The English program is based on two assumptions. The first is that mastery of one’s own language is essential to an individual’s personal development; he must be able to express himself clearly, communicate with and persuade others. The second assumption has three parts: that the experience of great literature allows us to enlarge our experience of and ability to deal with the world we live in; that contact with the best thoughts of the best minds can be a source of wisdom and delight; and that the individual can better appreciate his own values and those of his culture if he is familiar with the process by which they have evolved.
No Upper School English program can possibly provide students with all the instruction in language and literature that they will ever need. Properly understood, education is a lifelong process. An effective English program equips the student with the skills he will need to pursue formal study and to continue the self-educational effort that marks and makes the well-rounded individual.
Form III English exposes students to a variety of literary works, including novels, short stories, plays and poems. Building on the work of the Middle School, more literary terms are introduced, and the structure and function of literary forms are examined. The reading of literature provides a foundation for the integration of grammar, spelling and vocabulary lessons within the framework of a comprehensive study of the writing process. Considerable time is spent on planning, writing, evaluating and revising essays in order to produce writing that is clear, concise and persuasive. Time is devoted to developing better study skills and habits, with emphasis on organizational, reading and analytical skills. Students will use the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop, Level E, and Hacker’s Pocket Style Manual for technical studies and vocabulary enrichment.
Fall Term: Texts include Achebe, “Things Fall Apart”; Hilton, “Lost Horizon”; Homer, “The Odyssey”; Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”; and selected stories.
Spring Term: Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun”; Poetry: terms and structure; Mishima, “The Sound of Waves”; Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”
This semester-long Form III requirement is designed to help students to develop excellent oral communication skills and to teach them to express themselves in a clear and articulate manner in all circumstances, including classroom discussion, debates, interviews, persuasive oratory, and other public speaking occasions. Students are encouraged to develop confidence and poise when they present themselves in their public and personal lives. Emphasis is placed on content as well as nonverbal communication, with additional focus on the incorporation of technology in presentation.
Form IV English provides an introduction to the history and development of the English language and a survey of selected literary forms. The reading is chosen to encourage discussion of such themes as maturity, decision making, the dignity of the individual, friendship, fate, and moral integrity. Strategies for approaching, reading, and retaining a knowledge of challenging texts are discussed and implemented. The reading covers a wide range of material from Beowulf to Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer to Philip Larkin. Some memorization is required. Students are required to plan, write, and revise organized, supported, and persuasive analytical essays, with an emphasis on the incorporation of textual support. Grammar study and vocabulary are pursued in textbook exercises and in the context of reading and writing assignments. Students will use the Sadlier-Oxford, “Vocabulary Workshop, Level F” for vocabulary enrichment.
Fall Term: Finding Order. An examination of the increasing complexity and flexibility of the English language. Texts may include selections from Beowulf; a selection of ballads; selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Shakespeare’s sonnets; Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle; Swift, “A Modest Proposal;” Shakespeare, Macbeth.
Spring Term: Romanticism and Beyond. McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe; Miller, Death of a Salesman; Dickens, Great Expectations. Poets studied include, Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Arnold, Housman, Yeats, Thomas, and Larkin.
Form V: Themes in American Literature
Students will approach selected works of American literature not only as sovereign texts but also as products of the developing culture of the United States and expressions of concerns uniquely American which can be traced through our literature from colonial days to the present. The course will be structured to encourage students to recognize the connections between the Form V American history course and the American literature they will read in this course. Students will also continue the development of their writing skills through expository and creative writing assignments on topics related to the reading.
Fall Term: Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”; Twain, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”; Wright, “Native Son”; Thoreau, “Walden”; Hughes, poems.
Spring Term: Hawthorne, “The Scarlet Letter”; Hemingway, “The Sun Also Rises”; Agee, “A Death in the Family”; Chopin, “The Awakening”, and selected poetry.
Students in Form VI take a mandatory fall class, Advanced Expository Writing, in which they write essays that may fulfill college application requirements. All Form VI boys take the Advanced Expository Writing class in which they write essays that prepare them for college application requirements. Each boy will write three essays, all of which might be submitted to colleges. Two of the essays they write will be based on the choices given to them on the Common Application for colleges and universities. For their third and final essay, they will be encouraged to choose from the supplemental topics offered by an actual college they are interested in attending.
In the second semester, all Form VI boys are enrolled in Global Citizenship, a course guided by the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. The course examines what it means to be a global citizen, as well as our roles and responsibilities in both perpetuating and ameliorating such issues. In particular, the boys will be examining the issue of poverty on the local, national, and global levels. The course dovetails into planning for the Senior Projects prior to graduation.
In addition, Form VI boys select two different courses during the year. These courses change from year to year and are designed to suit the interests and needs of the students, to approximate in their general approach the literature courses encountered by college undergraduates, and to bridge the gap between high school and college-level work. Courses in recent years have had thematic, historical,or genre orientations, and writing courses of several kinds have been offered. The following choices are presented to students for the 2016-2017 school year.
FORM SIX ENGLISH ELECTIVES
Short Stories and Poetry: “Tell all the truth/ But tell it slant.” Mr. Dearinger
This class will investigate the forms of poetry and the short story, with a special study of compression in narrative, thought and imagery. Class preparation and discussion are important factors in determining the semester grade. Analytical essays (two to three) and extensive creative writing (three to four stories, four to five poems) with revisions. Tests and the term exam will be open-book and open-notes.
Text: Perrine, Story and Structure; Ferguson, Salter, and Stallworthy, Norton Anthology of Poetry.
Narratives of Freedom and Constraint, Mr. Williams
In this course, students will consider a series of characters struggling to define themselves as individuals in relation to the systems – social, cultural, or otherwise – in which they exist. Class preparation and participation will be of the utmost importance; additionally, both analytical and creative writing will be assigned for each text.
Texts: James Joyce, The Dead; Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
New York Literature, Mr. Reynolds
This course will examine works of literature focused on New York City. Students will read a wide variety of texts, including E. B. White’s seminal New York essay, Here Is New York, Washington Irving’s satirical essays, Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, and Joan Didion’s Goodbye to All That to name just a few. Students will have the opportunity to think and write critically about the novels, short stories and essays, and to try their own hands at writing and capturing on paper the life and energy of the city in which they live.
Texts: Writing New York, Phillip Lopate (ed.); Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton; Here Is New York by E.B. White; Wonderful Town, New York Stories from the New Yorker, David Remnick (ed.), Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Theatre and Change, Mr. Dearinger
This course will examine a number of important plays that have mirrored, commented upon, or actually caused social change. There will be open-book tests, required reading notes, written responses, analytical essays, a video project and a final cumulative exam. Most texts will be supplemented with film versions of the play.
Reading and Film List: Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen; The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde; Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill; A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams; Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee; Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss; Company by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth; "Angels in America" by Tony Kushner.
The American Road Trip, Mr. Williams
This course will use a selection of narratives to examine the American open road as a symbol of freedom and possibility – but also of evasion. In the course of our studies, we will seek an understanding of the structures and mechanisms of the ‘road trip’ genre. This course will demand rigorous analysis both in discussions and analytical essays; careful preparation, therefore, is key. Creative writing will also be assigned.
Texts: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Jack Kerouac, On the Road; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Cormac McCarthy, The Road.