English (ENGL) 344

American Literature I (Revision 5)

ENGL 344

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s).

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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ENGL 344 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course introduces students to American literature, its history and development, and its rich variety of forms and techniques. It surveys American literature from its beginnings to approximately 1900 and includes Native orators, Puritan authors, writers of the Enlightenment and Romantic periods, slave narratives, and works that would set the stage for the entry of the United States into the literary world of the twentieth century.

Through a critical examination of these literary works, students will develop a deeper understanding of some of the main issues and movements that shape American culture as we see it today. They will also build a good foundation for proceeding to English 345: American Literature II.

Note: Since this is a senior course, we expect students to have good reading and writing skills as well as the basic critical tools and knowledge of literary forms and techniques that are acquired in introductory university English literature courses like Athabasca University's English 211 and 212. Students who do not have the recommended credits in introductory English literature courses might experience significant difficulty with the essay assignments and examinations.


  • Lesson 1: Pre-Columbian America: Creation Stories
  • Lesson 2: Puritan Writings: Winthrop, Bradstreet, and Taylor
  • Lesson 3: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Lesson 4: The American Enlightenment: Franklin, de Crèvecoeur, Paine, and Jefferson
  • Lesson 5: The Professional Writer: Irving, Cooper, and Poe
  • Lesson 6: Transcendentalism: Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller
  • Lesson 7: Whitman and Dickinson
  • Lesson 8: Ruth Hall by Fanny Fern
  • Lesson 9: Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville
  • Lesson 10: Slavery: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Lesson 11: Slavery: African-American Writings by Douglass and Jacobs
  • Lesson 12: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Lesson 13: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane


To receive credit for ENGL 344, you must achieve a composite course grade of at least D (50 percent), you must complete a summary assignment, a critical response assignment, two essays, and a final exam. You must achieve a grade of at least 50% on each of these credit requirements. All assignments are required in order to pass the course. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1-A: Summary 5%
Assignment 1-B: Response 5%
Essay 1 20%
Essay 2 40%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism. Fourth Edition. Edited by Donald Pizer and Eric Carl Link. Norton Critical Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Fern, Fanny. Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time. Introd. and notes by Susan Belasco. Penguin Books, 1997.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings: Authoritative Texts, Contexts, Criticism. Edited by Leland S. Person. Norton Critical Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.

Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories. Introd. and Notes by Peter Coviello. Penguin Books, 2016.

The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Gen. Ed. Robert S. Levine. Two Volume Set. 9th Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for ENGL 344 challenge for credit, you must pass the essay and the examination. Credit is awarded on a pass/fail basis only.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 5, May 4, 2017.