English

CSW's English Department is distinguished by the diversity and breadth of our course offerings, which allow students to pursue existing interests and find new challenges. Along with our electives, a sequence of required classes builds writing skills as well as community at each grade level. Students practice reading attentively and are exposed to the canon, engage historical and cultural context, as well as explore contemporary connections.

Small class sizes allow teachers to give individualized feedback that keep students on their “learning edge.” Students also learn from each other through lively discussions, collaboration, projects, presentations, and peer review.

The writing process and revision are integral to all of our classes. Purposeful, playful assignments that stretch students’ persuasive, creative, and reflective capacities are included along with analytical text-based writing in every class.

Ultimately, the English Department enables students to develop language to enrich their personal lives, to learn to decode texts, to maintain their creativity, to deepen their understanding of diverse voices and places, and to mature into citizens of the world.
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Graduation Requirements

List of 4 items.

  • 9th Grade

    • Writing Foundations Workshop (WFW) (2 blocks)
    • 1 elective of foundational literature from around the world (1 block)
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  • 10th Grade

    • Writing About Reading I: The Literary Analytical Essay ( 1 block)
    • 2 electives of survey classes of classic and modern literature ( 2 blocks)
    Students can only take one Theatre for English credit from 10th grade through to 12th grade. 
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  • 11th Grade

    • Writing About Reading II: The Literary Critical Essay ( 1 block) Must be completed before taking any 11th/12th-grade electives
    • Advanced Writing Portfolio ( 1 block)
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  • 11th/12th Grade

    • 3 electives
    The three 11th/12th grade electives must be distributed across at least one Big Book, one Major Author, and one Special Topic. 

    Students can only take one Theatre for English credit from 10th grade through to 12th grade. 

Sample Courses

List of 8 items.

  • African Epics from the Oral Tradition

    In this course, students read three African epics from the oral tradition: Sunjata from the Malinke people, Ibonia from the island of Madagascar, and Mwindo from the Nyanga people of the Congo. Through reading these texts, students will consider how the epic form merges metaphor, lyric, proverb, riddle, history, and poetry to create a larger narrative. At the center of these stories is a hero who struggles with his frailty and uncertainities. In his death, which is common but not necessary, he transforms his culture. Students will explore how the African epic combines history and poetry, reality, and fantasy, that point to significant moments in a culture’s history that don’t necessarily constitute a break but suggest continuity with ancient cultural wisdom. Students will also ponder why these texts continue to resonate not only within their cultures but have become part of the cultural lingo of the West.
  • Big Book: Invisible Man

    Written in 1952, Ellison’s novel holds a premiere position in African‑American and American literature. Beside its rite‑of‑passage theme (the literal journey of a black man from the South to the North) lies a world of metaphor. Every action, every transition, every word the Invisible Man speaks—as well as all the people he meets on his journey—carries double and emblematic meaning. We will explore the rich, imaginative texture of this novel.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Introduction to Existentialism

    Existentialist philosophy asks us to think about what it really means to have control over who we are and what we do. In this course, we’ll look at some of the key texts of existentialism, both fictional and nonfictional, focusing on Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir. We’ll grapple with some of the biggest questions humans can ask themselves: What makes us who we are? How much choice and control do we have over our lives? What does it even mean to be a person who can think for themselves and interact with the surrounding world? You’ll leave the class not only with a clearer understanding of complex philosophy, but also with a way of thinking about yourself and the world that you can apply every single day
     
    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement. 
  • LGBTQ+ Literature

    This course approaches American literature with an emphasis on the ways in which non-heterosexual and non-cisgender identities and experiences have been represented in post-Stonewall (post-1969) writing. Despite the actual lived range and combination of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual practice, mainstream heterosexuality attempts to confine sexuality to a rigid duality where observation of a person’s secondary sex characteristics are supposed to infer hir (gender neutral pronoun) gender identity and sexual practice. In this context, the term “queer” is invoked to describe any possible combination of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual practice that challenges the norm presented by heterosexuality. By reading essays and literature by self-identified queer writers, we will challenge and redefine the concepts of sex, gender, masculinity, femininity, diversity, oppression, and empowerment. By the end of this mod, we will have developed a greater awareness of issues concerning gender and sexual identity.
     
    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Major Author: Shakespeare

    "A monument without a tomb,” wrote Ben Jonson, Shakespeare is “not of an age, but for all time.” Though William Shakespeare died four hundred years ago, the Bard continues to live with us — and we continue to live in a world informed by (in some sense, staged by) Shakespeare. In this class, we will study and explore Shakespeare’s drama, considering how Shakespeare speaks both to his time and our own. Through Shakespeare’s exquisite and exhaustive language, we will engage varieties of human experience while exploring selfhood and identity, life and death, love and hate, good and evil, heroes and villains, courage and cowardice, communities and kingdoms, and beyond. Class time and assignments will ask you to demonstrate your understanding through close reading, analytical writing, and performance, and we’ll also look at some contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. 
  • Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature

    Science Fiction & Fantasy: While this genre of literature lets us explore the heights of human imagination, it also gives us a realistic and perturbing view of a people or society's fears for a perhaps not-too-distant future. In this 10th-grade elective, students will be examining different narratives that allow us to understand their authors' prevalent concerns, as well as to firmly center the book within a broader social context. The class will study works that fit together thematically, culturally, or geographically. Authors read may include: Octavia Butler, Shweta Taneja, and Indra Das.
  • The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

    (11/12) This course will explore the work of Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most influential and innovative artists in the history of world cinema. We’ll watch and discuss films from throughout his long career, including The Lodger, The 39 Steps, Notorious, Rebecca, Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds. Our theoretical work will focus on concepts of normalcy, perversion, spectatorship, and surveillance. Students will read some critical essays, but the major focus of the course will involve formal and informal written responses to the films we watch. Background in the basics of film theory will be helpful but not absolutely essential.
  • Writing Foundations Workshop

    What is your writing identity? How do you see your journey as a writer thus far? Where do you want to go as a writer? In this two-mod course, students will reflect on who they are as writers, set goals for who they want to be, and engage in daily writing exercises. Short stories, poems, and essays will serve as models for our work. In the first module, students will write and revise creative, personal, and persuasive essays. In the second module, students will practice analytical writing, including the literary analysis essay.

English Faculty

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of Jeannette Lee-Parikh

    Jeannette Lee-Parikh 

    English Department Chair and Head of Community Reading
    781-642-8682
  • Photo of Dolores Minakakis

    Dolores Minakakis 

    English Faculty
    781-398-8311
  • Photo of Eli Keehn

    Eli Keehn 

    English Faculty and Residential Faculty
    781-398-8307
  • Photo of Jane Reynolds

    Jane Reynolds 

    Director of Residential Life and English Faculty
    781-642-8614
  • Photo of Ayako Tanaka

    Ayako Tanaka 

    English Faculty
    781-398-8315
  • Photo of KB Kinkel

    KB Kinkel 

    English Faculty
    Education & Degrees

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.