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American Literature

American Literature

4 weeks / 6 hours per week

About This Course

It covers all of the substantive material that is usually taught in a survey course of American Literature at the college level. Our goal as creators of this course is to prepare you to pass the College Board's CLEP examination and obtain college credit for free.

Through the guidance of Dr. Dean Simpson, from Tufts University, this course will review the prose and poetry written in the United States from colonial times to the modern era.

“American Literature” is a completely self-paced course. It has no prerequisites and it is offered entirely for free.

Course Staff


How is this course organized?

This course is organized into eight modules that contain short video lessons, exercises and readings.

All of the course material has been released at once so you can complete it anytime.

What do I need to pass the CLEP exam?

You need to demonstrate knowledge on literary works —their content, background, and authors— and you will be required an ability to interpret poetry, fiction and nonfiction prose, as well as a familiarity with the terminology used by literary critics and historians.

The exam contains approximately 100 questions to be answered in 90 minutes as well as an essay section. Please examine our syllabus.

How does this course differ from other CLEP textbooks and traditional courses?

This online course includes a carefully structured series of video lectures and exercises taught by a top quality university professor.




Navigating Through Our Platform

CLEP Program   

Modern States Education Alliance   

Introduce Yourself

1. About the Test

1.1 About the Test   

2. The Colonial and Early National Period (Beginnings–1830)

2.0 Introduction to The Colonial and Early National Period (Beginnings–1830)   

2.1 Early European Exploration and Writing   

2.2 The Colonial Period (1620-1776)   

2.3 The Early National Period (1750-1820)   

2.4 Readings

Check for Understanding

3. The Romantic Period (1830–1870)

3.0 Introduction to The Romantic Period (1830–1870)   

3.1 Unique American Literature   

3.2 American Romanticism   

3.3 Readings

Check for Understanding

4. The Period of Realism and Naturalism (1870–1910)

4.0 Introduction to The Period of Realism and Naturalism (1870–1910)   

4.1 Background   

4.2 Kirkland, Davis, Alger, Twain and Howells   

4.3 Bierce, James, Jewett, Chopin and Washington   

4.4 Chesnutt, Gilman, Garland, Wharton and Du Bois   

4.5 Robinson, Dreiser, Crane, Dunbar and Cather   

4.6 Readings

Check for Understanding

5. The Modernist Period (1910–1945)

5.0 Introduction to The Modernist Period (1910–1945)   

5.1 About Modernism   

5.2 Drama   

5.3 Prose   

5.4 Poetry   

5.5 Readings

Check for Understanding

6. The Contemporary Period (1945–Present)

6.0 Introduction to The Contemporary Period (1945–Present)   

6.1 Background   

6.2 Prose   

6.3 More Prose   

6.4 Poetry   

6.5 More Poetry   

6.6 Drama   

6.7 Readings

Check for Understanding

7. Terms, Verse Forms and Literary Devices

7.1 Terms, Verse Forms and Literary Devices   

8. Writing the Essays

8.1 Writing the Essays   

Sample CLEP Questions

Questions 1 - 15

Questions 16 - 30

Questions 31 - 45

Questions 46 - 60

Questions 61 - 75

Questions 76 - 90

Final Steps

Prof. Dean Simpson's Recommendation   

Register for the CLEP Exam   

Test Preparation Tips   

How Your Score Is Computed

Learn More
  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

  3. Effort

    4 weeks / 6 hours per week