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Spring 2012 Magic City Campus

Literature of America

Photo by Flickr user Greh Fox (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Welcome to your American Literature course!

Or: Why do we have to read this?
The most frequent question I hear in literature classrooms, without a doubt, would be, Why do we have to read this? or, worse yet, Why do we have to do this? There are a multitude of valid reasons why we still study American Literature, and well spend a healthy amount of time on each of them throughout the semester. The pieces well comb through this semester often give us a glimpse into the society in which they were written, exposing us to points of view and philosophies that differ wildly from our own. In some cases, the works that well read had a direct effect on our nations formation and philosophies, both good and bad. So we have to read these things in order to understand what it means to be American, sure, but we must also examine what it means to be human. There are many dark chapters in American history that well be examine carefully, and for good reason: as George Santayana said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In order to unpack such weighty matters, Im requiring you to intelligently discuss, evaluate, and write about poetry, novels, short fiction, dramas and historical documents. These conversations are fun, provocative, and applicable to your everyday life; I promise. All you have to do is give them a chance, and give me your best.

MCC Grading Scale

A: 92-100% B: 82-91% C: 72-81% D: 62-71% F: 61% and below.
Semester Exam: 20% of Final Grade


Course Details

Class website: Course calendar (updated regularly): Required texts: McDougal-Littell American Literature, Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird, & Stanley Gordon Wests Until They Bring the Streetcars Back.

Essential Learnings
After this course you will be able to:
Analyze use of literary and rhetorical devices/strategies. Determine audience, purpose, tone. Use context clues to determine meaning. Analyze influence of culture and time on literature.
Photo by Flickr user Night Owl City (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Operating Procedures
Homework and Late Assignments
The ultra-important bits: All assignments must be handed in at the beginning of class on the day it is due. Late assignments will receive a 10% deduction each day it is late, up to five days. After 5 days, it stays a zero. Simply put, I will not give you anything to work on or read in this class unless I truly believe that it is necessary. Otherwise you wont do the assignment, and I wont want to waste my time grading it. Im generally very accommodating so long as you speak to me before the beginning of the class period where something is due. Use my contact information if you have questions. If you know that you are going to be absent, or if youre coming back from a period of absence, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed and if it can be made up. Every piece of homework will be listed on the course calendar and CourseKit, so if youre stuck at home, be proactive and try those first.

Copying answers or information from another student. Simply put, this will not be tolerated. Academically dishonest work will result in a zero for that assignment and a . Depending on the nature of the assignment/infraction, you will have the option to go back and prove to me that youre able to do the work yourself in order to make up some (but not all) of the points. In Composition you spent a large portion of your time learning and perfecting the art of giving credit where credit is due through MLA citations, so I dont expect plagiarism to be a problem. If you use somebody elses writing to enhance your own (which you should do), you absolutely must give them credit.

Make inferences to determine meaning. Recognize significant American authors and works. Use knowledge of genres to analyze text. Relate literature to personal experience.

Technology In accordance with MCC policy, cellphones are obviously not allowed anywhere outside of the locker bays or commons. If youre awaiting an emergency phone call, just let me know ahead of time and well be fine. For some people reading and working is much more enjoyable while listening to music. iPods/iPads/MP3 players are allowed only when youre working by yourself, and only when you keep your headphones and music to yourself. Also, if you have any kind of e-reader, feel free to bring and use it during reading break. We also have online access to our textbook, as well as audiobooks for many of the readings. If this sounds appealing to you, please ask.

Instructor Info
Jacob Thomas
Phone #: (701) 203-1146 E-mail: or: Twitter: @jakeathomas

Academic Honesty
The Minot State University Student Handbook refers to plagiarism as, academic dishonesty, a term which I rather like. Academic dishonesty can mean a number of things, including: Passing off another persons writing as your own. Submitting the same papers to more than one class.

Off Hours/Intervention
4th Hour off M-F 6th Hour off MWF Intervention meets in the Humanities Resource Area, Tues-Fri at 7:30 AM