American Literature (First Semester)

From: $80.00 / month for 5 months

Grades: 9th–12th

Live Class: Sec 1: Tues 12:30–1:30 p.m. ET

Sec 2: Tues 5:00–6:00 p.m. ET

Dates: August 24–Dec 17

Price: $349

Instructor: Susan Spivey

See Reviews of Instructor Susan Spivey


Course Description


This is the first semester only of this live online American Literature class. It is a college prep high school-level survey course of American authors, poets, and essayists.

By taking a close look at the writer, as well as their work, students begin to develop a better understanding of how literature reflects both the person who wrote it, as well as the time period in which it was written. Students are provided with a variety of authors who helped describe the challenges, joys, and perseverance that went into the building of this nation. Literary genres and techniques are explained so the reading that follows makes sense, and students can begin to see patterns and then provide their own explanations of the meaning behind the stories they read. My goal is to make literature understandable and fun. Students are encouraged to ask questions, offer comments, and find unique ways to respond to the works written by some of America’s well-known writers.

Course Structure

This is a 16-week course. Students will find all assigned work posted on our class Canvas page. There is assigned reading, as well as related homework each week. The assigned reading will be discussed in the weekly live class. This offers students a chance to come to class prepared to engage with the Instructor, as well as their fellow classmates, in analyzing that week’s selected reading.

Twice a year, students are given an opportunity to create a longer paper in response to their reading. They will choose the subject to explore in this paper. On the weeks the larger paper is due, there is little or no other homework. Our students will produce one creative project in this class related to something we have covered. In the past, students have crafted art pieces, composed songs, performed skits, and built structures from wood in response to this assignment. Using their personal talents for this assignment makes it one of the highlights of the class. Students can expect to spend 5 to 10 hours per week on this course.

Who should enroll?

Any student in grades 9-12 may take this course. There are no prerequisites.

Technology Requirements

  • High speed, broadband Internet
  • Sound card and microphone (for live sessions)
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures

Evaluation and Feedback

Students can expect their homework to be evaluated and graded weekly. Since homework is due the day of our live class sessions, I try to have all homework graded before the next class. If the work is completed on time and questions are answered completely, full credit is normally awarded for the weekly assignments.

For the larger papers, I offer a deep evaluation of both style and content, and students should expect to have my comments and a grade back within 2-3 weeks. Former students have said these evaluations have been most beneficial as they prepare for higher level writing in college. Students are welcome to communicate with me via email, and I usually respond with 24 hours.


Once registration is complete, I send a welcome email to each student and their parents. They will be added to the course and alerted when the Canvas page is open and they can begin their study of literature.

Course Syllabus



Required Texts


 Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience, 2010 edition

  • ISBN-10: 0133666549
  • ISBN-13: 9780133666540

Any unabridged version of the following:

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne



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Instructor Bio

Susan Spivey

Susan Spivey is enthusiastic about sharing her love of literature with students and finds tremendous joy in teaching. Susan earned her MA in English from Arizona State University and her BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for several years before starting her family. Susan also worked as a freelance writer for magazines and as a substitute teacher in public schools. She has taught English for many years and has been teaching for AIM Academy since 2015. When she is not reading a book, discussing a book, or teaching about books, you can find her in her garden, likely with a book nearby.

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American Literature (Minicourse)


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