American Literature (Lectures)


Ben Crist has taught middle and high school students for sixteen years, specializing in the humanities. Divided between lecture and discussion formats, this course will take the student from colonial writings to modern fiction, and survey both prose and poetry.

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From its roots in the Christian west, American literature gave shape to new ideas even as it breathed life into existing forms such as the Biblical sermon, the ancient quest, and the medieval romance.

This course takes the student from colonial writings to modern fiction, and surveys both prose and poetry. The class is divided between lecture and discussion formats. The student should expect frequent, guided readings and regular writing assignments.

We’ll develop a background in the Puritans and Founders. Then, we will read novels, poetry, and short stories.

This course is part of the Compass Lectures Series where veteran teachers are filmed as they teach in an actual classroom. This product includes streaming access to the videos filmed live in Nashville. Assignments for local students are explained on the videos and in the course steps. However, parents are solely responsible for assigning and grading this work.

Required Books

  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • Little Women
  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Travels with Charley
  • Peace Like a River

*Copies of these books can be purchased on any of these sites: Better World BooksThrift Books, or

License: This product is licensed for use by one family. Co-op participants must purchase one subscription per family.

Additional information





1 HS English

Credit Amount



Lesson Length

Average lecture runtime: 1 hr


Ben Crist





Ben has been teaching Latin and the Humanities in Classical and Christian schools for the last 15 years. In addition to classroom and tutorial instruction, he has worked in school administration, curriculum development, and teacher training. Ben is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and serves as a deacon in his church. He lives with his wife and three children in Franklin where they homeschool.


Download Scope & Sequence with assignments

  1. Introduction to American Lit & The Foundation of Story
  2. The American Story Begins
  3. The Last of the Mohicans (Part 1)
  4. The Last of the Mohicans (Part 2)
  5. The Last of the Mohicans (Part 3)
  6. The Last of the Mohicans (Part 4)
  7. Interlude: Selected Poetry & Short Stories to 1850
  8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Part 1)
  9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Part 2)
  10. Interlude: Selected Essays through Romanticism
  11. The Red Badge of Courage
  12. Little Women (Part 1)
  13. Little Women (Part 2)
  14. “The Gift of the Magi”
  15. “The Lady or the Tiger?”
  16. The Great Gatsby (Part 1)
  17. The Great Gatsby (Part 2)
  18. Interlude: Selected Poetry of Dickinson, Frost, and Eliot
  19. To Kill a Mockingbird (Part 1)
  20. To Kill a Mockingbird (Part 2)
  21. Interlude: Selected Modern Short Stories
  22. Travels with Charley (Part 1)
  23. Travels With Charley (Part 2)
  24. Travels With Charley (Part 3)
  25. Peace Like a River (Part 1)
  26. Peace Like a River (Part 2)
  27. Thesis Defense Preparation
  28. Thesis Defenses
  29. Final Lecture

Sample Lesson


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