American Literature from Apologia

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Apologia has plunged into the world of language arts with their typical solid content, appealing appearance, and user friendliness. We must change our thinking. With this course, along with the Writers/Readers in Residence series, Apologia has shown they can provide homeschoolers with more than science and worldview. Thoroughly Biblical/Christian in its orientation, there is an emphasis on finding both the beauty and the truth of the written word (and thus, the character of God) as well as on understanding the underlying worldview. This panoramic sweep through American literature is chronological, covering traditional "periods" (colonial, reason/revolution, romantic, realism, and modern) grouped by themes.

Authored by Bryan College's Dr. Whit Jones, this is a challenging course. While enjoyable reading, the inclusion of ninety literary works (among the excerpts are four complete novels and one play) means an impressive amount of reading for any high school student. Parents/teachers, however, can determine if all of the works will be read/studied or only a majority of them. Selections include poetry, essays, sermons, plays, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and autobiographies. American Lit tends to be an 11th grade course, and it is probably wise to think of this course in that category. Students need to be well prepared prior to starting with previous instruction in literary analysis, poetry basics (i.e. meter, rhyme, etc), and essay-writing. Writing instruction specific to literary papers is included but more or less assumes the student knows their way around basic essay construction.

Employing a Socratic method of instruction, there will obviously need to be some parental or teacher involvement, although every effort has been made to provide the student with tools for self-directed study. Each reading selection is followed by a set of study questions that lead the student toward a thorough understanding of the material. Book studies have sets of questions for each chapter. Coupled with the online answer key, the student can enhance their own, self-acquired comprehension. However, discussion (and mentoring) from a parent or teacher during this process will move the course from mere education to discipleship. Test preparation (for chapter tests and semester exams) is based on the study questions.

[It's important to note that the publisher includes a note explaining their reasons for including some works that contain a "highly offensive racial slur," noting that Dr. Jones "frankly but gracefully addresses the writers' use of this racial slur from both a moral and literary perspective."]

The Textbook is obviously the heart of the course. Each of the five units is introduced with historical and cultural information. Divided into 18 chapters, each representing approximately two weeks' work, the text of many of the reading selections are found here plus sets of questions for all reading assignments. Background information on the authors and their works is plentiful. Graphically attractive, well-illustrated with many full-color historical pictures and portraits as well as many, many grayscale renditions of the various authors, the book is set up for easy reading with two columns of text plus a sidebar of useful information (i.e. definitions, notes, historical tidbits). I did notice that there was more full-color artwork in the beginning of the text and more authors' pictures toward the back. An extensive (and instructive) Glossary of Literary Terms is included. The student's interaction with this glossary is important for intended vocabulary development.

There are some required works which are not included in the Textbook. These books are readily available from the library or from us: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Raisin in the Sun. There are also some selections that are needed but not included (usually for copyright reasons). These can be found in various collections. Short stories: "A Leader of the People" (Steinbeck), "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (Thurber), "Barn Burning" (Faulkner), "Worn Path (Welty), and "Revelation" (O'Connor). Poems: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Design," and "Never Again Would Birds' Song Be the Same" (Frost); "Harlem" and "The Weary Blues" (Hughes); and "My Papa's Waltz" and "The Waking" (Roethke).

The Student Notebook provides space for the student to answer the study questions - sometimes short answers, sometimes paragraphs. Chapter tests as well as semester exams are here as well. The Notebook also includes a complete writer's guide with detailed instructions, examples, and guidance for writing a literary interpretation paper on a prose selection and a poetry selection (one each semester). These instructions take the student through the writing process step by step. A brief set of notes to the Parent/Teacher explains the nature of the Study Questions and gives suggestions for evaluating student writing and for grading chapter tests as well as reviewing the literary interpretation papers. In other words, there is good parent/teacher support.

An Online Answer Key (printable) provides answers to all the Study Questions and tests/exams. However, it should be noted these are suggested answers since many questions have some subjective elements. They won't necessarily match exactly. These answer keys allow the student to self-check if desired and provide the parent with a solid idea of what elements are expected in answers. Three helpful online appendices provide guides for punctuation, grammar and the MLA format.

The Curriculum Package includes the Textbook, Student Notebook and online access (easy directions included) to the answer key and the appendices. Both the Textbook and the Student Notebook are available as separate purchases. (Text - 840 pgs, hb; Notebook - 650 pgs spiral-bound) ~ Janice


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American Literature Textbook & Online Solutions Item #: 065443
Grades: 9-12
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American Literature Student Notebook Item #: 065442
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American Literature Package Item #: AMRLIT
Grades: 9-12
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