Course ID EES86X8
Department English
Subject Core English
Can you take this course more than once? No
Periods per Day 1.0
Special Permission Yes
  • All of the following are true:
  • Fulfills the following graduation requirements
      Also in the following groups
      Syllabus No Syllabus Found


      This course is about reading and writing. We read literature because we love stories and characters and images and words, words, words, and how these all reveal the experience of being human and make us “tremble with aliveness.” 

      We love writing because we get to enter into the literary conversation and try to move our own readers, to make them feel and think and understand, and to appreciate things that are meaningful and things that are true.

      Contemporaries and Classics ranges over the American Literary canon, including titles from the famous to the recent to the obscure. The reading list changes every year; books are chosen with an eye toward relevance, dynamism, beauty, and diversity. The class demands complete investment in every word we read, and write. The writing assignments are meant to improve the students’ analytical rigor, as well as to develop their individual voices, perspectives and styles. If the students end the year with portfolios of work they are intensely proud of, then they have succeeded in this class.

      Along the way, we will explore what makes American Literature… American. How can the reading help us figure out what America means, what America is or should be, and how we can understand contemporary America? It is possible that literature provides the best window for addressing these questions, and the responses it suggests might turn out to be both reassuring and provocative. Recent readings have included plays by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams; novels by Harper Lee and Dorothy West; poetry by Walt Whitman; and non-fiction by Jon Krakauer. Students may be asked to purchase texts that are not currently owned by the English Department.

      As a final aside, this course does not utilize turnitin.com (it simply shouldn’t have to); it often does not put letter grades on essays (personal writing is evaluated, but the grade shouldn’t be the chief concern); and it is devoted to higher verities than the transcript mill Stuyvesant sometimes feel like (in other words, English class shouldn’t always feel like school). 

      Guiding questions: