American Literature

Mr. J. D. Wilson, Jr.

American Literature 11th Grade

Room 205, (508) 291-3510


"You must read, Alice, before it's too late. You must fill your mind with the converted images of the past: the more the better. . . . These images, apart from anything else, will help you put the two and twos of life together, and the more images your mind retains, the more wonderful will be the star studded canopy of experience beneath which you, poor unfortunate primitive creature that you are, will shelter."

Fay Weldon Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

"As often as a study is cultivated by narrow minds, they will draw from it narrow conclusions."

John Stuart Mill Auguste Comte and Positivism

"He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that."

John Stuart Mill

The Nature of the Course

Stuff We Will Read

Stuff We Will Write

Web Sites to Check Out

Calendar of Events

Keep Quiet and do your work

The Nature of the Course:

Course Description

In this course you will learn how to analyze literature in its three primary forms, poetry, prose, and drama. You will then learn to express your thoughts and opinions on what you have read. Much of your professional lives will be spent responding to written or verbal forms of communication so it follows that the ability to read, understand, and communicate your understanding is a valuable skill to possess and develop, even if, God help you, you never read another line of great literature. It is our aim to teach you to express your thoughts, impressions, and opinions so that they can be understood by the average reader. You will be expected to write cogent essays that are well developed and defended that successfully persuade others of the validity of your thoughts. This does not mean you have to persuade others to think like you. It does mean that others, even if they do not come to share your view understand the merits of your view. As you study literature the awareness should strike you that there are many "right" answers to the issues discussed. What is important is not that you reach some sanctioned conclusion, but that your conclusions are defensible. It is a further aim that you learn to understand and write about different points of view. To fully understand your own point of view you must know, and to a certain extent understand, opposing points of view.

This is the first goal of this class, and the second is like unto it: to develop critical thinking skills. The first step in this process is to understand our own thinking. "What do I think about this and why do I think it?" are questions we must constantly ask ourselves. It is a presumption of this class that writers write to, among other things, express ideas and communicate points of view. Hopefully the process of analyzing ideas and different points of view will expand, or even change, our thinking on the issues the various authors raise. To understand the ideas a work of literature expresses it is helpful to understand and appreciate the forms they use. For example, why did the author write a sonnet instead of an ode. It is also important to be able to assess a works artistic merit. It is important to remember that it is possible to recognize the artistry with which a poem or story is written without personally "liking" it. It is also important to recognize how authors use the various literary devices to tell their stories. As a result of pursuing these two sets of goals you should come to understand literature, its artistry and craft.

Attendance: It is important that you be present for each scheduled class meeting. Work missed as the result of an unexcused absence cannot be made up. Though absence may make the heart grow fonder, it makes for indigent brains. An unexcused absence is one for which no valid excuse (in writing on the letterhead of someone the instructor deems official enough to grant excuses). Be aware that you are responsible for finding out what happened in class on any day you missed, whether the absence is excused or not.

Conferences: Some problems do not lend themselves to classroom discussion. I will be available after school, by appointment to answer questions and give a sympathetic ear to writing problems. This should not be used as a substitute for the editorial process.

Assignments: All papers (essays, term papers, writing projects, etc.) must be typed and double spaced. Font size should not exceed that of this syllabus, (Times New Roman #12). Reading logs, notes, outlines, and all other writing generated by class discussions, exercises, or your own writing process need not, indeed cannot, be typed. No final draft that is unaccompanied by each written stage of its creation will be regarded as complete. Your drafts, notes, outlines, etc. not only form an audit trail of your thought process, they also aid the memory. The insight you fail to write down now to contemplate later will be forgotten. THROW NOTHING AWAY. Due dates for each assignment are given below. Please realize these are not suggested dates. Failure to turn an assignment in on time will lower your grade by at least half a grade point. If you have a legitimate reason for being late you must inform me in advance of the due date. I will be the final arbiter of whether an excuse is legitimate.

Portfolio: Your portfolio is to include each of your essays accompanied by all rough drafts, outlines, notes and other supporting documentation. It will also include reading logs, book reports, and your pick of the week from each week's writing assignments. Also include a table of contents.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is representing another's thoughts or ideas as your own. Notice this is not merely copying word for word another's work. It also encompasses the use of paraphrases or summaries of another's work. This is a serious offense with serious consequences. Plagiarized work will receive a failing grade of zero (0) per-cent.

Stuff We Will Read:

The Story Line - The Long of It

August 29 - September 5 - Introduction to Literary Analysis & Native American Literature: "The Parsley Garden," "The Walum Olum," "Song of the Sky Loom," "I Have Killed the Dear, from La Relacion, from Blue Highways, and from Plymouth Plantation.

September 6 - October 23 - The Last of the Mohicans

November 1 - November 29 - The Red Badge of Courage

December 4 - January 9 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

January 22 - January 25 - First Semester Finals

January 10 - January 14 - Short Narratives

January 15 - February 7 - The Crucible

February 8 - March 15 - The Great Gatsby

March 20 - May 21 - The Grapes of Wrath

May 22 - June 17 - Their Eyes Were Watching God

June 11 - June 17 - Second Semester Finals

The Story Line - The Short of It

August 29 - "Democratic Education"

September 10 - "What Is an American"

September 18 - "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

September 26 - "From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"

October 4 - "Speech in the Virginia Convention"

October 16 - "The Declaration of Independence"

October 24 - "Self Reliance" & "Emerson's Aphorisims"

November 1 - "From Walden"

November 9 - "Untie His Hands"

November 30 - The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavaras County"

December 18 - "A Horseman in the Sky

January 22 - January 25 - First Semester Finals

January 10 - "The Raven"

January 14 - "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment"

January 28 - "The Masque of the Red Death"

February 5 - "A Rose for Emily"

February 13 - “Plainswoman,”

February 28 - "The Wagner Matinee"

March 8 - "Sophistication"

March 18 - "The Legend of Gregorio Cortez"

June 18 - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

June 20 - "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"

June 11 - June 17 - Second Semester Finals

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Stuff We Will Write:

The Written Word

Research Paper

Must be at least three pages in length with at least two bibliographic citations.

Outline, thesis statement, and bibliography due by September 17.

First draft due for peer review October 15.

Final draft due October 23.

Rewrite due October 31.

Literary Analysis Paper

Must be at least four pages in length with at least one bibliographic citation.

Outline, thesis statement, and bibliography due November 19.

First draft due for peer review December 17.

Final draft due January 3.

Rewrite due January 11.

Mark Twain Newspaper

Cover and Weather Report due January 3.

Sports Page and Want Ads due January 11.

Letter to the Editor due January 17.

Ask Aunt Polly and New Fangled Things due February 4.

Political Cartoon and Help Wanted February 12.

Book Review due February 27.

Mark Twain “Man of the Year” article and Time Line due March 7.

News Articles due March 15.

Table of Contents and Bibliography due March 25.

Finished Newspaper due March 27, but no later than April 2.

Personal Essay

Must be at least four pages in length.

Topic due April 10.

Outline due May 3.

First draft due for peer review May 20.

Final draft due May 30.

Rewrite due June 7.

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Web Sites to Check Out:

Bus Depot and Web Surfing Stuff

History and Culture of America 1860 – 1880

History and Culture (On the "Women's History" link go to the bottom of the page to see the links).

Facts about Stephen Crane

Crane's Biography

Notes on the Novel

Study Guides

Flikr Image Comment Exercise

VoiceThread Comment Exercise

E-Text of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

E-Text of The Grapes of Wrath

No text is is available, is still in copyright

Calendar of Events

Readings for the Week:

Day One 03-18: - "Legend of Gregorio Cortez, pp 800-814.

Day Two 03-20: - The Grapes of Wrath, chap. 1 & 2.

Day Three 03-21: - The Grapes of Wrath, chap. 3 & 4.

Day Four 03-22: - The Grapes of Wrath, chap. 5.

Nightly Reading Journal – 03-26

Reading Quiz - 03-26 (We will be doing the quiz on The Grapes of Wrath, chaps. 1-5 and "The Legend of Gregorio Cortez.)

Vocabulary Journal - 03-26.

Vocabulary Quiz - 03-26.

Mark Twain Newspaper Phases I-VIII - Cover, Weather Report, Sports, Want Ads, Letter to the Editor, Ask Aunt Polly, New Fangled Things, Help Wanted, Editorial Cartoon, Book Review, Man of the Year (Biography and Timeline), News, Table of Contents, and Bibliography articles were due 03-25. Finished newspaper is due 04-02.

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