The Great Ideas of Humankind
The English curriculum prepares students to be citizens of the world and masters of themselves. The curriculum stresses reading comprehension, creative and informative writing, oral presentations, and research activities, all of which combine in the art of thinking.
Throughout high school, the teachers use traditional forms of literature—novels, poetry, drama, criticism, editorials, and essays—as original source material in order to encourage the students to understand the gifts of language and its relationship to what it means to be a human being.
The study of literature in ninth grade enables students to cover reading comprehension, vocabulary building, historical context, the use of language, and the important themes of the books, especially as these are expressed in terms of polarities. Some of the ideas encountered are: love and sacrifice, freedom, and the power of culture.
Tenth graders expands on these skills as well as on the development of the literary essay, with special attention to the use of comparison and contrast. The history of language and the evolution of poetic form are studied. Students delve into the process of how our literary culture has come to be through study of the great classics of the Western canon.
In eleventh grade, the concentration is on analytical thinking in relation particularly to the literature of the Middle Ages as exemplified by the two great pillars: Dante’s Inferno and the medieval epic Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach. These classics provide platforms from which the students can discuss life issues from the war of the sexes to questions about God and personal growth. Hamlet is given special attention, too, as the great exemplar of explorations of human existence and identity.
Senior year focuses on synthesis and working from different points of view, with prominence placed on the essay as a literary form. Russian literature, American Transcendentalism, Faust, and modern world literature provide the contexts out of which the students work as they make their way toward an increasing world consciousness.
Through literature, students build reading comprehension, vocabulary, historical context, use of language and themes. Wide selection of short stories and novels, typically including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Development of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and a sense for the aesthetic qualities of style.
Year-long course. Exploration of Western Civilization, from roots in Ancient India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt through flourishing in Ancient Greece and the rise of the Judeo-Christian culture. A look at the origins the English language and its early literature through the Middle Ages. Read and analyze texts, examination of literary, cultural, historical, and philosophical significance. Development of literary essay, with special attention to skills of comparison and contrast. Readings include: The Ramayana, Gilgamesh;The Egyptian Book of the Dead; selections from The Tanakh (Old Testament); the Odyssey; Beowulf; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; The Canterbury Tales.
Main Lesson block. An exploration of poetry as an art form and as a means of communication. Students look at changing styles of poetry through the ages, become familiar with the elements of poetry and work with various poetic forms: haiku, sonnet, terza rima, sestina, and villanelle. Students learn to recognize poetic language - diction, imagery, theme, voice, tone - and understand poetic meaning - metaphor, simile, personification, synecdoche, metonymy, symbol, onomatopoeia. Students read and write poems and create a poetry anthology on a chosen theme, which complements their own poetic creations.
- Senior Essay
- Russian Literature
- Modern World Literature
- American Trancendentalism
- Literature and Film: Elective
A writer's workshop. Discussion of the works of selected contemporary essayists. Focus on the essay as a literary form and on producing a portfolio of work, with concentration on the personal essay. Exploration of the five stages of writing: brainstorming an idea, outlining and draft, preparation, revising (sometimes with peer review), and polished final draft.
12th grade year-long elective. Students explore differences between a story told by an author though the written word, and the visual experience of a film as the "director's medium." Weekly readings and discussion of novel, short story, or play and through prior to film. Students learn film vocabulary, study theme, character development and genre, consider various production elements and more. Examples include: "The Lord of the Flies," "Where the Red Fern Grows," " Of Mice and Men," "The Color Purple," "The Great Gatsby," "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "The Homesman."
The drama of Faust by J.W. von Goethe continues to shine as a gem of world literature, enduring because it is gripping, witty, fun, tragic, and redemptive. It is the classic story of the seeker of knowledge who wagers his soul with the devil, struggles which Goethe unfold in a kaleidoscope of world literature, myth, religion and culture. Students read, write, and consider the essential questions of the work in a senior year course taught by David Weber.
John Hanlon is an educator, actor, director, and scholar. His translations of contemporary Russian plays have been published and produced around the globe. About his translation process he has said, "I spend a lot of time with a text – visualizing the scenes, hearing the characters speak – before I write a single word in English. The language of the new play has to be able to stand on its own in an American theater. Getting the emotional dynamics right – that’s the most crucial thing.”
Mr. Hanlon has two decades of teaching experience. He holds a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Swarthmore College, M.A.s in Liberal Studies (Reed College) and English & American Literature (Miami University), and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.