English

Introduction to Literature
Required for all Freshmen

The ninth grade English course is designed to help students develop effective language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension) while broadening knowledge of important literary texts and genres and strengthening analytic skills. A variety of materials are employed, including grammar and literature texts, a vocabulary/grammar workbook, as well as supplemental readings.

Introduction to Literature Honors
Departmental approval required

The Ninth Grade Honors English course introduces students to the four main literary genres: drama, poetry, short fiction, and the novel. Beginning with an in-depth examination of the required summer reading texts, students learn skills necessary for close reading and literary analysis. New vocabulary is introduced regularly, through literary selections as well as a vocabulary text. The writing skills necessary for effective communication in every aspect of life are taught with emphasis on the literary essay. Grammar skills are strongly emphasized and taught in tandem with writing, some lessons growing directly out of student writing, and others as a separate strand of the course using a grammar text.

World Literature
Required for all Sophomores

This course covers literature, writing, and advanced grammar skills. We concentrate on literary works of non-Western origin. As preparation for the SAT exams, we practice analogies, critical reading, and sentence completion, using study aids and prior SAT exams. We expand our analytic essay writing skills to encompass an annotated, MLA style research paper of 1500-2000 words supporting an original thesis.

World Literature Honors
Departmental approval required

Similar to English Ten in content, but with greater analytic emphasis and a 2500-3000 word research paper.

Survey of British Literature
Required for all Juniors

The course covers literature, writing, and basic grammar skills. We focus on British literature, analytic essay writing, and standard English conventions of punctuation, spelling and usage. To prepare for the PSAT exam, we scrutinize earlier tests and decode ways to respond to all sections of the PSAT: analogies, critical reading, and sentence completion, as well as Test of Writing Skills. To prepare for the New York State Regents Examination in English, students practice the four types of analytic essay responses they will be required to write for this exam.

NEW! Survey of American Literature Honors
Departmental Approval Required

The Junior Honors English course focuses on the students’ appreciation and understanding of various works of American Literature. Classroom activities are designed for further development of analytic reading skills and writing craft necessary for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and New York State Regents in English Language Arts (Common Core). Daily assignments include readings, writing activities, research assignments, reviews of grammar and style, and vocabulary exercises. Students will participate in the almost daily class discussions to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the material.

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition
Junior Year; Departmental approval required

This course, which prepares students for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition Exam, emphasizes a study of non-fiction, including biography, memoir, essays of persuasion, epistolary writing, satire/humor, journalism/reportage, reverie, and the prose poem. Writings from many disciplines constitute the reading portion of the course. These include hard science and natural science, art and architecture, music, literary theory, anthropology, psychology, mythology, politics, and linguistics. We will analyze the rhetorical elements of the works considered, with a view to understanding the connection between form and content. Students then practice writing in these various modes, both imitating the master writers and striving to develop a voice and style of their own. Poetry, drama, and fiction are included in the reading list, but with less emphasis as compared with the AP Literature and Composition class.

Choose From Menu A or Menu B

Required for all Seniors

Menu A

Women in Literature (Fall)
Why did Mary Ann Evans disguise her identity and publish her novels under the pseudonym George Eliot?
Just who was afraid of Virginia Woolf, and why?
How did Lady Murasaki Shikibu get the inside track on life in the royal court of medieval Japan?
Why would the much-feared dictator of a Caribbean island-nation become hell bent on destroying las mariposas? The butterflies!
Get answers to these and other curious questions in Women in Literature. 
Aimed at providing students with an historical perspective for understanding literature by female authors, this one semester course introduces students to poetry, fiction, drama, and critical theory by women writers from around the world. Using both an historic as well as a critical perspective, our study will include important works of literature by such luminaries as Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Tillie Olsen, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Marsha Norman, Mary Shelley, Gish Jen, Amy Tan, Edith Wharton, Julia Alvarez, and Esmeralda Santiago.

Literature and Myth (Spring)
A boy falls from the sky and drowns in the sea.
A snake-headed woman turns men to stone.
A spider with extraordinarily refined taste in literature brings stories into the world.
A woman, seething with anger and jealousy, destroys her faithless husband by murdering their two sons then burning his new wife to death.

This semester length course will examine the myths, folklore, and stories of various cultures as well as works of modern and contemporary literature in which the ancient stories are somehow at the heart of things. Among the categories of myth explored will be: creation myths, the Great Mother, myths of the hero, myths of metamorphosis or transformation, trickster tales, and myths of the quest. We will examine various perspectives regarding the meaning and significance of myths, including religious, psychological, anthropological, and literary.

Menu B

Who Do You Think You Are? (Fall)
“I am not what I am!” announces Iago, the villain of Shakespeare’s tragic drama, Othello.
“Who are you?” demands the caterpillar, of Alice, as she wanders through Wonderland.
A super model is involved in a car accident that permanently alters her appearance.
In order to survive, a young boy who is a slave must disguise himself as a girl.
Identity is as complex as it is crucial. Having a sure sense of identity, of one’s place within a culture, community, family, is essential to any person’s sense of well-being. Obversely, not knowing who one is, where one comes from, or how one fits in – communally, familially, individually – can cause damage or disturbance, often irreparable, to one’s psyche. In this course, we will examine issues of identity from a number of perspectives – family, culture, gender, race, relation to the land, and age. Particularly, we are interested in exploring the rich tensions that erupt between the individual (as an identity structure) and any of the groups posited above.
Readings include:
Oedipus Rex, The Good Lord Bird, Death of a Salesman, The Speckled People. Various short stories and poems.

Shakespeare: An Introduction (Spring)
“Poisonous bunch-backed toad” kills princes in tower!
Queen falls madly in love with mild-mannered weaver turned jackass! Pack of Faery folk suspected!
King to divide kingdom among wrangling daughters!
A duke with a price on his head waits years to exact revenge!
Winner announced in “best insults ever imagined” contest!
No, these are not tabloid headlines. To learn what they are really about, sign up for Shakespeare: An Introduction.
This semester length course introduces students to the works and world of William Shakespeare. We will engage in a close study of four plays - Richard III (history play); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (comedy); The Tempest (romance), and King Lear (tragedy) - thereby covering the full range of forms to be found in Shakespeare’s dramatic writings. We will as well examine the sonnets and portions of the longer, narrative poems. In studying the plays and poems, we will look closely at the Elizabethan world – its culture, values, politics, religion and social conventions.   
To fully appreciate Shakespeare’s accomplishments, we will examine excerpts of the works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, including Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and Sir Phillip Sydney. Finally, we will consider important and influential critical assessments of the bard.

English Honors
Departmental approval required

The Literature of New York (Fall)
A place of grit and greatness, poverty and power, immigrants and aristocracy: New York’s multitudes have given rise to countless stories. The city is an icon for America yet exceptional by its very nature. Artistic movements have coalesced here, from Harlem to Greenwich Village to Brooklyn. 
How has New York City shaped and been shaped by literature?
Who is a New Yorker?
Authors have been drawn to New York; others have been repelled by it—just as it has provided a home for countless characters’ trials and triumphs. In this course, we will explore the diverse role New York has played in literature as well as the way literature has shaped images of the city. We will spend time linking words and places. Authors may include Zora Neale Hurston, Edith Wharton, Walt Whitman, Robert Graves, Joan Didion, John Updike, J.D. Sallinger.

Literature of Rebellion (Spring)
This course is centered around rebellion as shown through writing. Through various texts, we will examine communities - particularly the idea of the common good—and how they are affected by large-scale conflict. What happens to individuals and society when divergent or opposing definitions of the common good clash? We will attempt to gain not only an understanding of the various communities affected by that conflict but also lasting insight into the effects of war and other social upheavals on the idea of the common good. Throughout the course of the semester we will also take a closer look at music (for example rock and roll, its roots in blues and gospel, and influences on alternative and rap) as social, personal, and political defiance of authority in order to advance principles of justice. 

Possible Texts:
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
Animal Farm by George Orwell (satire)
“The Machine Stops” by EM Forster (science fiction)
Song for Night by Chris Abani
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
In the time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Mine Boy by Peter Abraham

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition
Senior Elective; Departmental approval required

The Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition course focuses on, first, the students’ attainment of college-level appreciation and analytic understanding of literature, expressed orally and in writing; and, second, the students’ mastery of those skills necessary to produce a college-level research paper. Daily assignments involve reading a wide range of poetry and prose as well as writing analytical and creative essays. Daily discussions call upon the students to respond critically to these assignments.

Creative Writing
Senior Elective; One Semester

This course affords young writers the opportunity to explore various forms of literary expression, including poetry, song, performance art, memoir, fiction, and drama, while gaining understanding of the relationship between form and content. Through meditation and creative visualization, students gain access to a rich store of memories, images, feelings, and ideas that lie dormant in the mind. The course is structured as a workshop. Students share their work regularly with the other members of the class and learn to give and receive constructive feedback. Language as the writer’s ultimate tool underlies everything that the course seeks to impart. Students are encouraged to experiment with language to strive to use language in ways that are evocative and rich and resonant and textured. Each student is required to create a semester long project in addition to the daily/weekly exercises and activities.

Public Speaking
Senior Elective; One Semester

This one semester course offers students the opportunity to learn to prepare and deliver a variety of speeches and presentations. Speeches include: Impromptu Speech; Recitation/Dramatic Presentation; How To Speech; Informative Speech; Persuasive Speech; Formal Debate. For inspiration and insight, we watch and discuss The Great Debaters and The King’s Speech. Through various exercises, games, and activities, students learn to speak confidently, demonstrating appropriate rate, projection, movement, vocal modulation, and effective eye contact. Students also learn to evaluate and critique speeches insightfully.