American Masterpieces 321 (3 credits) Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
Fall Semester, 2005 MC 446
MWF 1:10 – 2 p.m. MRC 570 firstname.lastname@example.org
Course Description: This course is a survey of American “masterpieces” in Young Adult literature from the mid-1800s to the present. The course is organized according to themes often seen in literature for adolescents. The focus of the class will be on determining (1) defining American literature, and (2) defining “masterpieces.” We shall apply those definitions through close readings of the literature.
Required Texts: See course syllabus. Required reading assignments are in bold type. All texts are available in the campus bookstore. You may also find most of the books in neighborhood libraries.
· Read all of the assigned books and participate in class discussions
· Attend class (See grading policy)
· Write weekly responses to journal prompts. The journals will be collected every few weeks.
· Complete a class project. (Optional: Present to the class your class project. Click here for individual project ideas.)
· Participate in a group project. (Optional: Present to the class your project.)
· Thinking—Students engage in the critical and creative thinking
· Life Values—Students respond to ethical issues
· Communication—Students communicate effectively orally and in writing
· Aesthetic Sensitivity—Students engage in artistic experiences and reflect critically upon them
· Cultural Sensitivity—Students demonstrate a respect for the diversity of the human experience
· Community Involvement—Students demonstrate responsible citizenship
Intended Learning Outcomes:
· Thinking—The students will engage in critical thinking whey they explicate or “close read” literary texts; when they identify formal elements such as point of view, literary language, symbolism, imagery; when they consider texts and authors in relation to historical, cultural, ideological, and theoretical contexts; when they compare what they are reading with what they have read previously; when they relate what they are reading to the wider world and to universal issues of human life. Click here for the Viterbo Critical Thinking Home Page.
· Communication—The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their interpretations, insights, analyses, and evaluations of the assigned literature. Click here for the English Department’s Home Page on Writing a Critical Analysis of Literature . Aesthetic—The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of the elements of a “masterpiece” of young adult literature. The students will evaluate the lasting quality of literature from the formal and contextual elements embedded in the literature.
Ethics—The students will articulate in class and in assigned
writing assignments their responses to the ethical questions and dilemmas posed
in the assigned reading. The students
will not plagiarize. Click here
· Cultural Sensitivity—The students will read various texts by diverse authors. The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of life values represented in different texts in relation to their own. Individual projects are designed to give the students an opportunity to move outside of their own culture and to study and interact with a new culture. Click here for the university’s statement on sexual harassment.
· The students will be graded on attendance and classroom participation (100 points). Any student who has fewer than four unexcused absences will receive an A (95 points) for attendance and participation. Any student who has four to six absences will be penalized one letter grade. Any student who accrues six to eight absences will be penalized two letter grades. Any student who accrues more than eight absences will be asked to withdraw from the class. Click here for the university definitions of an excused and unexcused absence.
· Individual project (200 points). Click here for group project ideas and grading rubric.
· The students will complete a weekly journal (300 points). Some of the journal entries will be short internet searches, some will be reading response entries, some will be responses to book talks, and some will be responses to literary criticisms. Click here for a rubric for the critical analysis.
Week One: August 29: Masterpiece? American? Young Adult?
What is a masterpiece in young adult literature?
Click here for the criteria for judging the Newbery Award winners. Click here for the criteria for judging the Printz Award winners. Click here for the criteria for judging the Coretta Scott King Award winners.
Week Two: September 7: American Dream
Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger
The E-text of Ragged Dick can be found at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/AlgRagg.html
Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs
for discussion questions on Ragged Dick
Click here for an excellent web site on Horatio Alger
Click here for the Horatio Alger Society web page
Click here for an excellent web site on Louisa May Alcott
Click here for a Teacher's Resource Guide on Louisa May Alcott
Click here for an essay on Marmee
Click here for a description of the "Cult of True Womanhood"
Click here for overview of Women in the 19th Century
Journal Assignment: Click here for the Journal Assignment due September 16.
September 8: Book
Talk on Godless and The Bronze Bow at
Weeks Three and Four: September 12, 19, Search for Identity
Huck Finn by Samuel Clemens
What does this American classic mean to us today, the fourth year of the 21st century? What American issues are raised in the book? How do gender and race affect our reading of the Twain’s book?
here for Notes
of why Huck Finn is a classic.
Criticisms on reserve in the library: "Mr. Eliot, Mr. Trilling, and Huckleberry Finn" by Leo Marx; "Morality and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Julius Lester; “Come Back to the Raft Ag’n, Huck Honey,” by Leslie Fiedler, and "Reading Gender in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Myra Jehlen.
Click here for “Censorship and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain”
Click here for an outline on "Realism in American Literature"
“The Body” by Stephen King
Click here for class notes on "The Body"
Click here for the official web site for Stephen King
Click here to read King’s speech at the 2003 National Book Awards
Click here for a web site on current events in the 1960s
Journal Assignment: Read one of the criticisms on reserve in the library on Huck Finn. Write a one-page summary of the major points of the criticism. Due September 23. Optional Journal Assignment: Read carefully the class notes on “The Body” and King’s speech at the National Book Awards. Write a two-page response to (1) “The Body” or (2) King’s address.
Week Five and Six: September 26, October 3, Family: Romance versus Realism
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Click here for an overview of American Romanticism
here for the
Click here for a unit plan on Caddie Woodlawn
The Canning Season by Polly Horvath
Click here for Horvath's Home Page
Click here for discussion questions on The Canning Season
Click here for an outline on American realism
Click here for a timeline of literary movements in American Literature
Week Seven and Eight: October 10, 17, Race: How Much Do I Know about Race?
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Click here for an essay by Myers on Monster and reading
October 13: Group Book discussion of Tommysaurus Rex and xxxHOLiC Vol. 4 at Sparta Middle School Library, 7 p.m.
Journal Assignment: Choose one of the following
options: (1) Review the lesson plans on Sounder at http://www.webenglishteacher.com/armstrong.html
or at http://www.nashville.k12.tn.us/CyberGuides/sounder/teachertemplate.html. Write a one-page criticism of the strengths
of one of the lesson plans. (2) Write a one-page
response to one of the Monster discussion
questions. The journal entry is due
October 17. (3) Read the two books for
the Group Book and attend the book discussion at
Weeks Nine and Ten: October 24, 31, Problem Novel—What is Appropriate for an Adolescent?
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Click here for
Click here for a lesson plan on Speak and discussion questions for Speak
Click here for Sorensen’s home page
Click here for “Learning to Be Little Women and Little Men” essay
Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
Weeks Eleven and Twelve: November 7, 14, Religion—What Do I Believe?
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Godless by Pete Hautman
Click here for discussion questions on The Bronze Bow
Click here for discussion questions on Godless
Telephone interview with Pete Hautman
Journal Assignment: Choose one of the discussion questions for The Bronze Bow or Godless and write a two-page response to the question. Journal is due October 31.
November 3: Book Group discussion, Hitler Youth and The Story of Mankind at Bangor Middle School Library, 7 p.m.
November 17: Book Group
discussion Harlem Stomp at
Weeks Thirteen and Fourteen: November 21 Fantasy: What Do We Learn from Fantasy Fiction?
Thanksgiving break – November 23-25
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Click here for Feed discussion questions
Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen: Poetry: The Phenomenon of the Verse Novel
Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
Read Smith’s essay on the Verse Novel
Click here for Jim Carlson’s final exam questions
Week Seventeen: Final Exam: Summarizing the Semester
True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Click here for discussion questions on True Believer
Click here for Final Exam Questions:
· Click here for a link to Young Adult Library Association
· Click here for a link to the Newbery Award Home Page
· Click here for a link to the Coretta Scott King Award Home Page
· Click herefor a link to the American Library Association Home Page
· Click here for the Young Adult Literature Home Page with many links
· Click here for the National Book Award Home Page
· Click here for the Printz Award
· Click here for the official web site for the National Council of Teachers of English
· Click here for the English Teacher's Web Page
· Click here for the CCBC
· Click here for a list of the criticisms on reserve in the library.
· Click here for the university definition of plagiarism.
· Click here for the university definition of sexual harassment.
If you are a
person with a disability and require any auxiliary aids, services or other accommodations
for this class, please see Wayne Wojciechowski in Murphy Center room 320
(796-3085) within ten days to discuss your accommodation needs. If there
other accommodations that need to be made for you to succeed in the class,
please indicate those needs to the instructor. Click here
for a link to the