Overview | Assignments | Documents & Policies


Ben Hughes

Course Description

This is a complementary class to Mrs. Flannery’s American History class. The writing portion will include one semester of emphasis in advanced composition (topics for major essays determined by Mrs. Flannery), and one semester of various exercises alongside readings in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. The course will also include a survey of American literature from Plymouth Plantation through the mid-20th century, along with the unfamiliar vocabulary within the selected texts.

Course Objectives

  • To sharpen formal expository writing skills and research methods
  • To become familiar with the classical art of rhetoric
  • To survey the American literary tradition, and understand its contribution to the Great Conversation

Course Methods

Assignments will be posted on the class assignments page:

Reading: There is a lot of reading in this class, but I will keep us on schedule with the weekly assignments. For the most part we will read a given section and talk about it in class.

Essays: These will be multiple week projects that hone essential skills of composition and rhetoric

Weekly Writing: Students can expect to write something either formal or personal/reflective of varying lengths most weeks.

Vocabulary: Students will often be asked identify 10 unfamiliar words each week from their reading assignments and provide the definition in its given context. These must be handwritten.

Marking/Outlining: Students will outline and mark their reading in Rhetoric and How to Read a Book according to the standards set forth in a handout.

Class Texts

Recommended editions are linked below via amazon.com, but I understand book budgets can be tight. Feel free to order used copies, use hand-me-downs, or find what you can digitally if you are so inclined. I personally love scouring the shelves at Half Price Books. However, I do require students to purchase fresh copies of How to Read a Book and Aristotle’s Rhetoric since they will be marking those books.

Rhetoric Books (clean copies required for marking)


Grades will be calculated roughly as follows, depending on how the quarter’s assignments pan out:

Essays 25%
Reading (Vocab/Quizzes/Marking/Outlining) 25%
Weekly Writing 25%
Literature Exam 15%
Professionalism/Participation 10%

below 60%=F