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ENGL-201 American Literature

This course is a study of the literature of the United States of America from the time of the European immigrations beginning in the 16th century through the 19th century post-Civil War era. Representative literary works from diverse ethnic, racial, and social groups are studied in their historical, social, political, and economic context for what they both reflect and reveal about the evolving American experience. Representative works include fiction and nonfiction by Native Americans and by European settlers, the documents of the American Revolution, slave narratives and fictional works by African-Americans, the 18th century works of the first American novelists, the works of the American Transcendentalists, and other significant authors of the late 19th century.

ENGL-101 or ENGL-111 (3 hours weekly)
Jean Sonntag
ILB 139
(410) 313-8066

Overall Course Objectives | Major Course Topics | Course Format | Orientation |
Course Requirements | Materials | Exams

Overall Course Objectives

Once you have completed this course you will be able to:

  • Understand the historical context and the philosophical background of American Literature from the beginnings to1865;
  • Identify and describe the major periods of American Literature from the beginnings to1865;
  • Understand the American character and experience more fully through reading the literature of this period;
  • Analyze how literature reflects human values and thus has relevance to today's world;
  • Identify and explain literary devices and characteristics in the literature studied;
  • Define literary terms and concepts;
  • Analyze the literature studied and communicate that understanding in clear, well-written prose;
  • Understand and demonstrate the conventions of writing about literature.

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Major Course Topics
  • The Colonial Period
    • Puritans--Histories and Diaries
    • Poets
  • Foundations--The New Nation
    • Religious writers
    • Journals and Letters
    • Politics and Philosophy
    • Early American imaginative literature
  • The Romantic Era
    • Transcendentalism
    • Novels
    • Poetry
    • The Civil War

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Course Format
  • Is not self-paced.
  • Does require on-campus meetings for a midterm exam. These tests will be taken in the HCC Test Center. (For more information on taking tests, see the "Exams" section below.)
  • Does not require real-time chats.
  • The communication in the class will take place through weekly postings to discussion topics and with the instructor through private mail.
  • The successful student is generally self-motivated, has the discipline to complete assignments on time and meet deadlines without reminders, takes the initiative in maintaining contact with the instructor, and enjoys interacting with others through writing.
  • This is a writing intensive course; therefore, students will be graded on their ability to demonstrate mastery of course content in clear, coherent, well-organized, effectively developed, and correct prose.

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This course has an optional face-to-face orientation. Check the list of scheduled orientations for the date, time, and location. Please check my email message to you for more information about the orientation and the option to participate in an online orientation.

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Course Requirements

Review the “What you should know before you register” section of the Distance Learning Homepage.

  • Weekly Reading Assignments (Literature as well as Background Material)
  • Weekly Writing Assignments Posted to Discussion Topics
  • Weekly Reaction Postings to Fellow Students’ Writing
  • One Literary Analysis Paper (about 1200 words)
  • One Mid-term and one Final Exam

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Materials Required:

Textbook information:  To visit our bookstore's online sales site, please visit and follow the instructions for selecting textbooks.

Technical Requirements and Plug-Ins:

Review the Technical Requirements link above. The following plug-ins are required for this course:

  • Acrobat Viewer
  • Internet Explorer
  • PowerPoint Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Word Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft Word

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For purposes of verification and assessing learning outcomes, this course has a proctored mid-term exam at the HCC Testing Center for students in the local region or at a regional institution for remote students. The exam will have a flexible window of time during which it needs to be taken rather than a single date and time. The class also has a take-home final exam that will be posted to the instructor in Private Mail at the end of the semester.

If you have any questions or comments about this course, please send a message to
Jean Sonntag,

Last updated on 14-Aug-08
© Howard Community College, 2008

Student Profile - Maribel