EE 51 English Eleven 

Fall 2019

Room 202
Office Hours: 2:15-3:30
(443) 608-8068

I. Course Objectives

  • To convey to students a familiarity with and interest in the field of American literature.   
  • To encourage students to consider the ways in which literature brings a unique perspective to the study of history, and conversely, how literary texts are products of distinct historical periods.
  • To give students an awareness of and appreciation for the experiences of earlier Americans.  
  • To teach and reinforce basic reading and writing skills.
  • To emphasize grammar skills and vocabulary-building through the reading and writing process.
  • To provide a classroom environment in which students may test their ideas against those of their classmates through informal discussion and traditional public speaking.
  • To assist students with the process of analyzing a text from multiple perspectives, grasping a writer’s main idea, and defending a thesis using persuasive evidence.
  • To help students develop a sense of the responsibilities of citizenship. 
  • To make students aware of the vast diversity of voices that compose the American past.
  • To aid students in the discovery of a personal voice and a personal connection to the American tradition.
  • To allow students to utilize various multimedia for research, writing projects and presentations.

II. Major Texts

  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin 
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McRaney
  • Grammar for Writing Sadlier-Oxford
  • Vocabulary Workshop H by Jerome Shostak

In addition to the books listed above, xeroxed materials are distributed as required reading. These include scholarly articles, documents, poems, selections from longer works, and short stories. 

III. Scope and Sequence

This course is framed in intellectual history and initiates the study of the American experience with background review of key moments in the history of ideas. The courses primary themes will be first explored in Shakespeare's The Tempest. From this starting point, the course proceeds chronologically, examining the political, social, and cultural attitudes, events and developments within the intellectual movements of the Enlightenment, Neoclassicism, Transcendentalism, Realism, Modernism, and Post-Modernism, and traces the evolution of contemporary issues which grew out of these sources.

The course is designed to engage students in the process of formulating hypotheses out of their reading of documentary materials, and testing those hypotheses in classroom discussions, formal debates, analytical essays, stylistic writing imitations, and oral and written testing. American literary works are studied for both form and theme, and attention is given to the ways in which these two literary elements are fused to build an organic whole. Consideration is also given to the ways American literature reflects, in both theme and form, the world view of a specific time period, as well as the ways in which literature helps to shape social, political and philosophical movements at various times in history.

Throughout the course of the year, the teacher will try to return to several “touchstone” questions, whose purpose is to provide students with familiar points of reference, and to point toward an understanding of the elusive character of American identity. Examples of those questions include:

  • In what ways has the American experience been unique in world history?
  • How have we met the challenge of framing an Enlightened government?
  • What is the meaning of American democracy?
  • To what extent do our nation’s liberal ideals square with the real injustices of our past?
  • How has the relationship between capitalists and workers weathered the strains of industrial transformation?
  • What is the relationship in American society between authority and liberty?
  • To what extent has America exercised a moral as well as economic and military influence on the events of the twentieth century? 

V. Methods of Instruction

  • Classroom discussion
  •  Lecture
  • Small group work
  • Team Projects
  • Video
  • Peer review of paper drafts/Gilman Writing Center
  •  Library research projects
  • Reading guides and supplements
  • Close reading in class
  • One-on-one tutorials (I am available during 5th period every day in the classroom.)
  • Field trips

VI. Methods of Evaluation

  • Content Quizzes
  • Short essays (analytical and creative)
  • Stylistic imitations
  • Journals
  • “Reflection” writing assignments
  • Team Research projects
  • Classroom presentations/Formal debates
  • Homework/Daily preparation

VII. Sensitive Language in Texts and Discussion

  • With regard to any sensitive language we may encounter in the texts we read together in this course, we will practice a policy in keeping with John Stuart Mill’s understanding of liberty.  Mill states in his essay “On Liberty” that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”  In other words, we all have the right to swing our arms, but someone else can tell us to stop doing so out of concern for the safety of someone else. Therefore, out of concern for others, we will refrain from reading out loud any slur or other language infused with dehumanizing intent. 
  • In my classroom, I seek to create a culture where all students can think for themselves and voice their ideas while feeling safe.  My intention in placing boundaries on the sorts of words we speak aloud in our classroom is rooted in my concern for each of my students’ wellbeing.  That said, we should, when appropriate, take advantage of the unique opportunity an English classroom provides as a space to engage language and build understanding about a word’s various impacts and nuances.