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ENGL 2120 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

ENGL 2120 - Modern American Literature (formerly American Literature II)

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is a survey of American masterpieces from the Civil War to the present.

Course Outcomes:

Required Student Learning Outcomes: Program Student Learning Outcomes (PSLO) and Course Student Learning Outcomes (CSLO)

PSLO #3: Humanities / Fine Arts: Enhance the understanding of students who, as citizens and educated members of their communities, need to know and appreciate their own human cultural heritage and its development in a historical and global context. Students will develop an understanding, which they otherwise would not have, of the present as informed by the past.

CSLO #1: Understand personal heritage through close contact with significant primary texts and works of art, ancient, pre-modern, and modern, as forms of cultural and creative expression.

CSLO #2: Acquire a deeper understanding of the past through a significant exposure to humanistic and artistic expression through the ages.

CSLO #3: Develop a well-formed awareness of non-western cultures as well as western cultures.

CSLO #4: Create a comparative context in which to engage critically the ideas, forces, and values which have created the world in which we live.

CSLO #5: Demonstrate insight into historical process involving both change and continuity over time.

CSLO #6: Practice the critical and analytical methodologies of the Humanities and Fine Arts. Required Assessments (A):

A #1: Literary Essays: The student will write 900 - 1,500 word essays analyzing the literary features of one or more works during a particular period of American literature or comparing and contrasting works from two or more periods.

A #2: Reading Journals and / or Quizzes: The student will write short reading responses and / or answer quiz questions to demonstrate that he or she has completed the assigned readings with attention and comprehension.

A #3: Research Project: The student will research a topic relating to American Literature and prepare a written, oral, and / or media presentation on that topic. 

A #4: Final Examination: The student will take a comprehensive examination that may be comprised of any combination of matching, multiple choice, and / or short answer questions and / or an essay dealing with all four literary periods (Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, and Postmodernism).

CSLO / Assessment Alignment: 





By the end of the course, students will be able to do the following:

  • talk knowledgeably about a variety of time periods and literary works,

  • trace themes and motifs through American literature from 1865 to the present,

  • identify how themes and techniques particular to a certain time period appear in the works of writers from that time period,

  • produce written responses expressing their thoughts about a variety of assigned works,

  • exhibit a knowledge of biographical information for each author studied. 

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

 ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. Students do not have to take ENGL 2110 before taking ENGL 2120.

Course Topics:

The course will cover selections of American literature from the Civil War up to contemporary times. Students will read stories, poems, novels, and/or plays from the realist, naturalist, modern, and postmodern literary periods. 

Specific Course Requirements:

To do well in this course, students should be prepared to read, analyze, and interpret the assigned literary works, retain specific knowledge about the works and their authors, and express ideas about the works in writing. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Students will take their reading and essay quizzes using the online quiz function. 

Students will take a PROCTORED Final Exam in this course (100 points).

  • The proctored Final Exam will pull 50 questions randomly from the reading quizzes.

  • Students must set up their proctors for the Final Exam at the beginning of the semester.

  • For directions on how to set up a proctor, see this link

Grading Procedures:

Introduction Discussion and Practice Quiz 2 @ 10 pts.ea. = 20 BONUS pts. total

The initial discussion and practice quiz, each worth a possible 10 points, are worth a total of 20 BONUS points.

Discussions and Class Participation 10 @ 20 pts.ea. = 200 pts. total

Class participation will be evaluated throughout the course. Students will participate in a variety of discussion assignments to ensure that they are fully involved in the community of scholars that makes up their learning environment. Ten (10) discussion assignments, each worth a possible 20 points, will count a possible 200 points toward the final grade.

Module Essay Response Assignments 3 @ 75 pts. ea. = 225

Students will be asked to write an Essay Response at the end of each module. These three (3) essays, each worth a possible 75 points, will count a possible 225 points toward the final grade. Students should keep back-up copies of all written assignments.

9 @ 25 pts. ea. = 225 pts. total

Students will take quizzes to test their knowledge of specific works and to test their ability to apply knowledge of key words and concepts to those specific works. These quizzes will take the form of multiple-choice, matching, fill in the blank, short answer, and/or essay questions. There will be nine (9) quizzes, each worth a possible 25 points, making the total possible score on reading quizzes worth 225 points toward the final grade.

Class Project
1 @ 150 pts. = 150 pts. total

Students will submit a Class Project to test their ability to analyze and interpret literature and their ability to understand works of literary criticism. The Class Project is worth a possible 150 points toward the final grade. Students should keep back-up copies of all written assignments. 

Class Paper
1 @ 100 pts. = 100 pts. total

Students will submit a Class Paper to test their ability to analyze and interpret literature on their own. The Class Paper is worth a possible 100 points. Students should keep back-up copies of all written assignments.

Final Exam
1 @ 100 pts. = 100 pts. total

Students will take a proctored final exam that is comprised of a randomized selection of questions from all modules of the course.


  • Discussions = 200 points

  • Essay Responses = 225 points

  • Quizzes = 225 points

  • Project = 150 points

  • Paper = 100 points

  • Final Exam= 100 points

  • TOTAL = 1000 points

Total of all assignments = 1000 pts. (with 20 pts. possible BONUS) 

Grading Scale:
A900-1000 pts.
B800-899 pts.
C700-799 pts.
D650-699 pts.
F<650 pts.
Assignments and Projects:

Module 1 - The Late Nineteenth Century

  • Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • James, Daisy Miller
  • Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"
  • Chopin, "Desiree's Baby"
  • Crane, "The Open Boat"
  • Whitman, Preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass; "Song of Myself" (sections 1-7, 15, 16, 20, 21, and 52); and "I Hear America Singing"
  • Dickinson, "Some keep the Sabbath" and "One need not be a chamber"

Module 2 - The Twentieth Century (1900 to 1945)

  • Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (selection)
  • Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (selection)
  • Hurston, "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" and "The Gilded Six-Bits"
  • Fitzgerald, "Winter Dreams"
  • Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants"
  • Glaspell, "A Jury of Her Peers"
  • Cummings, "in Just-" and "she being Brand..."
  • Robinson, "Miniver Cheevy"
  • Sandburg, "Chicago"

Module 3 - The Twentieth Century (1945 to present)

  • Heller, Catch 22 (selection)
  • O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"
  • Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues"
  • Walker, "Everyday Use"
  • Alexie, "What You Pawn I Will Redeem"
  • Giovanni, "Nikki-Rosa," "Knoxville, Tennessee," and "Resignation"
  • Soto, "The Tale of Sunlight"
  • Rotheke, "My Papa's Waltz"
  • Brooks, "A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi..." 
Class Participation:

Students will be expected to communicate regularly with the instructor and with other students via course email and discussion postings. Students should keep up with assignment deadlines, and they should submit assignments on time. Students should check their course news, email, and discussion areas regularly to check for important information. 

Late Policy:

To receive full credit, students must hand assignments in on time. 10% of the score will be taken away for each 24-hour period a paper or other assignment is late.

Assignment due dates can be found on the course calendar. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on July 27, 2018