British Literature is a year-long overview of some of Britain’s greatest writers. The course begins with early Anglo-Saxon literature (such as Beowulf), moves through a number of literary eras (Medieval, Romantics, Realists, …) and concludes with more contemporary authors. We use an anthology of great works, along with a number of well-known novels. My hope is by exploring a variety of works by a number of authors, students will find one (or many) that inspire them to read more and to also gain a deeper appreciation for notable writers.
Upon completion of this course students will gain an understanding of the various literary movements found in British literature. Students will also see how historical events impacted writers and the works they created, will be able to identify literary elements such as rhyme, foreshadowing, flashbacks, etc., will be able to distinguish the unique traits found in a variety of literary genres, and will be able to analytically respond to a work of literature in writing. Through a variety of assignments, students gain the skills needed to respond to literature in a thoughtful and mature way.
This is a discussion-based course, and students will be encouraged to participate in our weekly classroom conversations. Each week, students are assigned specific reading and homework that relates to that reading. Our live classroom meets via zoom to discuss the authors and works the students have been assigned. I also provide a lecture on the material the students have read, and offer opportunities for students to ask questions and share their views on the week’s reading.
Most weeks, students will respond to comprehension-based questions found in their textbook or write a short essay in response to a writing prompt that has been posted. There are also two creative projects assigned in this class, one in the first semester and the second in the final semester. Each semester students will complete a few short quizzes or tests.
The Honors level course is for highly-motivated students in grades 9 through 12. Honors students will complete three interpretative papers where they can choose topics to explore more deeply, and will have additional essay assignments during the year. I will also supply these students with additional (supplemental) reading suggestions.
Who should enroll?
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Webcam, sound card, and microphone
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
If students complete their weekly homework on time and answer the questions to the best of their ability, they’ll receive full credit. I expect students to ask questions when they do not understand something, and I am happy to respond quickly (usually within the same day) to their emails. I grade homework promptly and will let parents know if their student fails to submit work.
Use Susan Spivey’s class as the “model” or “ideal” for other classes!! She has found that sweet spot — challenging and yet not overwhelming so that students have time to think through ideas, work on skills, etc. I can’t reiterate enough how amazing (and rare!) this balance is. She also provides great feedback on writing. When a student does not correct areas of weakness on the next paper(s), it is easy to give up pointing them out, but Ms Spivey perseveres and always points out those weaknesses specifically; so that it is “wearing down” my son to the point he starts making the changes! 🙂 It is so hard and yet absolutely necessary to get good feedback on writing. The pace and content of the class was excellent — not too much and not too little. Often classes have “too much” content so the student does not have the time to ponder the material, dig deep, and let it change them. Other classes cover too little and therefore are of little value. I can’t say enough good things.
Overall, I feel that the course was well-rounded. The workload was balanced, and the assignments were all enjoyable.
This class is also up there on my list of favorites. I simply adored the class content and reading material, and it brought me such joy to work on creative projects that allowed me to use my artistic skills. Mrs. Spivey helped me to expand and develop my writing skills, and she gave me some great feedback. Mrs. Spivey was also extremely sweet and loved to get to know her students. She encouraged me in my love of theatre and was genuinely interested in my artistic endeavors. Her bubbly personality matched mine, and I had a great experience.
This course is thorough, engaging and provides a reasonable balance to the school week. The British Literature book is full of interesting pieces of work that I never would have considered introducing my child to. I am very happy that he has had the opportunity to study this aspect of literature. The weekly critical thinking exercises encourage students to analyze what they are reading and help to solidify this ability through repetition. There are several creative literary projects throughout the year which add a fun element to the course. Mrs. Spivey’s class lectures are thorough, engaging and she keeps the course interesting. I highly recommend Mrs. Spivey’s British Literature course.
Blair Drewell –
We were so pleased with British Literature with Mrs. Spivey when our
daughter took it 4 years ago, we signed our son up for it. This class is
the perfect balance – exposing the students to literature, making them
think and engage without overloading them and taking all the joy of
literature and learning away. Our kids have taken many online classes and
it is hard to find that balance… most are either are “too easy” and the
kids are not challenged to think or “too difficult” through workload making
the kids resent school. Mrs. Spivey’s class is neither of these, and we are
Rachel Shey –
British Literature has been a great class! Not only did I get to read many great pieces of British literature, I also learned a lot about the history of Western Europe. Mrs. Spivey has a very engaging teaching style; she does not only lecture, but also asks the students questions and invites discussion. In addition, she also explains literary interpretations of the pieces we discuss, clarifying their meaning.
A specific example of a subject Mrs. Spivey enlightened me on was English metaphysical poetry. When I first read the poetry and prose of John Donne, Ben Jonson, and the other metaphysical poets, I did not contemplate the meaning behind the verses enough to realize the special characteristics of metaphysical poetry. However, after attending class, I understood metaphysical poetry far better, and even enjoyed rereading the poems!
Not all of learning with Mrs. Spivey has been strictly academic. One of my favorite experiences in her class has been the creative project, in which I illustrated characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While imagining them engaging in lively conversation as I read the book was entertaining, drawing them brought them to life in a way that I could not have done by reading.
While usually the reading assignment is in the book, Mrs. Spivey also assigns books, plays, and online resources to read on occasion. In her class, I’ve had the opportunity to read many classics like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare, and Auguries of Innocence. Taking Mrs. Spivey’s British Literature class has taught me a lot, and surprised me sometimes with the prevalence of British literature references – ranging from ubiquitous Shakespeare to lesser-known authors like Elizabeth Barrett Browning – in everyday life. Whether reading newspapers or consuming pop culture, British literature is everywhere. I am very glad I chose to take this class and definitely feel like it has made me much more knowledgeable about British literature!
Mrs. Spivey’s literature class challenged and equipped me for college in a way few other high school experiences did. The class, which I took at a homeschool co-op during my senior year, surveyed great Christian literature with a diverse and challenging reading list. Our class meetings were a chance for Mrs. Spivey to push her students to think critically about the material we read; she encouraged us to reevaluate our presuppositions and validated our thoughtful opinions, even when she didn’t share them. This open discussion stood in contrast to many high school classes that shielded authors from critique. Mrs. Spivey’s approach to in-class discussion helped prepare me for college literature and writing classes, where criticism of an author and their worldview is encouraged. Her love of literature was apparent in everything she did; from her enthusiasm in class to her warm invitations to continue discussions and reading outside of it, Mrs. Spivey was a hugely influential teacher who was instrumental in my decision to pursue English and writing as a part of my college and career.
Susan Spivey does an excellent job of instilling the love of learning and literature into her students. I have had two children participate in her English/Literature classes, and even though they enjoyed reading before, Susan was able to unlock areas of interpretation that allowed them both to understand more fully what the authors are attempting to convey. Her writing assignments challenged them to think deeply and put into their own words portions of specific text. Susan also challenges her students by assigning projects that may not be in their particular strength. For example: Not only do the students write, but some assignments may require them to perform a dramatization or an art project. She realizes that not all the students have the same strengths, but she motivates them to branch out and try something new. Susan also wants each of her students to succeed and encourages them to use whatever gifts or abilities they have to do their best. Thank you, Susan, for using Literature to help my children to mature and flourish.