English

We strive to help students express themselves with clarity and power orally as well as in writing. We want them to be able to generate authentic, nuanced questions and original ideas. Reading literature with sensitivity and exploring varied cultural perspectives are also critical. Students write frequently. Readings range from the canonic to the contemporary and roam over a wide landscape of cultures and voices both in original English and in translation. Most genres are represented, including novels, short stories, essays, poetry, plays, graphic novels, and film. Classes are taught seminar-style. Lecture is rare. Class participation is essential as students try out their ideas aloud.

Reading Contemporary Short Fiction

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
In this class students will read and write about short stories representing a wide range of stylistic approaches by contemporary masters of the form. Authors may include, among others: Lorrie Moore, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami, Amy Hempel, Edwidge Danticat, Ottessa Moshfegh, Helen Oyeyemi, Lydia Davis, and George Saunders.

Creative Writing

.5 credit Elective open to 10th, 11th 12th grade
Students write daily in this course, experimenting in genres that may include poetry, short story, and creative non-fiction. Study includes readings in each genre as models with emphasis on learning craft. Students share and workshop their writing with one another. Students also focus on the process of revising creative work, producing multiple drafts and critiquing. At the end of the trimester, each writer will create a portfolio of work.

Introduction to Media Studies

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
How does the way we consume media influence the way we think about the world around us? How do we understand our own power and privilege through lenses of race, class and gender? How much of our own sense of ourselves is socially constructed? How do we learn to “read” visual information in still and moving pictures? This class will address these questions, equipping students with the tools to analyze and critique various forms of media. Students will use the language of critical thinking (premise, implication, inference, assumption, ambiguity and nuance) to pull apart the messages layered in film, television, music, advertisements, video games, and social media.

Say What You Mean

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
Do your ideas seem richer, smarter, deeper in your head than they do when you share them? Is it hard to make a persuasive point in conversation, even when your idea is clear in your head? Do you struggle to capture the complexity of your thinking when you write? In this course students will explore and practice rhetorical skills to strengthen the efficacy between thought and language. If you think of yourself as a scientist, artist, mathematician, political activist, or musician, you’ll need to write well to share your insights with the world. This course will make use of all kinds of reading and writing techniques to pursue the simple goal of clarity in writing and speaking. You'll learn how best to harness your creative process and use specific critical lenses to shape and polish your meaning.

Existentialism

.5 credit Elective open to 11th and 12th grade
In the eternal quest for understanding, humanity has worn many lenses in order to see the world more clearly. In this course’s quest for understanding, students will don the heavy two-way lens of Existentialism, turning us as deeply inward as it does broadly outward. It is a mode of thought that commits us to a greater sense of self, our world, and our place in it. Although it brings, or rather illuminates, a heightened measure of despair, anguish, confusion, and alienation, this modern perspective, even as it seems to imprison us, simultaneously liberates us into a creative expanse of freedom and responsibility. As Jean-Paul Sartre concisely expresses, “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.” Through a committed exploration of inspired essays, stories, plays, and films, followed by personal creation, we will attempt to make ourselves and resolutely confront the inevitable obstacles along the path of this noble journey. The world may be ours, so what will we do with it?

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