Middle- / Upper-School American Literature Reading Club (Summer Course)
Term: Summer 2019, June 3–August 23
Target Grade Levels: 9–12; advanced rising 8th graders welcome
Schedule: 1x / week, 60 min.
Section 1: Tues. 11:00 a.m. ET with Mrs. Gerard
Does your high school student love to read and discuss books? This course is designed to serve as a supplemental course to allow students the opportunity to read and discuss a curated list of great American literature over the summer.
The United States is a diverse nation, and the literature produced in our country reflects this rich history. Including authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Zora Neale Hurston, and Flannery O’Conner, we will sample the writings of authors from a diverse set of backgrounds and time periods in order to more deeply understand and appreciate the tapestry of experiences that define what it means to be an American.
There are many books that one could choose to study when examining American literature. Seminal works such as The Jungle, Moby Dick, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, could be included in such a list. However, the focus of this course in American literature is to highlight important works of literature by authors from diverse backgrounds that chronicle the experiences of different types of Americans. Our first selection, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), chronicles the experience of slaves in the United States, and was deeply influential in the 19th century abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War. Our second selection, My Antonia (1918), chronicles the life of a Western pioneer woman who is an immigrant from (what was then) Bohemia. The third selection, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), is written in Southern vernacular and chronicles the life of a black southern woman in the early 1900s. The fourth selection Not Without Laughter chronicles the life of an African American boy in Kansas and provides an account of life in the midwest in the early 20th century. Our fifth selection, The Grapes of Wrath (1962), chronicles the lives of migrant workers during The Great Depression. Our final selection, The Complete Short Stories (1971) Flannery O’Connor provides a unique perspective on Americanism though a series of short stories that serve as vignettes of the American experience. In reading these works, the ultimate purpose of this course is to examine the American experience from different lenses.
Course Syllabus: Click here to view the course syllabus.
Note to Parents: In examining the rich tapestry of American experiences, some of the novels will contain mature themes such as slavery, racism, and abuse. These topics will be covered with sensitivity. Human sinfulness is pervasive and affects every aspect of American life – I believe that to pretend it does not exist and sanitize the canon of great American literature does a disservice to our students in their growth and development as young adults. As Christians, I believe it is our call to interact with culture and examine ways in which we can work to redeem this broken creation. I have attempted to note any potentially objectionable content in the Further Description/ Notes segment of the syllabus so that parents and students can discuss and engage with these topics together, and so that it does not come as a surprise to anyone during the course.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- My Antonia, by Willa Cather
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
- Not Without Laughter, by Langstan Hughes
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
- The Complete Short Stories, by Flannery O’Conner
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Emily Gerard is a graduate of Gordon College (BA, political science and philosophy) and the Johns Hopkins University (MA, government). She has taught philosophy, rhetoric, and Latin for the past five years, most recently at a classical school in downtown York, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Gerard currently lives in York with her husband, their young daughter, and a border collie. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with processor with a speed of 1 Ghz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do NOT recommending using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with an download/upload speed of 5/1Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class.
Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use.
To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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