Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 27

Thread: American Literature

  1. #1
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    592

    American Literature

    I've been asked to teach high school level American Literature in the fall. I'm seeking suggestions of really good American authors to include. I'm disappointed in the provided textbook, and am hoping to provide great supplemental reading. I'm also curious if anyone else on the forum has taught it- and how. Usually it is taught by date beginning with Columbus up to modern times. But, in my opinion, what is taught in schools with the early stuff just isn't my favorite. It's usually religious and dry and very slanted towards the powerful. Even though I would not consider Christopher Columbus an American writer (uh, he was Italian!) I am fine with integrating writings from his journals that tell more than just describe the land and animals. (He did rape and kidnap too!) Has anyone taught it by state? Or I wonder if there is a new and fresh way to teach it rather than by date.

    Any suggestions or comments are welcomed!
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

  2. #2
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    trapped in a prologue.
    Posts
    2,383
    Blog Entries
    7
    Stienbeck (Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden) is a great sample of American lit. So is Faulkner - depenidng on what level your calss is, this may be challenging.

    If I was teaching an American lit class, I would try to provide samples of different styles, from different periods/cultures.

    I'd definatly consider poetry - some great American poets (Walt Whitman)
    I'd probably teach "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, a powerful novel representing a part of America that is usually washed over by the mast majority of white authors.

    Those are just some suggestions. There's a lot to choose from, you just have to consider your class (age, type of students)
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    8,564
    To me, authors like John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, J.D. Salinger, and Zora Neale Hurston never grow old. Of course, if you really want the 'nitty-gritty' and origins of American Literature, you can always try Jonathan Edwards, though he had some creepy short stories.
    With poetry, perhaps Walt Whitman (though he may get a little dry for high school readers), but also Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, maybe Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes, or perhaps some of the beat poets.
    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Flying Coconuts Danika_Valin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    43
    Just some suggestions (and since I'm feeling lazy tonight, I'm only going to put them in list format):

    Mary Rowlandson--A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

    Philip Freneau--The Wild Honey Suckle, The Indian Burial Ground, On the Religion of Nature (My three favorite poems!)

    Phillis Wheatley--On Being Brought from Africa to America, To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth

    Washington Irving--The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    Edgar Allen Poe--The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Telltale Heart

    Ralph Waldo Emerson--Self-Reliance

    Nathaniel Hawthorne--The Scarlet Letter, Young Goodman Brown, The Maypole of Merry Mount, The Minister's Black Veil

    Herman Melville--Moby Dick

    John Steinbeck--Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath

    Of course, your students will probably hate Emerson and try to get you fired for making them read Moby Dick and/or The Grapes of Wrath.

  5. #5
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    20,355
    Blog Entries
    248
    Of those not already mentioned:

    Fiztgerald's The Great Gatsby

    Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

    Ralph Elison's Invisble Man

    Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

    Henry James, The Beast In The Jungle

    Stephan Crane's, The Red Badge of Courage, The Open Boat, The Blue Hotel

    Toni Morrison's Beloved

    Theorou's Walden Pond

    Faulkner's Light In August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Neverland
    Posts
    10,600
    I can't agree more to some of the suggestions listed here:

    ~John Steinbeck
    ~Mark Twain
    ~Edgar Allen Poe
    I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    8,564
    As with others' suggestions, I definitely second the movement in promoting anything by Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson (but his works can get quite heavy), Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man And The Sea seems a short, but worth-while read), Henry David Thoreau, and Henry James.

  8. #8
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    592
    Quote Originally Posted by Danika_Valin

    Of course, your students will probably hate Emerson and try to get you fired for making them read Moby Dick and/or The Grapes of Wrath.
    Please do explain!

    Thanks all for the great and very helpful suggestion! What do people think of using Thoreau's Civil Disobedience at the high school level?
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

  9. #9
    Flying Coconuts Danika_Valin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    43
    Quote Originally Posted by genoveva
    Please do explain!
    As one who graduated high school not too long ago, I know that students (excluding me) tend to think Emerson is extremely dull and will moan about having to read any book over 400 pages.

    Of course, we all know that The Grapes of Wrath and Moby Dick are splendid books, will greatly enrich their lives and make them better people. However, they don't know that yet.


    I think you should do an entire week at least on transcendentalism, covering both Emerson and Thoreau. Civil Disobedience is a wonderful piece.
    Last edited by Danika_Valin; 07-25-2006 at 03:49 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    5
    i might want to caution you a bit genoveva. i think it is great that you want to take a fresh approach to your curriculum and integrate texts that will speak to your students. but where will you get these novels? are they provided by your school? if not buying class sets gets expensive. also as a first year teacher you need to be careful not to step on too many toes. does your department head expect you to follow the curriculum or do you have creative control? you might not want to try and change/challenege everything your first year.

    now while some of the older america lit is not fun per se you can always make it relevent. for instance, if you have to read columbus' journals make them interrogate the journals. what do they reveal about columbus? how do his journals challenge the myth of columbus they have been taught? use other short texts written by native americans to challenge columbus' point of view. this could raise all sort of interesting questions and challenge many assumptions. you could also connect this to current events. what are we as americans told about other cultures that may be spinned or untruths (you could look at the media representations of those deemed "other")
    Last edited by kao218; 07-29-2006 at 08:02 PM.

  11. #11
    Flying Coconuts Danika_Valin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    43
    You could also talk about how America in early American Literature wasn't unified. Each state had it's own identity, the settlers/immigrants brought ideas and culture with them from the old world, and even the so called "founding fathers" differed in their goals for the new country. You could relate that to present day. What is America? Who are the Americans? Are only legal citizens American, or are immigrants and visitors also part of our identity? Do we have less nationalism than other countries or more? What are our ideals? What did the settlers hope to achieve?

  12. #12
    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Neverland
    Posts
    10,600
    Oops, I forgot to mention Betty Smith's A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.
    I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.

  13. #13
    life is but a dream
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Born in the USSR. Live in NYC.
    Posts
    141
    I am a high school student, and in my American lit. class we read: Ethan Frome, Grapes of Wrath, Huck Finn, The Assistant, etc. and a bunch of Poe short stories, Whitman poetry, Thoreau, Emerson, the list goes on. And we got plenty of personal assignments where we read literature on our own accord--I read Song of Solomon on my own for example. Perhaps this will be useful to you. If it were me, I would definetely look into time periods of American history and associate them with literature. So start from the beginning and work slowly to the end, and give the kids a general idea of overall American lit, from the classics to the modern time. And poetry is very important, at least to me. --alina
    I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    8,564
    Holograph's post reminds me, genoveva, of certain so-called 'banned' books from American public schools (I think Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn made the list one year) - ridiculous, I know, very, very ridiculous, but I would certainly look into whatever books you intend on teaching, and their 'status,' particularly for the safety and security of your job.

  15. #15
    Registered User AllisonForbes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    15
    Flannery O'Connor is an excellent author to include. Her short stories are easy reads but packed with excellence.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. American Classic Literature
    By XxDAngel19xX in forum General Literature
    Replies: 72
    Last Post: 01-26-2010, 01:35 AM
  2. Latin American Literature Recommendations
    By Rechka in forum General Literature
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: 09-10-2008, 03:20 PM
  3. Where I can get American and British law literature?
    By Alex E Art in forum General Literature
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 03-07-2006, 09:11 AM
  4. South American literature
    By adam_Smith in forum General Literature
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-12-2006, 09:38 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •