• English 253 and 254: Survey of American Literature

    Hood River Valley High School and Columbia Gorge Community College

    (“College Now” Dual-Credit Course), Winter and Spring Terms 2014-15




    Chauna Ramsey (chauna.ramsey@hoodriver.k12.or.us; I also have a CGCC email, but I recommend using this one instead because I check it much more frequently.) Phone: (541) 386-4500.


    Required Texts


    I will provide handouts of most readings. Many of the readings will come from The Norton Anthology of American Literature Vol. 1, Beginning to 1865, “Shorter” 7th edition, but you don’t need to purchase the text. I will also be providing many, many handouts.


    Course Description


    This college-level literature course is designed to work in conjunction with the AP US History class offered at HRVHS. Students will read, discuss, research, and write about a variety of literature of the United States as well as academic criticism and literary theories interpreting the texts. Organization of the course is primarily chronological.


    English 253 introduces students to the literature of the land which is now the United States from before European contact through the mid-nineteenth century. English 254 introduces students to literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The course revolves around written manifestations of the various interests, preoccupations, and experiences of the peoples creating and recreating American culture.


    Course Prerequisites


    COMPASS test placement or instructor approval.


    Course Fees


    Students will pay a transcript fee of approximately $100 to Columbia Gorge Community College. Those who earn an A, B, or C will be granted eight college credits, fully transferrable to any Oregon State public college or university. (Private schools’ policies on transferring community-college credit vary.) Students will also need to purchase the textbook and assigned novels as well as having access to a working computer and printer.


    Intended Course Outcomes


    • Recognize and challenge world views and cultural assumptions of canonized and popular--as well as unpublished and less popular--American literatures.
    • Understand the roles which gender, race, age, class, ethnicity, wealth, poverty, and geography have played in creating, recreating, and interpreting American literatures.
    • Articulate the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of various literatures of America.
    • Relate literature to the historical, cultural, and rhetorical contexts in which it was written.
    • Address the connection between literature and ideology.
    • Identify and investigate aesthetic aspects of American literature, and consider the role of aesthetics in evaluating literature.
    • Write clear, focused, coherent essays about literature for an academic audience.
    • Identify strengths and limitations of various literary forms practiced in America, including those more familiar (such as novels, essays, short stories, poems, plays, criticism, etc.) and those less familiar (captivity narratives, slave narratives, diaries, letters, etc.).
    • Contribute to academic discussions of all aspects of literature and the examination and appreciation thereof.




    Attendance is vital to the successful completion of this course. In the event of an unavoidable absence, students are responsible for turning in any late work at the beginning of the period on the day after the day they return (absent day 1, present day 2, makeup work due day 3). They are also responsible for promptly making up missed work and checking for changes in the syllabus. Please understand that many parts of this class simply cannot be replicated or re-done. Lecture, discussion, group work, peer conferencing, and in-class activities are all things that simply cannot be made up. To be clear, poor attendance will adversely affect students’ grades whether or not the absences are excused, and students cannot earn college credit if they are absent more than seven times per semester. In addition, more than three absences in one semester—excused or not—will affect students’ grades. Please note that “tardies” will be considered absences when students are more than fifteen minutes late to class.


    Academic Honesty / Plagiarism Statement


    Students are expected to be honest and ethical in their academic work. Academic dishonesty includes cheating and plagiarism. To be clear, using someone else’s words without giving that person credit is plagiarism, but using someone’s ideas without giving credit is also plagiarism. All work submitted in this course is to be the students’ own, original work written in response to the assignments given in this class. Students may not “recycle” essays, even if they are their own work, from other classes or other years’ English work. Students may borrow words and ideas from others only when the assignment prompts them to do so and only as long as these quotations and paraphrases are fully documented in the student-written essays. (Near the end of the course we’ll talk about how to do that.) Presenting the ideas or writing of others as one’s own will result in academic sanctions that may include failing the class; institutional sanctions may include suspension or even expulsion. See the CGCC and HRV Student Handbooks for more information.


    Learning Activities and Major Assignments


    In this class we will read and discuss many pieces of literature, fiction and nonfiction, as well as plays, poems, literary criticism, and literary theory. Students will write essays both inside and outside of class, analyze professionally-written essays and fellow students’ essays, and meet with me outside of class for conferences. Students will have many in-class quizzes and exams as well. This is NOT a creative writing class; the writing done in this class will be academic and primarily analytical in nature.




    Students will participate in a wide variety of activities, both objective and subjective, such as discussions, reading journals, in-class essay exams, take-home essay exams, research papers, and speeches (both formal and informal). Most activities will be assessed on a point-based scale. Students will also be assessed on participation, which requires consistent attendance.


    Students who have 90 - 100 % of the points possible as well as having no more than three absences per semester and turning in all major assignments on time will earn an A; those with 80 - 89 % of the points possible OR those who have earned an A through points but not through meeting all requirements for an A will earn a B; students with 70 - 79% of the points will earn a C; etc. Please note: Students must earn an A, B, or C in order to be granted college credit. Please also note: Students who are absent from eight or more classes per semester (“excused” or not) cannot earn college credit.  




    Please bring to class every day . . .

    • a blue or black pen and a pencil
    • paper
    • a folder or three-ring binder for handouts
    • a highlighter (or two of different colors)
    • text(s) currently studied.


      ADA Statement


      CGCC is committed to providing support for students with disabilities. If you are a student with physical, learning, emotional, or psychological disabilities you are encouraged to stop by CGCC’s Student Services office (Lori Ufford, Disabilities Coordinator: 541 506-6025 or lufford@cgcc.cc.or.us).


      Some Final Thoughts . . .


      Attendance is vital in English classes. Students who are absent will not earn points for discussion, group work, or peer conferencing, whether or not the absences are excused. Students are expected to be courteous and respectful of each other, the learning environment, and the instructor. Students who are not able to demonstrate courtesy and respect will be asked to leave the class.


      Please also know that the literature we read, discuss, and write about will often touch upon controversial ideas. This is a college class, and it will be taught as such. Open-mindedness, tolerance, and respect for all perspectives—controversial and otherwise—will encourage the critical thinking necessary for success in college and beyond.


      Feel free to come and talk to me if you or your parents have questions or concerns regarding your progress, my expectations of you, or the class. Again, welcome to English 253/254. I look forward to getting to know all of you!


      Chauna Ramsey

      Teacher, Hood River Valley High School and

      Instructor, Columbia Gorge Community College

      Chronological Outline, Survey of American Literature

      Ramsey / 2014-15


      Note: This outline is subject to change.


      Week Beginning

      Dates Studied

      AP U.S. History Topic(s)

      Corresponding American Literature


      1491 - 1599


      • This American Idea: Essays from The Atlantic


      1600 - 1685


      • European history and philosophy, Humanism
      • Winthrop, "Modell of Christian Charity" (c. 1630)



      Cultures Meet

      • Captivity Narratives: Rowlandson, Sovereignty and Goodness of God* (1682)


      1600 - 1763

      English Colonies

      • Calvinism: Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741)


      1763 - 1774

      Imperial Breakdown

      • Epistemology: Rationalism and Empiricism, Descartes and Locke


      1775 - 1783


      • Paine, "Common Sense" (1776)
      • Jefferson, "Declaration of Independence" (1776)


      1776 - 1789

      First Republic

      • The American: Franklin, Autobiography* (1791)
      • Sentimentalism: Rowson, Charlotte Temple *(1791)


      1789 - 1800

      New Republic & Rise of Parties

      • Gothicism: Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly* (1799); Irving, "Rip Van Winkle" (1819)


      1800 - 1824

      Jeffersonian Republicanism

      • Captivity and Commodification: Jemison, Narrative of the Life* (1824)


      1824 - 1845

      Jacksonian Era

      • Slave Narratives: Douglass, Narrative of the Life* (1845); Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl *(1861)

      11/19 (school)

      1800 - 1860

      Slavery and the South

      • Transcendentalism: Emerson, "Self-Reliance" (1841);   Thoreau, Walden* (1854) and "Civil Disobedience" (1849)


      1815 - 1850

      Market Rev., Social Reforms

      • Romanticism: Poe, "Cask of Amontillado" (1846); Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter* (1850)


      1845 - 1861

      Westward Expansion

      • Poetry: Whitman, Leaves of Grass* (1855); Dickinson, various (1860s)


      1846 - 1861

      Politics of Sectionalism

      • Realism: Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin* (1852); Harding Davis, "Life in the Iron Mills" (1861)


      1861 - 1865

      Civil War

      • Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

      12/24 (school)

      1865 - 1877


      • Twain, The Mysterious Stranger


      1877 - 1900

      A New South

      • Naturalism: Bierce, "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (1890); Crane, "An Episode of War" (1864)


      1870 - 1900

      Industry, Immigrants, Cities

      • Melville, "Paradise of Bachelors" (1855); "Bartleby the Scrivener" (1853)


      1865 - 1890

      Transforming the West

      • "Rugged Individual": London, "To Build a Fire" (1908)

      1/28 (finals)





      1877 - 1900

      Politics and Government

      • Women's Voices: Chopin, "Story of an Hour" (1894); Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892)
      • Muckraking and Yellow Journalism: Hurst, Pulitzer, Tarbell (1895-98)


      1900 - 1917

      Progressive Era

      • African American Voices: Dunbar, "We Wear the Mask" (1896); Washington, Up From Slavery* (1901); DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk *(1903)


      1865 - 1917

      Creating an Empire

      • Capitalism Unchecked: Sinclair, The Jungle* (1905); Norris, The Octopus* (1901)
      • W. James, "The Moral Equivalent of War" (1910)


      1914 - 1920

      World War I

      • Modernist poetry: Pound, Stein, Eliot, Williams, Frost
      • Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)




      • Fitzgerald


      1929 - 1939

      Great Depression

      • Modernist fiction: Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath* (1939); Faulkner, "Barn Burning" (1939), Nobel Prize speech (1949)


      1939 - 1945

      World War II

      • Hemingway, Nick Adams Stories
      • African American Voices: Wright, "Ethics of Living Jim Crow" (1937); Hughes, "Harlem"; Baldwin, "Notes of a Native Son" (1955)

      3/25 (school)

      1946 - 1952

      Post War and Cold War

      • Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949)


      1953 - 1964

      Confident Years

      • Miller
      • Early Environmentalism: Carson, Silent Spring* (1962)


      1965 - 1980

      60s, Vietnam, Civil Rights

      • Civil Rights: King, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963); Malcolm X, interview with Les Crane; Hardwick, "Apotheosis of MLK" (1968)


      1981 - 1992

      Reagan Era

      • Feminism: Friedan, The Feminine Mystique* (1963); Rich, "Women and Honor" (1977); Steinem, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" (1969)




      • Milgram, "Perils of Obedience" (1974)




      • O'Brien, "On the Rainy River"




      • Postmodernism: Carver, "Cathedral" (1983)




      • Rodriguez, "Aria" (1980)




      • Alexie (TBA), Morrison (TBA), Vonnegut (TBA)




      • This American Idea: Essays from The Atlantic
      • American Exceptionalism?


      *selected excerpts


      Also . . .

      Active reading

      Elements of fiction

      Elements of poetry

      Elements of essay writing

      Logic and rhetoric

      Cumulative “roots”

      Cumulative conventions

      Literary criticism

      Literary analysis

      50-word assignments

      SARs (Summary, Analysis, Response)


      Standardized testing

      . . . and lots and lots of discussion.