English 11 Independent Study Project/Semester 2 Exam

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| About the project/exam | What goes in my project | PowerPoint /Web Site Specifications | Grading Rubric | Choosing an Author | List of Authors | Helpful Sites | Email me |

About the Project/Exam

The semester exam is a presentation of an independent study project. Each student will select a major American author, read and study one of his or her major works, and create a PowerPoint presentation or a Web Site that includes specific requirements that follow.

This project will be presented during exams (may also have to begin sooner). Students may begin this project as early as they wish. Save your project on your H:/ drive and on a jump drive or CD for a backup. We will draw numbers for presentation order.

If you are exempting the exam, you will still need to complete the semester project which includes the following (in this order):

    • cover page (see FSSH for how to do this)
    • biography
    • book review
    • photocopy of excerpt and your introduction and analysis (typed)
    • annotated list of author's other works
    • works cited

See the grading rubric to see how you will be evaluated on the project and the exam.

The project consists of the following:
  • a biography of your author; do not copy and paste from your sources. Read several other sources and write your own. Summarize (bullet) the key points/ideas in your presentation. Be sure to be "an expert" on your author.

  • a book review of the work you read (about 750-800 words); this part is typed and handed in (FSSH). Put a summary on your PP or Web. Using the Leo source as a guide, a suggested structure follows:

    • Paragraph 1: Introduce your work (title) and author, tell what genre it is (fiction, drama, etc.), and mention the work's main theme (coming of age, story of racism, etc.). You could give a little background information about the book also (especially if there is something particularly interesting or significant).

    • Paragraph 2: Summarize the content: What is the main story (plot) if fiction or drama? (but don't give away the ending); if you've read nonfiction, what is the main thesis and what are some of the key points?

    • Paragraphs 3-5 (or more): Explore your reactions (choose three of the following):

      • Describe the book: say how it is interesting, memorable, or entertaining. Did you learn something from it? What?

      • Respond the the author's opinions: (in fiction, the author's opinions are often expressed through the protagonist). What do you agree with? And why? What do you disagree with? And why?

      • Explore issues the book raises: What possibilities does the book suggest? Explain. What ideas or matters does the book not discuss? Explain. What are your views on these matters? Support with facts (see below).

      • Relate your argument to other books or authors: Support your argument for or against the author's opinions by making reference to other authors you agree with.

      • Relate the book to larger issues: How did the book affect you (your thinking, your feelings, your knowledge). How have your opinions changed? How is the book related to your own life's course or your personal agenda (what you plan to do, study, explore in the future)?

      Important note about the section above: The excerpt you are to read from your work may fit in well with a point you're trying to make in your book review. Tying them together seems to be an effective strategy. So in other words, you could insert your excerpt midway in your summary of your book review if you like.

    • Paragraph 6: Write a conclusion that:

      • restates why this book is important or interesting.

      • says who else should read this book and why; choose a specific person and give at least three reasons that are connected to the content of the book.

  • a reading of an excerpt (one page or no less than 300 words) from the book/play you read, including an introduction that gives your audience the title and background/context for the piece you are reading. If you have read a play, engage the talents of your peers to do a dramatic reading.

    • You also need a follow up to the reading (put these points in your slides):
      • an analysis of the excerpt
      • why you chose it
      • what was important or significant about the passage you chose
  • an annotated list of 3-5 of this author's other significant works  Give the title, year of publication and publisher for each one. You need to tell a little about each one (annotation); in other words, give a little summary, tell what it's about. (Three is minimal effort).
  • images of your author as appropriate
  • extras: images, quotations, facsimiles, artifacts, or anything that helps us understand your author and his/her work.  You have to explain anything you use in your presentation. Top presentations will have some extras.

What else is important?

  • Sources not allowed: encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, or student-made web sites. Also avoid .com sites. Sites with a lot of advertising or pop ups are generally not good sites to use.
  • Each student must research his or her own author.

PowerPoint / Web Site Specifications (what actually goes on your slides/pages)

  • main points from your biography
  • a photograph of the author (or portrait) and other images as appropriate
  • main points from your book review
  • reading an excerpt: (you don't actually put the text on the slide, but you could make a transition slide to show as you read).
  • introduction of excerpt
  • a follow up to the reading: an analysis of the excerpt; why did you choose it; what was important or significant about the passage you choose; use bulleted list for your main points
  • an annotated list of the author's other major or significant works
  • a conclusion
  • extras (woven in as appropriate)

How Long?

  • Your presentation should be between 5-8 minutes long. Practice so that you do NOT go over or under this range (points will be deducted).

What gets handed in:

  • Cover page (see FSSH for how to do this)
  • Book review
  • a works cited page (three sources are required); this document is handed in with your book review.


Choosing an Author

Research the authors who seem like good possibilities first. Read about the books they have written and decide if one of those sounds like a book you would be interested in reading. Once you choose, you must be committed to your choice, so choose wisely. The list below includes a wide variety of authors, men and women from across the American Literature historical spectrum. Once you choose, let me know. It's first come, first serve here.

A great site to start with is: Outline of American Literature

There is a list of other sites below.

After that, do a general Internet search for your author. I'd use Google since it has proven itself to be a better search engine for the literary field. Remember to use credible sites. Do not use .com sites. Do not use projects created by students. Look for .edu or .org or .gov in the address.


Authors to choose from and suggested major works:
  • The suggested works below represent several genres: fiction (from Gothic to Realistic to Science Fiction), non fiction, and drama. Be sure you know what you are reading as you work on your independent project.
  • The works shown for each author are simply suggestions. There are many more to choose from. Research BEFORE you select.
  • The links provided below are just to get you started. If you use a source provided, remember, you must also find two other sources for your project.

This list was updated January 29, 2006

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
  • The Last of the Mohicans
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The House of Seven Gables
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
  • Choose any 10 short stories
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
  • Walden
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
  • Moby Dick
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
  • Little Women
John Muir (1838-1914)


Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
  • Ethan Frome
  • The Age of Innocence
W. E. B. duBois (1868 -1963)
  • The Souls of Black Folks
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
  • Sister Carrie
Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
  • Red Badge of Courage
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
  • My Antonia
  • O Pioneers
  • Song of the Lark
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
  • Strange Interlude
  • Iceman Cometh
  • Long Day's Journey into Night
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

Detective fiction

  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Dain Curse
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
  • The Great Gatsby
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953)
  • The Yearling
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)
  • Our Town
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
  • The Sun Also Rises
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • A Farewell to Arms
John Gunther (1901-)
  • Death Be Not Proud (memoir)
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Cannery Row
Zora Neale Hurston (1903-1960)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
Jessamyn West (1903-1984)
  • The Friendly Persuasion
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-91)
  • In My Father's Court
Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
  • The Fountainhead
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984)
  • The Children's Hour
  • Little Foxes
Rachel Carson (1907-64)
  • Silent Spring
Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)
  • The Puppet Masters
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
James Michener (1907-97)
  • Hawaii
Richard Wright (1908-1960)
  • Black Boy
  • Native Son
William Saroyen (1908-1981)
  • The Human Comedy
James Agee (1909-55)
  • A Death in the Family
Wallace Stegner (1909-93)
  • Angle of Repose
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
  • The Glass Menagerie
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)
  • The Natural
Arthur Miller (1915-)
  • Death of a Salesman
Herman Wouk (1915-)
  • The Caine Mutiny
  • The Winds of War
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
  • The Member of The Wedding
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
J.D. Salinger (1919-)
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Franny and Zoey
Ray Bradbury (1920-)

Science fiction

  • The Martian Chronicles
  • The Illustrated Man
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

Science fiction

  • Foundation
  • Foundations and Empire
  • Second Foundation

These three books are a trilogy.

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
  • On The Road
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-)
  • Slaughterhouse Five
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
Tony Hillerman (1925-)
  • The Skinwalkers
Gore Vidal (1925-)

Historical and political fiction

  • Lincoln
  • Empire
  • 1876
Robert Cormier (1925-2000)
  • The Chocolate War
Maya Angelou (1928- )
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Chaim Potok (1929- )
  • The Chosen
  • My Name is Asher Lev
  • The Promise
Ursula LeGuin (1929-)
Toni Morrison (1931-)
  • The Bluest Eye
Tom Wolfe (1931-)
  • The Right Stuff
John Jakes (1932-)
  • North and South
Ernest J. Gaines (1933- )
  • A Lesson Before Dying
Cormac McCarthy (1933- )
  • All the Pretty Horses
John Gardner (1933-1982)
  • Grendel
Jerzy Kosinski (1933-91)
  • Painted Bird
  • Being There
N. Scott Momaday (1934-)  
Joan Didion (1934-)  
Richard Brautigan (1935-84)  
Maxine Hong Kinston (1940-)
  • The Woman Warrior
Anne Rice (1941-)  
John Irving (1942-)
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • The Cider House Rules
Alice Walker (1944- )
  • The Color Purple
August Wilson (1945-
  • Fences
  • The Piano Lesson
Annie Dillard (1945-)  
Tim O'Brien (1946-)
  • The Things They Carried
Larry Watson (1947-)
  • Montana 1948
Stephen King (1947-)
  • Misery
Tom Clancy (1947-)  
Leslie Marmon Silko (1948-)
  • Ceremony
Amy Tan (1952-)
  • The Joy Luck Club
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)
  • Poisonwood Bible
  • The Prodigal Summer
  • The Bean Trees
Sherman Alexie (1966-)
  • Ten Little Indians
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Can't find something that interests you?
Try a prize winner. Get your selection approved by your teacher first.

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