American Studies class formed to combine American history and literature

American Studies class formed to combine American history and literature

Chris Bell

American Literature teacher Ms. Anne Marie Dominguez teaches The Great Gatsby to her students in the newly developed class, American Studies, alongside U.S. History teacher Ms. Megan Kern.

Nicole Sarquis, Staff Writer

History teachers tend to ramble off unrelatable facts about flappers, bootlegging, and the ease of life in the “Roaring 20s” during a typical U.S. History class, leaving their students with no real understanding of the subject. At the same time, English teachers’ enthusiasm over F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” can only be understood if students reading the literary classic have a solid knowledge base of the time period the novel is set in. In an attempts to bridge the gap between literature and history studies, two teachers––Ms. Megan Kern and Ms. Anne Marie Dominguez––have paired up to teach their newly developed class, American Studies, to juniors, combining the original curriculum from U.S. History and American Literature.

The class started as a fascinating idea that both teachers expanded into a planned course. “We had a conversation that History and English have gone well together in the past, so we figured it was a good fit. We get along well together, so we made out a plan for ourselves,” said Ms. Kern.

The students in the class will read novels that connect the time periods of the novel’s setting to a historical period in time. “We are currently reading “The Great Gatsby”, where Ms. Dominguez teaches the analytical portion of it, and I teach how it connects to the 1920’s in US History,” said Ms. Kern.

Along with analyzing classic American novels and connecting them to U.S. history, students also have to make a historical magazine. “We each have to write three articles on the major topics in the 1920’s, usually about the economic problems, and they each have to be 300-500 words,” said junior Matthew Kloyda.

The class is taught in two different periods back to back, a total of 80 minutes a day. “The class is meant to be a blend of American lit and American history so that we see the impact that each had on each other,” said Ms. Kern.

Although the class is similar to one taught in the junior high called American Experience, this class is taught at a faster pace with the expectation that the students will be able to connect to these ideas at a higher level. “[American Studies] is similar to “AE” in the sense that they both touch on the same subjects, but our class moves quicker and also, we don’t go on the out of state trips,” said Ms. Kern.

Because this is the first time both classes have been taught as one, students respect the teachers and understand that they might run into some problems. “They’re very participatory and they’re eager to learn. The person who tends to be in this class really likes to read and they really like to history,” said Ms. Kern.

American Studies students enjoy the uniqueness of the class and the variety of ideas they are taught in class. “I enjoyed how it could connect American Lit and US History and the idea fascinated me,” said Kloyda.

The students also appreciate the connections both teachers have with each other. “Everything has gone smoothly so far. Ms. Kern and Ms. Dominguez were even finishing each other’s sentences on the first day of class,” said junior Thomas Gorilla.