Upper School English

Department:  Upper School

The goal of the Waterford English curriculum is to increase students' critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills while engendering a deep appreciation for the study of literature. In the Middle School years, students experience the major forms of literature as readers, writers, and often performers in an effort to encourage their appreciation for the full range of literary expression. They review the conventions and vocabulary of English usage and grammar to prepare for the more intensive writing that awaits them in Upper School. In the Upper School years, students situate texts within historical, philosophical, and literary contexts, honing their understanding through discussion and writing. Discussion-based classes guide student learning through modeling, analysis, drafting, discussion, workshop, revision and evaluation. With the ability to craft and articulate one's thoughts comes insight into the self, the world, and the power of language. Literature is a mirror to the world; learning to analyze and appreciate literature prepares students for a richer engagement with their environment.

English IX: World Literature
Class IX English is a year-long World LIterature course. It asks students to consider formally the question "What is literature?" as they practice literary analysis and critical exposition. Students explore this question through careful textual study and discuss their conclusions using a required set of literary terms, placing emphasis on the identification and function of specific stylistic devices. Students are always encouraged to question "why did the author make these choices?" in their examination of literary forms. The course places particular emphasis on texts that tell the stories of individuals attempting to create order in a world of chaos, continuing a discussion of leadership from Class VIII into an in-depth analysis of individual's choices and the impact on society. Students undertake extensive study and exercise in writing, building on an understanding of paragraph structure to expand beyond the traditional five paragraph essay.

English X: British Literature
Class X English is a year-long survey of British literature. Texts used include selected Shakespeare plays, and various British novelsm short stories, and poetry. The course undertakes both close analysis of the texts and discussion of the broader themes and intellectual movements that informed these works. Frequent essays serve to sharpen students' analytical and expository skills and are used to develop their understanding and mastery of the process of literary analysis. Quizzes, memorizations, and exams foster mastery of the material. Creative writing exercises inspire a new level of informed appreciation for the richness and subtlety of our common literary heritage.

English XI: American Literature
Class XI English is a year-long survey course of American literature. It prepares students to be high-level thinkers, readers and writers. The course introduces students to cannonical works from early American literature and more contemporary novels, plays, short stories, and poetry as well. Students engage with texts to sharpen their analytic skills and write essays to demonstrate their growing ability to synthesize close reading, broader analysis, and beautiful writing.

English XII: AP English Literature and Composition
Advanced Placement English is a year-long course offering college-level study of literary analysis and exposition in preparation for the AP Exam in English Literature and Composition. Students who successfully complete the sequence will be ready for advanced study of English in college, and will possess the tools to write a college essay with a strong central idea, thesis, and supporting argument. In addition to gaining sophistication as readers and writers, students enrolled in this course should gain a deep appreciation for the quality of intellectual stimulation -- and thrill -- that comes from real engagement with great literature.

English XII: Contemporary Poetry
This term-long course will guide students through an engaging encounter with poetry of the 20th and 21st Centuries, ranging in source from turn of the 19th-to-20th century literary movements to contemporary poets publishing today. The ultimate goal of the course will be to give the students an understanding of how poetic forms reflect the historical events, philosophical concerns and aesthetic evolutions of their day. Reading assignments will be short, but the level of attention expected from students will be high. Students can expect to improve their reading and analysis skills, and to hone their ability to explain themselves clearly and forcefully in writing. Assignments will include frequent short writing assignments in response to readings, and two or three longer essays about groups of poems or individual authors.

English XII: Short Fiction
Short Fiction will provide soon-to-graduate Waterford seniors with a rich farewell to their high school years of literature study. This course will present students with a capstone experience in the formal, critical analysis of literature. The breadth of the readings will be significant, across both nineteenth and twentieth century American Literature. We will read both short stories and novellas, drawing upon texts from writers such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Flannery O'Connor.

English XII: Writing Colloquium
The Class XII Writing Colloquium is an intensive, workshop-based course in written composition, critical evaluation of writing, and refinement of technique. The course commences with short, focused writing exercises, proceeds through several assignments aimed at refining various techniques of good writing, and concludes with a larger project requiring cross-disciplinary exploration. Along the way, the use of writing as a vehicle of learning, rather than merely as a form of communication, is emphasized. Readings provide models of excellent writing, give instruction in the emulation of those models, and suggest topics for students' projects. Students will craft personal essays, rhetorical and literary analyses, and complete research papers.

English: Creative Writing
This course is designed to introduce students to a multitude of forms in creative writing, exploring lyric and narrative structures in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as mixed media and literary forms that seem to defy definition.  Each term will touch on a variety of forms, offering students exposure to traditional and contemporary model works. This course will emphasize process, guiding students from brainstorm and drafting phases through workshop and revision. This is a student-centered course that relies on strong participation; although one of our main goals is to design and publish a literary magazine at the end of the year, our primary focus remains on fueling the passion, insight, and satisfaction that comes through honing skills in creative writing.