English 340

ENGL 340
American Literary History

Catalog Entry

ENGL 340. American Literary History
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: CORE 101 and CORE 102.

The course traces American literary history from the colonial period to the present. Focusing on significant literary works and authors, it examines the literary genres, periods, and traditions that shaped a national literature in America since its beginnings as European colonies.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course provides English majors with a solid foundation in the development of American literature. To this end, students will read a wide range of representative primary literary texts. They may also read historical, biographical, and cultural sources to clarify the forces that helped shape individual texts, writers, genres, and literary periods. Hence, students will examine a range of authors, genres, and traditions that emerged and developed in America since the colonial period.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

ENGL 340 uses a wide variety of instructional strategies which may include any number of the following: lecture; discussion; Powerpoint or web-enhanced instruction; collaborative group work; individual or group student reports to elucidate primary texts or pertinent historical, biographical and cultural contexts; individual or group student creative presentations on course material; informal writing activities such as in-class focused writing exercises, readers' logs, journals or discussion questions; audio-visual resources on literary works, authors, and pertinent contexts; library instructional workshops to reinforce students' information literacy and knowledge of resources available; peer writing groups on drafts of essays; individual or group conferences with the instructor on drafts of essays.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The fundamental goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of the origin and development of the American literary, thereby building a solid foundation for more advanced, more intensive, more in-depth study of specific literary periods, particular individual authors, and significant literary. To that end, students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • identify and discuss representative works and authors in American literature;
  • identify and discuss significant developments, trends and movements in American literature;
  • identify and discuss the interrelationships between literary works and between authors, in particular the influence of literary works or authors on subsequent works and authors;
  • identify and discuss some of the central thematic and aesthetic concerns of American literary history, with particular attention to literary periods and the development of literary genres;
  • identify and discuss some of the stylistic qualities of the literary works examined in the course;
  • identify and use a number of literary critical strategies in analyzing literary works;
  • explain how an awareness of literary history affects the understanding and interpretation of a literary work;
  • place literary works and authors in their precise historical and cultural contexts;
  • explain the relationship between a particular text and its historical and literary contexts;
  • access electronic and printed sources pertinent to the study of the works and authors examined in the course.


Assessment Measures

ENGL 340 uses a variety of assessment measures, which may include a number of the following:

  • informal writing activities such as readers' logs, journals, and discussion questions;
  • in-class student oral presentations and recitations;
  • reading quizzes and examinations on the assigned readings;
  • in-class or take-home essay examinations on the assigned readings;
  • researched or non-researched essays on the literary works and authors examined in the course;
  • research project and/or final essay focused on a single work or several works examined in the course;
  • short critical essays examining individual literary works within an historical, biographical, cultural or literary context;
  • short critical essays using specific literary strategies to analyze a literary work;
  • short critical essays to analyze the formal qualities of particular literary works;
  • short imaginative/creative pieces that imitate a literary work or style or that extend or revise the point of view of a literary work.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009