Skip to Content

Survey of American Literature from 1865 to present

Course Number: ENG 254
Transcript Title: American Literature from 1865
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: August 3, 2015
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:

Prerequisite / Concurrent

WR 121

Course Description

Introduces the literature of the land which is now the United States from mid-nineteenth century to the present. Revolves around written manifestations of the various interests, preoccupations, and experiences of the peoples creating and recreating American culture. Considers various literary forms, canonized (such as novel, narrative poem), popular (such as the serialized tale, verse) and unpublished (the jeremiad, Native American oratory, the slave narrative, diary). Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss strengths, limitations and cultural assumptions of the various literary forms practiced in America from the mid-1800s to the present day.
  2. Identify and discuss the roles of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and geography play in creating American literature.
  3. Identify and address the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of American literature.
  4. Use literary texts to examine the historical, rhetorical, and cultural contexts in which they were, and are, composed.
  5. Identify and discuss aesthetic aspects of American literature, including plot, setting, character, dialect, oral storytelling, diction, metaphor and allegory.
  6. Analyze texts through close reading and at least one of several literary theories.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)


3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include weekly written journals, participation in class discussions, creative projects, annotated bibliographies, quizzes and examinations, and literary analysis papers.

Course Activities and Design

Lecture; assigned readings; discussion; written assignments. 

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Aesthetic aspects of literature.
  • Historical, political, cultural, rhetorical and socioeconomic contexts.
  • Close reading and theoretical approaches to texts.
  • Critical reading and thinking.
  • American identity as described and created by American literature.
  • Literary research and analysis and synthesis of ideas.