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Course Syllabus, 2014-2015

American Literature and Persuasive Writing

Course: College English 11
Focus: American Literature and Persuasive Writing
Teacher: Mr. Matthew Brennan

Course Description: In Junior English, together well
undertake reading, writing and discussions at a level thats
usually reserved for students in elite private high schools
and affluent suburbs. It will be hard, and you can do hard
work. The focus for the academic year will be to develop
your ability to analyze and evaluate the chronological
development of American literature, while enhancing your
critical consciousness to deeply read the word, and the
world. Our literary odyssey will include works from various
historical eras and represent authors from several regions of
the nation. Well read complex texts, write extensive
papers, and participate in discussion every day at a college
level. Well examine the history of ideas, to trace how
Americans have thought about themselves, their world, and
their place within itand how historical, political, cultural
and economic developments have given shape to American
literature; discovering that our notions about life, identity,
language, class, and culture have historical roots.

Essential Questions: What and who is an American? What
social and political issues led to the formation of American
values and the creation, challenging, and re-imagining of
enduring myths about America? How does literature create
conceptions of the American experience and identity? How
are these conceptions represented through distinctive voices
and styles in American literature? How does place and time
shape an author's work and our understanding of them?

Critical Consciousness: As we develop our analytical
skills, well work to transfer them to our understanding of
media, culture, power, justice, identity, and equality, in the
concrete situations of our daily lives. Just as we can get
better at reading the deep structures and meanings of books,
we can get better at reading ourselves, our positions in
the dynamics of knowledge and power, the historical forces
that have brought us to this place together, and the cultures
narratives about who we are and where we belong.
Together, well discuss forces of oppression and of
liberation by connecting what were reading in class to
what we know about the story of our own lives, and of
situations across the globe. Well dig deeper, and work at
many angles to come to know ourselves and our
communities in new ways, always struggling toward
understandings that can help us improve our lives together.

Course Philosophy: This class is based on an educational
philosophy known as constructivism, in which students
actively construct their understanding of the subject at
hand, rather than passively receiving knowledge. Students
play an active role as learners by coming to class prepared
to actively engage in discussions. While class discussions
are at the heart of the course, I will deliver textual
background and analysis; however, students must do
original thinking, rather than repeat what theyve learned.
Discussions will grow from your ideas on the readings
weve done together, which Ill work to deepen and expand.
Our conversations will be more meaningful by transferring
our understandings to our lives, and the broader world.

Skill Development: Analytical thinking and writing are the
most essential skills for college and professional success,
and receive the primary focus in Junior English. Students
will read difficult texts and write papers that demand
original thinking, careful argument, and thorough evidence.
Of course, these skills will amount to little if students dont
develop the self-discipline to complete assigned readings
and assignments on time. Well practice metacognition, to
observe and control the thinking that leads to our behaviors
around school work. Well work on accountable behavior,
mental toughness, and reading and writing stamina. Well
do lots of work, because students who keep up with the
higher pace of reading and writing in college have a better
chance of graduating from college.

Readings: Well practice active reading by making notes
on our ideas, in preparation for discussion. Well learn to do
close readings that look carefully at the small details of
short passages, working to understand how a works local
style, thematics and structure shape its broader meanings.
Well develop an understanding American literature by
reading a range of works. Through diverse readings and
analytical approaches, I hope the course will break down
any narrow understanding students might have of studying
English, and broaden the possibilities of cross-disciplinary
scholarship in their futures.

Writing: In junior year, students will work to develop their
persuasive and analytical writing, through prewriting
exercises, group discussions, vocabulary enrichment,
exemplar analysis, teacher coaching, and peer feedback.
Well learn to structure our communication for clarity and
effective organization. Students will revise their writing,
working toward flawless standard English, a wide-ranging
and expressive vocabulary, and a variety of sentence
structures crafted to develop flow and rhythm in their prose.
Well work on rhetorical skills, including tone and voice.
Students will reflect on the intended audience of their
writing, and fit their style to the purpose of each piece.

Personal Renaissance: No matter how well or poorly
students have done in school before, I hope youll look at
this year as a chance to begin anew, a rebirth as students,
to discover passions in learning that might be pursued
through college, and career. Learning in Junior English is
about learning to see differently, to see with fresh eyes our
selves, and our work together.


These policies stand firm at the start of the school year. As the course proceeds, I may need to change them to improve
instruction and student performance. Should this occur, youll receive advanced notice.

Core Rule 1. Show respect to each other, the facilities, our materials, and the staff.
Core Rule 2. Communicate with me. Come to me before or after class to discuss any issue at all.
Core Rule 3. Remember, you can do this. Its sometimes difficult work, so come for extra help when you need it.

Junior English Grades: 35% = Major Papers
30% = Class Participation and Engagement (combination of class and individual grades)
20% = Assignments (classwork and homework)
15% = Quizzes and Exams

Your grade for the year in this class will equal the statistical average you earn for the course: Each term is worth 20%
of your final grade. Your midterm and final will together be worth 20%. You will not pass for simply being a good kid,
nor for having tried. You must meet the standards for the course. You can do it. Youll have to if you want to pass.

Reading Quizzes: Periodically, I may start the class a reading quiz on the previous nights reading. I do this so that students
know theyll often be held accountable for doing their reading.

Daily participation in Junior English: A large portion of the class will be discussion based; therefore, class participation is
critical. Students are expected to read every assignment, and be prepared to discuss their reading with specific textual
references, every day. Class participation works on a points system, where each period is worth up to 10 points. Due to the
fact that a discussion, by definition, requires more than one person, it is vital that all students contribute to ensure a fruitful
and thorough discussion, and therefore student will receive two grades per day, an individual grade and a class grade. The
students individual grade will be worth 20% and be based solely on individual effort and engagement. The students class
grade will be worth 10% and be based solely on collective effort and engagement. I will meet privately with students, and
address the class collectively, throughout the year to discuss performance and potential ways in which to improve.

Participation grades will be based on the following rubric:

9-10 points A student, or class, is extremely engaged and contributes excellent analysis (deep, organized, and
concise) with specific references to the reading, demonstrating that he/she/they read skillfully. The
comments, questions, and analysis go beyond the obvious. Discussion is fluid. Delivery is engaging.

8 points A student, or class, provides fair to good analysis (some depth, fairly well organized, and somewhat
concise) with specific references to the reading. Theres some original insight, but its mixed with some
obvious observations. While coherent, comments, questions, and analysis might lose focus. Delivery
engages the audience, but has a few problems with tone, volume, articulation, or presence.

6-7 points A student, or class, provides poor to fair analysis (surface observations, unorganized, running on at
length or with too few ideas), but still makes specific references to the prior evenings reading. Delivery
fails to fully engage, due to problems with clarity, concepts, tone, volume, articulation, or presence.

1-5 points A student, or class, makes unclear contributions to the class discussion. May or may not offer specific
references to the reading. Demonstrates that the assignment was not read thoughtfully, or at all. Delivery
has serious problems with tone, volume, articulation, or general presence. Or, student fails to contribute.

Note: Points will be reduced if students are late for class without a note indicating that its excused.
Come on time. Its the best habit to take to college. A student can also lose points if he/she fails to
complete Do-Now assignments, take notes during class, is disrespectful, disruptive, engages in side
conversations, sleeps in class, refuses to comply with directions, has an electronic device in use or that
goes off. The number of points lost goes on a case to case basis, depending on the severity of the
disruption, and the number of prior incidences.

Late Assignments: All major essays must be submitted electronically via If you have trouble submitting an
assignment to, then email it to me. Any work that comes in after the exact time the assignment is due, will be
reduced by 10% for each week it is late, and will not be accepted four weeks beyond the assigned due date. The late policy
applies to all students, in virtually all circumstances.

Hardship: Every year, several good students have extenuating circumstances that keep them from doing their best. If
something comes up, speak with me as soon as possible, or to your guidance counselor if youre more comfortable with
that, and we can talk about ways to help you get back on track.

Plagiarism or cheating on any assignments will yield a zero that cannot be redeemed, be it in class participation or a major
paper. Students must submit every written assignment to, which checks for plagiarism. There is no such
thing as a little plagiarism or cheating. Any borrowing from outside sources, other than a standard dictionary or brief
paraphrasing of facts (not analysis), is plagiarism. Cite ALL your sources in MLA format. Always form your own ideas.

Materials: Student MUST have a three-ring binder, dividers, highlighters and/or pens (various colors recommended), Post-It
notes, and lines paper.

Note taking: Students must take notes during class, whether were in discussion or mini-lecture. Failure to do so affects their
participation grade. Students must come prepared with the text were reading, a notebook, and a pen or pencil.

Extra help. Im available most days during my free periods, and during lunch. Just come on by. If you need help after
school, make an appointment with me, and well find a time that works best for both of us.

Absences. If the absence is unauthorized by a parent, guardian, the headmaster or the guidance counselor, the student will
receive a zero for that day. If a student is absent from a class discussion, he/she will still be responsible for the days
materials, readings, and assignments. You must be prepared to participate on the day you return from your absence. All
readings and deadlines will be provided in advance, and all assignments and materials will be posted on the class website.
Not having class materials or Internet access at home is NOT an expectable excuse. If a student is absent on the day a
written assignment is due, that student is still required to submit online, on time. If a student is absent during a required
presentation or exam, student will have two days to make up the assignment.

Actively participate, take responsibility for your own education, show respect to each other and to your teacher,
communicate openly, take pride in hard work, and come for extra help if you need it. Come every day, on time. If you get
off track in your work, think through your behavior, to change your thoughts and your actions. Do these things, and you
will succeed in Senior English, in college, and in your career. You can do this.

20142015 Reading List

American Literature with Mr. Brennan

Year Author Text

Year Author Text

1624 Smith The General History of Virginia
Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation
1682 Rowlandson A Narrative of the Captivity
1630 Winthrop A Model of Christian Charity
Bradstreet Select Poems
Taylor Select Poems
1741 Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
1693 Mather The Wonders of the Invisible World
1953 Miller The Crucible
1733/91 Franklin Richards Almanack / Autobiography
1776 Jefferson The Declaration of Independence
1776 Paine The Crisis, No. 1
1775 Henry Speech to the Virginia Convention
1787 Franklin Speech in the Convention
1773 Wheatley Select Poems
1800 Adams Letter to Her Daughter
1782 de Crvecur Letters from a Farmer
1784 Franklin Remarks Concerning the Savages
1789 Equiano The Narrative of Equiano
1819-24 Irving Select Short Stories
1817-66 Fireside Poets Select Poems
Poe Select Short Stories and Poems
1836-7 Hawthorne Minister's Black Veil / Goodman Brown
1851 Melville Moby Dick
1836-41 Emerson Nature / Self-Reliance / Amer. Scholar
1849/54 Thoreau Civil Disobedience / Walden
Dickinson Select Poems
1855 Whitman Leaves of Grass

Note: The focus of this class is depth rather than breadth. While
every effort will be made to address all aspects of the syllabus,
time constraints, student absences, and unforeseen circumstances
may require revisions to the syllabus as the school year unfolds.
Therefore, some pieces may be removed or revised.

1855 Douglass My Bondage and My Freedom
1897-9 Crane The Open Boat / An Episode of War
1890 Bierce An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
1863/65 Lincoln Gettysburg / Second Inauguration
1865-83 Twain Short Stories / Huck Finn
1869 Harte The Outcasts of Poker Flat
1904 Cather The Wagner Matinee
1908 London To Build a Fire
1877 Chief Joseph Fight No More
1854 Chief Seattle Sacred Soil
1851 Truth Ain't I a Woman?
1848 Stanton Declaration of Sentiments
1894 Chopin The Story of an Hour
1892 Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper
1900 Wharton April Showers
1896 Dunbar Douglass; We Wear the Mask
1915 Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
1939 Steinbeck from The Grapes of Wrath
1919 Anderson from Winesburg, Ohio
1935 Wolfe The Far and the Near
1939 Auden The Unknown Citizen
1940-58 cummings old sticks; small town
1914-16 Frost Select Poems
1939 White The Door
1955 Faulkner Select Works
Robinson Select Poems
1922/5 Fitzgerald Winter Dreams / The Great Gatsby
1930 Porter The Jilting of Granny Weatherall
Harlem Renaissance
DuBois Select Poems
Washington Select Works
Hughes Select Works
McKay Select Poems
Cullen Select Poems
DuBois Select Poems
Washington Select Works
1937 Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
1945 Wright Black Boy
1963 King I Have a Dream
1965 Malcolm X The Autobiography of Malcolm X
1956 Ginsberg Howl, and Select Poems
1949 Miller Death of a Salesman
1961 Yates Revolutionary Road
* ciceria

Course Syllabus, 2014-2015

American Literature and Persuasive Writing

T E A C H E R / S T U D E N T A G R E E M E N T

I, _____________________________________________, have read and understand my expectations and obligations as a
student to receive the best possible grade that I can achieve during the 2014/2015 school year in Mr. Brennans English 11
class. If at any time I am concerned with my ability to meet these expectations and obligations, I will discuss my situation
and concerns with Mr. Brennan.

___________________________________ _______________________________ ____________________
Student Name Printed Student Signature Date

___________________________________ _______________________________ ____________________
Parent/Guardian Name Printed Parent/Guardian Signature Date

This must be signed and returned to the teacher.

Parent / Guardian contact information:

Primary Contact Number: ____________________________________________________________

Secondary Contact Number: ____________________________________________________________

Best time to reach you: _____________________________________________________

Email Address: ______________________________________________________________

Please circle your preferred method of contact: Phone / Email / Other

Parents and Guardians: please use this space to tell me anything I should know about your student: