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Course Description

This course aims to develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills through the study of American literature, composition, and the many questions posed by a text. As you read in this class, consider central questions: What makes good writing? What makes it last? How do we decide what becomes part of a canon – part of what gets recommended for curriculum reading lists throughout time? Why do some stories fail while others surpass an author’s expectations? How can you make your own stories and essays better? How do you convince an audience that they’ve got to read something – that it’s worth their time?

We will focus on critical analysis of individual readings by American authors. You are required to keep a timely reading response journal of assigned prompts that will include such things as graphic organizers and other formative activities. These prompts will challenge you to develop a deeper reading of the texts and explore both your personal and scholarly viewpoints. Other prompts require specific tasks which will aid in developing your writing skills. At all times, be prepared to discuss any reading or reading response in a full class or small group setting. Be prepared as well to constructively evaluate and discuss peer comments. Participation in discussion and class activities is one of the most important elements of this course.

Expect to engage in works from various literary genres as you analyze writers’ choices and learn to provide insights about the effects of rhetorical and literary features. Students will also examine thematic connections between works of literature while developing communication skills via argumentation, analysis, narrative writing, as well as through oral commentary and creative presentations. Students must complete all major projects and essays to receive an “A” in the class.

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