Online Class: American Literature Review

A course reviewing the literature of America and the people who made it, from earliest days to the present.

no certificate
- OR -
with CEU Certificate*
Start Right Now!
$120.00 (with CEU Certificate)
Taking multiple courses? Save with our platinum program.
  • 8
  • 23
    Exams &
  • 526
    have taken this course
  • 7
    average time
  • 0.7

Course Description

Journey Through Time: The Evolution of American Literature

American literature is more than just words on paper; it's a living chronicle of a nation's heartbeat, encapsulating the myriad emotions, events, and ethos of its people across eras. Through its dynamic transitions, this literature not only captures the essence of an evolving nation but also gives voice to countless souls that have shaped its narrative. From the passionate ink of poets to the thoughtful proses of novelists, the U.S. literary canvas is both vast and varied. This course invites you on a comprehensive journey through this riveting tale, from the first scribblings of a nascent nation to the digital musings of our present age.

In recent surveys, a staggering 75% of educators emphasized the crucial link between American literature and the nuanced understanding of U.S. history and culture. Why? Because literature often acts as a mirror, reflecting the zeitgeist of its times—capturing the triumphs, tragedies, and transitions with unparalleled depth.

Course Breakdown:

  1. Introduction: Set the stage by exploring the intrinsic link between the nation's evolution and its literary expressions. Delve into the reasons that make studying American literature not just an academic endeavor but a voyage into the soul of the country.

  2. Colonial Period to 1750: Discover the earliest voices of a new land. Understand the interplay of native narratives and the burgeoning influence of European settlers. Experience the raw hopes and dreams penned during these foundational years.

  3. Revolutionary Period up to 1820: Engage with the fervor of revolution as America sought its identity. From fiery speeches to poignant letters, witness literature that was often a clarion call for change.

  4. Writings from 1820 to 1865: This period heralded a rich tapestry of genres. As romanticism bloomed, so did a deeper exploration of the American psyche, society, and the ever-present dream of freedom.

  5. The Writings of a Continental Nation, 1865-1900: Post-Civil War, a wounded nation sought healing. Literature from this era not only captures the scars of battle but also the hopes of a unified future.

  6. Writings 1900-1920s: As the world shifted with technological advances and global events, American literature responded with introspection and an eager eye on the future, encompassing both the Roaring Twenties and the shadows of World War I.

  7. Writings of 1920 to 1945: Navigate the complexities of the Great Depression, the Harlem Renaissance, and the echoes of another World War. Literature in these years is a poignant mix of resilience, despair, and hope.

  8. Writings from 1945 to Present: In our modern era, literature has exploded in form and theme. Dive into post-war reflections, the Civil Rights movement, post-modernism, and the digital age's influence, capturing the diverse voices of a contemporary America.

Who Should Attend?

Whether you're a student prepping for exams, an educator seeking a refresher, or simply a curious soul eager to grasp the literary pulse of America, this course caters to all. It promises not just knowledge, but also a newfound appreciation for the written word and its power to shape, reflect, and transform societies.


American literature isn't a static subject—it's a dynamic story, ever-evolving, reflecting the dreams and despairs, the challenges and changes, of its vibrant nation. This course isn't just about understanding literature; it's about experiencing America—one word at a time. Dive in, and let the pages of history come alive with the whispers of the past and the dialogues of today. Join us in this literary adventure through time.

Course Motivation

American Literature Review:

This fascinating course focuses on reviewing the literature of America and the people who created it, influenced it, and made it what it is today.  We will examine the earliest days of American literature up to the present time.  Students will learn about the major literary movements – everything from realism to romanticism to transcendentalism and the authors who have contributed significantly to the development of American literature in its many varied aspects.  Students will understand how American literature has evolved to its present form and will understand the basic foundations that today’s American literature is based upon.

American Literature 101 provides an easy-to-follow timeline and contains a brief synopsis of major authors and their works.  In order to understand the history and culture of a nation that has undergone dramatic social, economic, and cultural changes, it’s important to understand the origins of the literature that spawned such tremendous changes.  In addition, students of American literature often find themselves viewing the world around them with an increased understanding of cultural changes out there. 

Whether you are looking for test preparation, reviewing for high school or college, or you are just interested in understanding what American literature is and how it evolved to where it is today, this course will be ideal.  You’ll be able to access online forums and engage in discussions with your fellow online students and you’ll have online access to your instructor, who will be able to answer any and all questions that you might have.

Students of American Literature 101 will be exposed to the history of American literature and see how it applies to the literature of today.  The student will experience the growth of American literature from the colonial period through the Civil War and finally wind up examining the American literature of today.  Students will examine their favorite types of American literature and will learn to trace the evolution of the subject.

Students will also be given the opportunity to examine such areas as:

·        Introduction:  Students will that reading and learning about American literature is essential to understand the history and culture of the American nation – and will see that unlike any other country in the world, American literature was multicultural in its very origins.

·        Colonial period through 1750:  Students will examine how the myths and oral legends of the Native Americans, many of which did not have written languages, influenced American literature.  In addition, students will see how there is a strong Scandinavian influence in early American literature.  From there, the student will see how Puritanism had such a major impact upon the earliest forms of American literature.

·        The writings of the Revolutionary Period up to 1820:  Students will see how the writing during this period was mainly public writing – letters and pamphlets and declarations, as well as speeches and essays.  The student will learn about Abigail Adams and her portrayal of Colonial life in her letters, as well as see how Hector St. John Crvecoeur’s “Letters from an American Farmer” began the start of what was to become the “melting pot” national identity.  Students will also see how Benjamin Franklin’s writings have endured through modern times and discover Thomas Jefferson’s influences in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

·        The flowering of American Romanticism from 1820-1865:  Students will learn the 4 principal romantic themes in American literature, and will understand what the origins of American Romanticism are.  In addition, the works of such great authors as Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville and Edgar Allen Poe will be examined.

·        The writings of a Continental Nation:  Students will examine Mark Twain and his creations, as well as Jack London, Emily Dickinson and will examine which African-American and Native American writers flourished during this time period. 

·        The writings of 1900-1920:  The student will examine such writers as Robert Frost and Henry James, as well as William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot.  In addition, students will examine the Harlem Renaissance and see how it has influenced contemporary works.  The poet Langston Hughes will be discussed, along with the playwright Eugene O’Neill.

·        The writings from 1920 to the present:  Students will examine the works of authors during this period, and see how they impacted today’s culture.

American Literature 101 is a course that is perfect for students, academics, and for anyone who is curious as to how writing today has evolved from early times.  Packed with useful information, in-depth insights, and presented in an interesting and educational way, it’s a must-have course for anyone who seeks to enrich their artistic aspirations.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(416 votes)

Lesson 1: Introduction

Overview of the course Additional lesson topics: What is American Literature 70 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Why are you taking a class in American literature?; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Introductory Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Quiz

Lesson 2: Colonial Period to 1750

Colonial Period up to 1750 Additional lesson topics: Colonial Literature in America 50 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Native American Literature.
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Quiz (Colonial Period Up To 1790)

Lesson 3: Revolutionary Period up to 1820

The Writings of the Revolutionary Period up to 1820 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Assignment for Lesson 3
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Quiz (The Writings Revolutionary of the Period up to 1820

Lesson 4: Writings from 1820 to 1865

The Flowering of American Romanticism, from 1820-1865 Additional lesson topics: Harriet Beecher Stowe 50 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Lesson discussions: What do you prefer reading?
  • Complete: Assignment for Lesson 4
  • Complete Assignment: James Fenimore Cooper
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Quiz (The Flowering of American Romanticism from 1820-1865)

Lesson 5: The Writings of a Continental Nation, 1865-1900

The Writings (and writers) of a Continental Nation, 1865-1900 Additional lesson topics: Emily Dickinson; American Realism 1860-1890 80 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: American Realism
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Quiz ( The Writings of 1865-1900)

Lesson 6: Writings 1900-1920s

The Writings of 1900 through the 1920s Additional lesson topics: Zora Neale Hurston; The Harlem Renaissance 49 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Eugene O'Neill
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Quiz (The Writings of 1900-1920)

Lesson 7: Writings of 1920 to 1945

The Writings of 1920-1945 Additional lesson topics: Modernism in American Literature 80 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Assignment for Lesson 7
  • Complete Assignment: Compulsion of Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and Hemmingway
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Quiz (The Writings of 1920-1945)

Lesson 8: Writings from 1945 to Present

The Writings of 1945 -- To The Present Additional lesson topics: Lecture: American Literature 1945 to Present 108 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Favorite Time Period; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Assignment for Lesson 8
  • Complete Assignment: What Compelled American Writers 1945 to Present?
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Quiz (The Writings of 1945 -- To The Present)
  • Assessment: Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize the major literary figures and works from the Colonial Period to 1750.
  • Summarize the major literary figure and works from the Revolutionary Period up to 1820
  • Describe the major writings created from 1820-1865.
  • Summarize the major writings of a Continental Nation, 1865-1900.
  • Identify and summarize the major literary works of the 20th century.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: American Literature Review
Course Number: 7550447
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (416 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: August 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

Choose Your Subscription Plan

Course Only
One Course
No Certificate / No CEUs
for 6 months
Billed once
This course only
Includes certificate X
Includes CEUs X
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 6 months
No. of courses 1 course
Certificate Course
One Course
Certificate & CEUs
for 6 months
Billed once
This course only
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 6 months
No. of courses 1 course
Platinum Yearly
Certificates & CEUs
per year
Billed once
Includes all 600+ courses
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 12 Months
No. of courses 600+
Platinum 2 Years
Certificates & CEUs
for 2 years
You save $79.00!
Billed once
Includes all 600+ courses
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 24 Months
No. of courses 600+

Student Testimonials

  • "This course was amazing. So many great authors discussed. The information was great and, as usual, the feedback and teacher videos were great. A great combination of history and literature." -- Judy R.
  • "I love the enthusiasm of the instructor and the way he makes sense of everything." -- Marion A.
  • "I found the video classes to be interesting and added an extra layer to each section." -- Ann D.
  • "Mac is an amazing instructor." -- Diana C.
  • "This course was very helpful to me, as all the materials were in sequence. I am a senior citizen,so I spend countless hours reading. I so enjoyed this course, as it included names and the writings of so many great authors. Since I print all the lessons, I can now refer to them in my search for reading materials. Some of the authors I had forgotten-- a memory refresher for me." -- Sara G.
  • "This course is more than super!" -- Yasar S.
  • "Instructor was responsive, personal and timely." -- Joseph H.
  • "Instructor was great!" -- Marcus M.
  • "I've taken now 3 classes with this instructor and I am always challenged. His feedback is very useful and has challenged me to look further for more information and understanding. I've definitely learned a lot." -- Sandra C.
  • "I just loved the course. I learned so much. The instructor was fantastic. His feedback was concise and informative and I appreciated his comments because they were insightful and clear. I wish I could take another course with him. Great instructor!" -- Arlene B.

Related Courses