19th Century American Literature & Composition

Mrs. Bridgman


“The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to cultivate thinkers, learners, and positive contributors to a global society.”  

  ~ Dr. Rod Rock, Superintendent


American Literature and Composition is a course designed to expand on your knowledge of speaking, thinking, writing, and reading.  We will read and discuss a variety of texts from the 19th century American literary canon, strengthen reading skills through the analysis of multiple genres and develop writing skills needed for college. You will exhibit your learning through several types of assessments including but not limited to: definition essay, literary analysis paper, independent reading project, tests/ quizzes, and notebook entries. 


As stated, we will read a variety of texts this trimester and analyze works within a variety of genres.  Readings include but are not limited to the following units:

  • Native American and Puritan Literature – with an emphasis on how these groups impacted 19th century authors
  • The Spirit of Individualism (Romanticism and Transcendentalism) – with readings by Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman
  • The Dark Side of Individualism – with readings by Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Conflict and Slavery – with readings by Frederick Douglass, James Russell Lowell and Frances Harper
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Independent Reading



Classroom Expectations

Be on time. Tardies count.

E veryone has a right to voice their opinion, but know when and how to do it appropriately.


R isk: take a chance on learning.

E veryone in the room is a valuable part of this community.

S mile. Laugh. Have a positive attitude. J

P ick up after yourself. Garbage on the floor clutters the room.

E njoy our differences.It’s what makes life interesting.

C ome to class prepared.  Be prepared to think, to work, to participate!

T alk to the teacher! Tell me what I need to know to help you.

F ollow the dress code. Reveal your soul, not your skin.

U nderstand that I get the final say. I am the teacher after all.

L ost? Ask questions, ask for help, ask again until you get what you need.


Above all, be respectful!



  • 3-ring binder or folder to keep all handouts, notes, and assignments for this class only
  • Writer’s Notebook – this should be a separate spiral or composition notebook
  • student planner
  • paper and writing utensils


If for any reason you are unable to purchase any of the materials listed above, please let me know.



  • Because discussion is so vital to this class, participation will be approximately 10% of your trimester grade. This grade will be based on a self-evaluation of your performance in class and an evaluation by the teacher. You will be evaluated on active listening, depth and breadth of class discussion, participation in groups, etc. Please keep this in mind during times of participation. 


Weekly Independent Reading

  • During this trimester, you will be required to bring a book of your choice to class on Mondays and Fridays (unless otherwise noted). We will be reading silently for about 20-25 minutes each time.  Your reading selection must be a book, not a magazine or comic, and of an appropriate reading level.  It can be fiction or non-fiction.  It can be a book from home, one from my collection or one from the library.  It is your responsibility to bring it every reading day.  It must be an American author.
  • By the end of the term, you must finish at least one book and complete a culminating project to demonstrate your understanding of the text.  THE PROJECT MUST BE COMPLETED WITH A BOOK THAT I HAVE SEEN YOU READ IN CLASS. 
  • Please take advantage of this opportunity and find something that you will truly enjoy.  If you can’t find one, I am happy to assist you.



Student Absences and Late Work

  • Attendance is mandatory to ensure success in the classroom
  • It is your responsibility to seek out make-up work if you are absent.
  • You will have the same number of days that you were absent to make up missed assignments, per our school policy.  This does not include major assignments (more than one week prep time); these are due on or before the assigned day, regardless of prior absence.
  • If an assignment is due on a day when you are absent, you will be expected to turn it in the day that you return. 
  • Projects, papers and homework will be accepted late.  Assignments one day late will be worth 90% of the points earned; assignments two days late will be worth 80% of the points earned; assignments three days late will be worth 70% of the points earned; assignments four or more days late will be worth 60% of the points earned. 
  • I will not accept late work during the last week of the trimester.  No exceptions.



Typed Assignments

  • ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE WHEN YOU WALK INTO CLASS.  You will not be given time at the beginning of the hour to “just print off” your work.
  • In the rare case of computer or printer failures, I will accept a copy of your paper via email.  If this is not possible, a handwritten copy with a note from a parent or guardian to verify the validity of the problem will be required.  In all other cases, a typed, hard copy should be turned in. 
  • Papers should be double-spaced, typed in 12 point font, and labeled with your first name, last name, date, and hour.
  • All typed assignments must also be submitted to www.turnitin.com by the specified due date. 


Grading Scale

  I will be strictly using the CHS grading scale.  See your planner for details. 



Student Evaluation

Please keep all work.  Check to be sure that work completed is accurately shown on your grades that will be posted online.



Contact Info

· I teach all day in Room A 313 and have first hour conference.  I am available both before and after school if you need extra help.  It is advisable, however, that you check with me in advance to avoid potential conflict with other meetings.

· My voice mail number is (248) 623-4033.

· Email: mrbridgman@clarkston.k12.mi.us



Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.  I am looking forward to a great trimester with all of you!