Syllabus for LIT-206



This course introduces the major works of the American writers of the United States from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. The emphasis is on the literary movement called Realism and the societal factors that contributed to that movement, such as the Civil War and the Reconstruction period, increased industrialization, and the influences of Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. In addition, there will be a discussion of the literary techniques that writers employ and the reading strategies necessary to understand and enjoy literature.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss and analyze the works read to demonstrate understanding of their significance in their own time period and to extrapolate from that their significance to readers in the twenty-first century.
  2. Discuss and analyze analyze attitudes towards issues of gender, race, and economic class as they are expressed by the selected authors and trace the development of contemporary attitudes from then to now.
  3. Discuss and analyze the literary techniques available to writers--and the reading strategies available to readers--that foster an understanding and enjoyment of literature.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-13: 978-0142437179

ISBN-13: 978-0486287737

ISBN-13: 978-0743273565


ISBN-13: 978-0684804446


ISBN-13: 978-1400033416


American Literature II is a three-credit online course, consisting of five modules. Modules include study materials and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, take a proctored online midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for activity due dates.

Promoting Originality

One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.

Discussion Forums

American Literature II has five graded online discussions, each focusing on a different subject. There is also an ungraded but required discussion in Module 1 titled "Introductions." All class discussions take place on the class Discussion Board.

Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Written Assignments

American Literature II has five writing assignments. Many students find it helpful to read over the activity questions for a module before beginning the reading for the module.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the Activity Modules area of the course Web site, and read through the written activity questions before you begin each lesson. Your answers to the activity questions should be well developed and convey your understanding of the course materials. Formulate responses in your own words (do not merely copy answers from your reading materials), citing text materials where appropriate and in an appropriate manner.

Tone, Diction, and Style

Your written assignments should be approached in a quite different way from your responses to the online discussion topics. Written assignments should be formal academic papers. This means, among other things, that you should write in third person, avoid informal diction or spelling, avoid contractions, proofread carefully, and use MLA-style parenthetical documentation to identify your sources. The online discussions, on the other hand, much like live classroom discussions, are meant to be a more informal give-and-take. You may use first person (stating, for example, "I liked," "What struck me," etc.). Your discussion board responses will be similar to a conversation and may include contractions and less formal diction. Remember however, that while you may be somewhat informal, you should still write in Standard English and proofread your post before hitting "Submit."

You will be asked to identify and read outside commentary and criticism to complete the assignments. You need not necessarily agree with the critic, but if you disagree you should state your case for an alternative interpretation. Of course, you may also use the commentary for support. It is important that you document your sources using MLA style.

Midterm Examination

This course requires you to take a proctored online midterm examination. The midterm is a closed-book, proctored exam. It is two hours long and covers material in Modules 1 through 3. It consists of three essay questions on Twain, James, and Fitzgerald.

For the midterm, you are required to use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

There is no final proctored examination in this course. A 12- to 15-page paper, described in fully in the Final Project  area of the course site, acts as your final assessment and is worth 30 percent of your final grade. You must complete the paper and submit it to your mentor via Blackboard by the last day of the semester. Your paper will explore how all five authors read in this course may, or may not, be viewed as part of the Realistic Movement.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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