Scholars’ Seminar: Literature

Full-year course. Scholars’ Seminar: Literature is designed to engage rhetoric-stage students in reading, literary discussion, and literary analysis. Students will come together with their instructor twice a week to discuss a broad array of readings including novels, drama, autobiographies, short stories, and essays. The course guides students in the close reading and critical analysis of classic and contemporary works of literature and helps them appreciate the texts and the contexts in which the works were written. In particular, this course makes use of a paired text framework, encouraging students to engage with each text individually and in conversation with another work that shares similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style.

This course requires students to read multiple texts in advance of the weeks that are spent discussing them in class. As such, students will develop the ability to manage cognitive load as they practice daily reading and notetaking habits for one set of readings while working through in-class discussions and assignments on the previous set of readings, a valuable skill set for further academic success.

Please note: This course is designed for high-school students. Several of these readings contain topics, scenarios, subjects, and themes that younger and/or more sensitive readers may find upsetting or unsettling. While these texts are appropriate for most mature high school students, students and parents should be aware of the complexities and intensities of these readings in advance. If you have any concerns we encourage you to check the texts out at the local library before enrolling your student.

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  • Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)
  • Click here to purchase the course texts.
    • How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Live and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines, Revised Edition by Thomas Foster (Summer Reading)
    • The Odyssey by Homer (trans. Emily Wilson) (Summer Reading)
    • Circe by Madeline Miller (Summer Reading)
    • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    • Selections from The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
    • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (link provided in class)
    • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    • Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser
    • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
    • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    • W;t, by Margaret Edson
    • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (Winter Break Reading)
    • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Winter Break Reading)
    • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    • Beloved by Toni Morrison
    • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
    • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • “The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee (link provided in class)
    • “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahir (link provided in class)
    • Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell
    • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • Atonement by Ian McEwan
    • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
    • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • Class meets twice per week for 50-55 minutes.
  • Class cap: 15 students.
  • Designed for grades 11-12.
  • Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded 1 Language Arts credit upon completion of this course.
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