Homework due 8/28: 
1. Read "Putting Ideas into Writing" (packet handed out in class). 
2. Read pages 6-32 in Prentice Hall, "Writing Processes and Strategies." 
3. Use the above readings to help you get started with your Literature Philosophy. Brainstorm, begin jotting down ideas, perhaps experiment with thesis statements. You are not required to bring any specific writing to class next week, but you should be prepared to talk about the topics covered in the reading and be prepared to apply them to your Literature Philosophy in class. Bottom line: the more brainstorming or prewriting you do before class, the more effective our lesson will be for you next week.



Ms. Jessica Conrad


Students should use Google Classroom for all communication. Parents may reach me at jdconrad@protonmail.com

Course Description

Reading is a radical act. This year we’ll practice our own radical skills of literacy by reading texts that illuminate the power of reading and writing. From dystopias in which only half the population is literate to stories constructed from diary entries to secret letters to stigmatic letters, the texts on the syllabus invite us to consider the ways in which acts of reading and writing in fictional worlds and in our own are fundamental to our culture, to our society—to our very humanity. In Butler’s “Speech Sounds,” we will see how literacy is key to resolving conflicts, while in The Awakening we will see how one little novella shook the social mores of the Victorian Era; in Brave New World we’ll see how humans have been genetically engineered to be consumers rather than readers in an eerily familiar fictional reality, while Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give uses the written word—the novel itself—to expose injustices within our own reality. The texts on our syllabus either feature reading and writing as crucial plot points or major elements of the setting—or the texts themselves act as critical cultural products that attest to the power of literature. Ultimately, this class will treat literature as a vehicle through which to explore questions of empathy, alienation, and power. 

Goals and Outcomes

Upon entry, students should be able to write three-paragraph essays with confidence and be able to articulate their own main ideas and compose topic sentences. Students should also be familiar with writing five-sentence paragraphs. Entering students will need to demonstrate basic reading comprehension, including deduction, prediction, and summary. Students must be ready to move beyond YA literature and should have experience with reading longer works (200+ pages). Some exposure to 19th-century texts is strongly suggested, but not required. 

The course will build on the above and focus on the following skills: thesis statements, moving beyond the three-paragraph essay, using textual evidence, conducting research, integrating sources, and thinking critically about literature. Averaging 4 essays per semester, writing requirements range from short response essays to long research arguments. Throughout the year, students will keep an annotated bibliography of all literary texts on the syllabus. Additionally, due to the subject nature of some of the texts on the reading list, we will also practice how to address sensitive topics in conversation and writing.

Required Texts (hard copies please): 

  • Prentice Hall Reference Guide, 9th edition, eds. Muriel Harris and Jennifer L. Kunka
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  • Kate Chopin, The Awakening
  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
  • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
  • Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

Selected short stories and excerpts will be provided as PDFs. 

Full Reading List: (subject to change)

Prentice Hall Reference Guide, selected chapters
Octavia E. Butler, “Speech Sounds”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
Frederick Douglass, The Heroic Slave
Kate Chopin, “Desiree’s Baby”
Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
ZZ Packer, “Brownies”
George Saunders, “The Semplica Girl Diaries”


Grades for this course are determined as follows: 

Close readings and short essays             20% (5% each)
Long Essays                                                20% (10% each)
In-class essay                                                5%
Annotated Bibliography                             10%
Peer review and overall participation         5%
Quizzes                                                         10%
Homework                                                   10% 
Midterm exam                                            10%
Final exam                                                   10%


When and how to submit your work: All assignments are due on Google Classroom by the start of class. For instance, if an assignment is due on 8/28, it is due by 9:30 am that day. Simply upload the assignment to our Google Classroom. Every assignment will show up in the stream as well as in the ‘Upcoming’ widget on the left of the homepage. Please only submit Word docs or Google docs (no PDFs, please). 

Late work: All assignments are due on Google Classroom by the start of class on the due date, unless otherwise noted, and regardless of absence. See the class schedule below for all assignment due dates. Because all assignments are submitted digitally, you do not need to be in class to hand in an assignment. Your grade will incur a late penalty each day the assignment is late. For instance, if an essay is due 9/25 and you turn it in on 9/27, there will be a two-day late penalty. This is a high school prep class, and we take all our work and its attendant deadlines very seriously. 

Academic integrity: Any work that you submit must be your own. In addition, any words, ideas, or data that you borrow from other people and include in your work must be properly documented. Source documentation is one of the major foci of this course, so feel free to ask anytime you have a question about documentation. Failure to honestly document outside sources is plagiarism. If you’re unsure what plagiarism is, check out these guidelines and resources from Vanderbilt: http://researchguides.library.vanderbilt.edu/plagiarism.

For the weekly class schedule, click here