned about them in class
•    serve as a means of “open book” study during unit tests (at parent’s discretion)
•    lend itself to a possible expansion into an essay due at a later date
•    use proper grammar, word choice, transitions and clear writing.

Each Response to Literature should be at least 250 words in length. The entries should be graded out of 30. You will find a Writing Rubric: Writing a Response to Literature here.

If students are not already using an ad blocker, I’d recommend installing one to prevent distractions and any mistaken clicks on ads appearing on sites we will be using.

Quizzes/Tests: There will be a few quizzes throughout the course on specific readings. Every 10 days students will have a Vocabulary Quiz (matching). At the end of each quarter (45 days), there will be a test. In addition to questions about readings, literary periods, and terminology, the tests will have a vocabulary matching section. You should study your quizzes in preparation for your quarterly exams. The final exam will not be cumulative.

Reading List: In order to make this course more complete, we had to choose at least one more recent novel. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee will start on Day 98. 

Students will have a few novels assigned for outside class reading. Chapters will be selected and assignments given with a deadline of the end of the week. This will help students practice meeting deadlines and it will help us move through more of the literature available to us.

Short Stories: The Earth on Turtle’s Back (Onondaga), When Grizzlies Walked Upright (Modoc), Navajo Origin Legend, Young Goodman Brown (Hawthorne), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Irving), Rip Van Winkle (Irving), The Fall of the House of Usher (Poe), The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (Twain),  How to Tell A Story (Twain), An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Bierce), To Build A Fire (London), The Open Boat (Crane), The Story of An Hour (Chopin), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Fitzgerald), Old Man At The Bridge (Hemingway), The Jilting of Granny Weatherall (Porter)

Poetry: To My Dear and Loving Husband (Bradstreet), Prologue (Bradstreet), Huswifery (Taylor), Thanatopsis (Bryant), Old Ironsides (Holmes), The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls (Longfellow), A Psalm of Life (Longfellow), Stanzas on Freedom (Lowell), The Raven (Poe), The Tell-Tale Heart (Poe), Annabel Lee (Poe), I Hear America Singing (Whitman),  A Noiseless Patient Spider (Whitman), I heard a Fly buzz – when I died (Dickinson), The Soul selects her own Society (Dickinson), Hope is the thing with feathers (Dickinson), I measure every Grief I meet (Dickinson), Learning to Read (Harper),  Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind (Crane), The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter (Pound), Birches (Frost), The Road Not Taken (Frost), Mending Wall (Frost), Any Human to Another (Cullen), Traveling through the Dark (Stafford), Morning Song (Plath), Blackberrying (Plath), The Writer (Wilbur), Boy at the Window (Wilbur), We Real Cool (Brooks), Still I Rise (Angelou)

Plays: Trifles (Glaspell)

Letters/Essays/Speeches: To The Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth (Wheatley), Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (Edwards), Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death (Henry), Gettysburg Address (Lincoln), I am alone (I am the last of my family) (Cochise), I Will Fight No More Forever(Chief Joseph), Ain’t I A Woman? (Truth), Solitude of Self (Stanton), Is it a Crime For A Citizen of the United States to Vote? (Anthony), The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain (Hughes), I Have A Dream (King), Letter from a Birmingham Jail (King)

Novels: The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), The Red Badge of Courage (Crane), My Antonia (Cather), To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee)

Selected Readings: Of Plymouth Plantation(Bradford), A Model of Christian Charity (Winthrop), The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Franklin), The Crisis (Paine), Nature (Emerson), Self-Reliance (Emerson), Solitude (Thoreau), Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)

Day 1(**)

Unit: The Colonial and Early National Period (Beginnings-1830


  1. Keep a vocabulary notebook and/or note cards for terms you will be learning about. You will have bi-weekly vocabulary quizzes throughout the course and vocabulary words will appear on your unit tests.
  2. You will be studying terminology related to the historical context of the period we are discussing as well as literary terminology.
  3. Record these words and their definitions in your notes. Click on each term and summarize its definition so you have a clear understanding of its meaning:  narrativearchetypemythoral tradition


  1. Always take notes as you complete your readings, keeping in mind upcoming tests and writing assignments. This is a literature survey course. We are looking at individual authors and their works, but also at the big picture in literary movements and their historical context.
  2. Read about Native American Oral Literature.
  3. Read the Onondaga tribe’s story, “The Earth on Turtle’s Back”.
  4. Read the Modoc tribe’s story, “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”.
  5. Read the The Navajo Origin Legend.
  6. *Complete the Native American Myths Handout.
  7. What makes these myths (and others like them) essential to American Literature?
  8. Native American literature is rooted in oral tradition and stories were passed down. Myths discussed beliefs about the origin and nature of the physical world, social order, appropriate behavior, human nature, as well as good and evil.
  9. Oral literature was often characterized by repetition and ritual.
  10. Archetypes were common in these stories as good vs. evil was represented often with characters like a mother goddess, an old man, a trickster, water, fire, celestial elements, etc.
  11. Outside Reading Assignment: Over the first 3 weeks of this course, you will read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, in addition to the reading assignments I will list on each day’s work. Today you will receive a reading assignment and a related work assignment. The reading and assignment should be completed by the end of the week. You can decide how much you want to read each day to stay on schedule. The outside reading should NOT be considered optional. You will be tested on this material within this course and it will be literature you should know about for the American Literature CLEP.
  12. The Scarlet Letter (1850) has some heavy subject matter, so parents should be aware of the specific themes discussed. It is important to be familiar with this novel when discussing significant works of American Literature.
  13. Watch the video summary.
  14. Download the study guide for The Scarlet Letter. (If you print this to work offline, please note that page numbers needed are the page numbers of the pdf itself-as shown in the toolbar, not the page numbers written on the study guide.)
  15. For this week, read Chapters 1-8 of The Scarlet Letter. Complete pages 1-8 of your Study Guide. You should expect to be done this assignment by Day 5. Day 5’s Reading portion of your class will go over this assignment. (When assignments tell you to discuss in your small group, instead discuss the issues with a parent or other adult in your household. The portions labeled “Extending Your Response” are optional. Try to complete everything else.)


  1. Read about Close Reading of a Literary Passage.
  2. Read about Annotating and Close Reading.

Day 2


  1. Record these words and their definitions in your notes. Click on each term and summarize its definition so you have a clear understanding of its meaning: conceitoxymoron , parallelism/parallel structure,


  1. Watch this short video on the settling of Jamestown in 1607.
  2. Read about John Smith.
  3. Read about John Smith’s journals and writings.
  4. Early American writers first had to ensure their own survival before they could think about writing for entertainment. These early writings were more about keeping historical records than of creating something with literary value, so these works would be narratives, descriptions, observations, reports, journals, and histories. We need to be mindful of this when reading them in this current day.

Day 3


  1. Record these words and their definitions in your notes. Click on each term and summarize its definition so you have a clear understanding of its meaning: litotesallusionconnotationdenotationstyle,


  1. Read about the Puritans.
  2. Read about William Bradford.
  3. Watch the video and read about the Mayflower Compact.
  4. Read this article containing excerpts from Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation”. (Use the questions to help direct the notes you take on what Bradford writes.)
  5. Bradford uses several literary devices to create his own style. The way an author uses language is his or her style. If an exam question asks you to describe the style an author uses, you should describe the rhetorical devices the author uses to create his or her style.
  6. “But to omit other things. . .” is an example of beginning sentences with a coordinating conjunction. Can you find anymore in the text?
  7. Look again at the definition of litotes from your vocabulary. Bradford uses this device in his writing. Here is one example: “…they were not a little joyful…” Can you find another example in the text?
  8. Look back at yesterday’s definition of parallelism or parallel structure. Can you find any examples of parallel structure in Bradford’s work? Here is one: “…they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair, to seek for succor. . .”  Bradford uses infinitives and nouns to create an orderly listing of what the Pilgrims are going through.


  1. Read about 7 Critical Reading Strategies. (Yes, this is related to writing!)

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