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ELA 11: American Literature—Semester B

20th-century bona fide American Shmoop.

You've tackled everything from Early American Literature to the depressing post-WWI works we know as classics. Now it's time to turn it up a notch.

In Semester B, we'll hit you with all sorts of lesson plans, readings, activities, and projects. Here’s what’s in store:

  • Tapping out a beat with the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Getting poetic with 20th-century poetry.
  • Digging into some of literature’s Biggest Deals: William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, J.D. Salinger, and Cormac McCarthy.
  • Examining two classic American novels: Bless Me, Ultima and The Things They Carried.

And in case you were worried we'd forgotten those Common Core Standards, we've got a whole unit of non-fiction waiting for you with bated breath.

P.S. American Literature (ELA 11) is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester B, but you can check out Semester A here.

Course Breakdown

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Unit 6. The Harlem Renaissance and All That Jazz

This unit will tackle the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, reading authors like W.E.B. DuBois (excerpts from The Souls of Black Folks); Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen (lots o' poetry); Martin Luther King, Jr. ("Letter from Birmingham Jail"); and finishing up with Richard Wright's Black Boy.

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Unit 7. 20th Century Poetry and Beyond: A Whirlwind Tour

Get ready for a whirlwind tour of 20th-century poetry, including Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Li-Young Lee, Kay Ryan, and Rita Dove (and that's just part of a really long list we'll be reading).

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Unit 8. Southern Gothic

To tackle the Southern Gothic, we're going to turn to As I Lay Dying, A Streetcar Named Desire, and "Good Country People."

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Unit 9. Growing Up Is Hard to Do

Two more classic American stories coming your way in this unit. The Catcher in the Rye and Bless Me, Ultima both agree on one thing: growing up is hard to do.

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Unit 10. On the Road Again

Both The Things They Carried and The Road respond to moments that tore America apart, and that's why we'll be looking at them together in this unit.

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Unit 11. The Long Road of Longform Non-Fiction

This unit is all about today. We'll start off with some contemporary essays by the likes of Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, and David Foster Wallace; and we'll finish off with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


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  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 310
  • Grade Levels: 11, 12
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • College Prep
    • English
    • Literature
  • Prerequisites:
    ELA 11: American Literature—Semester A

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