American Lit—Only for the Strong-Hearted

September 21, 2015

     Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year… I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country…within view of the melancholy House of Usher. “ This description, from Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” can sometimes describe the beginning of a new school year; however, for me, the change to junior English has been exciting—just do not ask the juniors!

     The beginning of the year meant the start of American Literature for 122 students and myself. Instead of the typical order of reading this collection chronologically, this year it will be done thematically. For the English III students, the starting theme was ‘Awakening the Imagination,’ which lead to the reading of Edgar Allen Poe and Ray Bradbury, and then finishing with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. At the same time, the English III-H students have been addressing the idea that “Dreams Deferred’ means more than just a lustful wish. Overall, the new take on an old class has challenged the new group to see English as a living and engaging organism, not a dust covered novel.

     In the words of Ray Bradbury, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them,” which is why we, in junior English, will continue to stretch our horizons and challenge our intellectual levels with the reading of many American authors—even the boring ones!