Full Course


This course will address the major themes and time periods of American Literature, from the country's earliest beginnings to the post-war era. Lesson plans include North Carolina Standard Course of Study objectives for English III and are based on best practices learned during a Master's of Arts in Teaching Secondary English curriculum at the University of South Carolina. Projects, internet hunts and other multimedia assignments, and action strategies developed by Jeffrey Wilhelm comprise the core of these units and lessons. Vocabulary and study guides are available where applicable.


  • Language Arts > General
  • Social Studies > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12


American Literature



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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Update Standards?

LA.11-12.RC.2.2: English-Language Arts

Analyze the way in which clarity of meaning is affected by the patterns of organization, hierarchical structures, repetition of the main ideas, syntax, and word choice in the text.

LA.11-12.RC.2.4: English-Language Arts

Make warranted and reasonable assertions about the author's arguments by using elements of the text to defend and clarify interpretations.

LA.11-12.RC.2.5: English-Language Arts

Analyze an author's implicit and explicit philosophical assumptions and beliefs about a subject.

LA.11-12.RL.3.1: English-Language Arts

Analyze characteristics of subgenres (e.g., satire, parody, allegory, pastoral) that are used in poetry, prose, plays, novels, short stories, essays, and other basic genres.

LA.11-12.RL.3.2: English-Language Arts

Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claim.

LA.11-12.RL.3.3: English-Language Arts

Analyze the ways in which irony, tone, mood, the author's style, and the "sound" of language achieve specific rhetorical or aesthetic purposes or both.

LA.11-12.RL.3.4: English-Language Arts

Analyze ways in which poets use imagery, personification, figures of speech, and sounds to evoke readers' emotions.

LA.11-12.RL.3.5.a: English-Language Arts

Trace the development of American literature from the colonial period forward.

LA.11-12.RL.3.5.b: English-Language Arts

Contrast the major periods, themes, styles, and trends and describe how works by members of different cultures relate to one another in each period.

LA.11-12.RL.3.5.c: English-Language Arts

Evaluate the philosophical, political, religious, ethical, and social influences of the historical period that shaped the characters, plots, and settings.

LA.11-12.RL.3.7.b: English-Language Arts

Relate literary works and authors to the major themes and issues of their eras.

LA.11-12.RL.3.7.c: English-Language Arts

Evaluate the philosophical, political, religious, ethical, and social influences of the historical period that shaped the characters, plots, and settings.

LA.11-12.RL.3.8: English-Language Arts

Analyze the clarity and consistency of political assumptions in a selection of literary works or essays on a topic (e.g., suffrage, women's role in organized labor). (Political approach)

LA.11-12.RL.3.9: English-Language Arts

Analyze the philosophical arguments presented in literary works to determine whether the authors' positions have contributed to the quality of each work and the credibility of the characters. (Philosophical approach)

LA.11-12.W.2.2.a: English-Language Arts

Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas in works or passages.

LA.11-12.W.2.2.b: English-Language Arts

Analyze the use of imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects of the text.

LA.11-12.W.2.2.c: English-Language Arts

Support important ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references to the text and to other works.

LA.11-12.W.2.2.d: English-Language Arts

Demonstrate an understanding of the author's use of stylistic devices and an appreciation of the effects created.

LA.11-12.W.2.2.e: English-Language Arts

Identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and complexities within the text.

LA.11-12.W.2.3.a: English-Language Arts

Explore the significance of personal experiences, events, conditions, or concerns by using rhetorical strategies (e.g., narration, description, exposition, persuasion).

LA.11-12.W.2.3.b: English-Language Arts

Draw comparisons between specific incidents and broader themes that illustrate the writer's important beliefs or generalizations about life.

LA.11-12.W.2.3.c: English-Language Arts

Maintain a balance in describing individual incidents and relate those incidents to more general and abstract ideas.

LA.11-12.WC.1.1: English-Language Arts

Demonstrate control of grammar, diction, and paragraph and sentence structure and an understanding of English usage.

LA.11-12.WC.1.2: English-Language Arts

Produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct punctuation and capitalization.

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.6.1: Reading and Language Arts

use new vocabulary that is introduced and taught directly;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.6.2: Reading and Language Arts

listen to, read, and discuss familiar and conceptually challenging text;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.6.5: Reading and Language Arts

relate new vocabulary to familiar words;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.7.1: Reading and Language Arts

use background knowledge of subject and related content areas, prereading strategies (e.g., previewing, discussing, generating questions), text features, and text structure to make and confirm complex predictions of content, purpose, and organization of a reading selection;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.7.2: Reading and Language Arts

analyze the author?s purpose and/or perspective in a variety of text and understand how they effect meaning;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.7.3: Reading and Language Arts

determine the main idea or essential message in grade-level or higher texts through inferring, paraphrasing, summarizing, and identifying relevant details and facts;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.7.6: Reading and Language Arts

analyze and evaluate similar themes or topics by different authors across a variety of fiction and nonfiction selections;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.1.7.7: Reading and Language Arts

compare and contrast elements in multiple texts; and

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.1: Reading and Language Arts

analyze and compare historically and culturally significant works of literature, identifying the relationships among the major genres (e.g., poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short story, dramatic literature, essay) and the literary devices unique to each, and analyze how they support and enhance the theme and main ideas of the text;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.2: Reading and Language Arts

analyze and compare a variety of traditional, classical, and contemporary literary works, and identify the literary elements of each (e.g., setting, plot, characterization, conflict);

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.3: Reading and Language Arts

analyze, compare, evaluate, and interpret poetry for the effects of various literary devices, graphics, structure, and theme to convey mood, meaning, and aesthetic qualities;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.4: Reading and Language Arts

analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, providing textual evidence for the identified theme;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.5: Reading and Language Arts

analyze and discuss characteristics of subgenres (e.g., satire, parody, allegory) that overlap or cut across the lines of genre classifications such as poetry, novel, drama, short story, essay or editorial;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.6: Reading and Language Arts

create a complex, multi-genre response to the reading of two or more literary works using multiple critical perspectives (e.g., historical, archetypal, social), describing and analyzing an author?s use of literary elements (e.g., theme, point of view, characterization, setting, plot), figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, symbolism, allusion, and imagery), and analyzing an author?s development of time and sequence (e.g., through the use of complex literary devices such as foreshadowing and flashback);

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.7: Reading and Language Arts

analyze, interpret, and evaluate an author?s use of descriptive language (e.g., tone, irony, mood, imagery, pun, alliteration, onomatopoeia, allusion), figurative language (e.g., symbolism, metaphor, personification, hyperbole), common idioms, and mythological and literary allusions, and explain how they impact meaning in a variety of texts with an emphasis on how they evoke reader?s emotions;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.8: Reading and Language Arts

explain how ideas, values, and themes of a literary work often reflect the historical period in which it was written;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.9: Reading and Language Arts

describe changes in the English language over time, and support these descriptions with examples from literary texts; and

LA.11-12.LA.1112.2.1.10: Reading and Language Arts

select a variety of age and ability appropriate fiction materials to read based on knowledge of authors? styles, themes, and genres to expand the core foundation of knowledge necessary to connect topics and function as a fully literate member of a shared culture.

LA.11-12.LA.1112.4.1.1: Reading and Language Arts

write in a variety of expressive and reflective forms that uses a range of appropriate strategies and specific narrative techniques, employs literary devices, and sensory description; and

LA.11-12.LA.1112.4.2.3: Reading and Language Arts

write informational/expository essays that speculate on the causes and effects of a situation, establish the connection between the postulated causes or effects, offer evidence supporting the validity of the proposed causes or effects, and include introductory, body, and concluding paragraphs;

LA.11-12.LA.1112.6.4.1: Reading and Language Arts

select and use appropriate available technologies (e.g., computer, digital camera) to enhance communication and achieve a purpose (e.g., video, presentations); and

LA.11.5.01.a: English Language Arts

analyzing the characteristics of literary genres, including fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, and how the selection of genre shapes meaning.

LA.11.5.01.b: English Language Arts

relating ideas, styles, and themes within literary movements of the United States.

LA.11.5.01.c: English Language Arts

understanding influences that progress through the literary movements of the United States.

LA.11.5.01.d: English Language Arts

evaluating the literary merit and/or historical significance of a work from Colonial Literature, the Romantic Era, Realism, the Modern Era, and Contemporary Literature.

LA.11.5.02.a: English Language Arts

making and supporting valid responses about the text through references to other works and authors.

LA.11.5.02.b: English Language Arts

comparing texts to show similarities or differences in themes, characters, or ideas.

LA.11.5.03.a: English Language Arts

selecting, monitoring, and modifying as necessary reading strategies appropriate to readers' purpose.

LA.11.5.03.b: English Language Arts

identifying and analyzing text components (such as organizational structures, story elements, organizational features) and evaluating their impact on the text.

LA.11.5.03.c: English Language Arts

providing textual evidence to support understanding of and reader's response to text.

LA.11.5.03.d: English Language Arts

demonstrating comprehension of main idea and supporting details.

LA.11.5.03.e: English Language Arts

summarizing key events and/or points from text.

LA.11.5.03.f: English Language Arts

making inferences, predicting, and drawing conclusions based on text.

LA.11.5.03.g: English Language Arts

identifying and analyzing personal, social, historical or cultural influences, contexts, or biases.

LA.11.5.03.h: English Language Arts

making connections between works, self and related topics.

LA.11.5.03.i: English Language Arts

analyzing and evaluating the effects of author's craft and style.

LA.11.5.03.j: English Language Arts

analyzing and evaluating the connections or relationships between and among ideas, concepts, characters and/or experiences.

LA.11.5.03.k: English Language Arts

identifying and analyzing elements of literary environment found in text in light of purpose, audience, and context.
Curriki Rating
On a scale of 0 to 3
On a scale of 0 to 3

This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2009-12-05.

Component Ratings:

Technical Completeness: 3
Content Accuracy: 3
Appropriate Pedagogy: 3

Reviewer Comments:

This rich unit on American Literature provides six units of lessons from: origin myths, to The Crucible, to revolution and expansion, to the growing nation, to a new century, to elements in modernist poetry, to post-war America. Each unit offers two weeks of lessons designed for two weeks of classes that meet for 90-minutes periods daily or one month of lessons for classes that meet for 50 minutes daily. All units are linked to the North Carolina standards for English III. Each of the six units provides about 8 lessons, rich with objectives, procedures, materials needed, vocabulary, evaluation, questions and answers, graphic organizers, and links to materials and texts used. Each unit can stand alone and offers unique skills for students. For example, one unit asks for researching, another for writing an I-Search paper, and another for presenting a journalism project.

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