EN317 Earlier American Literature

for FA 2006

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


EN 317 Earlier American Literature


FA 2006 HO


Okerstrom, Dennis R.


Associate Professor of English


PhD, English and History

Office Location

305 Copley

Office Hours

M & F, 9 -- 11; T & R, 9 -- 10, or by appointment.

Daytime Phone

Ext. 6337



Semester Dates

21 August --  15 December 2006

Class Days


Class Time

10:10 - 11:25 AM



Credit Hours



The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Concise Edition.  Lauter, et al.  Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Additional Resources:
Websites, handouts, films, and other resources will be distributed during the semester.

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:
Study of significant American writers from the colonial period to the Civil War with attention to the historical and cultural contexts of their works. 3:0:3

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulate what is uniquely “American” about certain texts in literature
  2. Evaluate features of earlier American literature
  3. Identify and analyze American cultural issues presented in a variety of texts

Core Assessment:

All Park University courses will include a Core Assessment with rubric. This will include ¾ of the Core Learning Outcomes listed above. The Core Assessment in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and MLA documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term.

 The rubric for this assignment is published so the student can see the expectations.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:
Exams, quizzes, presentations, research paper.


You get to decide.  We will have an implied contract between thee and me, and it goes like this:

For a C, you must attend class (see below), read all assignments and participate in class discussions and projects regarding those assignments; write an acceptable 7-10 page paper (typed, ds, 12 pt) about some aspect of power as seen in our literature (e.g., power of women in early America; power of minorities; of religion; of the press; of wilderness and the environment; of ideas; of education); score at least 70% on weekly quizzes and final exam.

For a B, do all of the above, plus lead a 20-30 minute discussion about your thesis on power, with an interactive component.  A guide sheet will be provided with specific details regarding the presentation. (Note: Your paper need not be complete for the presentation.  Try out your thesis here, and obtain feedback from your classmates and professor.)  Score at least 80% on quizzes and final exam.

For an A, do all of the above.  English majors, read an essay of literary criticism regarding a work from the period, and analyze the essay in a paper of 3-5 pages.  Other majors: choose three or four works assigned in this class, and make a case in 3 to 5 pages that the works are distinctly American and are literature, or definitely are not.


Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late submissions are a pain for the professor and unfair to classmates.  Generally speaking, late work will not be accepted; however, each case will be decided on an individual basis. (If you end up in the hospital with two broken arms, I might consider accepting your work late.  Maybe.)

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
We're all adults, and we know the drill for appropriate classroom behavior.  Egregious violations of conduct will result in your trying to find another class to substitute for this one, because you will have been disenrolled.  A couple of personal quirks of the professor: Cellphones--turn them off, including the text messaging option.  And if you must miss a class, do not ask the professor "Did we do anything important in class?"

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week One: Introductions and all that. What is American? What is literature?

Week Two: Native American traditions. What are myths?

Week Three: European exploration. The Spanish, the French, the English.

Week Four: Religion in the New World. Any differences in the three major European invaders?

Week Five: Enlightenment and revolution. Was it truly a revolution, or a war for independence?

Week Six: Cruel conundrum. Slavery in the Land of the Free.

Week Seven: New visions, new narratives. Finally it looks like literature.

Week Eight: Exploring the American self. Inventing a new nation through literature.

Week Nine: Fall Break.

Week Ten: Industrialization. What happened to Jefferson's vision of yeoman farmers?

Week Eleven: Slavery and Abolition. Building to war.

Week Twelve: The "Woman Question." All Men are created equal. What about women?

Week Thirteen: Concord individualist. Start student presentations.

Week Fourteen: Leaves of Grass. A new American poetry. Continue with presentations.

Week Fifteen: Ghost of Amherst. Conclude presentations.

Week Sixteen: Wrap up. What have we learned? What is American? What is literature?

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-89
All work must be completely done by the student submitting it.Violations will result in failing the class.

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87
You know what it is.  Plagiarism will result in failing the class.

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "W".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
1, 2, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Offers clearly stated personal and critical insights to interpretation of readings throughout the essay. Makes occasional personal and critical statements, which are relevant and interpretive. Provides only plot summary, biographical information, or fails to retain focus on literature. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style perceptively and creatively in ways that provide new insights while still retaining personal voice. Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style adequately without particularly fresh insights, but still retains personal voice. Primary and secondary sources used rarely if at all and without adequate MLA documentation. Insights are predictable. Lacks an appropriate personal voice. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Provides convincing and innovative connections between texts through careful close reading of poem(s). Provides connections between texts that are obvious but nonetheless plausible and interesting. Connections between texts remain vague and undeveloped. Critique not supported by close readings. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Literary and critical terminology used appropriately and with ease throughout paper. Literary and critical terminology used adequately throughout much of the paper. Rarely employs appropriate literary and critical terminology, misuses it, or omits it altogether. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
1, 2, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Skillfully interweaves appropriate passages from literary and critical texts and makes strong personal statements that illustrate main point of essay. Adequately incorporates  passages from literary and critical texts as well as some personal statements to prove thesis. Rarely provides specific passages from literary or critical texts, or does so without making connections clear. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English adequately in a reasonably well organized and developed essay. Writing shows persistent problems with the use of Standard Written English. Statements are often illogical, incomprehensible; organization and development of ideas do not support thesis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Interdisciplinary and Contemporary Components                                                                                                                                                                                                              
1, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Analysis makes full use of historical, cultural, and/or other perspectives as interpretive tools. Analysis includes some consideration of historical, cultural, and/or other perspectives. Historical, cultural, and/or other perspectives are not used in any meaningful way. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Multicultural Component                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
1, 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Analysis includes ample discussion of multicultural perspectives. Multicultural perspectives are mentioned appropriately but without depth. Multicultural perspectives are omitted from consideration. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 


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Last Updated:8/16/2006 8:35:56 PM