Upper-School American Literature
Term: Yearlong 2020–21, September 8–May 28
Target Grade Levels: Grades 9–10; 11th–12th graders welcome (see placement details below)
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Course Sections (choose one)
Section 1: T/Th 12:30 p.m. ET with Phaedra Shaltanis
Section 2: T/Th 3:30 p.m. ET with Phaedra Shaltanis
History/Literature Discount: Save $195 when you enroll in this course and the corresponding American Government course! The discount will be applied automatically to your shopping cart when you add both courses.
Ongoing Enrollment and Placement
- if the student falls outside of the stated age/grade range for the class.
- if the student needs to demonstrate a certain level of skill and proficiency for the course.
- if the student has completed prerequisite requirements somewhere other than Scholé Academy (e.g., at home or with another school). In this case, our instructors will need to verify that the student has adequately fulfilled the prerequisite requirements.
- if a placement assessment has been recommended by a Scholé Academy instructor.
- If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit.
- If a placement evaluation has been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted part of their $75 refund: $35 will be paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation, and the remaining $40 of the original deposit will be refunded.
Throughout this course, students will read, contemplate and discuss selections of American Literature written from 1741 to 1970. At a minimum, the course goal is threefold:
- to ponder American writing within its historical context and recognize societal influences on each author
- to analyze writings according to their structure, form and purpose, and practice synthesizing ideas in the written word using schemes and tropes
- to hone comparative, analytical/critical, and responsive thinking, writing, and questioning skills that bolster communications with others
Of equal importance is the underlying current of the course, which is to nurture a spirit of searching through the reading of powerful stories. The quest for understanding and the pursuit of wisdom have no end but will be fed throughout this course.
The readings begin with early American political and religious works and progress through the Revolutionary Era, the Civil War Era and Reconstruction, the Industrial and Progressive Eras to Imperialism and the Postwar Era. As students investigate the historical impact of political, social, and religious perspectives, they wil come to recognize effects on the writers of the time. They will develop the craft of asking questions following the form of Aristotle’s Five Common Topics of Invention; in doing so, they will engage with the text and their peers on a contemplative level. Students will be required to read all assigned texts (approximately 1 hour of reading per day) and write one major essay per book (comparison, narrative, expository, etc.). Additionally, students shall expect to periodically submit short (1-page) response papers, maintain a dialectical notebook, and complete other occasional assignments. Participation in Socratic dialogue is imperative as it serves to promote vigorous contemplation and reflection.
The writing portion of this course will focus on various types of academic essays including compare and contrast, critical analysis, expository, and persuasive. Students will follow a rubric for each piece of writing in order to develop strong templates for presenting thoughts in differing forms. As the communication of ideas is paramount in literature, selecting the most appropriate structure to convey such ideas is a valuable skill. Likewise, a writer’s personal style can powerfully impact the reception of the work, and as such, students and teacher will together explore and practice schemes and tropes such as anaphora, antithesis, epistrophe, polysyndeton and more. Experimenting with wordplay will enrich our study of American writers and lead students toward growth in eloquence. Students will be expected to emply proper grammar and mechanics of writing (including spelling, grammar, and structure) as they endeavor to stretch their writing abilties.
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.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
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.
Syllabus: View course syllabus here.
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 Reading List:*
- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Jonathan Edwards
- Common Sense, Thomas Paine
- Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
- The Scarlet Letter, Nathanael Hawthorne
- Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
- Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
- The Call of the Wild, Jack London
- Billy Budd, Herman Melville
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
- Notebook for annotations and dialectical exercises.
Note: Many of the readings are public domain and can be accessed on the internet. Hard copies, however, are preferred.
Optional Course Texts:
- The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
- On Writing Well, Zinsser
*Required texts are not included in the purchase of the course.
Phaedra Shaltanis is a seasoned classical educator with twenty years of experience teaching in the classical tradition. Her experience includes home-educating her four children, teaching in private schools, creating a classical curriculum for young learners, serving as a leader in various programs, and mentoring parents and teachers in classical education. Phaedra cherishes conversations built on God’s truth and strives to engage others through discourse, particularly in the areas of literature and history. She hopes to encourage her students toward a stronger ardor for language as they seek after God and treasure their membership in Christ’s kingdom. email@example.com
Computer: 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.
High-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.
Headset: 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
Zoom: 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. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.