American Literature

From: $85.00 / month for 8 months

Grades: 9th–12th

Live class: Thursday 12:30–1:30  p.m. EST

Course dates: August 30th–May 2nd

Price: $599

Instructor: Susan Spivey

Instructor email:

This course will be offered in the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. Spivey is teaching British Literature for the 2019-2020 school year.

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Course Description

This is a year-long survey course of American Literature. Students will become familiar with a wide range of American voices, from the legends passed along orally by Native Americans to the writings being produced by contemporary authors today. In addition to recognizing the major writers found in American literature, students will also learn to identify genres, movements, and historical events that helped shape this young country. Students will extend their knowledge of literary devices used in fiction and poetry and be able to recognize these elements in context. Selected readings will include various forums of fictional prose, drama, novels and poetry.

Students will be expected to participate in class discussions and complete weekly homework assignments, which can range from short answers to evaluate reading comprehension, to longer essay responses which allow students to refine their composition skills. Additionally, students will take quizzes and tests, complete one creative project and write two formal papers utilizing MLA style.

All assignments and discussions are intent on helping the student explore the diverse human experience of American writers and appreciate the emergence of literature in these United States. In addition, this class will encourage students to find the joy and pleasure found between the pages of a good book.


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

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald



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

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


  1. E.D. (British Literature Student)

    I took Mrs. Spivey’s 2017-2018 British Literature class, and I absolutely loved it! I have always been a lover of literature, but this class taught me so much more about poetry and novels. We read books from Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and, my personal favorite, Charles Dickens. We also had many exciting activities in this class. Over the year, we had two creative projects to complete. For my first project, I made my own Queen Elizabeth costume and recited the speech she gave before defeating the Spanish Armada, which was one of the pieces we read in the first semester. I had so much fun creating this project, and in every other part of this class. Mrs. Spivey is an amazing teacher, and she brings the literature we read to life. British Literature was my favorite class this year!

  2. R.S. (British Literature Student)

    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!

  3. G. Beaumont

    (Mrs. Spivey) has a vast knowledge of writing, is extremely friendly and kind, and super understanding. Not many teachers WANT their students to learn, they just want them to pass and be done with. I know she genuinely cared about how I did.

  4. E. C.

    I enjoyed reading many different kinds of writing from a wide array of authors and eras. I also enjoyed class discussion. Mrs. Spivey always made class time interesting and informative by providing direction where needed but also opening up time for discussion of our own perspectives and interpretations, allowing us to grow further.
    Mrs. Spivey is very passionate about what she teaches, which makes this course very fun. She asks engaging question and encourages the class to be readers that meditate on the works they read and analyze the contents. Mrs. Spivey is open to new perspectives form her students and never ignores or discounts a persons thoughts.
    This course taught me how to analyze a work of literature and form an extensive understanding of it. This course also gave many opportunities for practice of creating well-developed and detailed papers about a piece of literature. -American Literature Student

  5. Parent, PA

    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.

    parent, PA

  6. J.S., PA

    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.
    J.S. PA

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Instructor Bio

Susan Spivey

Susan Spivey is enthusiastic about sharing her love of literature with students and finds teaching to be a tremendous joy. Finding as much joy in learning as she does teaching, Susan recently earned her Masters in English from Arizona State University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for several years. After starting her family, Susan was as a freelance writer for magazines and began substitute teaching in public schools. She has taught English in homeschool co-ops for many years and has been teaching for AIM Academy since 2015.

British Literature
American Literature


All classes taught by Susan Spivey