American Novels

Half Year Course – Fall; 90 minutes

Christmas party fun ...

The novels listed below are summer reading. That means the students will be aware of the basic plot and the characters in each work when school starts. The students will RE-READ each work as discussion begins looking for other elements of style, such as symbols, use of color, figurative language, etc. Students will read and respond to literary criticisms available through the library data bases. Computer access is a must for this course.

This class is a thinking class. It is not a lecture-based course. Students will be asked to make connections between works, to imitate style, to create projects reflecting the theme, to find critical essays, and to synthesize the novels to American culture. This is an advanced level class requiring an advanced level of maturity due to the mature nature in some of the works. This is an excellent preparatory class for college level literature classes. 

Grading: Students are graded on effort as much as ability. Since this is the first thinking course that some students have taken, I allow students to explore various avenues without the fear of failing. Effort is the key. I find it easy to tell when students have waited till the last minute and dashed off an assignment. I do not have a cache of knowledge that I expect students to memorize. Instead, they need to think. I do give a final essay exam that incorporates all the works studied.

Prerequisite(s): N/A

Text(s): Summer reading as well as course texts:
Students will need a copy for class activities (Please, no Kindle editions)

  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • The Chosen, Chaim Potok
  • Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
  • Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
  • Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

All of the novels should be read during the preceding summer for plot and characters. During the course, paper copies of each text will be required for class activities.

Required Materials: N/A

Additional Fee: $5 to offset the cost of consumables

Instructor: Cindy Herndon