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Overview

A major in American Literature is a specialization of a more general major in English. Many universities will offer American Literature as a concentration. American Literature is as varied and rich as the country itself, with layer upon layer of historical, social, and cultural interpretations of texts. Some of the more significant things you’ll learn about are the three significant movements of American writing: the naturalist period, the realist period, and the romantic period. One of the more fascinating characteristics of American Literature is the vast difference in literature written in various regions of the country: literature from the South, from the West, from the Midwest, etc. Each has a unique perspective, and by reading widely you will begin to form a deeper and more personal vision about what it means to be an American. As with a more general English major, you will learn to be a critical reader and a skilled writer, both of which are valuable skills in many lines of work.

SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • African American Literature

  • Colonial Literature

  • Crime and Punishment in American Novels

  • Ernest Hemingway

  • History of the American Language

  • Identity in Literature

  • Literature of the American West

  • Literature of the South

  • Native American Literature

  • Race and Racism

  • Survey of American Literature

  • The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

  • Travel Writing in America

  • William Faulkner


HIGH SCHOOl PREPARATION

You should try to take as many English courses as possible, focusing on both reading and writing. Since you’ll be looking at American Literature through the ages, history courses will give you valuable background and perspective. Spanish courses will also be useful if you plan to study literatures of Hispanic Americans. And read the newspaper. Remember that you live in the America of today. Knowing what goes on in your nation gives you a deeper perspective of what "being American” really means.