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American and British Literature (Myers)

ENG 201/202

American and British Literature (Myers)

  • Course ID:ENG 201/202
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:English
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Justin Myers

Description and Objectives

This course is part of the Sophomore Core class, which includes HIST 203/204.

This course is, in part, a philosophical study of the history of the American people and the United States of America by way of some of its most foundational literary and historical texts—from the discovery of the New World to the present moment.  This course seeks to cultivate (a) sober knowledge of causes in our historical past, with an emphasis on law and custom as well as on the powerful impact of individual human choice to effect greatly the future, (b) moral insight into the character of our nation through a balanced and loving admiration of our ancestors, particularly our founding fathers, and (c) a humane and responsive heart, one that learns of beauty from the great poets of America and the West, who teach and shape us, just as they taught and shaped those Americans who have gone before us.

The primary goals of this course

  1. Acquire comprehensive knowledge of major historical figures and events
  2. Learn to read more carefully and thoughtfully by examining major literary texts
  3. Become more proficient in the art of writing and speaking
  4. Develop a deeper understanding of formal logic and of law, two pillars of the liberal arts
  5. Acquire the ability to enter into lucid and mature dialectic with classmates and the teacher
  6. Come to better understand civic and social virtues through prudential analysis of primary and literary sources
  7. Improve in gratitude and understanding of what free society requires from its citizens and leaders.



The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Sir Thomas More by William Shakespeare et al.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

The Odyssey by Homer

Short Stories by Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, O. Henry, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, etc.

Verse by Phyllis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, etc.

Course Requirements

Daily Readings:    Readings from the great works of literature will be assigned almost daily.  These readings will be accompanied by either quizzes, writing assignments, or class discussions.

Quizzes:  Frequent short quizzes will be given which will require an understanding of the texts and a deeper literary analysis.  Most, but not all, of the quizzes will be announced.

Class Discussions: Often we will discuss the literary works as a class.  Each student will be graded on these discussions with a consideration of general understanding, effective insights, and sustained improvement through the year.  The teacher will keep an account of how well students are participating, and students can approach the teacher at any time to ask about how well they are performing in this respect.

Writing Assignments:  Because proficiency in writing is a major objective of the course, writing assignments of various types will be given, on an approximate weekly basis.  The teacher will assign papers in literary analysis, journalistic articles, persuasive essays, and creative writing.  In class, we will thoroughly discuss the tools and techniques necessary to become a proficient writer.  Students will be compelled to rewrite their papers until they are satisfactory.

Recitations: Each quarter every student will memorize and recite, in class, at least one poem or prose selection from one of the literary works we are reading.  Students will be graded on memorization and delivery.

Tests:  Each quarter there will be two major tests on the novels, short stories, and poems we have read.  These tests will always be announced and will be mostly essay format.

Successful Students

  • The successful student must maintain daily reading and writing schedules and avoid waiting for deadlines to complete work.  Reading and writing, which is spaced out over a proper amount of time, allows for adequate reflection, sharper memory, and more advanced writing instruction that is relieved of the burden of discussing simple, preventable errors.
  • The successful student proofreads his work before submitting to his teacher.
  • Successful students will consult with the instructor frequently to discuss the texts, as well as rough drafts of their own work. I am available outside of class and will make myself available for extra help whenever an appointment is needed.  I encourage parents to contact me with any questions or concerns either by email or phone.
  • At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will have a solid grasp of the literary and historical antecedents for our own modern era.  He will also be able to form, speak, and write his thoughts more clearly.