American Literature Competencies

Early American Literature (English 235)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of foundational texts of Early American literature through 1860s.
  • identify and discuss strengths, limitations and cultural assumptions of various literary forms practiced in early America.
  • enhance their understanding of the historical, cultural, and social and rhetorical contexts in which early American literary texts were written.
  • acknowledge the diversity of early American cultures and the various American identities formed in the crucibles of different temporal, social and geographic landscapes.
  • identify and discuss the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of various early American literature.

African American Literature I: The Beginnings through the Harlem Renaissance

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • apply rhetorical and literary terminology to explain features of major works of African American literature before the Harlem Renaissance.
  • articulate relationships between African American culture and American culture as a whole.
  • articulate connections between individual and collective narratives to course themes.
  • explain connections among the texts through oral and written forms.
  • express in written form connections between the themes studied and their personal experiences.

Afro-American Literature II: The Depression through the Black Arts Movement (English 334)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able:

  • apply rhetorical and literary terminology to explain features of major works of African American literature from the Harlem Renaissance to today.
  • analyze relationships between African American culture and American culture as a whole.
  • articulate connections between individual and collective narratives to course themes.
  • apply oral history research techniques. 
  • explain connections among the texts through oral and written forms.
  • express in written form connections between the themes studied and your personal experience.

Contemporary American Literature (English 428/628)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • analyze literary works with regard to their aesthetic and philosophical dimensions and their historical contexts
  • provide definitions of the terms modern and postmodern and articulate controversies surrounding these definitions
  • appropriately incorporate secondary sources in a research paper
  • bring remarkable passages from assigned readings to class to describe to the class (or in writing) their significance in the work as a whole
  • make productive contributions to class discussions.

Ethnic American Literature after 1945 (English 430)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of foundational texts of contemporary American ethnic literature since 1945;
  • identify and discuss the roles which gender, race, age, class, ethnicity, wealth , poverty and geography have played in creating contemporary American ethnic literature;
  • enhance their understanding of the historical, cultural, and social and rhetorical contexts in which contemporary American ethnic literary texts were written;
  • demonstrate knowledge of  major issues tackled by ethnic American writers after 1945, with special emphasis on the issues of national identity, construction of history, and discursive traditions;
  • draw out useful definitions of American identity for different cultural and ethnic groups; and
  • enhance skills of conducting research, writing critical papers, and giving oral presentations, according to professional standards of literary studies scholarship.