Course Catalog


We Are
… 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.
  • 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.
  • Advanced Writing Portfolio

    (11) Students write daily and work toward developing a variety of essays. The emphasis of this course is process writing—generating and organizing ideas, drafting, revising, and editing papers—with peer or teacher critiques at each stage. At the end of the module, students assemble a portfolio of pieces for evaluation.
  • African Epics from the Oral Tradition

    (9) 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. 
  • African Literature

    (11/12) African Literature: This class is an introduction to African literature. Each year, the course will have a different focus. We may read texts written in English or translated from French, Portuguese, Arabic and African languages, as well as engage works that originate in the oral tradition. Through multiple genres (novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and film), students will explore a range of themes that encompass the colonial encounter, the conflict between tradition and modernity, the negotiation of African identities, post-independence disillusion, gender and sexuality, and apartheid and post-apartheid. By approaching the literature of this content through a comparative framework, we will assess the similarities and differences across and within the cultures and historical contexts from which the literature emerges.
  • American Dramatic Literature

    (10) In this course, we’ll learn and practice the basic principles of analyzing plays through the lenses of both literature and performance. Unlike novels, short fiction, and (most) poetry, a play’s primary function is to be performed rather than confined to the printed page, but knowing how to read a play—how to identify its themes, symbols, stylistic choices, and the particular ways its language contributes to the creation of character—is an essential tool in both literary studies and the world of the theater. We’ll focus on a range of semi-contemporary American playwrights, and we’ll take opportunities to collaborate with the CSW Theatre Department.
  • American Gothic: Dreams & Nightmares

    (10)The dream of America as an egalitarian utopia is important: An uplifting and coherent national narrative gives shape to our individual and collective existence. And we should be critical when examining the stories and ideals that have risen to the cultural surface. In this course, we will examine 18th and 19th century captivity narratives, legal documents, diaries, poems, paintings, and stories — from Walt Whitman’s sweeping and inclusive “Song of Myself” to Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of paranoia and madness. We will look at the texts that laid the foundation for notions of American exceptionalism and the American dream, as well as gothic texts that highlight the anxieties and tensions that have haunted America since its founding. Ultimately, students should leave the class habitually asking two questions: “What’s the official narrative—what am I being explicitly led to think?” and “What or who has been repressed, glossed over, or left out?”
  • American Immigrant Literature

    (11/12 literature) What does it mean to be an immigrant in the U.S.? What do individuals experience when they move from one country and settle in another? What do these immigrants gain in the process, and what do they lose? How do they deal with being “the other?” How do immigrants connect or disconnect with their American- born children? Students explore all these questions and more by analyzing short fiction, films, and an excerpt from The Namesake, by acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. Throughout the mod, students read and respond to text on a nightly basis, gaining a better understanding of how difficult assimilation can often be for immigrants in their new abode. Students come ‘up close and personal’ with immigrant issues by interviewing an immigrant of their choice and writing up their interview in a People magazine manner. The course culminates with a final project which ties all the readings together thematically in a creative and artistic way, addressing the essential question: what is the immigrant experience?

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Asian American Literature

    (11/12 literature) In this class, students will read literature and fictional art produced in the United States by writers of Asian descent. As students explore these works, they will define and redefine the definition of "Asian American Literature." Short stories, essays, and poetry make up the primary readings for this course. 
  • Beyond The Thousand and One Nights: Introduction to Arabic Literature

    (11/12) In this class, students will learn of the development of Arabic literature from its inception in the medieval Arabic literary tradition, which begins in the sixth-century with nomadic Bedouin poetry and the Qur'an, through new literary forms adapted from Western imaginative literature. The aim of the course is to introduce students to key samples of modern Arabic literature, which trace major social, political, religious, cultural and linguistic developments in the Arab world, including North Africa. All readings will be in English translations. The class will also explore the politics of translation. Some questions that will be addressed, but not exclusively: How do some Arab writers conceive of "modernity"? How do they conceive of their relation to politics, and how do they understand the role of intellectuals in their societies? Who are the readers (actual or implied) of these texts? How do these authors relate to the Arabic, European, and American literary traditions?
  • Bible

    (9) The Bible as Literature course provides a brief introduction to the richness of the ancient texts that make up the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.  Many consider the Bible as one of the great world texts, and the stories continue to influence how we think of the world, each other, and ourselves.  Students will explore the Book of Genesis, much of the Book of Exodus, the Book of Job, and selections from the Gospel According to Matthew.  Together we will study major themes and consider the array of literary devices within these texts. 

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Big Book: Crime and Punishment

    (11/12) Together we will tackle this disturbing, thrilling, and enlightening Russian novel about a confused and impoverished student who is trying to make sense of the world around him. Why does the protagonist, Raskolnikov, commit his crime? Can we sympathize with him or not? Why do Dostoyevsky's characters seem to both repel and attract the reader? We will consider these questions, and many others, as we explore the interior world of a lonely young man who has made a great consequential choice in a moment of individual crisis.
  • Big Book: Invisible Man

    (11/12 literature) Written in 1952, Ellison’s novel holds a premiere position in AfricanAmerican and American literature. Beside its riteofpassage 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.
  • Big Book: Jane Eyre

    (11/12 literature) In this class, students will read an e-text version of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre on the iPad. When published in the nineteenth century, Jane Eyre was a bestseller partly because contemporary readers perceived it as a passionate novel told from the perspective of a plain-looking governess. While we in the 21st century might see this as somewhat normal, this was innovative at the time of publication in the mid-nineteenth century. This novel will therefore be placed in its historical context. In addition, students will develop critical reading and writing skills through discussion and a final essay as well as 21st-century skills through use of the iPad and its Apps.
    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Big Book: Moby-Dick

     (11/12 literature) Herman Melville’s classic book is a tale of revenge, destiny, restless youth, life at sea, the gathering of various races of men, the exploration of the human spirit, and the nature of good and evil. The novel was an early example of an author showing the need to respect all of humanity, including those with non-western beliefs.
    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement. 
  • Big Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude

    (11/12) In 1967, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude unleashed a Latin American ‘literary boom’ on an unsuspecting outside world and introduced Magical Realism to a greater audience. It marked the cultural emergence of Latin America on the world stage. Covering politics, history, and other truths, One Hundred Years of Solitude offers reflections on loneliness and the passing of time as well as a caustic commentary on the evils of war and a warm appreciation of familial bonds. Students’ reading, writing, analytical, collaborative, and presentation skills will be developed in this class.
  • Big Book: Paradise Lost

    (11/12)In this class, students will read John Milton’s seventeenth-century epic poem Paradise Lost, which has shaped English literature and our ideas on paradise. In over 10,000 lines of blank verse, Milton explores freedom, falling from grace, rebellion, liberty, justice, self-determination, redemption, and love. These ideas are still relevant today and offer insight into the human condition. As an upper-level English class, students’ reading, writing, analytical, collaborative, and presentation skills will be developed.
  • Big Book: Pride and Prejudice

    (11/12 literature) Almost 200 years after it was written, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen continues to be a world best seller. What is it about this unlikely love story of mistaken first impressions that hooks contemporary readers? Could it be Austen’s witty, satirical writing style, or her creation of believable, flawed personalities that make this novel so irresistible and evergreen? Set in the bucolic English countryside, where all a woman “of good family” could hope for was marrying a rich man; Austen reveals the riveting tale of Elizabeth Bennet, a bright, discerning woman far beyond her time, who stands up for her rights in a male dominated society, but soon discovers the one man she cannot stand is the one she cannot resist.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Big Book: Romance of the Three Kingdoms

    (11/12 literature) The Iliad of China, The Three Kingdoms is one of the most popular and influential novels in East Asia. Taking place in one of the bloodiest periods in Chinese history, this historical epic tells the story of the waning days of the Han Dynasty and the three warring states that strove for mastery over the Chinese empire. With their passions and ambitions, colorful heroes with mythical characteristics all play their part in tales of strategy, warfare, political intrigue, and diplomacy.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Big Book: Satanic Verses

    (11/12 literature) In this class, students read Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Rushdie’s novel is long. Its prose, while beautiful, is full of sophisticated sentence structure, South Asian English speech patterns, and nonstandard grammar, which means it can be a rewarding challenge for an engaged American reader. This is arguably one of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century. It explores faith, the immigrant experience, and other themes with great style and deep irreverence as the novel transports its reader between Mumbai and London. As an upperlevel English class, students are expected to enter into the novel with intellectual enthusiasm and grace.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • British Romanticism

    (10) Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and philosophical movement that originated in Europe in the late 18th-century and reached its peak in the early 19th-century. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion, imagination, individualism, and nature. Ultimately, it was a reaction against the Enlightenment. The European Romantic movement reached the United States in the early 19th-century and gave rise to New England Transcendentalism, which portrayed a less restrictive relationship between God and the Universe, and Romantic Gothic Literature.In this class, students will review the Enlightenment to learn what the Romantics were reacting against, selections from the Lyrical Ballads of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as well as work by William Blake to understand how these principal poets of Romanticism’s early phase defined the movement.
  • Caribbean Literature

    (11/12 literature) This class is an introduction to Caribbean literature and culture. Different sections of the course focus on different time periods such as colonial literature, anti-colonial literature, and post-colonial literature; different genres such as fabulist, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; different linguistic groups such as Anglophone, Hispanophone, Francophone, and Dutch; and themes including rebels and revolutions, women’s writing, bildungsroman, and others.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Chinese Literature: Journey to the West

    (9) Enter the world of Monkey: Folk Novel of China, an adaptation of Journey to the West, a 16th-century novel by Wu Cheng’en. Long before Goku defeats his enemies in Dragonball Z, Sun Wukong—The Monkey King—embarks on an epic journey with the Buddhist monk (Tripitaka) and his disciples to obtain Buddhist scriptures from India and bring them back to China. This folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history and provides students with the opportunity to explore a classic that is as famous in East Asia as The Odyssey. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and participate in a Chinese calligraphy workshop. This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Contemporary Playwrights

    (10-12) This dramatic literature class explores a variety of plays exploring current issues of concern through a range of styles and genres which might include (in a given year) satire, farce, epic theatre, realism and musicals and will range from Pulitzer Prize winning works and playwrights to lesser known plays and their creators. Students will learn a dramaturgical approach to the study of plays, focusing not only on the written text but the cultural context and societal impact. Students will gain an increased understanding of the work of Western and non-Western playwrights, foundations of playwriting, and specific conditions in history and society that give rise to the voices of playwrights.
  • Epics and Heroes (10)

    (10) Great epics of the past tell us about the culture, history, religion and magic of a particular time. As Joseph Campbell wrote, they are “the wonderful song of the soul’s high adventure.” We will look at powerful stories, as well as their meaning for the period and for today. Possible readings include mythology from around the world, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, and an assortment of modern comic books.
  • Experiments in Imaginative Writing

    Taking risks is a crucial part of being a writer. In this course, young poets and fiction writers will try their hands at a number of genres using a variety of prompts and models to help broaden and enrich their voices. Along with reading and critiquing the work of their peers, students will practice reading published works from a writer’s perspective, looking for techniques and ideas to fuel their own work.
  • Graphic Novels

    (10) By immersing themselves in the vibrant worlds of graphic novels, students in this course will learn to be critical readers of images and text. Analytical assignments will guide students to unpack the effects of visual and textual choices, while creative assignments will challenge students to harness the power of images as a means of communication. The graphic novels we read will touch on rich themes of immigration, coming of age, race, and sexuality, and may include Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.
  • Haiti: An Exploration of the History, Language, and Literature of Revolution and Freedom (English)

    (11/12)In this class, students will explore Haitian history and literature in three pivotal moments: the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), the American occupation (1915-1934), and the Duvalier dynasty (1957-1986). As an interdisciplinary approach through history, language, and literature, students will have the option to read the assigned literary fiction in French or English.  All literature will be contextualized with primary and secondary sources from each of the historical periods. 

    Awards 1 English or 1 History credit selected by the student.
  • Introduction to Existentialism

    (11/12) 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. 
  • Japanese Womens Literature

    (11/12 literature course) Explore works written by prominent Japanese women writers. Readings include Takekurabe by Higuchi Ichiyo, passages from The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki, and Totto‑chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. Students will also have the opportunity to analyze Tanka, a form of Japanese poetry, and to learn about women’s roles in folktales from Japan.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
  • Jews & Antisemitism in History & Literature

    (11/12 Literature) Since Christianity became Europe’s dominant religion in the early part of the first millennium,Christian nation-states and their precursors have asked different versions of the same basic question: “What do we do about the Jews who live among us?” The answers have ranged widely, from attempts at inclusion, to ostracism, to expulsion, to genocide. This course focuses on a narrow, but influential, example of anti-Semitic culture: Early Modern English literature. We will look at primary and secondary sources for historical context before reading two 16th-century plays, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In examining the Jewish characters at the center of these works, we will learn how Early Modern English audiences understood Judaism, and how those understandings have informed our contemporary political and cultural depictions of Jews.
  • Language of Film

    (10) This introductory film course will focus on the workings of film and begin to explore ways to view film as an art form both comparable to, and different from, literature. Throughout the course, we will explore techniques for analyzing and writing about film. Students write multiple short response papers, and write and revise a scene analysis essay at the end of the mod.
  • Latinx Literature

    (11/12) This course offers an introduction to writings by Latinx authors in the United States, with an emphasis on the similarities and differences that have shaped the experiences and cultural imaginations of various groups collapsed under this political label. The majority of readings covered will be from the 20th- and 21st-centuries. By critically analyzing poetry, fiction, memoirs, film, and/or performance, along with recent literary and cultural theory, the course will explore some of the major themes and issues that inform the cultural production of these groups. Through comprehensive coursework, students will develop their reading, writing, analytical, collaborative, and presentation skills.
  • LGBTQ+ Literature

    (11/12 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.
  • Literature of the Anthropocene

    (11/12) How are contemporary writers responding to a rapidly warming world? How does literature envision our uncertain collective future, and the futures of other life forms on earth? This course will examine how writers engage with nature and the environment, with a specific emphasis on literary responses to human-caused climate change. Students will read both contemporary and historical texts to build a broad understanding of the past, present, and future of literary constructions of nature. Though this is not a literary arts course,
    students will create their own written works, in addition to examining a variety of assigned texts. 
  • MA: August Wilson

    (Grade 10-12 Dramatic Literature Course) Major Author: August Wilson: This course explores the work of August Wilson, the most prominent Black American playwright of the 20th century. Wilson's ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle, each play set in a different decade, examines the many nuances of the Black experience in America over time, including interpersonal and systemic racism, the lasting impacts of slavery and exploitation, and the joyfulness of communal Black identity. We will read two of the most enduring plays of the Cycle, Fences and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and discuss Wilson's overall theatrical vision and approach alongside our close attention to those texts. Students will also have the opportunity to explore Wilson's lasting legacy in Black American theater through independent work.
  • Major Author: Isabel Allende

      (11/12) Isabel Allende is a Chilean American author in the Magical Realist tradition and one of the most successful Latin American women writers of our time. In her work, realism is overlaid with elements of fantasy and myth. Most of her writing focuses on the portrayal of South American politics while also exploring the experiences of women in Latin America. She also writes about the United States, where she has lived since the 1990s. This course covers a range of her fiction and non-fiction to understand Allende’s preoccupations and contributions to the world of letters. All readings are in English translation.
    • Major Author: James Baldwin

      (11/12 Literature) This course explores the life and writing, fiction and nonfiction, of James Baldwin. We will examine how his style developed over the course of his career and how he engaged with themes such as race, sexuality, love, courage, nation, revolution, and belonging. We will place his writing in its socio-historical context as we consider how Baldwin engaged with politics–Civil Rights and the Cold War–to create a particularly American literary aesthetic that continues to shape the arc of American letters. We may also consider writers whose body of work intersects with Baldwin and/or who position themselves as his literary descendants.

      This course awards credit toward the Social Justice requirement.
    • Major Author: Mark Twain

      (11/12 literature) Mark Twain is arguably the most important author in America’s history, producing an opus of work still unrivaled by any major author today. This course is constructed around an important theme in Twain’s writing: race. Twain’s writing spans from the Antebellum to the post Reconstruction era and Twain himself is a product of both the North and the South. His work reflects both the changes that he went through personally and the changes the nation went through in regard to this subject. Works include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Pudd’nhead Wilson, and short stories and essays by and about Twain and his writing.

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • Major Author: Toni Morrison

      (11/12 literature) Toni Morrison ranks as one of the most important American authors in history. She writes of a country in which her people have been forced to live, but never fully accepted. Her novels demonstrate that AfricanAmericans have fundamentally shaped the United States, as well as vice versa. Passion, violence, music, love, and pain permeate everything she writes. We will consider a range of Morrison’s works, possibly including Song of Solomon, Sula, and Beloved, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • Major Author: Virginia Woolf

      (11/12 literature) One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Woolf wrote great novels, thousands of letters, a long and beautiful diary, and reviews and criticism of the most important writers of her time. This class will explore Woolf’s influence as a writer, thinker, and reader through an indepth examination of her work.

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • Modernism

      (11/12 literature course) In the early 20th century, Darwin, Einstein and Freud shattered conventional ideas about the universe and the mind. Artists and writers began to reject traditional art in an effort to make it new. By exploring literature of the time, supplemented with music and art, we will discover and describe the major features of Modernist ideology and aesthetics. 
    • Native American Literature

      (11/12) In this course, students will start by examining and questioning their knowledge of Native Americans in order to decolonize their belief systems. We will then focus on the importance of the oral tradition and read myths from Native American cultures around the U.S. in order to better understand shared themes, archetypes, and ideas. Each week for four weeks we will concentrate on a particular geographic area in the U.S. and pair older, traditional stories with contemporary texts by Native American authors in each tribe. These may include but are not limited to Vine Deloria of the Sioux (Great Plains), Leslie Marmon Silko of the Pueblo (Southwest), and Sherman Alexie of the Coeur d’Alene (Northwest).
    • New England Transcendentalism

      (10) Transcendentalism was a literary and philosophical movement based in New England in the 1830s and 1840s. Though its practitioners vary in their beliefs, writings, and attitudes, Transcendentalists share an investment in development of the individual, commitment to ethics, and a deep exploration of the human relationship to nature. Most notable among its authors are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller, whose works are explored in detail in this course. Students will be encouraged to consider questions about the self and the natural world through the transcendental lens, writing their own treatises of transcendental ideology at the end of the course.
    • One Thousand and One Nights

      (9) The Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of suspense-laden folk tales from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, first written down as early as the 9th century. The principal literary device of the collection is the famous frame story of Shahrazad who must tell her husband the king Shahrayar a story each night in order to save her own life. Through this device the reader is taken into a rich world of historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, and poetry that feature jinns, ghouls, magicians, and places of magic. These tales continue to have resonance in Asian and North African as well as European and American literature and are considered a foundational text in world literature.
    • Rhetoric & Audience: The Art of Persuasion

      (10) Broadly defined, rhetoric can be understood as any writing or speech act used to modify the perspective of others. In this class, we will encounter a variety of texts—including Op-Ed articles, Ted Talks, TV commercials, and personal narrative essays—and analyze them for their rhetorical effectiveness.  How do the purpose, the intended audience, and the genre of our writing shape the rhetorical decisions we make? What strategies do writers use to best persuade and reach their audiences? And how can an awareness of these rhetorical tools help students become more insightful readers? To investigate these questions, students will not only read and think critically about texts from various media but also try their hand at producing their own rhetorically effective writing in an array of genres. 
    • Russian Literature

      (11/12 Literature) War and Peace!  Anna Karennina! The Brothers Karamazov!  While we will not be reading these epic Russian novels in this class (the shortest one is over 700 pages!), we will explore together a number of compelling short stories by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, and other classic writers of 19th century Russian literature.  The themes of these short stories (Russian identity, the relationship between the individual and society, love, loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness) echo those of the great novels, and we will explore these texts within the larger context of Russian history and culture in the 19th century.  You may be surprised how relevant these stories remain today.
    • Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature

      (10) 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.
    • Shakespeare: The Comedies

      (10-12) Of course, comedies are supposed to make us laugh, which is why Titania falls in love with a peasant with donkey ears in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and why Beatrice and Benedick exchange sick burns in Much Ado about Nothing. But what purposes do comedies serve beyond amusing their audiences? In this course, students will consider those purposes as they read a couple of Shakespeare’s comedies. They will examine the context of these works while also considering what messages they offer to a 21st-century audience. Throughout the mod, students will consider the following questions: What makes these plays comedies? What is satire? What role does romance play in these works? How do these plays address the human contradiction? How do the things that amuse an audience reveal and explore the cultural values of that audience? Additionally, students will practice writing analyses of scenes from these plays while also developing creative (and performative) projects that talk back to Shakespeare.

      As of the 2023-2024 school year, this course is open to grades 10-12. Students who previously completed the course are not eligible. 
    • Shakespeare: The Tragedies

      (10-12) "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. 

      Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, this course is open to grades 10-12. Students who previously completed the course are not eligible. 
    • Social and Political Theater

      (10/11/12)Students study important social and political literature of the theatre that addresses social justice issues, including experiences of war, personal and political freedom, assumptions, stereotypes, and responsibility. Readings may include the works of well‑known playwrights and contemporary playwrights as well some lesser known artists. Classes will include an exploration of how we use the world of theatre to analyze text and character, bringing text to life, and open discussions and reflections about how we can use theatre to bring important topics to light. We will explore our own relationship to themes we discover in the work we read and write as well as the possible meaning to society as a whole. This course will include reading, writing and theatre exercises to explore themes and topics.
      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • South Asian Literature

      This course will focus on different genres, contexts, time periods, and even languages (although all readings will be in English/translation) that fall under the broad category of ‘South Asian Literature.’ In one year, we might focus on the events surrounding the Partition of 1947 and how it inspired a generation of writers in Urdu. Another year, we might focus on Sanskrit literature: for example, poetry, drama, and/or short stories. In other iterations, the class might explore LGBTQ authors, the South Asian diaspora, and even the works of a particular author. The readings would focus mainly on shorter literary works, such as short stories and poems, but there would also be in most of these classes the opportunity to read full books (e.g. Bharati Mukherjee’s Miss New India and Wife, the Sanskrit Vetālapañcaviṃśati, Abha Dawesar’s Babyji) or excerpts thereof. Within each version of the course, students would be able to research and learn about the historical context of the works as well as where they fall in the literary sphere

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • Storytelling from Turtle Island: Native American Poetry from the Oral Tradition to the Present

      (9) In this class, students will be exposed to the storytelling traditions of indigenous peoples of North America. The readings will be organized around five geographical regions to begin with a poem from traditional oral stories and end with contemporary poets. The class will also explore specific tropes, like the Trickster, for example. It will also place these stories within their cultural, political, and national contexts to understand Indigenous culture as living. In addition, we will incorporate the social, aesthetic, and religious. Most importantly, we will examine how Native American storytellers and writers imagine themselves, the landscape, nature and nation, and colonization as well as engage their cosmologies. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between the oral traditions and contemporary poetry to understand indigenous poetics.
    • The Great American Short Story

      (10) In this class, students will explore the short story as a discrete genre in its traditional and innovative forms. The structure of the readings will be chronological according to publication date to trace literary influences. As a result, students will analyze the elements of fiction as they apply to short fiction. Additionally, diverse American experiences will be attended to as they are represented in this form. Critical reading and writing skills will be developed through appropriate assignments individual and collaborative assignments.
    • The Odyssey

      (9) For ten years Odysseus fought on the fields of Troy, and for ten more years fights to return to the wife and son he left behind. On his way home he encounters ravenous monsters, willful gods and goddesses, and beautiful, seductive women. We will read the Robert Fagles translation and various poems and artworks that draw on the world of The Odyssey, and do a variety of creative and analytical projects in response to the reading.
    • The Ramayana

      (9) In this course, we study the 3000-year-old Indian epic poem The Ramayana as a literary masterpiece that embodies the ideals, values, and philosophy of Hinduism. Daily discussion informs students with an understanding of dharma (doing the right thing), karma (the law of cause and effect), reincarnation, and the war between good and evil. Students are made aware of how these ideas are inextricably intertwined within The Ramayana, making it more than just a complex journey of love, honor, and adventure, but also a vibrant metaphor and template for how individuals should lead their lives: putting themselves in the shoes of others and serving the community.

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • Theatre of the Marginalized

      (10/11/12-  Course previously titled "Theatre of the Unusual/Everyday Life." Students who took that class previously should not sign up for this one) Through literature of the theatre, students focus on differences in everyday lives. Students will have an opportunity to explore many issues of accessibility, physical and mental challenges through time, cultures, definitions, and values, and the everyday struggles individuals have relating to others.  Plays may include: Elephant Man, Children of a Lesser God, Fences, Getting Out, and The Ballad of a Sad Café.
    • Understanding Hayao Miyazaki Through Literature

      (10) In this course, students will analyze films by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the world’s most famous animators and film directors, well known for masterpieces such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Grimm’s Tales, and Japanese folktales are a few of the works that have inspired his films and will provide literary and cultural context. All of the works will provide ground to discuss the complex role of female protagonists in the world of animation and literature. The students will have the opportunity to create their own folktale.

      This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement.
    • World Poetry: An Introduction to Verse from Antiquity to the Present

      (10) This survey of world poetry from ancient Egypt to the late 20th century introduces students to poetry from around the world written in or translated into English. Students will read haikus, Vedic hymns, Icelandic sagas, and verse from Garcia Lorca, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney, among others. They will also examine the poetic form (sonnet, ballad, villanelle, and sestina, among others). Students will also practice their analytical writing and reading skills as they develop a greater appreciation and understanding of the verse form.
    • Writing About Reading 2

      (11) In this 11th grade requirement, students learn the research and writing skills necessary to produce a long research paper. Students spend the beginning of the mod reading and discussing a novella, play, or short story collection together, and then work under close supervision to research and draft a 1015 page research paper based on that text.
    • Writing about Reading 1

      (10) Through learning the literature, history, art, and music of a particular American decade, students discover how writing and reading affect and reflect a given culture. Students will write frequent responses to the various forms of writing. They will also complete a substantial research project or paper
    • Writing Foundations Workshop

      (9) 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.
    • Writing Plays for Production

      (10/11/12)Creating the literature of the theatre requires a good ear for the way people communicate, a keen sense of imagination, an understanding of how theatre works, writing skills to give voice to one’s ideas, and speaking ability to give verbal life to written plays. The process demands the general willingness to venture into this specific genre of literature, patience, revisions, and humor. Plays created by this class may be selected by student directors and performed in Mod 6 as part of the Playwrights, Actors, Directors, and Designers Festival (PADD). This course will include reading, writing and theatre exercises to explore themes and topics.
    • Writing Poetry

      (11/12 writing) Language is the foundational material of poetry. Poetry’s attention to language is what distinguishes it from other literary genres. In this class, therefore, students are expected to develop a facility and versatility with use of language to tell their stories in lyric and associative mode. This is also a workshop class. The first rule of thumb for developing a relationship with any form of writing is to read that genre, because reading is instructive. Students will closely read poems every day. They will also develop a vocabulary to discuss poetry. In addition, they will compose three poems that will be revised over the mod, write a literary analytical essay on one of the assigned poems, write a metacognition on their creative process, and buy a book of poetry.
    • Writing Short Stories

      (11/12 writing) Each of us has stories to tell, stories about ourselves and others. In this course, we begin by reading published stories as inspiration for writing our own stories, and continue with a sequence of short exercises designed to explore the various facets of short story writing. In the second half of the mod, we move into a formal workshop period, where each student develops a draft of an original story and receives feedback from peers and the teacher.

    Department Faculty

    • Photo of Jeannette Lee-Parikh
      Jeannette Lee-Parikh
      English Department Chair and Head of Community Reading
      St. John's University - B.A.
      Brown University - Ph.D.
    • Photo of Louis Hutchins
      Louis Hutchins
      English Faculty
      University of California, Berkeley - MA
      University of Wisconsin - BA
    • Photo of Eli Keehn
      Eli Keehn
      English Faculty and Residential Faculty
      Washington University (St. Louis) - B.A.
      Middlebury College - M.A.
    • Photo of KB Kinkel
      KB Kinkel
      English Faculty
    • Photo of Dolores Minakakis
      Dolores Minakakis
      English Faculty
      University of Hamburg (Germany) - Ph.D
      University of Pennsylvania - M.A.
      University of Pennsylvania - B.A.
    • Photo of Jane Reynolds
      Jane Reynolds
      Director of Residential Life and English Faculty
      Northwestern University - B.A.
      Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M.
    • Photo of Ayako Tanaka
      Ayako Tanaka
      English Faculty
      Wellesley College - B.A.
      Columbia University - M.A.

    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.