The English Skills course introduces students to literary terms and practices, enabling them to succeed in their future study of English Literature. The class builds a foundation for approaching academic writing and the close reading of texts. Texts may include Brown Girl
Dreaming and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as fables, folktales, various short stories and poetry from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Richard Connell, Annie Proulx, Ethel Rohan, Raymond Carver, and Shel Silverstein.
Society and the Individual, Journeys, Independence, and Critical Lenses are offered at both the College Prep and Honors levels. Honors sections assume more background knowledge, move at a quicker pace, cover additional material, and expect students to work at a higher level relative to College Prep sections
Literature 1: Society and the Individual
The course provides freshman students with a comprehensive introduction to academic writing and literary analysis, beginning with a full review of syntax and grammar rules. The literary component of the class examines texts and identifies themes, which address the role of individual responsibility; and how to use literature as a lens through which you may better understand society and your role within the global community. Possible texts may include The Giver, Lord of the Flies, The Catcher in the Rye, and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Literature 2: Journeys
This course examines characters’ physical, emotional, and spiritual journeys in literature. The course begins with essential vocabulary and a review of grammatical rules, then progresses to comprehension and textual analysis. Public speaking assignments give students the opportunity to practice their English speaking skills and develop confidence in their ability to engage a crowd of peers. Texts for this course include Romeo and Juliet, the Odyssey, Things Fall Apart, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Persepolis, and various short stories and poems.
Literature 3: Independence
This course examines the theme of independence by looking at universal ideas which incited The American Revolution or inspired Transcendentalism. Students work to create their own independence in writing projects, while developing critical thinking and analytical skills. Texts studied in this course may include The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, and a variety of shorter works by authors such as Dickinson, Thoreau, Emerson, and Poe.
Literature 4: Critical Lenses
This course focuses on analyzing literature through the critical lenses of feminism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Students work on identifying and analyzing the reasons for an author’s choices and the effectiveness of various means of persuasion and on understanding how critical lenses are employed to interpret texts. Students work towards mastering the critical reading and writing skills necessary for university. Texts studied in this course may include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and shorter works by authors such as Keats, Shelley, Blake, and Orwell.
We read poems and stories to find something in them that startles us, makes us more aware of the world we live in, makes us more aware of who we are, makes us more alive. In Creative Writing, we read notable poems and stories from the 20th and 21st Centuries so we can learn from great writers’ examples and so we can enter this conversation with the world around us that has been going on for hundreds, even thousands of years. We learn how to craft deeper poems than we have been able to write before by learning elements of form, image, voice, line, music, and mystery. By learning such elements of fiction as character development, plot arc, conflict, and symbolism, we will shape stories that move us, surprise us, and transform us into different people than we were before we read them. By the end of the course, students will have built a good-sized portfolio of works that shows their progress as writers, thinkers, and creators—works they’re proud of—so they can see where they’re going as artists and where they’ve been. We will write poems and stories that shape the way we and others see the world.
Social Justice Literature
Literature has long been used as a way of exploring and discussing issues of injustice and inequality. From the classic Of Mice and Men to the more modern The Hate U Give, literature gives voice to the voiceless and forces the reader to confront challenging issues of racism, sexism, classism, and how the issues that divide us are, all too frequently, the issues that matter most. In this class, students explore specific issues of social justice and diversity linked to Young Adult Novels that explore those topics in a meaningful way. Texts may include The Hate U Give, Turtles All the Way Down, and All American Boys. This course should leave students with the language to discuss these issues and the tools to question and confront their own preconceived notions and prejudices.