American Literature Texts

English III: American Literature, A Survey Course

American Literature: Excellence in Literature: English 3 by Janice Campbell

American Literature Study Guide

What does American Literature cover?

American Literature is a college-preparatory chronological literature survey course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of American literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Students will gain an understanding of the development of American literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing. You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in How I Chose Books for Excellence in Literature .

American Literature: English 3

This American Literature Study guide is available for purchase at the Everyday Education website. In addition to the study guide, you will also need the focus texts for American Literature. These are the classic books your student will read.

There is also an honors track available for this course. You can view a list of the honors texts here.

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By the end of this survey course, students will:

    • Possess a broad knowledge of the history and development of American literature.
    • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
    • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural context of the works.
    • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
    • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    • Demonstrate competence in the MLA style of source documentation

Focus Texts for American Literature

Unit 1: Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin

Honors: The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
Letters From An American Farmer by J. Hector St. John De Crèvecoeur


Unit 2: Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving (Penguin Classics)
and selected works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems & Other Writings (Library of America #118) (Most of the assigned Longfellow material is included in the volume shown above, and the rest can be found on our website.)
Honors: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., The Life of George Washington, or Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving


Unit 3: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (Modern Library)
Honors: The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper


Unit 4: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Modern Library)
Honors: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (if you didn’t read it in English II)


Unit 5: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Modern Library)
Honors: Billy Budd by Herman Melville


Unit 6: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Modern Library)
Honors: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain


Unit 7: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Oxford World's Classics)
(Oxford World’s Classics edition or other; not Modern Library)

Honors: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Daisy Miller by Henry James


Unit 8: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Honors: My Antonia by Willa Cather


Unit 9: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Honors: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Note: Books listed in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context and honors reading are assigned within each unit. You’ll find a list of the honors texts here.

Optional Resources

Your student will need a good writer’s handbook in order to develop the habit of looking up things when a question arrises. Every professional writer and editor I have encountered has several handbooks, as each has a different focus and use; but for your student, one or two should be adequate. Here are two options:

Handbook for Writers: Excellence in Literature, Johnston and Campbell - A writer's handbook for high school and college students.Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers

This writer’s handbook has two parts. The first section provides detailed instructions on how to construct essays and arguments, and the second second is a manual of grammar, style, and usage. This is a book that will be useful from high school into college.

Writers Inc. - A handbook for high school students.

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