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American Literature

Students will read a selection of classic American novels, short stories, poetry, and essays throughout the year, writing a number of response papers and essays each quarter. In addition, as a final project, each student will create and present to the class an overview of American literature, highlighting how American writing has developed over the past two-plus centuries and how it has reflected the changing view of our culture.

Organized chronologically, the reading selections each quarter will follow the development and growth of the United States as a country and as a source of literature. Our discussions as a class will incorporate the Common Topics of Invention to explore each work of literature on its own as well as its place in the growth of the American literary voice.

Although we will be examining these works in light of American historical development, as with any reading, we will also simply be listening to the authors, asking questions of them and their works, and seeking truth, goodness, and beauty where they can be found.
As a nation, the United States is fairly young and, therefore, does not have a lengthy literary history. Even so, selecting – and, by default, excluding – works from our reading list will mean we do not cover a great deal of beautiful, praiseworthy writing. My hope, as an instructor, is that the works we do read will cause you to think, to wonder, and to wrestle with your understanding of what it means to live and walk beside your neighbor in this world God has created. And maybe, if we do this well, you will end the course with a hunger to drink more broadly and deeply and the vast well of American literature (and beyond).

While this course primarily features literary study, it also incorporates some study from American history, helping students to see and enjoy the integration of both history and literature. This class is paired with our upper-school American Government course, which is scheduled back-to-back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone literature study.

The target grades for this course are 9th–10th grade. Students must have successfully completed an 8th-grade-level writing course; they will be expected to have competency in vocabulary, annotation, essay-writing (various forms of written discourse) and know how to write a summary and reflect on a text (though the instructor will work to develop these skills throughout the course). Students are expected to have strong reading and writing skills as well as the interest and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students suited for this course will continue refining the following scholarship skills as they approach mastery:

  • Actively and independently engage in note-taking
  • Apply teacher critiques
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Be responsible for class and project preparedness
  • Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension

High School Credit: This course is the equivalent of one high school credit in English or literature.

**How much time will students spend on homework? **
This varies by student according to his or her pace. However, the average reader can expect to spend approximately 1.5–2 hours per week reading course materials, and approximately half an hour to an hour working on the questions. Students will submit regular weekly assignments. Midterm and final exams will be given.

**How is faith integrated with these courses? **
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.

At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7-12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. … Read more about our Faith & Culture.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • King James Bible
  • The Scarlett Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Vols I-II (Please purchase the 2014 editions, available through Amazon or Dover Books)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (pdf provided)
  • Bartelby the Scrivener, Herman Melville (pdf provided)
  • Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Any edition of the novels above is acceptable. Please purchase the 2014 editions of the Dover Anthologies, available through Amazon or Dover Books.

** Optional Course Texts:**

  • Writing assignments will be submitted using basic MLA formatting guides. Guidelines for formatting papers and citing sources can be found in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or on the MLA website.
  • Students may also find The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, to be a helpful resource

Chris Marchand (pronounced mar-shan) is a music pastor and priest within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), serving in Peoria, Illinois. He holds a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Music Ministry from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, and was trained as a hospital chaplain in a residency program at Saint Francis Hospital. A former headmaster and teacher at Aletheia Classical Christian School, he has taught humanities, history, science, and government courses. He is married to Elisa and they have four children. The author of Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas: a guide for churches and families, he also produces podcasts, composes music, and loves to discuss anything related the arts and his favorite sport tennis.

Quarter 1

  1. Selections from the King James Bible
  2. Puritan writings – Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Mather
  3. Author focus:  Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter and selected short stories
  4. Revolutionary writings – Phylis Wheatley 
  5. Romantic writers: Emerson and Thoreau

Quarter 2

  1. _Author focus: _Early American Autobiographies: Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass
  2. Poetry – Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow
  3. Short Stories – W. Irving, Poe, Melville, Bierce, Crane, Alcott
  4. Author focus: Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn selected short stories and non-fiction

Quarter 3

  1. Short Stories –O. Henry, Harte, London, Faulkner, Cather, Glaspell
  2. Author focus: Fitzgerald v Wharton – The Great Gatsby and The House of Mirth (the American “novel of manners” and the changing culture)
  3. Poetry – Frost, Sandburg, Pound, Eliot, W. Stevens, W. C. Williams

Quarter 4

  1. Speaking of race – Chesnutt, Hughes, To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Speaking of women – O’Connor, Morrison, Jackson
  3. Contemporary American writers and poets—Berry, Silko, Lahiri
  4. Speaking of the future – Fahrenheit 451

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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