Courses & Descriptions
This course is designed to help students develop sound, individual writing styles and gain confidence in evaluating literature, exposing students to themes involving adolescence, the journey, and individuality. All freshmen read Oedipus Rex, and a selection of short stories and poetry in the first semester. The second semester continues with a focus on poetry, a Shakespeare play chosen by the teacher (some choices include Romeo & Juliet; The Taming of the Shrew; The Winter’s Tale; A Midsummer’s Night Dream), and a novel, also the teacher’s choice. Recent titles for these books include Monkeys, The Catcher in the Rye and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Each student also reads two outside-reading books, one per semester, chosen by individual freshman English teachers. Students study vocabulary weekly, a practice which will continue through a student's four years at The Governor’s Academy. They also study grammar proscriptively (through their writing) and from SAT practice exercises. While much of the students writing is literature-based essays (working toward internalizing the five paragraph form), creative writing (narration, poetry, and personal essays) is also assigned once a quarter.
The Sophomore English curriculum encompasses the exploration and development of personal voice through both the study of characters’ voices in literature as well as a broad range of writing assignments. Readings in the first semester include Macbeth, and selections of short stories, essays and poems by international authors. In the second semester, sophomores read Their Eyes Were Watching God, as well as a novel of the teacher’s choosing, poetry, personal essays, and short fiction. Sophomore students are also required to read an outside reading book, selected by individual teachers. In addition, throughout the year students complete a grammar (from SAT practice exercises) and vocabulary program. Sophomores continue to hone their writing skills, moving beyond the five paragraph essay. A special emphasis is placed on the writing of personal narratives and memoir pieces.
Writing at the junior level moves beyond grammar and mechanics to a more sophisticated consideration of form and style. Junior students practice the skills of reading carefully, writing clearly and honestly, and engaging in respectful discussion. They consider the problems of achieving an effective and authentic identity in the stress of a culture which values Emersonian “self-reliance” but which also locates individuals as members of various groups or cultures. Texts include, but are not limited to Julius Caesar, Death of a Salesman, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, Self-Reliance, The Great Gatsby, The American Bible, Interpreter of Maladies, and select American poets (chosen by each teacher). Three times during the year students will take vocabulary competency examinations. Vocabulary study is based on words taken from the reading as well as a study of mythological, Biblical, historical and literary allusions.
EN 33: AP Junior English – Language & Composition (Advanced Placement; two semesters) (Advanced Placement; two semesters)
This extensive and intensive course in literature, rhetoric and writing provides an academic challenge for highly motivated students of English. While students study numerous texts from a variety of periods, much of the literature focuses on the non-fiction and fiction of American literature. The central texts in AP Language and Composition are the same as those read in The American Experiment, with such additions as Beloved and The Scarlet Letter. Students write weekly essays in a variety of forms -- persuasive, expository, and narrative, and work with sources from the media and social media to enhance their understanding of rhetoric. This course requires supplementary work over the summer and during vacations, and meets for an additional class period during the week. Selection for AP Language and Composition is based on maintaining a B+ or higher average in sophomore English and receiving the recommendation of their sophomore English teacher. Students must sit for the AP Language and Composition exam in May.
What do American literature and history have in common? Both offer a narrative of human lives. This course offers a unique opportunity to examine American social, political, cultural, and artistic movements through the perspectives of history and literature. Working within a chronological framework, we will examine American society from European contact through the present. We will focus our analysis on events, movements, groups, and individuals who have shaped and continue to influence American culture. A 10-page research paper is required. This course meets for a double period, and fulfills credits for junior English & United States History. (Prerequisite: 2 semesters of History)
To fulfill the English requirement, each senior will take a common course in the fall semester and then select one SPRING-semester course from those listed as the 40’s series on the pages that are produced separately and shared with juniors in the month of May. Descriptions of the fall common course and samples of past electives are printed below. By reading “paired texts,” students will explore the depth, breadth, and variety of human experience that literature provides its readers. The core text for this course will be William Shakespeare’s King Lear, paired with other texts of the teacher’s choosing. All seniors, except those enrolled in the EN 51-52: AP Literature and Composition course, will take this course.
This course will examine some of the fast, fresh, and unforgiving voices of 21st century American Fiction. We will begin by engaging modern and postmodern methods of literary criticism to help us analyze these new perspectives. This investigation will enable us to experience how these writers employ both tradition and avant-garde literary techniques to help them facilitate a dialogue with contemporary issues. Finally we will attempt to define the current landscape of 21st century American fiction in hopes of developing a deeper understanding of its lineage. Writers may include Jonathan Safran Foer, Nick McDonell, Chuck Palahniuk, Annie Proulx, and David Foster Wallace.
In this class, we will examine children’s literature from an academic standpoint, and we will attempt to draw some conclusions about how this literature reflects the culture of the time and place in which it was written. We will read several children’s books during the semester—including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charlotte’s Web, and an anthology of nursery rhymes and fairy tales—and we will discuss what makes for good children’s literature and how our standards have changed over the decades. We will supplement these readings with several scholarly essays on the topic. In addition, we will watch movies and listen to songs from different eras to see how these have changed to reflect society’s changing sensibilities regarding children. The final project for the course will be to create an original piece of children’s literature—a picture book or folk song—that can be shared and enjoyed by the young faculty children on campus.
This course is taken in addition to a regular English class for juniors and for seniors during their first semester. We hear of a strange or funny or tragic event, and we can’t stop thinking about it: we wonder what it was like to experience. How were the people involved changed by it, if at all? Why do some of us persevere while others do not? What makes us unique but also universal, sharing in our common humanity? What makes us us? And where do we go from here? What happens next? Creative Writing is an introductory course for anyone interested in learning how to write stories more honestly and deeply. It is open to those who have never written fiction before, or have been writing for years. The only prerequisite is that you be sincere in your desire to grow as a writer. There will be some assigned reading, but the bulk of the semester’s work will be your daily writing, where you just may, as the late short story writer, Grace Paley, said, “…write what you don’t know you know.”
EN 51: AP Senior English – Literature & Composition (Advanced Placement; two semesters) (Advanced Placement; two semesters)
This course is designed as a first year college level English course. Students study extensively and intensively a variety of works from both the American and English literary traditions and from various time periods from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first century. By confronting challenging reading and writing assignments, AP Literature students learn to become skilled, mature, critical readers, as well as practiced, logical, succinct writers. Students must maintain a B+ average in Junior English in order to be recommended to take this course. AP Literature and Composition meets for an additional class period each week and there are additional reading and writing requirements during the summer and other vacations. Students must sit for the AP Literature and Composition exam in May.