The English program is based on two assumptions. The first is that mastery language is essential to an individual’s personal development; he that a boy 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.
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 interactive online programs for grammar studies and vocabulary enrichment.
Fall Term: Texts include Achebe, Things Fall Apart; Hilton, Lost Horizon; Homer, The Iliad; Shakespeare, Julius Caesar; and selected stories.
Spring Term: Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Mishima, The Sound of Waves; Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye; and selected poetry and essays.
This semester-long required course is designed to help students 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 that incorporate textual support. Grammar study and vocabulary are pursued in textbook exercises and in the context of reading and writing assignments.
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 uniquely American concerns 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; Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, Thoreau, Walden; Hughes, poems.
Spring Term: Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Crane, The Red Badge of Courage; Chopin, The Awakening; Tyler, The Accidental Tourist; and selected poetry by Frost, Millay, Dickinson, et. al.
First Semester Electives
Borderlands and Belonging: The Literature of Exile
In a world that seems even more full of bridges, borders, and walls, both figurative and tangible, this class explores a variety of transnational texts that question the powers that support and limit immigration, migration, and mobility. Although our studies will be rooted in 20th and 21st century narratives, we will engage themes about homelands, belonging, and refuge that will inevitably draw us to diverse political histories, cultural identities, and stories of the past. The class will explore both American immigrant and exile experiences and include a broader geographic scope to gain an awareness of non-Eurocentric exile narratives. By pairing thoughtful, critical analyses of texts to conversations about current day diasporas and issues (such as the Syrian refugee crisis, caravans in Latin America, and conflict in Palestine) students will develop both a vocabulary with which they can engage diverse narratives and an empathic awareness that can shape their world views.
Possible texts include: Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer; Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies; James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; James Baldwin’s Escape from America: Exile in Provence; Dinaw Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears; Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker; The Odyssey; and selected poems by Mahmoud Darwish, Elizabeth Bishop, Marwa Helal, Li-Young Lee
Literature of Order, Chaos & Agency
Freedom is at the core of so much of the American identity, but it is often hard to define or even identify. Considerations of individual and collective freedom beg a wide range of questions: What is the relationship between being and freedom? Does one’s sense of self rely on one’s free will? To what extent can we actually craft our destinies, and to what extent are we bound by forces outside our control? When it comes down to it, can we impose order on the chaos of the human condition, or are our efforts exercises in futile self-deception?
In our exploration of the relationship between ourselves and our destinies, we will use both literary and philosophical texts as lenses and give serious consideration to these and many other related questions. Class will be discussion-based, and assessments will include critical and narrative pieces. Possible texts include: Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams; Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business; Earnest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying; and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.
Second Semester offerings to be announced later after consulting with the Form VI students over the course of the first semester.