Intro-to-american-literature-mark-twainIntroduction to American Literature

American has been called “the land of the free,” but debates continue to rage in the public sphere about what freedom and American identity truly mean. American writers, poets, and thinkers have been offering their own commentary on the subject since the Founding of the United States, and it is vital for young Americans — and anyone interested in the future of America — to enter into this historical dialogue about the nature of liberty and the identity of our nation. In this course, we will focus specifically on the development of our nation’s literary and cultural identity.

The course has three main components: reading, discussion, and writing. We will read some of the greatest novels, short stories, and poems from the American literary canon. We will engage in lively, active discussions of the reading every week. We will write three essays, one of them a research essay using MLA style. Students will also complete grammar assignments and learn about many literary terms and devices that are important to American literature and college-level literature classes. Both semesters will end with a short exam.

The course is designed for mature readers and writers of high school age and ability. The themes of the course are difficult, and sometimes the reading material is dark. The most ideal time to take this course is after completing CLRC’s British Literature course, but students are also welcome if they have successfully completed CLRC’s Introduction to Literature and Composition, or if they obtain the instructor’s permission to enroll.

  • "Thank you, Mrs. Valle. I am extremely satisfied with your abilities and am grateful that my daughter was under your guidance for American Literature. I also greatly appreciate the feedback you provided on her grade report. I’ve been so pleased to see her mature, recognize that she has to be responsible for her learning, and dig down and commit to her work.  She worked hard on her final essay and we were both proud of her work.  Thank you again - we could not have done this on our own!" -- Janice A., California
  • "Thank you so much for all you did to inspire and teach my daughter this semester. She definitely gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of literature and of writing essays. Your enthusiasm for the readings was contagious, and your questions and discussions helped her discover deeper meaning in the texts read in the class. I especially appreciate that you explained essay writing in a way she could understand and implement." -- Mike and Judy H., New Mexico

Fall 2020 Registration for this Course Opens on February 27.

Prerequisites:  Intro to Lit  Comp and/or British Literature, or permission of instructor
Instructor:  Cara Valle, B.A.
Age  Level: --
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Minimum Enrollment Required: 5
Maximum Class Size: 20
Tuition per Semester:$390
Early Registration Discount (before June 1): 10% off!

Class Meets:
Mondays, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific
Click Here to see the 2021-22 Class Schedule

Fall '21 - Spring '22 Registration is Open!

(If you would like to enroll in this class but cannot attend at the posted time, please contact us.  We may be able to open an additional section.)

Problems Registering?    Click here    for help.  

Cara Valle, B.A.

Cara-Valle-literature-compositionCara Valle earned her B.A. in English from Hillsdale College, where she focused on English Poetry and also studied violin performance, Greek, and history. She then taught Literature and Composition and advanced Poetry at Glendale Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. After having children of her own, she switched to online teaching and has been with CLRC since 2015. She now lives in Northern Virginia, where she homeschools her four children and serves on a non-profit board. She enjoys reading, working out, writing poetry, and spending time outdoors.

An American is a person who does things because they haven’t been done before.

— Mark Twain

A star (*) marks a book that must be purchased in the specified edition.

Amazon links for textbooks and materials are provided for the convenience of our parents and students. 
The CLRC is an Amazon Associate.

*The Scarlet Letter --


*Moby Dick --


*Huckleberry Finn --



*The Red Badge of Courage



*The Great Gatsby —



*The Old Man and the Sea



*The  Crucible —



*The  Elements of Style 4th ed.


A Handbook to Literature

NOTE: This book may be purchased at lower prices from several sellers other than Amazon, including,, and Please purchase the 10th edition. The book will be used in both American and British Literature, so if you take both classes, you can use the book for two years. Please e-mail the instructor at with any questions about purchasing the text.

*Stewart English Program
Book 2