American & British Literature Courses

Shakespeare I (rev. 8/11)

One-semester Course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Shakespeare is arguably the greatest author to use the English language. The course presents students with some of the major plays. "Why should we read Shakespeare?" is a question students should be able to answer for themselves by the end of the course.

The emphasis on the plays as drama is central. The primary goals of the course are to explore Shakespeare’s usage of language, place his works in their historical context and connect them to contemporary issues, and to discuss issues of performance.

In connection with the overall curriculum, in addition to the reading and analytical skills suggested earlier, the course provides intensive study of an individual important to Western cultural heritage and an author whose works illustrate most effectively some of society’s central conflicts.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

• Dramatic structure and interpretation.
• Psychological issues: character development, motivation, dynamics.
• Use of language and force of language.
• Philosophical issues: political, religious, metaphysical.
• Historical background; Shakespeare’s theater and times.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

One basic method of approaching the texts is close reading. Because the language is, in some ways, unfamiliar and because the poetry is among the richest ever written, students benefit from careful and intensive study--from close examination of his uses of language and vocabulary, complexity of structure, and originality of metaphor.

In addition, the class examines and experiments with the dramatic dimensions of the plays. A central idea to remember when reading or writing about these works is that they are plays, scripts originally intended for performance. As students read them, they are asked to think of themselves as actors or directors, to picture what is happening on stage. The discussion and some of the assignments require consideration of the following questions: Where are the characters on stage? What are they doing before, as, or after they speak? Where have they just come from? What do they think of the other characters on stage with them, and how do they show those feelings? What kinds of stage directions are necessary? What kinds of scenery or props are necessary? When and where does the action take place? What are the characters doing when other characters are speaking? What tone of voice do the characters use? Students may participate in close reading of the text through performance-based activities, requiring intellectual, physical, and vocal engagement.

Also, students should consider what kinds of moral and ethical choices the characters make. What issues of good and evil are presented? What conclusions, if any, can one draw about the nature of human beings in the diverse worlds found in the plays?

4. Expectations for Students

Reading:
Students are expected to read 4-5 plays in the course. They have nightly reading assignments which they are required to do before the material is examined in class. More than one reading is necessary with such complex language and structure and for the kinds of analysis--dramatic and literary--students are asked to perform.

Writing:
Students have a paper on each play and may have other shorter papers, as well. They should also expect frequent quizzes and some in-class essays. They may have some informal writing exercises and some group writing work.

Speaking and Listening:
Students may be required to "perform" in some formal, dramatic sense. They may participate in informal improvisational pieces to enter the world of the play, or to do a close reading of a passage. They are expected to ask and respond to questions in class discussion. They are also expected to participate in smaller group discussions in class and in group projects.

Other:
Students may participate in comparative scene study as well as analysis of full productions.
Students may conference with teachers in the process of writing papers.
There is vocabulary study in the very nature of the course.

5. Reading List

Core plays include:
Hamlet
Macbeth
Othello

In addition, students may study one or two of the following:
Merchant of Venice
Midsummer Night's Dream
Henry IV, Part 1
As You Like It
The Tempest

Several sonnets may be studied in conjunction with the plays. Students may be required to read secondary source material for papers or projects.
If Shakespeare in Production (see syllabus for Drama in Production) is offered, an effort is made for the other Shakespeare classes to read the play that is being produced. Students are also encouraged to attend area productions of Shakespeare's plays.

Films, local productions of plays, music, visual art.

6. Bibliography

There is seemingly endless material on Shakespeare. This is a partial list of some works helpful in teaching.
Shakespeare, Our Contemporary, Jan Kott
The Bottom Translations, Jan Kott
The Theater of Essence, Jan Kott
The Actor's Freedom, Goldman
Shakespearean Tragedy, Bradley
Prefaces to Shakespeare, Granville-Barker
The Shakespearean Revolution, Styan
Representing Shakespeare, ed. Schwatz and Kahn
The Empty Space, Brook
The Shifting Point, Brook
Shakespeare's Bawdy, Partridge
William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life, Schoenbaum
Shakespeare's Holinshed, ed. Hosley
Shakespeare at Work, G.B. Harrison
Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning, Rabkin
Shakespeare and the Nature of Women, Dusinberre
Shakespeare and the Rival Traditions, Harbage
The Ethic of Time, Sypher
Renaissance Refashioning, Greenblatt
Coming of Age in Shakespeare, Garber
Shakespeare and Modern Culture, Garber
Shakespeare After All, Garber
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, Shapiro
Shakespeare Lexicon, Vol. 1-2, Schmidt
Will in the World, Greenblatt
Prefaces to Shakespeare, Tanner
Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare, Bate
 
Sample Assignment

Paper assignment on Hamlet--choose one. Three to four pages--1000 to 1200 words.

1. It has been said that Hamlet changes too much as a character from the time he leaves in Act IV to the time he returns at the beginning of Act V, and that that change gets in the way of the effect of the play. Agree or disagree, discussing Hamlet's personality up to Act V, in Act V, and what you think is the impact of the character at the end of the play.

2. Many critics have suggested that the popularity of the play is based on the fact that all readers and audiences can identify with the character. Do you agree? Why or why not? What elements of the story, if any, do you identify with? Or, why do you think that you cannot identify with him at all?

3. Choose a secondary character in the play - Laertes, Fortinbras, Ophelia, etc. Discuss the importance of the character’s role in the play. Consider, perhaps, what the play would be missing if this character were taken out.

4. Describe how you would stage a scene from the play. You may choose any scene or part of a scene; but be sure to consider costumes, props, significant action, and the effect you are trying to create about the characters and the action of the scene. Remember to be conscious of the kind of detail that a director or an actor might use to create an effect and a mood. Consult the course syllabus for specific questions to be considered.

5. Write another scene for the play. You may write one of the scenes that is mentioned but that we do not see--Hamlet in Ophelia's closet, Ophelia at the brook, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Hamlet on the high seas, for example. Or, you may choose to add a scene between Claudius and Gertrude before the beginning of the play, the murder of Old Hamlet, a scene between Hamlet and Horatio, Hamlet and the pirates, etc.

6. Write an entry in the journal of Horatio several weeks or months after the end of the play. What might he say about what has happened, about Fortinbras, about his role in what has occurred?


American Literature 1600-1920 (rev. 8/11)

One-semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Some core questions for this course are: What does American Literature have to say about the American promises of freedom, equality and independence? What makes “American Literature” American? What distinguishes American Literature from World Literature? Are there transcendent themes in American Literature? This course also provides students with an introduction to and overview of the literature of the United States from early American writings to 1920. There are many possible approaches to the study of American Literature. A teacher may choose a chronological approach starting with Native American and pre-Colonial literature and move through the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Or, a teacher may choose texts from different periods using a single theme or set of themes as a common thread. Grouping American Literature by genre is yet another possible approach.

2. Topics and Themes

• Democratic Principles: Freedom, Equality, Independence
• The dialectic between American History and American Literature
• Canonical vs. Non-Canonical Works and Who Decides
• The American Dream
• Class and Materialism
• The Individual in Society
• Religion in America
• War and Peace
• Race
• Gender
• Insider vs. Outsider
• American Aesthetics
• Satire
• Family
• Relationships

3. Methods

The primary methods are close critical reading, discussion, brief lectures, formal essays, journaling, and informal “writing to learn” exercises. Connections are made between works, historical contexts and themes.

4. Expectations for Students
In addition to the department-wide expectations, students are expected to be capable readers and good writers. Students are expected to come to class prepared with observations, thoughts and questions on the nightly reading. In class, students are expected to participate regularly and to listen carefully to one another. Later in the course, students are expected to draw conclusions, make intertextual connections between, and generalizations from the reading.

Reading: Students have nightly reading that varies with the difficulty level of each text: for example, The Scarlet Letter, 20 pages; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 30-35 pages.

Writing: Students have regular formal and informal writing assignments. 4-6 formal essays in the course, plus reading journals, in-class “writing to learn” exercises, and activator questions to stimulate discussion. Students are expected to keep notes on the reading, lectures and class discussions.

Exams: There is a semester examination in January.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Novels/Novellas:
The Scarlet Letter
Billy Budd
Benito Cereno
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Awakening
The Yellow Wallpaper
The House of Mirth
Beloved
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (selections)

Short Stories:
There are many stories taught. The following are the most commonly taught:
selections from Sun Songs
“Rip van Winkle”
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
stories from The Portable Poe
stories from The Portable Hawthorne
“Bartleby the Scrivener”
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County”
"The Story of an Hour"
"Desiree's Baby"
“Gift of the Magi”

Plays:
The Crucible

Poets:
There are many poems taught. The following are the most commonly taught poets and/or titles:
Anne Bradstreet
Phyllis Wheatley
Emily Dickinson
Leaves of Grass and Civil War Poetry, Walt Whitman

Non Fiction:
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Jonathan Edwards
“The American Scholar” and “The Divinity School Address”, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, Frederick Douglass
“Civil Disobedience”, “Slavery in Massachusetts” and Walden, Henry David Thoreau
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Films:
Ken Burns’ Mark Twain, The Crucible, The Scarlet Letter, Glory

General Texts Available: American Short Stories, The Mentor Book of American Poetry, The Norton Anthology of Poetry

6. Bibliography
Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, Kaplan
Walt Whitman’s America, Reynolds
God and the American Writer, Kazin
No Place of Grace, Lears
The Great Circle, Yu
The Cycle of American Literature, Spiller
The American Novel and Its Tradition, Chase
The Flowering of New England, Brooks
The American Transcendentalists, Miller
The American Renaissance, Matthiessen
Literary Democracy, Ziff

Sample Assignments:

1. In the opening lines of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck alludes to the “boy book” Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Do you think Huck Finn is also a “kid’s book”? Why or why not?

2. In Arthur Miller's play, "The Crucible," many people - men and women - are accused of witchcraft and are rounded up by the constables. Here, ever-so-briefly, is the situation: confess to being a witch, and you will be whipped, imprisoned, punished ...... but not killed. Do not confess, and it will be assumed that you are, indeed, a witch and you will be killed. If you “turn in” other witches, you will be dealt with less harshly. What a choice.

Your assignment is to write an essay addressing this question:

John Proctor’s Decision - What Would I Have Done? In at least 5 paragraphs, please discuss the factors that went into John Proctor’s final decision at the very end of the story. Then talk about what you would have done, and why, if you were faced with the same factors during the same time period.

 

American Literature 1920-Present (rev. 8/11)

One-semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Some core questions for this course are: What does American Literature have to say about the American promises of freedom, equality and independence? What makes “American Literature” American? What distinguishes American Literature from World Literature? Are there transcendent themes in American Literature? This course also provides students with an introduction to and overview of the literature of the United States from 1920 to the present day. There are many possible approaches to the study of American Literature. A teacher may choose a chronological approach starting with literature from the 1920s and move through twentieth century. Or, a teacher may choose texts from different periods using a single theme or set of themes as a common thread. Grouping American Literature by genre is yet another possible approach.

2. Topics and Themes

• Democratic Principles: Freedom, Equality, Independence
• The dialectic between American History and American Literature
• Canonical vs. Non-Canonical Works and Who Decides
• The American Dream
• Class and Materialism
• The Individual in Society
• Religion in America
• War and Peace
• Race
• Gender
• Insider vs. Outsider
• American Aesthetics
• Satire
• Family
• Relationships

3. Methods
The primary methods are close critical reading, discussion, brief lectures, formal essays, journaling, and informal “writing to learn” exercises. Connections are made between works, historical contexts and themes.

4. Expectations for Students
In addition to the department-wide expectations, students are expected to be capable readers and good writers. Students are expected to come to class prepared with observations, thoughts and questions on the nightly reading. In class, students are expected to participate regularly and to listen carefully to one another. Later in the course, students are expected to draw conclusions, make intertextual connections between, and generalizations from the reading.

Reading: Students have nightly reading that varies with the difficulty level of each text: As I Lay Dying, 20 pages; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 30-35 pages, for example.

Writing: Students have regular formal and informal writing assignments. 4-6 formal essays in the course, plus reading journals, in-class “writing to learn” exercises, and activator questions to stimulate discussion. Students are expected to keep notes on the reading, lectures and class discussions.

Exams: There is a semester examination in June.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Novels/Novellas:
The Great Gatsby
Their Eyes Were Watching God
A Farewell to Arms
The Sun Also Rises
The Sound and the Fury
As I Lay Dying
Light in August
Go Down Moses
The Grapes of Wrath
Invisible Man
Catch-22
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
A River Runs Through It
The Color Purple
Song of Solomon
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Things They Carried
Fool’s Crow
Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (selections)

Short Stories:
There are many stories taught. The following are the most commonly taught:
Short Stories and In Our Time (Hemingway)
The Collected Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
“A Rose for Emily”
“Barn Burning”
“Sonny’s Blues”
“Hunger”
"Sweat"
"The Gilded Six-Bits"
stories from Eight Men

Plays:
A Streetcar Named Desire
Death of a Salesman

Poets:
There are many poems taught. The following are the most commonly taught poets:
T.S. Eliot
Robert Frost
e e cummings
Alan Ginsburg
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
William Carlos Williams
Elizabeth Bishop
Maya Angelou
Theodore Roethke
Wallace Stevens
Robert Hayden

Non Fiction:
Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, William Faulkner

Films:
On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, A River Runs Through It, Wag the Dog, Smoke Signals, Faulkner: A Life on Paper, Death of a Salesman, The Color Purple, The Sting, Far From Heaven

General Texts Available: American Short Stories, The Mentor Book of American Poetry, The Norton Anthology of Poetry

6. Bibliography
Faulkner: A Biography, Blotner
The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, O’Connor (ed. Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald)
God and the American Writer, Kazin
The Great Circle, Yu
The Cycle of American Literature, Spiller
The American Novel and Its Tradition, Chase
Part of Nature, Part of Us, Vendler
Contemporary American Writing, Hoffman
Literary Democracy, Ziff
Silences, Olsen
The Portable Faulkner, Cowley

Sample Assignments:

1. In a multi-paragraph response answer the following question: Is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest McMurphy’s story or Chief Bromden’s story? Explain.

2. Using As I Lay Dying as your model, write a Faulknerian narrative or series of narratives describing an L-S class period or school event.

 

Early British Literature (rev. 6/11)

One semester
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Early British Literature covers, in one semester, over 1000 years of material. As such, we typically move along quickly, reading from rich and varied texts starting with the Anglo-Saxon period and ending around 1800. This course provides students with an overview of British literature and with an opportunity to explore the works in their historical and social contexts. Students examine the attitudes, philosophies, and literary forms that emerge over this period. The objective is to provide students with the broad picture rather than the close-up; to give students a sense of the way in which English literature--and English perceptions of what literature is--have evolved.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Genre development: evolution of forms in plays, poems, and novels.

Social/Historical/Cultural context: how do themes, characters, images reflect the questions and assumptions of an era?

Comparative studies: how do these works compare to our contemporary vision?

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Students are asked to read carefully, question, and analyze selections for meaning, form, style, language, and tone. Some historical background will be presented in discussion or lecture format, and may be the subject of individual outside reading. Class discussion about the literature will be the primary method of instruction. Writing to interpret, explain, react to, or imitate the readings will be the primary method of assessment. Films/documentaries, speakers, student presentations, and individual reading and research projects may also be used.

Students may be asked to compare or contrast writers’ works, to trace the development of an idea, theme, or form. They may also be asked to relate a work to a historical period, a literary philosophy, an artistic movement (which can include the visual arts, architecture, dramatic arts, and music). Students will be expected to note relationships among the readings and eras studied and to be able to recognize the both the continuity and progression/transformation of the literature through the centuries.

4. Expectations for Students

Reading: assignments will be lengthy; much of the early literature is poetry. Some of the earlier pieces will be more difficult because of structural differences in the language or unfamiliar vocabulary. Some critical and historical readings will be assigned.

Writing: there will be frequent critical and analytical compositions, with at least one major paper/project for each literary work. Opportunities for creative writing and/or creative projects are provided for most units and they may take the form of imitating an author’s work, a style, or a literary form. Students may be given the opportunity to design their own writing assignments.

Listening/Speaking: class discussion, oral presentations, speakers, films, and lectures all provide opportunities for students to speak, listen, and collaborate. They are expected to participate on a daily basis.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

The Anglo Saxon Period
Beowulf
“The Battle of Brunanburgh”
“The Dream of the Rood”
“The Wanderer”

The Medieval Period
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Everyman
The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer
Le Morte D’Arthur, Malory

The Renaissance
Dr. Faustus, Marlowe
Twelfth Night, Shakespeare
The Henriad, Shakespeare
Elizabethan Sonnets

16th/17th Century
Paradise Lost (selections), Milton
She Stoops to Conquer, Goldsmith
Moll Flanders, Defoe
Cavalier Poetry
Metaphysical Poetry

The Augustan Age/The Enlightenment
The works of Pope
Gulliver’s Travels, Swift
Pride and Prejudice, Austen

6. Bibliography

The Elizabethan World Picture, Tillyard
From Classic to Romantic, Bate
See "Shakespeare I" bibiliography above

Sample Assignments

How does “The Dream of the Rood” use Anglo Saxon values/images/ideas in its representation of Christ’s crucifixion, and to what effect? Be sure to discuss the entire poem, and not just parts of it.

Create a character who might have accompanied Chaucer’s pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. Describe him or her as Chaucer would have done in his Prologue; then have your pilgrim tell a tale in one of the forms that Chaucer used.

Respond to the following statement by substantiating or challenging it, using specific examples from The Canterbury Tales as proof: “It could be said that tricks, trysts, and irony create the major conflicts in The Canterbury Tales.”

Monsters: Real and Metaphorical. Trace the role that monsters play in the works you’ve read this semester. What types of monsters appear in these works? What function do they serve? How do they reflect the attitudes/values/belief systems of the time in which they were written?


Modern British Literature (rev. 8/11)

One semester
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Modern British Literature begins at approximately 1800 and runs through the present day. However, because this is a semester-long course, it is difficult to capture every literary period in its entirety. Over the semester, students will read novels and plays (a fine British tradition), and may also study a range of British poets. Students may or may not be reading the texts chronologically; and the teacher may choose to focus on thematic issues rather than (or in addition to) placing the works in their historical contexts.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

• Genre development: evolution of forms in plays, poems and novels.

• Cultural context: how do themes, characters and images reflect the questions and assumptions of an era?

• Comparative studies: how do these works compare to our contemporary vision of the world?

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Students are asked to read carefully, question and analyze selections for meaning, form, style, language and tone. Some historical background will be presented in discussion or lecture format, and may be the subject of individual outside reading. Class discussion about the literature will be the primary method of instruction. Writing to interpret, explain, react or imitate the readings will be the primary method of assessment. Films, videos, speakers, student presentations, and individual reading and research projects will also be used.

Students may be asked to compare or contrast writers’ works, to trace the development of an idea, theme or form. They may also be asked to relate a work to a historical period, a literary philosophy, or an artistic movement, which can include the visual arts, architecture, dramatic arts, and music. Students will be expected to note relationships among the readings and eras studied and to be able to recognize the both the continuity and progression/transformation of the literature through the time periods.

4. Expectations for Students

Reading: assignments will be lengthy. Some of the earlier pieces may be more difficult because of structural differences in the language or unfamiliar vocabulary. Some critical and historical readings will be assigned.

Writing: there will be frequent critical and analytical compositions, at least one major paper for each literary work. Opportunities for creative writing and/or creative projects are provide for most units and they may take the form of imitating an author’s work, a style, or a form. Students may be given the opportunity to design their own writing assignments.

Listening/Speaking: class discussion, oral presentations, speakers, films and lectures all provide opportunities for students to speak, listen and collaborate. They are expected to participate on a daily basis.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Late 18th Century
The works of Pope
Gulliver’s Travels, Swift
the poetry of William Blake

19th Century
Wordsworth
Coleridge
Keats
Percy Shelley
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Gothic tradition
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Hard Times, Dickens
Silas Marner, Eliot
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson
Tennyson
Arnold
Kipling
Robert Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde
Dracula, Bram Stoker

20th Century
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
A Room with a View, Forster
A Passage to India, Forster
1984, Orwell
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Spark
Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

6. Bibliography

Yeats the Man and the Masks, Ellmann
Fearful Symmetry, Frye
English Romantic Poets, Abrams (ed.)
From Classic to Romantic, Bate
The Mirror and the Lamp, Abrams

Sample Assignments

Compare a contemporary film adaptation/version of the Dracula story with it’s “source” text, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. What elements of the vampire tale does your work have in common with the “original” Dracula? What changes were made, and how do they relate to and/or what do they reveal about the culture that produced them?

Compare “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with Frankenstein. What common themes do they share?

Iterations/Repetitions/Re-creations in Arcadia. After Thomasina laments the burning of the library at Alexandria, Septimus observes that as we march through time “there is nothing outside the march, so that nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again” (42). How is this idea reflected in the play? You can explore the structure of the play, the plot, compare the two time periods, focus on a particular set of characters, a particular concept (physics, maths), etc.

You may choose to write a standard 3+ page analytical essay,

OR

You can create a visual and/or an artistic rendering of your topic. You could do a painting, recreate one of the books/portfolios that appear in the play, make a video, or explore and explain a particular scientific concept and compare it to the text. Along with your piece, you will also write a 1.5 page composition explaining why your chosen concept is important in terms of your understanding of the play’s themes.

American Voices (rev. 3/10)

One semester course

Open to 10, 11, 12

Range of difficulty 2-4

1. Rationale

American Voices is a course that includes works by American authors that are often overlooked in the traditional American canon. Students explore current issues and high interest topics through the close analysis of literature. The course includes all genres -- novel, poetry, non-fiction, drama, short story and film.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

-- examining how and why people are marginalized in America

-- exploring what happens when protagonists rebel against given racial and cultural identities

-- comparing issues related to culture, class, gender, and race

-- studying experimental narrative structures in multiple genres: short stories, graphic novels, novels, plays, poems, and film

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

The following list represents several methods that may be used:

-- discussion of short stories, graphic novels, novels, plays, poems, and film

-- note taking and/or journaling

-- reading aloud in class

-- individual and group projects and presentations

-- art

-- music

Types of Assignments:

Writing will be done both in and out of class. Types of writing assignments will include: journal entries, short reaction pieces, informal essays, mini-research papers, creative pieces, and analytical essays.

Reading assignments will vary on a nightly basis, depending primarily on the work being studied. Approximately 20 pages a night will be assigned when short stories and novels are being studied; less when poetry is being studied. Some assignments will be read in class by the instructor and students.

Students my also be asked to do group projects and presentations. They will be expected to do some research on various topics that deal with American culture and history. Students will be expected to present their work in a coherent, intelligent, and entertaining manner.

Sample Assignments:

-- How do American values enslave people? Students write an essay comparing and contrasting novels from two different time periods.

-- Examine racial self-loathing. Students focus on the imagery, dialogue, and thematic aspects of this topic in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

-- Examine the relationship between Transformation and Place. Students write an essay examining the connection between the Bone’s growth as a character and place in Russell Banks’ The Rule of the Bone.

4. Expectations for Students

We expect students to enter into the reading enthusiastically and with open minds. We also expect students to challenge their own assumptions about culture, class, gender, and race. Reading and writing assignments and other projects will facilitate this process.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Fiction
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks
Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger
Dew Breakers, Edwidge Danticat
Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat
What Is the What, Dave Eggers
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
The Color of Water, James McBride
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
Crossing the River, Caryl Phillips
Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
Maus I and II, Art Spiegelman
All Flowers Die, Andrew K. Stone
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton

Non-Fiction
Sleepers, Lorenzo Carcaterra
Nickeled and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald

Short Stories
selections from Different Seasons, Stephen King
excerpts from The Women of Brewster Place, Gloria Naylor

Films
Boy In the Striped Pajamas

Plays
Laramie Project,
Fat

Poetry
selections from Burning Down the House: Poets from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
selections from a variety of poets, including: Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath

 

The Making and Remaking of Race (rev. 3/10)

One semester
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-4

1. Rationale


W. E. B. DuBois spoke of “the color line” as the problem of the twentieth century. Although we are now in the twenty-first century, the problem is still with us. Some might say that race is a national obsession. Certainly it is a subject that has occupied a number of modern writers. This course allows students to focus on a range of race-related issues through literature.

2. Topics or themes emphasized

Some of the themes of the course are as follows:
• the idea that “race” has no biological validity
• the complexity of the issue of racial identity and group allegiance
• the role language plays in race relations (for ex., what terms are accepatable)
• the relationship between issues of race and class
• racism in the media
• integration/segregation
• stereotyping

3. Methods and Sample Assignment


Discussion is the primary class format. Background is sometimes provided by either short lectures, documentary film, or enrichment readings. Students sometimes make presentations in which they either give interpretations of works or present pertinent information they have researched. These presentations are usually the fruit of group work (i.e., groups of 4-5 students working together on a topic). Writing assignments include analytical essays, imaginative/creative responses and personal essays. Sample assignment(on Indian Killer): Write a persuasive essay that argues for or against the following statement: “Marie is right: Mather’s course is illegitimate from a number of points of view.”

4. Expectations for students


Students should be prepared to discuss openly “touchy” subjects. Students should expect to read approximately twenty pages per night and to write four to six papers.

5. Reading list

Reading for each class will be drawn from the following:
Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley
“In Darkness and Confusion,” Ann Petry
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon Johnson
Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie
Amazing Grace, Jonathan Kozol
“On Being Black,” W.E.B. DuBois
“Abusing the Privilege,” Daniel McElrath
The Meeting, Jeff Stetson
Fires in the Mirror, Anna Deavere Smith
“Black-Jewish Relations,” Cornel West
“Who Killed Integration?” Clarence Page
“White Privilege,” Peggy McIntosh
selections from Half and Half, edited by Claudine C. O'Hearn
“The Love of a Good Man,” Chitra Divakaruni
Double Happiness, directed by Mina Shum
Race: The Power of an Illusion (PBS documentary)
Naomi, Tanazaki
The Narrows, Ann Petry
Dreams from My Father, Obama
A Bound Man, Steele
Native Son, Wright

Films:
Lee, Do the Right Thing
Haggis, Crash

6. Bibliography

Going to the Territory, Ralph Ellison
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” Henry Louis Gates
Blacks and Jews, edited by Paul Berman
Race Matters, Cornel West
Along This Way, James Weldon Johnson
withoutsanctuary.org

Analysis in Context (rev. 3/10)


One semester course
Open to grades 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty: 1-4

1. Rationale


The purpose of the course is to study the development of the narrative in both literature and film. Because today’s students at Lincoln-Sudbury are often sophisticated viewers who receive much of the information they need through movies and television, we think it is important for students to have an opportunity to think about and discuss the relative merits and differences between film and print media. We also feel that an informed study of redaction - the many lenses through which we view the world - can help our students understand and appreciate the way the media (both print and visual) influence and often manipulate our perceptions of the world around us.

We use movies and works of fiction based on common subject matter and themes. We often read a novel or story and watch the movie derived from that novel or story. We may also read and view several works focused around a similar theme, but with differing settings or viewpoints.
The course reinforces critical thinking about literature and cinema. Students are encouraged to note the differences and similarities inherent in telling a story using verbal imagery and visual imagery. One goal of this course is to make students more aware of what they are being told by the movies they see. For that reason, we are careful in selecting a wide range of authors, directors, and titles, with special attention paid to how works are adapted from literature to movies, and how the narrative can change from one medium to another.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized


Which medium works best to tell a specific story? Why are some stories best told in print, and others in film? Are there specific formulas used to tell a narrative? In what ways can movies alter a narrative arc? What specific effects (black-and-white/color, music, voice-overs, flashbacks, in medias res) are used effectively in film? What are the narrative limits of movies? What can a novel or story do that a movie cannot? Can all literature be adapted to film?

Some themes addressed in this class:
Power - as seen in government, in relationships, in societal gender issues
Identity - how outside forces influence, shape, contribute to, and alter evolving
identities and individualities
Coming-of-age stories - differences from one decade to another, and from place to
place
The outsider - women/minorities

*Our classes look at the power of film, and work to develop critical thinking and appreciation of cinema as a separate, effective art form.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Students work as a class, in small groups, and individually. There are in-class reading assignments, film screenings, and discussions. Students are responsible for individual note-taking as well as homework assignments (reading, writing, viewing).
We work on developing a critical vocabulary, emphasizing the literary terms and cinematic terminology necessary to explore, understand, and discuss works on the syllabus. We read reviews and commentaries on film to help grow a working vocabulary (beyond “Two thumbs up”) to talk about on films.
Writing assignments, both creative and analytical, are used to improve critical thinking and to hone writing skills. There are objective and subjective writing assignments. Some are relatively short, perhaps extemporaneous in-class responses to a reading or viewing of a scene. Others are longer, assigned in stages, and subject to peer edits, revisions, and final drafts.

Sample writing assignments may include:
Analytic review of a written story or film
Comparison between written and film versions of one story
Character studies; how does the character change over the course of the story?
Discussion of one particular element (voice/viewpoint) in a story
Portraying values in nonverbal ways (fear, suspense, peace, etc.)
Finding “the message” - an author’s/cinematographer’s goal
Ways in which a “message” can be presented/changed by author/director

Non-written assignments may include:
Creating a story board for a scene or a short story
Video collage of similar scenes
Video collage of similar character nuances
Original 5-10 minute narrative film
Use of music/camera angle/other techniques to change the mood of a scene

4. Expectations for Students


While many students expect this class to be a lot of fun, it is, nevertheless, an academic course, and there are expectations similar to those in all English classes.

Reading: Students are required to do reading assignments that may comprise 20-30 pages per night. The readings will vary; the range includes some poetry, short stories, articles, and novels. Topics vary, and the range of difficulty may vary as well.

Writing: There will be responsive work, including reading/viewing quizzes, “think pieces” involving a paragraph or two, one-page reflections, and papers based on study units. Students may be asked to keep a (non-graded) reading/viewing journal, too.

Speaking and Listening: The nature of this class leads to frequent discussion, analysis, and, naturally, the ensuing debates that airing of opinions will inspire. Students are expected to participate in and to listen carefully to information and viewpoints brought up in class by their peers as well as by their teacher.

Viewing: Students are expected to view all cinema assignments. After an absence, a student must make arrangements to watch the video/DVD in school at a convenient time, or the student will arrange to rent/borrow a commercial copy of the movie to watch at home. Movies are not considered “extras” in this class; they are a integral part of the syllabus.

5. Materials Used


The fluid nature of this course dictates the constant updating and revising of our materials. Every section of this course covers a “Coming of Age” unit, including:
The Graduate (author: Webb, director: Nichols)
Goodbye, Columbus (author: Roth)

Other materials include the following:

Altman, The Player
Sunset Boulevard
Orlean, "The Orchid Thief"; Jonze's adaptation
Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey; Kubrick adaptation
Scott, Blade Runner
Goldman, Marathon Man;
Hitchcock, Rear Window, Vertigo
Huxley, Brave New World
Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Moore, Bowling for Columbine
Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums
Coppola, Lost in Translation
Ellison, “King of the Bingo Game” (story and film)
Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (story and film)
Levin, Rosemary’s Baby; Polanski adapatation
Mamet, The Spanish Prisoner
Barker, Regeneration; film adaptation, Behind the Lines
Tornatore, Cinema Paradiso
Dubus, House of Sand and Fog (novel and Perelman film)
Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars (novel and Hicks film)
Roth, Goodbye Columbus
Fuller, A Soldier's Story (and film adaptation)
Reitman, Juno
Fitzgerald, Love of the Last Tycoon (and film adaptation)
Nichols, The Graduate
Begaudeau, The Class (and film adaptation)
Lee, Inside Man
McDermott, That Night
Jacobs, Monkey's Paw
Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Roemer, Nothing But a Man

Short Fiction and Poetry (rev. 5/10)


1 semester
open to 10, 11, 12
range of difficulty 1-4

 

1. Rationale


Shorter fictional works give students the opportunity to focus intensely on the basic elements of literature, skills useful to all literary study. In this course, students will read short fiction and poetry drawn from a diverse set of authors, cultures, and life experiences with emphasis on the Americas. In reading these comparatively shorter works, students will examine the ways in which authors and poets successfully conveyessential themes with relative brevity. The goals of the course are threefold: to examine the uniqueness of each literary form and to understand their particularities; to deepen students ’ skills as they think and write critically on matters of style and narrative; to expand students’ knowledge of authors and poets and encourage further reading in each genre. The nature of the course necessitates a diversity of voices; as we read, students will be asked to reflect upon the identities of the characters as well as to explore their own identities.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

- Family relationships
-Identity
-Societal conflicts
-Loss
-Humans and Natural World
-Sci fictional worlds

3. Methods

While the readings are considered "short" in comparison to novels, nightly reading expectations are roughly similar to courses dedicated to longer literary works. The class is discussion-based with extensive use of such techniques as the Socratic seminar, dramatic readings, and student presentations.

Students will be evaluated upon their understanding and appreciation of the reading through all of the following means: participation in discussion, in-class writing, reading quizzes, student presentations, analytical essays, or tests. 

4. Expectations for Students

In reading these comparatively shorter works, students will examine the ways in which authors and poets successfully convey essential themes with relative brevity. Students will also be encouraged to appreciate stories and poems whose impact may be subtle. In addition, students will gain a greater ability to discuss matters of style and form, and to read critically into each text for word choices, motifs, and cadences. Students will develop their ability to write about and discuss literature.

Reading

Nightly reading 

Writing

Analytical essays, in class writings, quizzes and tests
 

Speaking and Listening

Class discussion, Socratic seminars, student presentations and student-lead discussions

Other

Skits
Vocabulary
Short creative projects
 

5. Reading List and Other Materials


Short Stories:
“She Unnames Them” by Ursula LeGuin
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Ursula LeGuin
“Reunion” by John Cheever
“Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down” by Ryan Harty
“What Means Switch” by Gish Jen
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
“The Flying Machine” Ray Bradbury
“Every Little Hurricane” Sherman Alexie
“Seventeen Syllables” Hisaye Yamamoto
“The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty
“Fiesta 1980” by Junot Diaz
“Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story” by Russell Banks
“Queen for a Day” Russell Banks
“Helen on 86th Street” by Wendi Kaufman
“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
“Women of Hollering Creek” Sandra Cisneros
“In the Life” by Becky Birtha
“The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas” by Reginald McKnight
“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin
“Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx
“The First Day” Edward P. Jones
“Where Are You Going and Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
“The Destructors” by Graham Greene
“The Flowers” by Alice Walker
“Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams
“The Duchess and the Smugs” by Pamela Frankau
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
“Lusus Naturae” by Margaret Atwood
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut
“The A&P” by John Updike
“I Am As I Am” by Steve Almond
“Subtotals”Gregory Burham
“The Fly” Katherine Mansfield
“Homework” Helen Simpson
“The Man that Knew Bell Starr” by Richard Bausch
If students have not read some of the following classics, we read some of them as well:
“The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Cask of Amantillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Fall of the House of Usher” Edgar Allen Poe
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

Poems:
“Fifteen” and “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford
“Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa
“Mother to Son,” “Harlem” “The Weary Blues,” “Theme for English B” and “Let America Be America Again” all by Langston Hughes
“Here, Bullet” and other poems by Brian Turner
“Blood,” ”Makng a Fist,” and “Kindness” all by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Not My Best Side” by U.A. Fanthorpe
“Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question”
“Photograph of my Father in His 22nd Year” by Raymond Carver
“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke
“How Do We Forgive Our Fathers?” by Dick Lourie
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
“Speak to My Grandchildren” Native American
“Birches,” “Out, Out,” “Mending Wall” “Home Burial” and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“How I Got that Name” Marilyn Chin
“ I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing” Walt Whitman
“To Television” Robert Pinsky
“Alabanza” and “Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper” by Martin Espada
“The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” “Poem” and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams
“The Schoolroom on the Second Floor of the Knitting Mill” by Judy Page Heitzman
“My Life is Different Than Yours” by Harlym 125
“Dusting” by Julia Alvarez
“The Dover Bitch” and “More Light! More Light” by Anthony Hecht
“Sestina,” “The Fish” and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop
“After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa” by Robert Hass
“Sonrisas” by Pat Mora
“Sestina Bob” by Jonah Winter
“Sonnets
“Transformations” Anne SextonFrom the Portuguese #26 (I Lived With Visions)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“The Rites for Cousin Vit,” “Kitchenette Building” and “We Real Cool” all by Gwendolyn Brooks
“Metaphors” and “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath
“Barbie Doll,” “What are Big Girls Made of,” and “The Gray Flannel Sexual Harassment Suit” all by Marge Piercy
“What Work Is” by Philip Levine
“On Bringing My Son to the Police Station to Get Fingerprinted” by Shoshauna Shy
“Otherwise” by Jane Kenyon
“Ghazal” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
“Hip Hop Ghazal” by Patricia Smith
“My Poems” by Robert Currie
“Auto Wreck” by Karl Shapiro
“On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City,” and “Evolution” by Sherman Alexie
“40” Roger McGough
“Photograph 9/11”
“Normalization” by Czeslaw Milosz
“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats
“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell
“The Flea” by John Donne
“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
“My Heart Leaps Up” and “The World is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth
Shakespeare’s Sonnets
haiku by Basho and Issa

6. Sample Assignments

Assignment 1: Art project
“The Flowers” by Alice Walker

Tell the story of “The Flowers” in pictures. To do this, create a series of images in the order in which they appear in the story. You may draw, paint, or collage. Grades will be based on how much care you took in assembling your project.

Assignment 2: Quiz
“Fiesta 1980” by Junot Diaz

What do you think the van represents or symbolizes (it can be more than one thing) in “Fiesta 1980”? Why?

Assignment 3: Creative response
“Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy

Today we read poems by Marge Piercy and discussed social expectations for girls and women. Your homework is to write the boy version of “Barbie Doll.” If you want, you may title your poem after a toy that boys use but you do not have to. Your poem should reflect the ways our society teaches boys to conform to particular expectations. Please type your poem or else write it neatly below:

Assignment 4: In-Class Activity
“The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” by William Carlos Williams

Your task: create a performance piece from “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime”
Your group will be performing the poem aloud in a way that emphasizes the mood and meaning.

You have complete creative license but you must follow these guidelines
• every word in the poem must be said at least once.
• the mood of the performance must accurately reflect the mood of the poem.
• you must have a reason for your decisions.

How to do this:
Step 1: Read the poem until you feel you understand it fully.
Step 2: Discuss creative ideas and try them out.

Think about:
• where each person will sit/stand?
• who will say what words/phrases/lines/sentences (where will you divide them and change speakers)?
• will the person speaking move in some way when s/he speaks?
• will the other group members move in some way when something is spoken?
• will you use props?
• what tone(s) of voice will the speakers use?
• will there ever be more than one person speaking at once?

Step 3: Practice.