American Literature, Writing I (not offered in 2019-20)

Taught by  Chris Westrate

Taught by Chris Westrate

  • two main objectives: develop critical literacy and thoughtful written expression

  • read the literature of the United States thematically from Puritans to Postmoderns

  • begin to master the various writing genres, practice throughout the year

  • hone paragraphing, syntax and diction

  • Pre-requisite for new Literature students: Last Leaf Essay (click button below to download PDF)

Course Description

American Literature, Writing I is a reading and writing course for 9th and 10th graders which develops critical literacy and thoughtful written expression.

The reading component is a thematic study of some of the greatest works of American literature. We read poetry, short stories, and novels, along with some of our country’s founding documents and greatest speeches. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Arthur Miller are among the great authors we study together. American heritage and identity are emphasized as the tutor asks students to wrestle with our national past and how that past affects and speaks to our present American culture.

Students write a typed essay or creative piece approximately every three weeks. These pieces cover a range of written expression: reflection, exposition, persuasion, literary analysis, narrative, poetry, etc. While encouraging academic thinking, these assignments sharpen writing skills and enable students to mature as communicators. Students participate in writing exercises which hone diction, syntax, paragraphing, outlining, grammar mechanics, etc. One significant emphasis of this course is learning how to produce a process term paper which includes research, source selection, thesis development, strategies for structure, citations, and a works cited page.

Book List

  • Unit on American Origins, Founding Documents, and Great Speeches:

  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller

  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  • Autobiography of Frederick Douglass

  • Readings: MLK, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes (“Dream Deferred”)

  • “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather

  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Stories from Flannery O’Conner

  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck