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Course Description and Learning Outcomes

This course is divided into four units. In the first of these, lessons 1 through 5, we will explore how representative American writers from the earliest romantic period—Washington Irving, Mason Locke Weems, Mordecai Manuel Noah, James Fenimore Cooper, and Catharine Maria Sedgwick—created a popular understanding of American history and historical figures, how they manipulated American folklore, and how they used indigenous Americans and the American landscape to create a national identity.

In the next unit of the course, lessons 6 through 9, we will explore the emergence of American transcendentalism, giving special attention to the writings and contributions of the three most significant transcendental writers: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. We will also look closely at the Alcott family, focusing on a pioneering writer of American children’s fiction, Louisa May Alcott.

The third unit, comprising lessons 10 through 14, will explore the flowering of American romantic fiction beginning with Edgar Allen Poe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and continuing through Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Fanny Fern, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman.

The final unit, lessons 15 through 18, shows the gradual transition from American romanticism to American realism, focusing on the writings of five women: Rebecca Harding Davis, Anna Cora Mowatt, Dion Boucicault, Harriet Jacobs, and Emily Dickinson.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course has been created in conformance with the following general learning outcomes broadly governing all upper-division English courses taught on the Brigham Young University campus:

Course-Specific Learning Outcomes

This course espouses the following three course-specific learning outcomes:

Course Materials


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Study Questions

Each lesson will have some Study Questions. These questions will prepare you for the assignments and for the Final Exam, but they do not count toward your final grade. Be sure to read through and answer each one because you may use one of the questions in your response assignments.

Response Papers

Response papers should be completed for all lessons. The requirements for these written responses are described in detail in lesson 9. Your performance in completing these responses will constitute roughly 50% of your final grade.

General Guidelines for Response Papers

Following are general guidelines you should follow in completing all response papers for this course. Please read through the guidelines carefully before completing your first response paper—and review them as necessary when you complete response assignments throughout the course.


Each response should be no longer than 1½ single-spaced or 3 double-spaced typed pages. (This means that each of your responses should be tightly focused and should make efficient use of space.) Your response should have a brief introduction and a tightly focused thesis sentence. Often, the thesis sentence may stand alone as the introductory paragraph. The body of your discussion should be longer than a single paragraph and should develop and support your thesis as fully as possible, given the brevity of the response. Your response should also have a brief conclusion that summarizes your position or otherwise ties together your argument. Remember to italicize titles of long literary works, like novels or plays, and to enclose titles of shorter works, like poems or stories or essays, inside quotation marks. Follow principles of educated formal writing in completing all written work for this class.

Grading of Response Papers

Each response assignment is worth 20 points. Responses will be graded for clarity, structural integrity, focus and sophistication of analysis, originality, and mechanical correctness. I have provided a rough rubric below.

If you have any questions about the content or format of the response assignments, or if you are unsure about my expectations for these assignments, please let me know as soon in the course as possible.

Conference Paper

A conference paper will be submitted at the end lesson 18. The assignment is explained in detail in lesson 9. This assignment constitutes roughly 28% of your final grade.

You will submit your completed writing assignments electronically throughout your course. Remember to submit your assignments as Microsoft Word .DOC or .DOCX files.

  1. Type your paper in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. When you save the file, click the Save as type: drop-down list.
  3. Select .DOC or .DOCX.
  4. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, “ENGL361_BrianJackson_DraftOpinionEditorial.rtf.”
  5. Click Save.
  6. Submit the lesson’s file through the lesson’s assignment submission link for grading

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The final exam can be requested following the completion of lesson 18. This is a proctored essay examination. Your performance on the final examination will constitute about 14% of your final grade.

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Assignments by lesson

Unit Lesson Assignment Points Assigned
1 Lesson 1 Self-Introduction and Lesson 1 Response Assignment



Lesson 2 Lesson 2 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 3 Lesson 3 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 4 Lesson 4 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 5 Lesson 5 Response Assignment 20
2 Lesson 6 Lesson 6 Response Assignment: Outline 20
Lesson 7 Lesson 7 Response Assignment: Outline 20
Lesson 8 Lesson 8 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 9 Lesson 9 Response Assignment: Conference Paper subject and topic (1/2 page) 20
3 Lesson 10 Lesson 10 Response Assignment: Edgar Allan Poe Study Questions 20
Lesson 11 Lesson 11 Response Assignment: The Scarlet Letter 20
Lesson 12 Lesson 12 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 13 Lesson 13 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 14 Lesson 14 Response Assignment-
Conference Paper Pre-Writing Assignment (2–4 pages)
4 Lesson 15 Lesson 15 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 16 Lesson 16 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 17 Lesson 17 Response Assignment 20
Lesson 18 Lesson 18 Response Assignment 20
    Conference Paper Submission 200
    Final Exam 100
    Total: 700

The following grading scale will be used when I assign you a grade for this course:

Grading Scale
A 100–94
A− 93–90
B+ 89–87
B 86–84
B− 83–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–74
C− 73–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–64
D− 63–60
E (fail) 59–0

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


21 instructor graded assignments, all can be resubmitted except for the Conference Paper.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 exam (essay questions), proctored, instructor graded, may not retake, must pass to earn credit for the course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514