English

2024-2025

The English Department in the Upper School offers a series of challenging courses designed to instill in students an affection for books, to prepare students for the rigors of reading and writing at the college level, and to acquaint students with major works of world literature.

English 24-25

wdt_ID wdt_created_by wdt_created_at wdt_last_edited_by wdt_last_edited_at Dept. Course Number Title Course Description Blocks per week Credits Term Grade level(s)
1 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG577-S1 English: The Literature of Love S1 What is love? From melodramatic to comical, romantic to placid, platonic to lustful, love’s forms are varied, layered, and captivating. No wonder writers have tangled throughout the ages with the concept. This course will examine literature and film to wrestle with questions about how people experience and express love. What does it mean to love well? What role does age or innocence play? What about power dynamics or social forces? How can we compare love of friends to love of romantic partners? How does love constitute identity? How does love end, and how do we endure it? We’ll consider questions like these with the help of great writers like Ursula Le Guin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Raymond Carver, Nikki Giovanni, John Keats, and William Shakespeare. Longer texts include Jeanette Winterson’s novella The Passion and Spike Jonze’s film Her. We’ll critique their stories and poems with the help of classical and contemporary philosophers. Although we may come away with no final answers, we’ll have a richer sense of this most exciting and dangerous of human emotions. All 0.50 FALL 11,12
2 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG701-S1 English: Creative Nonfiction S1 What is creative nonfiction? How do you write imaginatively while telling the truth? This course will explore answers to these questions by engaging with various subgenres of what is collectively known as creative nonfiction. Over the course of the semester, you will learn to write compellingly about your own experiences, perspectives, and interactions with the world. Subgenres to be explored include memoir, personal essay, review, place-based/travel writing, and video essay. This will involve researching yourself and, at times, the people, places, and historical events that intersect with your life. Throughout the course, you will be provided opportunities to dedicate yourself to the processes of critical reflection and revision of your creative nonfiction through writers’ workshops. You will also spend time reading creative nonfiction works from various subgenres and authors to analyze their distinct craftsmanship, which will better enable you to fine-tune your authentic voice in the service of telling your truth. All 0.50 FALL 11,12
3 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG573-S1 English: War and its Effects in Literature Why do nations wage war? Who experiences war, and what are its psychological, moral, and spiritual effects? What is remembered and commemorated--as well as forgotten--in representations of war? We’ll examine these questions by examining literature inspired by three wars: the war poetry of World War I; Tim O'Brien's masterpiece The Things They Carried, about the Vietnam War; and Phil Klay's National Book Award winning short story collection Redeployment, about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll complement these units by examining war propaganda, forms of war protest, war monuments and memorials, and war films. All 0.50 FALL 11,12
4 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG570-S1 English: Evil and Villainy in Literature S1 This course will explore the representation of evil through both literary texts and nonfiction. Evil resists our attempts to fix its meaning and capture its essence; at the same time, it captivates us – although we find it repulsive, there is something about evil that fascinates us. Because what we call evil appears across a variety of contexts – be they the intimacy of a family circle, structures of political systems, or the functioning of global corporations – an attempt to account for what evil may signify calls for the application of multiple interpretive lenses. We will consider questions such as: What is evil? How does it emerge and reproduce? Do human beings have an inherent capacity for evil? How do we know evil when we see it? Why are evil characters more fascinating than the good? Why are we drawn to literature that takes us to places that disturb yet fascinate, and how does reading such texts inform our thoughts and attitudes towards the world around us? Possible texts could include Othello, The Stranger, We Need to Talk about Kevin, The Psychopath Test, The Fifth Child, and The Crucible. All 0.50 FALL 11,12
5 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG576-S1 English: Raise Your Voice - Contemporary Poetics S1 In this course, we will read a wide range of global, 21st century writers and poets who take up this question: what does it mean to be alive and here, right now? We will read poets like Craig Santos Perez, who asserts that poetry can help us face climate change. We’ll study the hip hop greats like Lupe Fiasco, noting their ability to manipulate the sounds of language into music. And we’ll investigate the works of LBGTQ+ poets like Andrea Gibson, wondering how queerness offers a lens for uncovering radical truths and transformations. Throughout the course, we’ll become astute readers and writers of poetry, sometimes writing analyses of poetry, other times crafting poetry ourselves. All the while, we’ll marvel at what forces shape our voices: what truths, when faced with pen and paper, do we have to tell? All 0.50 FALL 11,12
6 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG700-S2 English: The Literature of Comedy - What's So Funny? S2 In the realm of literature, just like in real life, humor often catches us off guard. But why is that? This course aims to thoroughly explore the various roles of humor (psychological, sociological, philosophical, and dramatic) and investigate why our sense of humor evolves in response to changing social, cultural, and historical contexts. Subjects covered will include cleverness and playful language, the distinctions between verbal wit and visual comedy, the phenomenon of laughter itself, satire and irony, jokes and jests, humor in live performances, and the influence of ethnicity, race, religion, and gender on comedic expression. Required readings will encompass literary works ranging from the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare to contemporary authors, as well as delve into theater history, performance, film, television, stand-up comedy, and cartoons. Students will be tasked with analyzing comedic writings, composing their own in a variety of genres, as well as performing dramatic scenes and presenting collaborative projects. Possible texts may include: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, excerpts from comedic memoirs by Tina Fey and David Sedaris, and film. All 0.50 SPRING 11,12
7 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG702-S2 English: Urban Fictions - Streets, Borders, and Beyond S2 What does contemporary literature have to say about urban experiences? In this course, we’ll dive deeply into the fictional depiction of two dynamic and radically different urban settings: Harlem as depicted in Coleson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle and an unnamed town on the border of Mexico and the United States in Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. Whitehead’s novel—which masterfully blends elements of crime drama, family saga, and historical fiction—takes us on a journey through civil rights-era Harlem as we follow the entrepreneurial aspirations of Ray Carney, a black business owner and family man trying to escape the criminal legacy of his father while navigating a hard-boiled world of backroom deals, shady politics, and social protest. Herrera’s masterpiece, by contrast, tells the compelling story of Makina, a fearlessly bold young woman who leaves her life in Mexico to search for her brother in the United States, a cross-cultural journey that becomes mythic in its depiction of the sociopolitical and psychological challenges faced by migrants. Both texts consider the way that urban experiences are impacted by the forces of race, class, and gender, and we’ll complement our examination of the two primary settings by considering what relevant works of music, short stories, film, poetry, and non-fiction have to say about civil-rights era Harlem and the contemporary border crisis. All 0.50 SPRING 11,12
8 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG703-S2 English: Creative Writing - Poetry & Short Story S2 What does it take to write a story? What about a good story? What does it mean for a story to be “good” in the first place? What guidelines should be followed for both form and function? In Creative Writing, we’ll explore these questions and more as we engage with poetry and narrative short story. You will compose your own works of creative writing, and you will be provided opportunities to dedicate yourself to the processes of critical reflection and revision through writers’ workshops. You will also spend time reading and analyzing classic and contemporary works for their craft to identify the literary and rhetorical tools used, as well as their impact on the overall meaning of each text. For further empowerment in applying and analyzing these tools in your own writing, you will read excerpts from various authors’ reflections on the craft of writing. These will include but not be limited to Natalie Goldberg, Diane Lockward, Stephen King, and Toni Morrison. These activities will enable you to emerge with a keener awareness and mastery of your own voice and vision, as a storyteller in relationship to other storytellers. Seniors who took Creative Writing their junior year may not take this course again. All 0.50 SPRING 11,12
9 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG704-S2 English: LGBTQIA+ Literature S2 In this course, we will center the voices of queer* writers as we ask: how can engaging with the words and thoughts and stories of queer lives allow us to liberate ourselves from rigid notions of gender and sexuality? What does a world beyond binaries look like? How can literature both reflect and create queer identity? Why is it so important, more than ever, to celebrate queer voices? Our course will take a historical approach, starting with the 1960s Stonewall era, often cited as the birth of modern LGBTQIA+ rights. We'll look at writers like Leslie Feinberg, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich. We'll then move into the 1980s and 1990s, reading authors like Samuel Delany, Tony Kushner, and Sarah Schulman, as the HIV and AIDS epidemic changed queer communities forever. Finally, we'll move up to the present, looking at dynamic queer artists writing through our extraordinarily polarizing historical moment. We'll look at voices like Chen Chen, Ocean Vuong, Carmen Maria Machado, and Samantha Allen. Along the way, students will use Unrulr to develop their own intellectual pathway throughout the course. This course will also include a service-learning component as we partner with community organizations to create educational materials for LGBTQ+ youth. All students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, are warmly welcomed: all that is required is an open mind. *For the purpose of this description, "queer" is used here as an umbrella term, referring to anyone who identifies as any identity within the LGBTQIA+ acronym. All 0.50 SPRING 11,12
10 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG572-S2 English: Censorship in Literature S2 Kurt Vonnegut once said: “I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.” This course will examine how fear fuels the rationale for banning books and other works. Through close reading of novels, poetry, and plays as well as collaborative projects and presentations, we will investigate how literature reflects and challenges cultural experiences and beliefs. We will also explore how censorship manifests itself in music, film, and children’s literature. As well, we will supplement our study of these texts by hearing from those who were censored and those who argue to inoculate society against them. Together we will examine the following issues surrounding censorship: What is the power of language in literature? Why are new ideas scary? How do cultural norms inform an individual and group sense of morality? Whose job is it, and under what circumstances does it become imperative to legislate morality? How do life experiences determine our perspective on artistic works? Possible texts may include: Burn this Book, Kite Runner, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Laramie Project, Angels in America, and A Light in the Attic. All 0.50 SPRING 11,12
11 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG201-SY English 10: Identity and Change In Identity and Change, through careful textual exploration, tenth-grade students examine a series of compelling, often interlocking, themes: cultures in conflict, the reciprocal interplay between culture and identity, and the corrupting or regenerative nature of power. In exploring these themes, students examine the following essential questions: How is identity defined? How do individuals and societies change? As well, students hone their analytical skills by examining the way literary techniques inform meaning; in particular, students learn how to identify and assess diction, detail, imagery, syntax, and tone. As in ENG 101 , students extend their reading and writing skills through the study of grammar and vocabulary, and through exercises in impromptu and formal composition: close textual analysis, personal essays, and creative writing. Prerequisite: ENG101: English 9. All 1.00 Year 10
12 emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM emi_charboneau 23/02/2024 09:28 PM English ENG101-SY English 9: Coming of Age Using texts that are both traditional and contemporary, Coming of Age exposes ninth-grade students to diverse cultural and literary viewpoints. Particular attention is given to physical and metaphorical journeys as dramatized in the literary texts. In addition, students explore a series of essential questions: What is the nature of humanity? How is power expressed? How do we understand and relate to our world? How and why do we tell stories? Students extend their reading and writing skills through exercises in close textual analysis, the study of vocabulary, small and large group discussions, individual and group projects, impromptu compositions and formal essays. All 1.00 Year 9
Dept. Course Number Title Course Description Blocks per week Credits Term Grade level(s)