Academics

What English Should Be


Reading, writing, and discussion encourage self-exploration and develop empathy. In four years of English, you’ll be challenged to expand your world view by appreciating voices from different literary traditions and to reflect on and communicate your own experiences and opinions. Teachers work with you to hone your critical thinking skills and intellectual faculties so that you can understand and appreciate any given text, communicate clearly and confidently, and produce original work that expresses your individual voice.

Graduation requirement: four years

English Courses

List of 4 items.

  • English 1: Exploring the Self Through Literature

    Who am I and what is important to me? In what ways do the experiences of characters in literature match or challenge my own world views? What happens when we meet others with opposing values?

    These questions drive our English 1 course, where our readings, discussions, and writing help you understand others and yourselves. You will be challenged to use our texts as tools for reflection, demonstrating the lifelong role that literature can play in gaining empathy for others and developing your own personal philosophy. Our classes are community-focused, where you use class discussions and group work to deepen your understanding of our texts and develop your literary analysis skills. In a time when conversations can be fractious and divisive, we ask you to practice listening with understanding and responding thoughtfully.

    Daily informal writing strengthens writing fluency, and our formal writing assignments focus on narrative writing and establish the core skills for analytical writing. You will learn that writing is a process and begin to develop your own, creating a foundation that enables you to confidently and flexibly approach future communication needs. All of our work helps you develop your individual voice, within a learning community and beyond.
  • English 2: Purpose and Voice

    Why do we write? How do form and language impact meaning? How do I communicate my ideas effectively, powerfully, and confidently? How do audience and purpose impact our communication choices?

    This course centers on the art of expression--examining the choices writers make to communicate their ideas and applying them to our own communication needs. You will experiment with multiple forms of communication, with an emphasis on analytical writing and argumentation. You will continue to develop and adapt your own writing process and reflect on your growth as a writer. At this stage, you will gain increasing independence in all of your work and engage in abundant peer collaboration, affirming that working with others helps to synthesize and deepen ideas. This class helps you to further develop your voice and acquire the tools to use it most effectively.
  • English 3: Junior Seminars – Considering Context

    You will engage in college-style seminars that allow you to explore areas of personal interest while focusing on the following overarching essential questions: What does it mean to be American? What can literature teach us about the American experience and the experiences of Americans? How is the human experience impacted by identity and by context, considering both time and place? And how do I apply historical and cultural contexts to fully understand a text?

    These questions serve as the intellectual core of our English 3 curriculum. You will engage with difficult and stylistically unconventional literature that will require practice in close reading and recognizing the role of nuance and bias. This experience helps you develop into critical and confident readers, ready to enjoy and derive meaning from any text that you encounter. You will explore these complex texts and ideas through in-depth, sophisticated conversations and writing. You will continue to practice adapting form and language to accomplish your communication goals, while working to develop your unique perspective and writing voice.

    Honors courses have the same seminar options and develop similar academic skills. They are differentiated by their increased depth and accelerated pace, involving additional reading, writing, and research components. Honors courses are designed for students who have demonstrated a mastery of grade-level literary analysis and writing skills and are eager to perform more complex, self-driven assignments. Ideal candidates embody authentic engagement during all-class and small-group activities and are independent learners who demonstrate original thinking, take intellectual and creative risks, and make insightful connections to other texts and our world.

    Prerequisites for Honors: Writing sample, a brief statement of interest, teacher recommendation, and an A in the current English class.
    Each seminar below has an Honors and a Non-Honors option:

    The American Dream
    What is the American Dream? How does it intersect with American identity? Is there such a thing as “American” identity? What are American values? To what extent is the American Dream still relevant today? You will seek to answer these questions as you explore literature written by American authors across the changing landscape that is America. From colonial to contemporary, you will explore how each author confronted the themes and conflicts of their time, through the lens of identity--the author’s and your own.

    Truth, Lies & Fake News
    This course, like our world today, is bifurcated. We’ll consider the nature of truth in fiction, asking: When we tell stories, whether in song, poetry, drama, film or prose, are we telling lies? We’ll also turn our attention to nonfiction, considering: Who benefits from disinformation? And why? We’ll examine our own attention in a digital realm, examine the tools of rhetoric and propaganda, then seek to untangle the roots of misinformation in preexisting ideologies. Ultimately, we will think past fake news and media literacy to consider the global implications of disinformation.
  • English 4: Senior Seminars – Beyond The Text

    Students continue to engage in college-style seminars designed by faculty based on their expertise and student interest. Seminars address specific themes, regions, time periods, genres, and authorial circumstances. All seminars are unified by the following overarching essential questions: How do texts speak to each other? What connections can be made to film, art, music, journalism, and emerging art forms? How does a piece of literature connect to and enrich my understanding of past and current world events? How do I assume ownership of my unique perspective and employ my writing tools for original expression?

    These questions drive the high-level intellectual content and critical thinking at the core of our English 4 curriculum. You will independently and collaboratively make meaning of texts by seeking out and making connections to other texts, to historical and contemporary world events, and within the literary world. All courses sharpen your writing skills and develop your unique writing voice.

    Honors courses have the same seminar options and develop similar academic skills. They are differentiated by their increased depth and accelerated pace, involving additional reading, writing, and research components. Honors courses are designed for students who have demonstrated a mastery of grade-level literary analysis and writing skills and are eager to perform more complex, self-driven assignments. Ideal candidates embody authentic engagement during all-class and small-group activities and are independent learners who demonstrate original thinking, take intellectual and creative risks, and make insightful connections to other texts and our world.

    Prerequisites: writing sample, teacher recommendation, and an A in the current English class.


    Each seminar below has an honors and non-honors option:

    International Literature 

    The world is brimming with great literature, and this is your chance to embrace it. The writers we may read come from Mexico, Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Holland, and other nations. Titles may include Cry, the Beloved Country (South Africa) and Nectar in a Sieve (India). The authors explore universal themes and ideas that are not only relevant to their own nations, but pertinent to us today. They include apartheid, women’s rights, religious freedom, and family cohesion in the face of industrialization. You will further probe ideas through papers, research endeavors, and presentations, as well as conversations in a safe but challenging environment.


    Outsiders & Rebels
    We’re already familiar with the stories of the majority, the mainstream, and those content with the status quo. This course instead focuses on experiences of the outsider and voices that have been left out or obscured. Our authors have chosen to tell stories that might be missing and need to be heard. Some of the stories might speak to your own experiences, and others might illuminate new perspectives. The outsider offers unique insight into the world around them--its beauties as well as its flaws. While belonging is a central theme of many of our texts, there’s also the question of how and why people reject society--its expectations and rules. And finally, this course highlights the rebels who push for change and reshape our world.
    Speculative Fiction
    What do authors and artists think about when they imagine the future? How do real events inspire the stories they create? You will explore the worlds created by some of the greatest writers in literature, absorbing multiple perspectives on both the past and the future, as well as reflecting on and discussing diverse perspectives on our own evolving world. Through a wide range of authors, texts and essential questions, you will discover and develop stories that inspire passion and creativity, with multiple modes of expressing your ideas and visions.


    

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Andrea Cartwright

    Andrea Cartwright 

    English Faculty
    415.430.3778
  • Photo of Jared Green

    Jared Green 

    English Faculty
    415.430.3738
  • Photo of Taylor Martin

    Taylor Martin 

    English Department Chair
    415.430.3784
  • Photo of Emily Rhodes

    Emily Rhodes 

    English Faculty
    415.430.3727
  • Photo of Antona Stanley

    Antona Stanley 

    English Faculty
    415.430.3775

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