American Literature


Class Guidelines and Expectations

In order to meet the objectives of this class, certain guidelines and rules must be followed. Please keep these guidelines handy so that you may consult them when problems or questions arise.

Course Objectives

· To provide resources and practice that enable students to approach oral, visual and written texts analytically, fostering critical thinking skills.

· To enable students to become articulate and reflective members of their various communities: educational, social and political.

· To introduce students to the persuasive tools of speaking and writing, both as audience and authors.

· To expose students to the major movements and authors of American literature, through the study of representative texts.

· To familiarize students with the different types of writing and give them analytical concepts appropriate to each (i.e., meter for poetry, subtext for drama, etc.)

Classroom Procedures

· Assignments: Homework is worth a total of 5 points. If it is late, it will be penalized 1 point if received anytime within the week it was assigned. After that, it will receive 3 out of 5 points if turned in before the final week of the quarter. Homework is due upon your arrival in the classroom and will be late thereafter. Quizzes are worth 10-20 points (mostly 10). Make-up quizzes can earn up to 60% of the original score. Papers are generally worth between 20-50 points (30 most of the time). They will receive 10% off their original score for each school day they are late, including school days in which you don’t have my class. Papers must be in the appropriate box before 3:30 on the day they are due to be considered on time. You should keep all your formal papers in your portfolio in my classroom, including Outside Reading Book Reports. Of course, absence due to illness or other excused activities will not receive a late penalty. However, students are responsible for finding out what they missed and arranging a make-up time with me.

· Readings: All the texts (poems, essays, articles, novels, plays, etc.) you will be reading in this American Literature course, you need to read carefully and closely. This means practicing good active reading skills: ask yourself questions about the text as you read, note any passages that are confusing, ironic or odd (good authors want you to notice these things), take note of word choice (diction), and mark page numbers for important passages. If you can afford to buy the books, I highly recommend that you do. This will allow you to mark up the pages as you read. If you can’t buy the book, I recommend taking notes on a separate piece of paper. If you have the time, I also recommend reading the piece twice. This is mandatory with shorter writings, such as poems.

· Tests: Apart from the occasional unit test, there will be a midterm and final test in this class. For this purpose, you are strongly advised to keep all your handouts, corrected quizzes, tests, and papers. The midterm will count for 10-20% of the first semester grade, and the final will count for 10-20% of the second semester grade. That’s a pretty big part of your grade. If you read carefully and keep your notes and handouts, studying for the test should be relatively straightforward.

· Rules: As juniors in high school, you should know how to behave in class already. Some general expectations are that you be respectful and considerate of the other students in the class and avoid interfering with their education, that you refrain from racist or sexist remarks in class, and that you arrive for class prepared and on time. If I believe that any infractions of the classroom and/or school rules are the result of confusion about appropriate behavior, I may give you a single warning before referring you to the office and assigning you an after school detention. Such referrals will require a phone call home to your parents or guardians. Tardiness to class will receive two warnings followed by a detention. Again, I don’t anticipate having to deal with such problems as you are all old enough to know better.

Finally, I hope this year will be one of growth for you as a writer, reader and individual. Many of the issues that the writers of our past struggled with and tried to resolve are still with us today; issues of race, gender, personal freedom and society, family and group dynamics, the proper relationship between religion and science are all very relevant in today’s society. It is my intention that, through our study and reflection, you may be provided with the tools that will enable you to navigate these issues and find your own answers and questions about what it means to be human.

Potential Course Texts

Elements of Literature: Fifth Course (our core textbook)

Macbeth, Shakespeare

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien