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ENGL 261 - American Literature II - Dr Caitlin Newcomer

Course:American Literature II
Professor:Dr Caitlin Newcomer
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 5 Week


Picture of Instructor

Welcome to English 261! The purpose of this letter is to introduce you to the course so that you can be sure that taking this course is the right decision for you. 

As listed in our course catalog, this is a UC/CSU transferable course that surveys a wide range of American authors and their relationship to major literary and intellectual movements from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present.

This course will be 100% percent online. There are no face-to-face class meetings and work can be completed at your convenience within the deadlines set for the course. An online course certainly offers advantages in terms of flexibility, and for the most part you will be able to tailor the coursework to fit your daily and weekly schedule, while still completing assignments and activities by the assigned due dates. Please note, however, that this is not a self-paced course. Therefore, this course requires a great deal of discipline, organization, and participation. 

Course Description

What is American literature ? What historical circumstances led to its development? What is the relationship between its past and its present? How are these texts shaped by the world around them? How do they, in turn, seek to reshape their world? How are we, as readers, shaped and reshaped by these texts? What is our responsibility to these texts and to each other? 

In order to begin to answer these and other interconnected questions, this course will focus on the development of the major genres of American writing from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, moving in roughly chronological order. Although we will collectively work to--at least provisionally--answer these questions, we will also seek to unsettle easy and uncomplicated narratives, focusing on debates and differences between a variety of authors and texts. We will also reflect on the ways these texts connect both to their own historical/cultural circumstances, as well as the ways they can be brought to bear on our own contemporary moment. 

What to Expect in this Course

If this is your first time taking an online course (and even if it’s not), one of the first things to be aware of is that an online course isn’t any “easier” than taking an in-person class. It’s just different. You should expect to spend approximately 15 hours per week logged into our Canvas shell viewing Powerpoint lectures or instructor videos, reading handouts, and participating in discussions as well as completing assignments and reading the material required for class. In short, the workload is the same as an in-person class. What the online format offers is greater control and flexibility over when (and where) you complete your work, although you must always make sure to abide by posted deadlines. 

However, for these same reasons an online course can pose unique challenges that you need to consider. As you begin this course, make sure to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I realistic about my ability to complete the roughly 12 hours of work required weekly for the course?  
  • Can I rely on myself to stay on top of the material, to complete the required assignments on time, and to “check in” regularly with my instructor and classmates?  
  • Do I have the necessary computer skills and access?  
  • Am I willing to spend some time familiarizing myself with Canvas?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you should be more than able to succeed in an online course. Basically, being a successful online student means staying on top of deadlines, taking personal responsibility for your motivation and engagement, paying attention to detail, and seeking help when you need it. 

Types of Assessments

In this class you will typically complete assignments such as: discussion boards and responses, reading journals, and analytical essays.

Textbook Information

Textbook Title: The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 9th Edition, Volume II
ISBN-13: 978-0393264531
ISBN-10: 039326453X

Other Relevant Course Information

I always love teaching American literature and am very excited to teach this class again this semester. I look forward to working with you!

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 10/25/2021 Sub#: 945