At all levels, the program in English incorporates an appreciation for all genres of literature and a working knowledge and appreciation of literary devices, vocabulary, and grammar. Works that have influenced the western literary tradition are prominent; the program also offers consistent examination of ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural diversity in both western and non-western texts. Common to all grade levels is a specific approach to the study of literature that fosters careful analysis and artfully substantiated interpretation in both written and oral discussion. Skills that focus on critical and creative thinking, study and test-taking, the successful communication of ideas, the efficient use of literary resources, and effective public speaking are important not only to enable a student to achieve success in the study of literature and language, but also to facilitate learning over a lifetime. In order to complete the “MacDuffie Diploma” requirement in English, students must successfully complete the study of English in each of theirUpperSchoolyears.
1100 – English 6
Students in grade six gain the skills and strategies that are necessary in the careful analysis of literature by examining myths, poetry, short stories, and the novel. These skills and strategies include the identification of the central idea, an appreciation of the methods of characterization, and an understanding of point of view, among other literary devices. The literature in this course encourages students to appreciate the world from a multicultural perspective. Titles include The Giver, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Poetry selections include the works of contemporary poets as well as Dickinson and Shakespeare. Students have frequent opportunities to express themselves in writing during the year as they learn to discuss and interpret literature. The parts of speech and the parts of a sentence as a means to sharpen writing skills and build an appreciation of the richness of the language receive generous attention throughout the year. Students also learn to craft sentences and multi-paragraph themes with careful expression and correct grammar and word usage.
1102 – English 7
Seventh-grade English challenges students with a rich and diverse array of literary works and provides them with frequent opportunities to improve their written expression and discussion skills. A review of the parts of speech/sentence and an introduction to the effective use of phrases and adverb clauses comprise the primary grammar units. Students are expected to incorporate what they have learned in the execution of writing assignments. Vocabulary building is literature-based. Writing assignments, both modest and more involved, focus on the development of writing strategies (description, process, narration, and comparison/contrast). Prewriting, peer reviewing, revising, and conferencing are typical activities in the writing process. In addition, students learn the fundamentals of proper documentation. Throughout the year, an appreciation of the western literary tradition is enhanced by representative readings from other cultures. The English 7 program offers learning experiences which integrate content and skills taught in other disciplines. These include units on orienteering, conflict resolution, and developing a sense of identity within the community and the world. Central themes are explored in readings from all genres: poetry, the novel, drama, the short story, and non-fiction. Titles include Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Ryan White Story.
1104 – English 8
A main goal of eighth-grade English is to produce critical, analytical, and independent thinkers. To that end, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language, imagery, and characterization to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. In addition, students do extensive work on vocabulary and the application of literary terms such as irony, foreshadowing, conflict, point of view, tone, symbolism, and motif. Grammar is taught in the context of argumentative, analytical, narrative, and compare/contrast modes. Students also learn how to develop an effective thesis statement supported by documentation. Emphasis is on study skills such as highlighting, note taking, organization, and daily preparedness for class. Because it is important for students to recognize the interconnectedness of learning, English 8 often collaborates with History 8. In addition to longer works such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Red Scarf Girl, American Born Chinese, and The Catcher in the Rye, the course includes a wide range of poetry and short fiction.
UPPER SCHOOL ENGLISH COURSE SEQUENCE
In order to receive a MacDuffie Diploma, four years of Upper School English are required culminating in English 12 or possibly ELL IV if the student is a non-native speaker of English. Students take the English course that corresponds with their grade level. Students for whom English is not their first language take the English or ESL course they are assigned to based on their grade level, English proficiency, other courses they are taking and their motivation:
NOTE: Students at the junior and senior levels will be placed by the Department in either college preparatory or Advanced Placement (AP) sections. Once students commit to the AP level of study, they must continue in that level for the duration of the year unless requested by the Department to discontinue study.
Electives vary from year to year. For the 2012-2013 school year, the proposed electives are as follows: Introduction to Film Studies; Journalism; Memoir: The Art of Personal Storytelling; The Green World: Writing through and about Nature; and 20th Century Drama. Electives are in addition to the regular English curriculum, since they do not count towards the English distributional requirement for graduation and depend on adequate staffing and student enrollment.
1110 – English 9
By exposing students to great works from the Western literary tradition, like Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and to various rhetorical modes, like the argument, causal analysis, and the comparison/contrast, English 9 furthers the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills first introduced in the Middle School. The course begins with a review of summer reading, which will later be revisited in conjunction with units taught in the ninth grade history course Global Perspectives. A short story unit follows in which students learn how to read for literary devices, like irony, mood, tone, and character. In addition to the traditional stories of writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson, students also read selected African stories, again, to complement the corresponding unit on Africa in Global Studies. During the year, both history and English classes also emphasize the five-paragraph critical essay and the generation of clear, specific, amplified, and grammatically correct prose. Because of its far-reaching effect on the western literary tradition, the Bible as literature is English 9’s central orientation during the second semester. In addition to developing an appreciation for the themes, imagery, and symbols of both the Old and the New Testament, students become familiar with Biblical representations in art, especially those of the Italian Renaissance. By looking at the stories of Eve, Sarah, Ruth, Susanna, and others, there is special emphasis on the role and image of women in the Bible. Students explore both classical and contemporary literature of the Middle East and selections from the Qur’an, again in conjunction with Global Studies, and read Yusuf Al-Qa’id’s novel War in the Land of Egypt. In keeping with the English Department’s overall objective regarding multiculturalism, students end the course with independent research projects/oral presentations on stories and myths from various cultures around the world that are similar to the Biblical ones they have just studied.
1112 – English 10 – British Literature
English 10 is designed to expose students to the rich and varied forms of written expression that have emerged from the United Kingdom. The course traces the development of the language and literature of the British people from Beowulf to today. Students learn the characteristics of each genre and the literary devices used in the creation of literature.
By analyzing selected works that represent the best of British letters, students learn to read critically and to recognize such themes as love, duty, honor, hypocrisy, despair, redemption, human relationships, and alienation.
Students examine literature of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and revolutions following it; the Victorian era of worldwide expansions and colonization by European nations; and the twentieth century.
By looking at the literature of the former British colonies, students can understand the viewpoint of the subjugated peoples as well as that of the dominant culture. In addition to the study of traditional authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, William Wordsworth, and Charles Dickens, attention is also given to examining the development of Britain’s women of letters, like Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte,
Virginia Woolf, and Doris Lessing, who speak of the important role women play in shaping British history and culture.
The primary skill objective is twofold: analysis and expository writing. Students are expected to develop analytical ability and to express the results of their analysis in well-crafted expository essays. Stress is on the methods of process writing, taking writing apart so that it becomes a continual effort rather than a final result. Students learn to read and analyze literature with a good critical eye, to form an opinion based on the literature and formulate a substantive thesis expressing that opinion, to substantiate that opinion with appropriate evidence from the literature, to draft an essay about it, and to write and revise that essay into a finished work.
1114 – English 11 – American Literature: College Preparatory
English 11 is a survey of American Literature that asks students to examine the nature of America, the American, and the American Dream from the nation’s early beginnings to the present day. The first semester starts with Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a 19th century text that questions the Puritan ideals of revealed religion and spiritual authority, which form the basis of the utopian sermons of Calvinists like Jonathan Winthrop and William Bradford. The utopian ideal is explored further through the perfectionist philosophies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose works are studied alongside landscape paintings of the day, like those of the Hudson River Valley School. To make the connection between the Transcendental themes they study in literature and the images of visual art, students learn how to do aesthetic readings and apply their understanding of color, line, and texture during a field trip to the Quadrangle’s Fine Arts Museum. The first semester ends with the literature of the slave era. Narratives by and about slaves like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs are given special emphasis and are complemented by readings from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In conjunction with the American history class, the unit explores the dehumanizing effects of oppression, the role of education in emancipation, and the legacy of slavery and racism in today’s society. A field trip to the Stowe/Twain Houses at Nook Farm in Hartford, CT concludes the unit.
The second semester begins with literature by and about women. Students trace the concepts of “True Womanhood” versus “New Womanhood” introduced to them in history class in works by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin. Students research and write profiles on a variety of 19th and early 20th century women, revolutionaries in medicine, education, art and related fields, an exercise which requires proper note taking, research and documentation. The final months of the course concentrate exclusively on the 20th century and literature of many genres illustrating such modern events as urbanization, immigration, the Civil Rights movement and such themes as diversity and social justice. Poetry by Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anzia Yezierska, plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, and short stories by Alice Walker and Leslie Silko are some of the major readings in these final units, which are designed not only to explore the inevitable conflicts that arise in a pluralistic society, but also to celebrate the rich and varied heritage created as a result of it.
Both American Literature and American History emphasize the generation of clear, specific, amplified, and grammatically-correct prose in the form of expository and critical essays. The research paper is a focus for both classes throughout the year, as is vocabulary building, critical thinking, and critical reading. To prepare students for the impromptu, timed writing required by the SAT, both classes emphasize in-class essays as well as take-home essays.
1118 – English 11-AP Language and Composition
Department Approval Only
AP English Language and Composition is a challenging course for students who are passionate about the art of written communication. The class addresses many different types of texts, authors, and perspectives. Students learn to explore the world of rhetoric, to understand the tools employed by effective writers and speakers, and to employ those tools themselves in a variety of assignments while clarifying their own writing styles.
This class is framed in the context of American Literature. Authorial style and its relation to meaning are explored in works that include: Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative; Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself;, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life; Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Susan Glaspell’s Trifles; John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath; John Irving’s The World According to Garp; Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street; and Jonathan Krakauer’s Into the Wild, among others. Students read, discuss, and present topical essays from a variety of journals, magazines, newspapers, and blogs. We examine various rhetorical modes – like the persuasive, the compare/contrast, and the causal; and various elements of authorial style – like word choice, sentence structure, tone, and purpose. The writing of clear, concise, and focused essays in a timed (often impromptu) format is a central objective. A full array of MLA research skills is taught and implemented. The importance of logic in rhetoric is explored; this includes extensive work with logical fallacies. Emphasis is also placed on learning to effectively synthesize varied texts and media in order to create polished argumentative writing.
The course is ultimately designed to “make students aware of the interactions among a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing” (The College Board, AP English Course Description, 2006, p.6). In so doing, we examine issues of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and community in shaping authorial style.
Every student who enrolls in the course is required to sit for the national AP Exam in May.
1120 – English 12B2 – World Literature: CP Reading and Composition
While maintaining a focus on literature from around the world, this section of English 12 is designed to provide students with frequent opportunities to practice and master their critical reading and writing skills. The course is based on an extensive unit on expository writing. The effective use of various rhetorical modes like the definition, the causal analysis, the clarification/division, and the argument is the primary focus. Non-fiction essays by such writers as Amy Tan, Martin Luther King, Gordon Allport, and Stephen King serve as models by which students learn the particulars of each mode in addition to the more general aspects of clear, concise, detailed writing. The writing process itself is given generous attention as students are introduced to various prewriting, drafting, and sharing strategies. They are encouraged to adopt those best suited to their particular learning styles and needs.
Throughout the year, students write formal essays about the literature they read, which is arranged thematically. Special attention is given to mixing the traditional with the non-traditional, around such topics as origins and insights, gender and identity, war and violence, race and difference, and individualism and community. In these units, each literary genre is addressed. Some examples include drama by Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare; poetry by Mahwash Shoaib, Yussef Komunyakaa and Li-Young Lee; short stories by Pär Lagerkurst, Elie Wiesel, and Tadeusz Borowski; and essays by Eric Liu, May Sarton, and Virginia Woolf.
1121 – English 12B1 – World Literature: CP
This course challenges students to examine a variety of literary texts. The curriculum is divided by theme; in each unit, students hone their critical reading and thinking skills. The course also places heavy emphasis on mastering various rhetorical modes; students write frequently, and there is a major essay each quarter.
In the fall students explore attitudes toward war and interpersonal conflict by reading thematically linked poems, plays, novels, letters, and essays written throughout the centuries. Several notable films by directors Stanley Kubrick and Francis Ford Coppola (Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and Apocalypse Now) are also studied and critiqued, as yet another way to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the important issues of the unit.
During the Shakespeare unit students read Macbeth and Othello, as well as several of the sonnets. Students are encouraged to think about what lessons regarding power, jealousy, and ethics are contained in these works, and how these lessons might apply to their own lives. During the third unit of this class, students look at a number of pieces of literature from and about Asian cultures. They examine some of the philosophical underpinnings of Eastern societies, compare them to their Western counterparts, and see how Asian literature reflects the values of those cultures.
1122 – English 12A – Honors World Literature
Department Approval Only
In their capstone year, students examine the literature of diverse cultures by focusing on thematically grouped units. In addition to promoting critical reading and thinking skills, the course emphasizes close analysis, research, discussion, composition, and presentation by means of reader’s responses, critical essays, creative writing, and research papers.
The year begins with discussion of required summer reading (Amy Tan and T.R. Reid) as well as student presentations based on ‘optional’ readings from the works of Margaret Atwood, Jhumpa Lahiri, Pak Wanso, Barbara Kingsolver, and Yu Hua. A subsequent unit, “Reflections on the Human Experience,” explores issues related to parent/child relationships, family and friends, the establishment of identity, coming of age, and love and commitment as they are treated in short fiction and dramatic works. Students read selections from Sophocles, Ibsen, Weldon, Shakespeare, Gordimer, Atwood, Olds, Achebe, Head, Donoso, and Jewett, to name but a few. By using various critical strategies and evaluating scholarly essays, students hone their skills of textual analysis. Writing assignments, informed participation in discussions, and class presentations are emphasized in this unit, and throughout the year.
Again using a variety of critical strategies and exploring a wide range of genres, students are introduced to an overview of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean literature that acquaints them with influential writers and ideas, some, which have shaped national identity, and others that transcend the boundaries of time and territory. The unit begins with an introduction to the philosophical and spiritual influences of Confucian thought, Buddhism, and Daoism, presenting them as ongoing reference points in literary analysis of ancient texts as well as contemporary works. The Japanese unit begins with excerpts from The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book; continues with literature grounded in Buddhist themes; moves on to post WWII ‘realistic’ fiction; and concludes with an introduction to ‘fantasy’ texts by Akutagawa and Tsutsui. Folk tales and Sijo poetry introduce the Korea unit, which also includes literature emerging from the colonial period, the Civil War, and the period of post-war recovery. The role of the writer in Confucian and Daoist literature introduces the China unit. Visions of utopia; the relationship between the individual and society as well as that between the individual and nature; and the cultivation of virtue are topics of discussion, as students explore passages from The Analects and The Dao De Ching. Excerpts from historical narratives, like Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Journey to the West; later texts, in the May Fourth Tradition, that examine the role of literature in a changing political context; and more contemporary literature reflecting political and cultural change in modern China are also included. An array of writing experiences, from research and analysis to the composition of original works, serves as an essential foundation of the unit.
1126 – English 12 – Advanced Placement Literature and Composition
Department Approval Only
Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition prepares students for the type of literary analysis and writing found on the AP exam and in college English courses. The first semester focuses primarily on drama: namely, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone; Euripides’ Medea; Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Othello and Much Ado About Nothing; Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In addition to learning the defining characteristics of drama in general, and tragedy, comedy, and dark comedy, in particular, students also learn about the social, political, and philosophical contexts of each author’s life and work. The existential precepts of Beckett and Stoppard, for example, are given special emphasis and serve as the backdrop for understanding works with related themes, like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Notes from the Underground, two of several novels read throughout the year.
Whenever possible, the course provides opportunities for examining literature in terms of other humanities-based disciplines. When reading Heart of Darkness, for example, students are introduced to the medium of film as they analyze Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, a reworking of Conrad’s novel. When reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, they are introduced to the art, music, and social history of the Harlem Renaissance. Many of the novels read during the second semester, like Richard Wright’s Black Boy and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist, deal with the coming of age of a protagonist who has to struggle for individual expression in a culture that is, in some way, oppressive, due to factors like race, gender, and class. A multicultural approach to such works is encouraged, as is the use of secondary criticisms, both of which serve to help students achieve critical depth and tension in their analyses.
In keeping with the AP exam’s format, students primarily write timed, impromptu essays on the works being studied in class. In the few weeks before the actual exam in May, students receive concentrated instruction in and practice with the multiple-choice sections of actual past exams, which often include extensive passages on the form, device, and metrics of poetry, as well as on the tone, theme, and narrative techniques of prose. To conclude the class, students work on individual inquiry projects that reflect their particular areas of literary interest and expertise.
Every student who enrolls in the course is required to sit for the national AP Exam in May.
ELECTIVES IN ENGLISH
NOTE: Availability of elective courses depends on enrollment and staffing.
1160 – Journalism (May be offered as a semester or a year-long course)
Grades 9 – 12
In this dynamic time for journalism, representing the voice of a community has never been so important. This course is required for all editors and staff of The Magnet, the school’s newspaper, which is produced through a workshop format that supplements academic instruction with hands-on application. The basics of interviewing,
reporting, writing, layout and editing are the focus of the course, with special emphasis given to news, features, editorial, and sports writing. Class members explore many ethical issues, learn about the influence of new media, and attend student journalism conferences. The teacher of this course serves as the advisor to The Magnet.
1164 – Introduction to Film Studies (One semester)
Grades 11 – 12
Film Studies gives students the tools to comprehend narrative film as a unique, rewarding art form with a language all its own. The course begins with a broad history of motion pictures and aspects of production. From there, students are introduced to a varied selection of movies, filmmakers, and screenplays while developing their own critical and analytical skills. Films addressed range from classics such as Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Rashomon to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fargo, and Memento. Students explore the ways in which movies define cultural archetypes while addressing shifting mores of gender, family, and politics. Regular writing assignments include analyses, film criticism, and movie reviews. Weekly screenings form an important part of the coursework.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELL) PROGRAM
The objective of the English Language Learners (ELL) Program is to provide English language learners with English language instruction that will enable them to be successful in mainstream English and content classes. The ELL program begins at the ELL II level to ensure that students will have sufficient time to acquire the English skills necessary to complete their graduation requirements. Students take a test to determine their beginning placement in ELL II, III, IV, or mainstream, and then they usually advance one level per year. Students satisfy the English graduation requirement by completing four years of English including ELL IV or English 12. ELL students are also required to complete a course in communications (during their ELL III or ELL IV year) in order to graduate. Students at the lowest level (ELL II) will be required to take ELL II Reading/Writing and ELL II Listening/Speaking, Integrated Science, and American Culture to build a strong foundation in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
1490 – ELL II Reading/Writing
ELL II Reading/Writing is a low-intermediate level course which focuses on developing all English language skill areas with a particular emphasis on reading and writing. Students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction works which are used to generate new vocabulary words and topics for class discussion. Students are expected to participate fully in these discussions. In addition, students learn to use topic sentences and thesis statements to write well-constructed paragraphs and short essays in various rhetorical modes drawing on themes from the reading and from their personal experience. Students review basic English grammar and usage and focus on editing for proper grammar in their essays.
1491 – ELL II Listening/Speaking
ELL II Listening/Speaking is a low-intermediate level course which focuses on developing all English language skill areas with a particular emphasis on listening and speaking. Students develop their listening comprehension skills in both social and academic settings, and learn to listen for specific information or for a specific purpose. In addition, students learn how language use can change with audience and setting; they practice speaking in a variety of formal and informal situations and for various purposes such as persuading, informing, and entertaining.
1492 – ELL III
ELL III is a high-intermediate level course which builds on the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills introduced in ELL II through the study of American literature and nonfiction. Short stories and poetry by writers like Sherwood Anderson, O. Henry, and Langston Hughes are used to introduce vocabulary, review grammar basics, and generate discussion. The study of shorter and longer works, such as O Pioneers by Willa Cather, is central to the course and serves as the basis for writing instruction in rhetorical modes, thesis development, and textual support.
1494 – ELL IV
ELL IV is an advanced level English language course from which students will enter mainstream English classes. Students read a variety of nonfiction, short stories, poetry, and novels, and they are expected to participate fully in class discussions of these works. Because the course focuses intensively on writing, students write an essay almost every week drawing onthemes from the stories and poems and from their personal experience. Through the essays, students polish their skill in developing a thesis in different rhetorical modes and in using text from the reading to support their arguments. Although students are expected to write five-paragraph essays, they also practice the shorter essay that is required for some content classes and for the TOEFL. In the last quarter, students learn how to use appropriate library and internet resources to effectively research and write a research-based paper. English usage and grammar topics are studied as needed based on recurring errors in student essays.