Class Summary: English 231 and 232

English and American literature; either you love it or you hate it. Sitting in class for an hour and fifteen minutes can seem like an eternity and having to discuss literature from centuries ago doesn’t help the situation. However, English 231(English literature) and 232 (American literature) are required for many curriculums whether you’re an English major or not, so here is what you need to know that advisers don’t tell you.
English 231 is defined in the 2012-2013 general catalogue as, “A course in the study of prose, drama and poetry by major writers of English literature. Emphasis on the development of appreciation.” As a student, registration season means stress. These two brief fragments can be extremely frustrating.
English 231 is a regular literature, or “reading” class you may have taken as a senior in high school. The difference is the pace, and the reading load is quite a bit. In my situation, my original teacher, Clair Cowart, was swapped with Eva Gold on the first day of school, but when I compared the two teacher’s syllabi they were very similar.
Readings include “Paradise Lost” and “Beowolf,” along with poetry by Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare. I know, this may sound boring for some and absolutely enjoyable to others, but the class is filled with opportunities to earn points and learn. Fair warning, Gold does not ever allow Spaknotes or Cliffnotes in her classroom. It is primarily focused on discussion, so if you do the assigned reading before class and just show up, you’ll receive participation grade. Assignments included annotating poems and a written portfolio. Tests are a mix of short answer and multiple choice questions.
English 232 is defined in the 2012-2013 catalogue the same as English 231, the only difference being the word “English” is replaced by “American.” This class was more interesting to me though because we discussed a different piece of literature for every decade starting with the 1920s. The teacher I took was Jason Landrum. His teaching style is very straight forward. Every morning there is a five point quiz on the assigned reading. The question is usually a one word answer. It can’t get much easier than that. Readings for this class include poems by Langston Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance poets who were heavily influenced by jazz music. You’ll learn about The Beat generation in the 1950s who were the original hippies. Allen Ginsberg’s controversial “Howl” and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” are discussed. Then the class moves to the 1960s with a reading by Native American writer Sherman Alexie. “Because My Father Always Said He Was The Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ At Woodstock” is a mouthful of a title, but a great way to learn about Native American culture, 1960’s youth counterculture, Jimi Hendrix and Woodstock. The twelve page short story is a really engaging read. The test format is very simple with multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions and as long as you show up to class and pay attention, you’re good.
Ratemyprofessor.com is always a good resource to use before registering, but no matter what teacher you chose to take, don’t forget to keep the syllabus with you at all times. Dates change, tests move up or down and sometimes readings may get scratched all together. Stay organized and be as enthused as possible because it will pay off in the end.