American Literature I from the Pre-Colonial Period to the Civil War

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 221

       Course Name: American Literature I from the Pre-Colonial Period to the Civil War

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

EGL 101 or placement into 101

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course traces the development of American literature by studying major writers from 1600-1865. Content includes social, cultural, historical, and literary influences, as well as terminology and methods of literary analysis and evaluation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Identify some of the major works and periods of American literature from pre-colonial America through the Civil War.
  2. Define the distinctive characteristics of various genres (e.g. poetry, non-fiction essay, fiction, drama) from the pre-colonial period through the Civil War.
  3. Explain the complexities of race, gender, ethnicity, region, nationality, and class in American literary tradition from the pre-colonial period through the Civil War.
  4. Delineate the social, intellectual, and historical influences specific to the development of American literary traditions.
  5. Interpret the formal elements of these works using appropriate terminology, such as: speaker, metaphor, symbolism, irony, tone, meter, rhyme, simile, personification, etc.
  6. Analyze works in the context of their literary, cultural, and historical backgrounds.
  7. Synthesize knowledge of genre, formal elements, and background material.
  8. Incorporate secondary sources in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Weeks 1-3: The English Colonies: 1616 1765
Selection will include works by Columbus, Smith, Native Americans, Bradford, Williams, Bradstreet, Mather, Taylor, Byrd, Sewall, Edwards
Weeks 4-6: The New Republic: 1765 1829
Selections will include works by Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, Freneau, Wheatley.
Weeks 7-11: American Romanticism I, 1829 1865
Selections will include works by Irving, Cooper, Bryant, Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell.
Weeks 12-16: American Romanticism II, 1829-1865:
Selections will include works by Hawthorne, Melville, Douglass, Lincoln, Whitman, Dickinson.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

The course will include lectures, discussions, readings, and the supplementary use of other appropriate media such as videotapes, films, etc.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course may be taught as a face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

Reading, writing, and testing.  A minimum of three critical essays of at least 750 words each.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The instructor will choose readings or an anthology of American literature; for a more detailed selection, please see the full course outline.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Evaluation methods include grading of student essays, quizzes, hour exams and final exam, oral reports, and class participation.

Required written work:

A minimum of three critical essays of at least 750 words each, written outside of class.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance policy

For whatever information/procedures the instructor holds the student accountable.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.