American Masterpieces 321 (3 credits)                Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.

Fall Semester, 2005                                                 MC 446

MWF 1:10 – 2 p.m. MRC 570                                 gtsmith@viterbo.edu

                                                                                    796-3485

 

 

 

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.

           

Course Requirements:

 

·        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.)

or

·        Participate in a group project.  (Optional:  Present to the class your project.)

 

Core Abilities:

 

·        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 for the Viterbo University plagiarism statement.

·        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.

 

 

 

Grading Policy

 

·         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?

 

Introduction:  What is young adult literature?  Click here for "What is Young Adult Literature?"  Click here for a list of "Lifetime developmental tasks that confront adolescents"

What is a masterpiece in young adult literature?

What is American literature? Click here for an outline to “What makes our literature ‘American?’”  Click here for outline to "Cultural Paradoxes"

 

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

Click here 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 West Salem Middle School Library, 7 p.m.

 

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?

Click 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 a list of appropriate works for high school students about slavery.
Click here for a web site from the National Endowment of the Humanities on 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 notes on the family.  Click here for Madonna of the Prairie  Click here for American Progress

Click here for an overview of American Romanticism

Click here for the Caddie Woodlawn Historical Park

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

Click here for a web site on Walter Dean Myers
Click here for some discussion questions on Monster
Click here for an essay by Chris Booker, "The State of Black Male America: 1998"

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 Sparta Middle School.  Write a one-page response to your experience.

 

 

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 Anderson's home page

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 Bangor Middle School, TBA

 

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:

Helpful Links:

·         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 Learning Center.