Course ID EES86XB
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


      American Places and Perspectives is a two-semester American literature course.  Using geography as its central lens, the class focuses on the places occupied by American texts, American writers, and American readers. This geographical lens includes both physical and human geography. 

      A major goal of the course is to explore the ways in which American literature has shaped and reflected American identity, keeping in mind that while there may be assumed values and traits associated with the United States of America (and her inhabitants), this “teeming “nation of nations” (Whitman) does not allow for easy compartmentalization or a narrowly defined American frame-of-mind.

      Students can expect a variety of writing assignments which represent the four rhetorical modes of discourse:  narration, description, exposition, and argumentation.  As is fitting a course which culminates with the AP Language and Composition exam, there will be an emphasis on rhetorical analysis.

      Some of the big questions we will address in this class include:

      • What does it mean to be an American?
      • What various types of places--both concrete and abstract--do we occupy?
      • What distinguishes American literature from other works in the Western canon?
      • What role has literature played in defining the American dream?
      • What influence does time and place have on our lives and how we read and understand a text?
      • How has American democracy shaped American literature?
      • What major historical events have shaped the American cultural landscape?
      • How have shifts in the American cultural landscape been represented in American literature?
      • What is American literature’s relationship to America’s history of protest?

      Course Texts Include:

      Moby Dick, Herman Melville

      The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

      Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

      As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

      Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

      The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

      The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

      Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

      The short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, and John Cheever

      Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau

      The poetry of Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath.