American Literature, Writing II

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

American Literature, Writing II is a reading and writing course for 11th and 12th 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. Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Wharton, Hemingway, O'Connor, Potok, and Salinger 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

Innocence and Experience (with props to Blake and Bono): 

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot (handout, but for those who want the annotated edition…)

American Short Stories: 

Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Hawthorne’s Short Fiction

The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor 

The Yeasayers and the Naysayers: 

“Nature” and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman (handout)

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Modern Literature

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller 

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok


The Last Leaf

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