U.S. Literature & Composition


U.S. Literature & Composition

Wednesday 9:00-10:00 a.m. CST

Tamara Pool

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American Literature and Composition 

Instructor: Tamara Pool

Course Description:

American Literature is a college-preparatory literature survey.  Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama have been selected for literary quality and for their place in the historical development of literature.  Period relevant art, music, and additional context readings will be assigned, in order to provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic content of the focus work.  Students will gain an understanding of the development of American literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through class discussion, memorizing and dramatically interpreting passages, creatively imitating the work’s style or voice, and developing essays and approach papers and other evaluative writing.

For this class, students will be guided in their writing projects through class discussion, with forms, models, and a grading rubrik and receive feedback on their papers.  Depending on the size of the focus work and the student’s pace for reading, writing, and researching, students should assume an average of 4 hours per week outside of class.

Focus works include: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, selected works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  The Last of the Mohicans, the House of Seven Gables, Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The House of Mirth, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea.    Do not worry if your student has already read one or more of the books.  These are classics, so there is always more to get from further reading and study.

Course Objectives:

  • Have foundational knowledge of the history and development of American literature.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Gain experience in literary analysis of texts, and thoughtfully developing ideas for presentation in both writing and speaking.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
  • Demonstrate competence in the MLS style of source documentation.
  • Gain experience in organizing a volume of material and parsing it into daily tasks to accomplish goals on time independently.


Each paper will be analyzed and evaluated in the following seven areas:  Ideas and Concepts, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Mechanics, and Presentation. Class participation will be analyzed on Attendance, Preparedness, and Contribution. Course grade is based upon essays (55%), shorter assignments (30%) and class participation (15%).


Students need to have a minimum of 1-year prior experience researching material, analyzing literature, and writing essays and will be looking to further improve upon these skills while working independently.

Reading List:

  • Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
  • Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville 
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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