Through the course of the school year, students will engage in reading, writing activities, and assessments that are based on their understanding of concepts, through summary, identification, and analysis. These skills are traced through the California Common Core State Standards, progress toward High School Graduation Requirements, and college readiness. This course enables students to understand that American literature reflects social, political, and moral issues in the United States. In addition, students develop proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening; in expressing their ideas on significant problems of American life; in studying the techniques used by writers and national leaders in describing the American scene of both the past and the present; in understanding how various effects are achieved by writers' linguistic and rhetorical choices; and in identifying and explaining an author's use of rhetorical strategies and techniques.
The textbook used for this course will be MyPerspectives American Literature. Students will explore readings and activities that are both challenging and meaningful. Students will encounter biographical letters, speeches, essays, poetry, short stories, articles, memoirs, podcasts, and other media. The curriculum is designed for whole class, small group, and independent learning. Selected readings and activities will be determined at the teacher's discretion. Readings for the course are detailed in the curriculum information below.
Highlights of Unit 1: Writing Freedom: Words That Shaped a Nation
Essential Question: What is the meaning of freedom?
Readings: “Declaration of Independence” Thomas Jefferson, “Preamble to the Constitution” Gouverneur Morris, “Bill of Rights” James Madison, “Speech in the Convention” Benjamin Franklin, and “The American Revolution: Visual Propaganda”
Possible Additional Readings: Excerpts from "America’s Constitution: A Biography" by Akhil Reed Amar, "from The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation" by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, "from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano" by Olaudah Equiano, “Letter to John Adams” by Abigail Adams, "from Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters" by Diane Jacobs, and “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln.
Highlights of Unit 2: The Individual and Society
Essential Question: What role does individualism play in American society?
Readings: The Writing of Walt Whitman (essays and poetry), The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, and from BBC Radio 4 “Emily Dickinson (Great Lives)" (media and radio broadcast).
Possible Additional Readings: Philosophical Writings from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S Eliot, and "A Wagner Matinée" by Willa Cather.
Highlights of Unit 3: Power, Protest, and Change
Essential Question: In what ways does the struggle for freedom change with history?
Readings: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass and “Second Inaugural Address” by Abraham Lincoln. Possible Additional Readings:
“Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth, “Declaration of Sentiments” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Giving Women the Vote” by Sandra Sleight-Brennan, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, “Brown v. Board of Education: Opinion of the Court” by Earl Warren, and “Was 'Brown v. Board' a Failure?” by Sarah Garland.
Highlights of Unit 4: Grit and Grandeur
Essential Question: What is the relationship between literature and place?
Readings: Excerpts from "Life on the Mississippi" and “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain, and "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett.
Possible Additional Readings:
“A Literature of Place” by Barry Lopez , excerpt from Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston, The Poetry of Carl Sandburg, “In the Longhouse, Oneida Museum" by Roberta Hill, "Cloudy Day" by Jimmy Santiago Baca, and “Introduction” from The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday.
Highlights of Unit 5: Facing Our Fears
Essential Question: How do we respond when challenged by fear?
Readings: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Possible Additional Readings:
Excerpt from Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, “Interview With George Takei” by Archive of American Television, and “Antojos” by Julia Alvarez.
Highlights of Unit 6: Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Tales
Essential Question: What do stories reveal about the human condition?
Readings: “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, “Everything Stuck to Him” by Raymond Carver, and "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich.
Possible Additional Readings: “A Brief History of the Short Story” by D. F. McCourt, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, and “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter.
Disclaimer: While most readings will come from the MyPerspectives American Literature textbook, additional readings may be used. This may include Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, J.D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.