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ENGL 1600 Masterpieces of American Literature

Instructor Contact:

Dr. Erin Kingsley


Instructor Bio:

Erin earned a B.A. in literature from George Fox University in Newberg, OR in 2001; an M.A. in Literary Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2006; and a PhD in literature from CU-Boulder in 2014. Her dissertation was on “gestational modernisms” in British novels. (Simply put, any time you see pregnancy and childbirth in a book, please let her know!) She lives in Briston, TN with her husband of 13 years, Matt, two children (Sylvia and Lucas), and dog Koy. Aside from reading like a mad thing, she loves bubble baths, movies, music, photography, sleep, food, travel, friends/family, and Jesus (not in that order). You may contact he via email at You may also contact her via Skype or Google+ or call/text 303.332.2518 (please identify yourself when texting!).  She will respond to all emails, texts and phone calls within 24-48 hours, unless otherwise noted (if she is out of state, etc). Please do not be upset if she has not yet responded to you and it has not yet been 24-48 hours. As always, if your query is of a time-sensitive nature, calling or texting work better than emailing.

About the Course:

This course is a Fall Session, 15-week Term-Based course delivered online using the Desire2Learn (D2L) platform. It covers notable poetry, drama and prose written from the 1800s to the present. We will become more thoughtful about the process of reading and writing by noting our thoughts and questions about the texts; analyzing repeated themes, images and symbols; responding to the texts as a community; and interrogating the texts through numerous written exercises. Students will study the main literary movements of Puritanism (1400-1700s), Enlightenment (1750-1800), Romanticism (1800-1840), Transcendentalism (1840-1855), Modernism (roughly 1900-1945), Imagism, the Beats (1945-1960), and Postmodernism (1975-2000), in addition to considering notable historical shifts like the rise of feminism, the Civil War, the breakdown of the slavery system, and more. Above all, I hope to develop readers that appreciate and, even better, enjoy the written word.


Upon completion of this course, students are expected to:

  1. Understand the history of 19th-21st  century American literature;
  2. Develop a knowledge-base of the fundamentals of literature, including critical schools, key literary terms, and canonical authors/works (including differences in authorial style and voice);
  3. Improve skills such as questioning, close reading, research, digital humanities, and written critical analysis;
  4. Analyze and comprehend published critical commentary on canonical works;
  5. Understand MLA format and the standards of writing a research paper in literature.

Required Texts:

(While reading assignments correspond to the edition in the bookstore, any edition will do, although I strongly recommend buying the specified editions whenever they are Norton Critical Editions. All books can be purchased online as well, and many are available in digital editions):

  • Articles and lecture materials on D2L throughout the semester (note well: the course is organized into modules according to book. Please read the module for each book thoroughly BEFORE reading the book, as the module includes lectures that will tell you why we are reading the book, how to read it, and what to look for).
  • Melville’s Short Novels by Herman Melville (Norton Critical Edition, ISBN 978-0393976410)
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Bedford College Edition, ISBN 978-0312446475)
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (ISBN 978-0684801469)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (ISBN 978-1400033416)
  • Fences by August Wilson (ISBN 978-0452264014)
  • CHOOSE ONE: Fun Home by Allison Bechdel (ISBN 978-0618871711) OR We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (ISBN 978-0316230841)
  • The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry by Jay Parini, ed. (978-0231081221) – Note: This book is expensive and most poems therein can easily be found online. Do not purchase unless you are interested in adding to your collection!


  • 20% – Discussion Posts (6 primary, 6 response)
  • 20% – Small Papers (2)
  • 20% – Large Analytical Paper and Workshop
  • 15% – Creative Project
  • 10% – Quizzes (8)
  • 10% – Google Drive Posts
  • 5% – Participation

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
7:30am to 4:30pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado