American Literature

Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view

Aims of the Course

The main aims of this course are to take students on a journey of exploration of some of the greatest novels written by American authors from the 18th century to the 20th, while covering some of the big issues in cultural history such as colonialism, slavery, the Civil War, the Roaring 20s, and such-like. There will be some mild exposure to death, murder, and even sexual issues like adultery, but none are graphic or excessive, nor do they play any extended part in our live webinar discussions.

Homework Expectations

As in all the English courses at Dreaming Spires, the homework each week is to read about 50-60 pages of text (occasionally more), write a short summary, answer three short discussion questions, and attend a one-hour webinar where, mostly, I talk and students type in the chatbox. Three times a year, they will be assigned presentations to take over some of the teaching (the best of learning, right?).

Add-On Options

The add-on writing extension for this course focuses on research papers, and is unique in that it's the only one where the main-course reading isn't integral to the writing tasks, and therefore can be taken as its own separate course. See its own course description here.

In addition to the weekly 1/2-hour webinar, students usually spend an average of 2-3 hours a week on researching and writing. It attracts a full high school credit on its own, or enhances the honors credit when combined with the main class. 

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For UK students and others doing UK-style exams, American Literature strongly supports any exam board's A-level paper on the subject, though it doesn't specifically coach a student toward a specific syllabus. For US students, this course provides one honors credit in high school English.

While the course was originally designed for students around 15 or 16, those who are mature 14-year-olds could enjoy the level of discussion and topic areas just as easily. Any younger or if there are concerns about the topics, then parents should discuss the suitability first with Dr Patrick.

Who Teaches American Literature?

Dr. Kat Patrick now resides in her home state of Texas with her four children, all of whom are Dreaming Spires students. Before that, she lived for 25 years in England. Her background includes an MA from Durham (UK), a PhD from Delaware (US), and a UK PGCE teaching certificate, all in the subject of English. She continues to examine for both the Cambridge Assessment International Education and Oxford, Cambridge, RSA examinations boards for both IGCSE and A-level. Her revision guide is available to purchase via Amazon.
See all courses taught by Kat