Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 5
Hours: 5 lecture per week (60 total per quarter)
Prerequisite: Eligibility for college-level composition (ENGL 1A or 1AH), as determined by college assessment or other appropriate method.
Advisory: Successful completion of college-level composition (ENGL 1A, 1AH or 1S & 1T) or equivalent; not open to students with credit in ENGL 45AH, 48A or 48B.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area VI: United States Cultures & Communities, Area I: Humanities
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable


The first in a two-course sequence that surveys the history of American literature from its beginnings to the present. Introduces students to works of American literature from its beginnings through the Civil War, focusing on the evolution of literary traditions, genres, cultural voices, and ecological landscapes within historical, philosophical, social, political, and aesthetic contexts. Special emphasis on the contributions of diverse cultures in forging a distinctively American literature, landscape, and identity.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. demonstrate knowledge of major writers, key texts, documents, and debates of American literature from 1492-1865 by analyzing the development of a distinctive national political and aesthetic culture as reflected in the major writers and texts of this period.
B. identify major literary genres, and trace the emergence and development of literary forms during this period.
C. apply relevant critical and theoretical frameworks to evaluate the literature within historical, multicultural, and philosophical contexts.
D. demonstrate orally and in college-level writing an analytical understanding of the literary texts.
E. demonstrate appropriate formatting and documentation.

Course Content

A. Major writers and canonical texts
1. Pre-contact Native American literatures
2. Early colonial narratives from explorers, such as Columbus, Cabeza De Vaca, Captain John Smith
3. Puritan texts (e.g., William Bradford, George Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet)
4. Revolutionary War era literature by writers, such as Tom Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Phyllis Wheatley
5. African American literature by authors, such as Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriett Jacobs
6. Transcendentalism (writers, such as Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller)
7. Gothic literature (writers, such as Hawthorne, Poe)
8. American Folk literature (e.g., Irving, Boone)
B. Literary genres and forms
1. Native American oral literatures, such as myths, songs, and legends
2. Puritan forms (e.g., religious histories, diaries, letters, poems, spiritual meditations)
3. Revolutionary War political documents
4. Slave narratives and speeches
5. Autobiography
6. Nature writing
7. Frontier fiction, tall tales
8. Poetic forms
9. Short fiction
10. Essays
C. Relevant critical and theoretical frameworks
1. Historical perspectives, including dominant ethical, philosophical, political, religious, social, and aesthetic perspectives in the literature of this period
a. Identify the role of literary representations in creating (and subverting) significant American political ideologies, including slavery and abolition, Manifest Destiny, the concept of inalienable rights
2. Gender studies
3. Queer theories; sexuality studies
4. Psychological theories (Freudian or Jungian)
5. Marxian or other socioeconomic frameworks
6. Theories of race and ethnicity
7. Postcolonial and neocolonial studies
D. Analytical understanding of the literary texts
1. Class discussion regarding analytical reading of literary texts
2. Composition of literary analysis essays on literary texts
3. Research to supplement understanding of the literary texts
E. Formatting and documentation
1. Modern Language Association (MLA)
2. American Psychological Association (APA)

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. When taught on campus, no special facility or equipment needed.
B. When taught via Foothill Global Access, ongoing access to computer with email and basic software capabilities.

Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Quizzes (comprehension, basic interpretation)
B. Participation in class discussion
C. In-class essays and tests, including final exam (analysis, argument, self-analysis, new synthesis)
D. Formal papers (analysis, argument, self-analysis, new synthesis)
E. Preparing and leading discussion groups
F. Oral presentations, critical reading journals, and similar activities

Method(s) of Instruction

A. Lecture presentations on the history and interpretation of the assigned texts
B. In-class discussion of the assigned texts, including instructor-guided interpretation and analysis
C. Group presentations on inquiry projects focusing on key tools and skill sets in literary interpretation

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 8th ed. Champaign, IL: Norton, 2013.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 6th ed. Volumes A-B: Beginnings to 1865. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Levine, Robert S., ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 9th ed. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading assignments include selections from the Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition (ed. Nina Baym), or from recognized canonical works in American literature.

B. Brief introductory and literary critical readings designed to familiarize students with ongoing debates and perspectives in the study of American literature.

C. Bi-weekly journals requiring research, summary, interpretation, analysis, and synthesis of original texts.

D. Weekly essay examinations requiring in-depth analysis and synthesis of assigned texts.

E. Writing assignments can include in-class midterm and final exams in which students closely analyze key passages and link the passages to an author's body of work, addressing historical and literary contexts. Writing assignments also include out-of-class essays analyzing how a text reflects a particular literary movement, style, or period, or an author's literary and/or cultural contributions to American literature.