This course has two major goals: to study the major writers, literary movements and historical events that have shaped American literature; and to prepare students for the rigor of work and depth of thought demanded by the Advanced Placement courses that follow this one. This class is organized as chronologically as possible to highlight the development of and changes within American literature. Discussing and writing about course texts will require sensitivity to cultural and historical influences as well as close attention to structure and style. As writers, our ultimate goal in this class will be to discuss insightfully and intelligently our personal experiences as well as our interpretations and evaluations of literary texts and recently published articles. Achieving this goal will require practice and this practice will consist of a variety of writing tasks, from on-the-spot formative responses to research-based examinations of both literature and current publications. The writing demands of this course are rigorous. Satisfying these demands will require dedication and self-discipline from the students.