11th Grade

The mission of American Studies is to develop critical thinking, reading, speaking, and writing while seeking an understanding of American literature, history, and culture. The American Studies Course is a required year-long, one-teacher, humanities course for eleventh graders. Qualified students also have the option of taking a section of the course that emphasizes preparation for the Advanced Placement (AP) United States History test or the AP English Language and Composition test. Another section of the course supports the distinctive learning needs of English Language Learners.


Besides developing critical skills and essential understanding and knowledge of America, the course encourages imagination, creativity, the joy of reading and learning, and the appreciation of a variety of perspectives and the exchange of ideas. In American Studies students learn to read closely like a literary scholar, examine evidence like a historian, present their ideas verbally, construct an argument, write like a college student and professionals, and think across disciplinary boundaries.


Students explore issues such as the American character, the relationship between the individual and society, the ideas of America, the American Dream, and America's role in the world. Students learn how Americans interacted with each other and formed their culture by examining topics such as Native American traditions, colonial America and the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties, World War II and its aftermath including the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam, and late 20th-century multi-cultural society. Texts include a variety of genres and works including The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, The Crucible, The U.S. Constitution, "Rip Van Winkle," paintings and other visual art, poetry, Killer Angels, Huckleberry Finn, quantitative data and maps, The Awakening, the Great Gatsby, the Catcher in the Rye, and films. Through the skills, topics, and approaches emphasized, American Studies plays an essential role in the education of the whole person, the development of leadership, the nurturing of citizenship, and the cultivation of character.

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