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American and British Literature (Ybarra)

ENG 201/202

American and British Literature (Ybarra)

  • Course ID:ENG 201/202
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Richard Ybarra

Description and Objectives

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.


  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Various primary source documents related to the American Project
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • Homer’s Odyssey

Course Requirements

Students should expect daily reading assignments, weekly writing assignments and exams, and periodic evaluations of their reading notes and journal entries. In addition, students will be required to memorize and to recite key passages from the texts in both English and History.  Finally, each semester students will need to compose formal papers on a fitting topic.

The final grade each quarter will be based on excellence in the following endeavors:

  • Exams will test students’ knowledge of objective facts, memory, and his ability to think and write critically.  There will be comprehensive mid-semester and final examinations.
  • Periodically, students will be required to memorize passages from the texts. Memory, diction, and poise will be emphasized.
  • Students need to make reading notes in the margins of their texts and, when requested, in a notebook.  A regular check of reading notes may be graded for thoughtfulness and thoroughness.
  • Class participation is required whether it takes the form of effective insights or the asking of probing questions.  Comportment, attention to detail, and sustained improvement over time in the student’s work will also factor into class participation.  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.

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.