Course Syllabus

English 10h                                                                                                    Curriculum and Expectations ’22-’23

Mr. McCullough                                                                                                                   Rm. 215  

Welcome to what I expect will be a challenging and enriching experience for all of us.  Our examination of almost five hundred years’ worth of American literature will be in the company of many of the finest writers ever to put ink to paper.  We can’t help but learn a great deal from them, and, of course, from one another.  Your success in the course, though, and the benefits you derive from it, will depend largely on your own engagement and dedication.    In English 10h you will immerse yourself in literature and ideas.  You will read and listen closely, think broadly and deeply and be receptive to new perspectives.  You will make relevant, discuss and write about what you conclude.  You will hone your powers of perception and self-expression.  You will respect and support your classmates in our adventure together.  Without relent, you will give your responsibilities as an honors student your best effort.  

The writers we’ll study will include...   Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, John Smith, William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Phillis Wheatley, William Cullen Bryant, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Richard Henry Dana, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Lydia Child, Chief Seattle, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, Charles W. Chesnutt, Bret Harte, Sarah Orne Jewett, Gertrude Simmons Bonin (Zitkala Sa), Stephen Crane, Jack London, Henry Adams, Sarah Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Willa Cather, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Amy Lowell, Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sterling Hayden, Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck, Irwin Shaw, Ernie Pyle, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Budd Schulberg, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, Eudora Welty, Grace Paley, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Jane Kenyon, Mary Oliver, Richard Wilbur, Billy Collins, Wendell Berry, Denise Chavez, Rita Dove, David Foster Wallace, David Sedaris, Ayad Akhtar.                          


You will come to class on time and prepared--which includes having with you your notebook, something to write with and the pertinent text.  Cutting class will not be tolerated.   

Your work will be your own, a product of your best effort and appropriate for an honors level course.  

You will meet deadlines for all reading and writing assignments.  If you anticipate a problem meeting a deadline let me know.  Excuses after the fact will fall on unsympathetic ears.  One late waiver a quarter is available for written work to those who need it.   You will adhere without fail to the tenets of academic and personal integrity.  The consequences of any transgression will be severe.      

You will be both courteous to and respectful of others.   You will be open-minded, receptive and responsible.  


You can expect an average of about forty pages of reading in preparation for each class meeting.  Anticipate unannounced quizzes as well as other exercises to encourage and assess your mastery of what you’ve read and the craft of writing.  Absent students are responsible for making up promptly the work they missed.  Do not expect reminders from me.  


Grading will be based on a point system.  Your grade will be determined by what percentage the points you earned are of the total possible during each grading period.  The significance of an assignment will be reflected in the number of points it is worth.  For example, typically formal papers will be worth 25 points and discussion essays 5.  Papers and DEs account for, roughly, 60% of your grade; engagement (participation, conscientiousness, diligence, receptiveness) about 20%.  Quizzes and other in-class experiences will comprise about 20%.        

Discussion Essays and Papers  

Discussion essays should be not less than 200 words, formal papers not less than 750.  Each is due at the beginning of class the day it appears in the syllabus.  Late DEs will not be accepted for credit except with the use of a late waiver, of which you get one a quarter.  Late papers will be assessed a ten percent penalty a day.  All written work must be word-processed in a conventional font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins.  DEs must be more than just a single paragraph.  To get full credit for a DE you must define the word that appears in parentheses with each assignment.  Papers must be accompanied by an assessment sheet.      

My email address is   


Here's a link to a quick video describing the course...


Red Syllabus One

9/6  Discussion: Louis Agassiz's fish and Robert Frost's "The Pasture."

9/7  Read  Richard Wilbur's "Hamlen Brook" and Jane Kenyon's "Otherwise."

DE1: (ineffable) Explain how "Hamlen Brook" could be read as a response to "Otherwise," or "Otherwise" to "Hamlen Brook."

9/9  In class essay: summer reading.

9/12  Read the excerpts from Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the Unknown Interiors of America.

9/13  Read John Smith's "The General History of Virginia."

9/15  Read the excerpt from William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation;" Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband" and "Here Follows Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House;" and the excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

DE2: (resolute) Given the severity of the the challenges they faced, what pragmatic purpose did the Puritans' extreme religious devoltion serve?  As ever, be sure to support your assertions with specific evidence.

9/16  Read the first five chapters of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.  You can skip the introductory chapter, "The Customs House."

9/20  Read chapters six through nine of The Scarlet Letter.

DE3: (aplomb) What is the source of Hester's strength, and why is Dimmesdale so lacking of it?

9/21  Read chapters ten through thirteen of The Scarlet Letter.

9/22  Read chapters fourteen through nineteen of The Scarlet Letter.

DE4: (ardent) Hester tells Dimmesdale, "What we did has a consecration of its own."  What does she mean?  Is she right?  Why?

9/27  Finish The Scarlet Letter.

9/28  Read the excerpts from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.

9/30  Read the Declaration of Independence.

DE5: (inalienable) What are the most important ideas to emerge from the first few paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence?  Why?

10/3  Read Phillis Wheatley's "On Being Brought From Africa to America," "To the University of Cambridge, in New England," and "To His Excellency General Washington."

10/4  Paper #1: An explanation of the broader implications of the Cabeza de Vaca and/or Smith excerpts; or an expanded and polished DE1; of The Scarlet Letter, open topic; or Wheatley, open topic; or an analysis of the Franklin excerpts; or an expanded and polished DE5.

10/7  Read William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis."

10/11  Read Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle."

DE6: (termagant)  What--or who--is to blame for Rip's predicament?

10/14  Read Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven."

10/17  Read the excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance."

DE7: (exhort)  Pick a line or two that strike you and react.

10/18  Read Emerson's "Nature."

10/20  Read the excerpt from Henry David Thoreau's "Walden."

DE8: (ebullient) From what you've learned of his thinking from the excerpt, what would Thoreau have to say about how you're living your life?

10/21  Read the excerpt from Thoreau's "Resistance to Civil Government."

10/25  Read Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener."  

10/26  Read the excerpt from Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast.

DE9: (enjoin)  Using Two Years Before the Mast as your primary evidence, explain how writing can be testimony.  What role, then, can the printed word play in initiating social change?

10/27  Read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport" and "A Psalm of Life." 

10/31  Become an expert on the Emily Dickinson poem you've been assigned.

DE10 (explicate)  Explain your interpretation of your Dickinson poem.

11/1  Today we'll continue our study of Dickinson's poetry.

11/4  Read Walt Whitman's "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking."

11/7  Read Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry."

DE11: (ebullient) "...there is perfection in you also..."  Explain.

11/8  Read the excerpt from Frederick Douglass' memoir.

11/10  Read Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

11/14  Paper #2.  An expanded and polished DE6, DE7, DE8, or DE9; or "Thanatopsis," open topic; "Bartleby the Scrivener," open topic; or "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport," open topic; or an analysis of a Whitman or Dickinson poem; or a personal reaction to the Douglass memoir; or an analysis of the Gettysburg Address.

11/16  Read Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 7.

11/17  Read Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 13.

11/18  Read Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 18.

DE12: (rapport) Explain the evolution of Huck's relationship with Jim.

11/22  Read Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 23.

11/29  Read Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 29.

12/1  Read Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through chapter 35.

DE13: (crux) "'All right, then, I'll go to hell'--and tore it up."  Explain.

12/2  Finish reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

12/5  Read Charles W. Chesnutt's "Hot-Foot Hannibal."

12/8  Read Brett Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp."

DE14: (ineffable) Explain the impact of the baby on the men of the camp.

12/9  Read Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron."

12/13  Read Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat."

12/14  Read Jack London's "To Build a Fire."

DE15: (hubris) How might "to Build a Fire" be read as an allegory of mankind's condition in the universe?  Explain.

12/15  Read Gertrude Simmons Bonnin's "Impressions of an Indian Childhood."

12/19  Read Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy."

12/20  Read Willa Cather's "Paul's Case."

DE16: (subjugation) What, finally, is Paul trying to escape?

12/22  Paper #3: An expanded and polished DE14, DE15, or DE16; or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, open topic; or an analysis of one of the Robinson poems; or an analysis of "Hot-Foot Hannibal," "A White Heron," "The Return of a Private," "The Open Boat," or "Impressions of an Indian Childhood."

Today we'll prepare for the Vocabulary Olympics.

12/23  Vocabulary Olympics

1/3  Today we'll get started on Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

1/5  Read Ethan Frome through chapter four.

1/6  Read Ethan Frome through chapter seven.

1/10  Finish reading Ethan Frome.

1/12  Today we'll start our study of John Madden's film version of Ethan Frome.

1/13  Today we'll finish and discuss the Madden film.

1/18  Today you'll be writing about Ethan Frome, the novel and the film.

1/19  Read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-Paper."

1/24  Read E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime through chapter seven.

1/25  Read Ragtime through chapter fourteen.

1/26  Read Ragtime through chapter 21.

1/30  Read Ragtime through chapter 29.

1/31  Read Ragtime through chapter 35.

2/1  Finish reading Ragtime.

2/3  Today you'll be writing about Ragtime.

2/6  Paper#4: Explain by what Ethan Frome is imprisoned; or explain the evolution of a primary fictional character in Ragtime.

In class we'll read Amy Lowell's "September, 1918," E.E. Cummings' "In Just-," "Buffalo Bill's," "i sing of Olaf glad and big," Edna St. Vincent Millay's "I Think I Should Have Loved You Presently," Sara Teasdale's "There Will Come Soft Rains," Langston Hughes' "I, Too," "Song of a Dark Girl" and "Democracy."

2/7  Read the first two chapters of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

2/9  Read chapters three and four of The Great Gatsby.

DE17: (acuity)  "Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night.  He came alive to me, delivered from the womb of his purposeless splendor."  Explain.

2/10  Read chapters five and six of The Great Gatsby.

2/14  Read chapters seven and eight of The Great Gatsby.

2/15  Finish reading The Great Gatsby.

DE18: (coquette)  Explain Daisy, her motivations, her methods, her impact. 

2/16  Today you'll be writing about The Great Gatsby.

2/27  In class today we'll scrutinize Robert Frost's  "The Tuft of Flowers," "After Apple-Picking," "The Wood Pile," "Good Hours," and "Out, Out..."

2/28  Read Frost's "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening," "Desert Places," "Design," "Storm Fear," "Afterflakes," "Unharvested," and "The Most Of It."

DE19: (rustic) Explain the connection between the form of one of today's poems and its themes.

3/3  Read T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men."

3/6  Read Zora Neale Hurston's "How It Feels To Be Colored Me," and chapter 13 of Sterling Hayden's Wanderer.

DE20: (schism) Both independently and together, what do these pieces have to say about American society?

3/7  Read Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place."

DE21: (despondency) What's with all this "nada" business?  Explain.

3/9  Read Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants."

3/10  Read Hemingway's "the Snows of Kilimanjaro."

DE22: (squander) Explain the significance of the italicized passages.

3/14  Read William Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily."

3/15  Paper #5: Explain Gatsby's "heightened sensitivity to the promise of life" and its significance, or Daisy's means of handling the sexism of her culture, or Nick's chronic ambivalence; or a thematic comparison of the Hemingway stories.

3/16  Read the first forty pages of John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men.

3/20  Finish reading Of Mice And Men.

DE23: (amity) Explain the thematic significance of George's and Lennie's friendship.

3/21  Today we'll conclude our discussion of Of Mice And Men.

3/23  Read Dorothy Parker's "Big Blonde."

3/24  Read Irwin Shaw's "The Girls In Their Summer Dresses."

DE24: (egregious) Is Mike's behavior merely hurtful candor in an awkward but perfectly human situation, or vindictive cruelty, or brazen sexism?

3/27  Read the Ernie Pyle columns.

3/29  A draft of Paper #6 is due today.

3/31  Today we'll get started on Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.  

4/3  Read Scenes One and Two of A Streetcar Named Desire.

4/6  Finish reading A Streetcar Named Desire.

DE25: (animus) Explain the tension between Stanley and Blanche.

4/10  Paper #6 is due today.

In class we'll conclude our discussion of the text of A Streetcar Named Desire and start Elia Kazan's film version of the play.

4/11  Today we'll continue Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire.

DE26: (infer) Pick a metaphor in the play and explain its significance.

4/13  Today we'll finish and discuss Kazan's movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire.

4/14  Today we'll begin our study of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

4/25  Read Death of a Salesman through Charlie's line, "Jesus!"

4/27  Finish reading Death of a Salesman.

DE27: (delusion)  Where did Willy's life go awry?  Why did it happen?

5/1  Today we'll continue our study of Death of a Salesman.

5/2  More Death of a Salesman.

5/5  Today we'll conclude our discussion of Death of a Salesman.

DE28: (elegy) "Willy was a salesman.  And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life.  He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine.  He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.  And when they start not smiling back--that's an earthquake.  And then you get yourself a couple spots on your hat, and you're finished.  Nobody dast blame this man.  A salesman is got to dream, boy.  It comes with the territory."  Explain.

5/8  In class we'll begin Budd Schulberg's and Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront.

5/9  Read Schulberg's piece.

Today we'll continue our study of On the Waterfront.

5/11  Today we'll finish and discuss On the Waterfront.

DE29: (redemption) On the Waterfront, open topic.

5/12  Today we'll begin our study of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

5/17  Read the first six chapters of The Catcher in the Rye.

5/18  Read chapters 7-10 of The Catcher in the Rye.

5/19  Read chapters 11-14 of The Catcher in the Rye.

DE30: (wistful) Diagnose Holden.  What's going on with him?

5/22  Read chapters 15-18 of The Catcher in the Rye.

5/24  Read chapters 19-22 of The Catcher in the Rye.

5/25  Finish reading The Catcher in the Rye.

DE31: (roil) The Catcher in the Rye, open topic.

5/30  Read John Cheever's "The Five Forty-Eight."

DE32: (wretched) Explain, please, the circumstances that would produce a Blake and a Miss Dent.  Are they their own fault or victims of forces beyond their control?  Explain.

5/31  Read the excerpt from Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

6/1  Paper #7: an expanded and polished DE25, 27, 29, 30 or 32.

In class we'll read and discuss Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus" and Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."

6/6  Read the Mary Oliver and Billy Collins poems.

DE33: (wry) Choose one of today's poems and react.  Why are its themes important?  What thoughts does it inspire?

6/7  Vocabulary Olympics

6/8  DE34, The Last: (jubilant) How did your year with American literature go?  What about the experience was enlightening or beneficial?  (Or, if this is more apt, where did it go awry?). What did you enjoy?  What wasn't so great?

Or... a personal reaction to any of the year's readings.  Which meant the most to you?  Why?

In class today we'll brace ourselves for the exam.

6/13  Final exam... and aloha.