Reading and writing constitute the core of the English curriculum, with an emphasis both on close textual analysis and on making connections between what we read and what we see in the world around us. English texts include not only traditional genres like novels, plays, short stories and poetry, but also nonfiction books, memoirs, newspaper articles, essays, TED talks, films and other visual arts. In English classes, students practice grappling with ambiguity, conversing with authors in the margins of pages, completing group and independent critical thinking routines and communicating their ideas in the classroom and on the page. Assessments range from formal papers of literary analysis to informal response papers, presentations and creative projects.
In this first course in the English sequence, students think deeply about themselves and the societies around them, studying issues of personal identity and social values. Our readings reflect times and places as varied as Shakespeare’s England, Homer’s Greece, America during the Harlem Renaissance and today’s Japan, which gives students many lenses on the world of literature and many angles through which to see society and themselves. Texts come from a variety of genres, including poetry, novels and graphic novels, short stories and plays. In each unit, students discuss how characters find the strength to act with courage and personal integrity; along the way, they develop a vocabulary that allows them to express their ideas with greater precision and creativity. Representative texts include Macbeth, Just So Happens and Jane Eyre.
Its focus on American literature allows the English II course to make frequent points of connection with American History classes. Music, photographs, videos, documentaries and newspapers offer students the opportunity to explore texts and issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. The course pays particular attention to issues of race, class and gender as students look at the foundation of America and its shaping by various groups. Captivity and slave narratives, abolitionist texts and selections from the Transcendentalists and early feminists offer students new perspectives as well as opportunities to practice critical-thinking routines and to re-examine contemporary American culture. Longer works--such as Passing, The Great Gatsby and The Things They Carried--lend themselves to formal analytical essays, online discussions, creative projects and periodic personal writing that encourages students to explore the values, assumptions and strengths that contribute to resilience and a sense of integrity.
English III: What Does It Mean to Be Human?
After their study of a specifically American sense of identity in Tenth Grade, students in English III broaden their perspectives and explore the ways we define ourselves and each other as human beings. An interdisciplinary approach encourages students to look at this question through varied lenses, from a focus on the scientific and technological advancements that are changing the way we live and even the brains and bodies we inhabit; to topics of exploitation, propaganda, and social justice; to an exploration of individual and collective identity based on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality and other social identifiers. Nonfiction readings, documentaries and TED talks are significant resources for students as they study major works that ask and answer what it means to be human. Representative texts may include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Housekeeper and the Professor, Night, The Crucible, Twelfth Night, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Gattaca.
AP English III: What Does It Mean to Be Human?
Students who choose to take AP English Literature should be avid readers, willing to commit significant time to the writing process and eager to engage in nuanced discussion of challenging texts. The course theme asks students to explore the definitions that inform a sense of self and guide (or justify) our treatment of and responsibility to the people around us. As an understanding of human nature is profoundly impacted by philosophy, history, science, technology and the arts, course readings ask students to make connections between disciplines even as they encourage the kind of precise and insightful analysis that is the hallmark of the AP English curriculum. To engage in this work, students will examine the choices authors make, the effects of those choices on readers and the worldview each text promotes or implies. Representative texts may include Frankenstein, Beloved, Never Let Me Go, The Tempest and Gattaca.
Prerequisite: departmental recommendation
English IV examines global literature to investigate the influence of cultural change on individual and collective identity and experience in urban, suburban and rural spaces. Utilizing Facing History and Ourselves' scope and sequence, students learn how authors and artists address human response and adaptation to transformations of geographical, political, economic, religious, ethnic and ideological space. As a result, they are equipped with the intellectual skills they need for college coursework as well as with a heightened engagement in local, national and global issues. Critical thinking, analytical and creative writing, investigative inquiry and advanced discussion are tools for answering questions such as: How have our various histories succeeded or failed in explaining and illuminating our place in the world? What choices do we make-individually and collectively-that define our existence in a civilization that is in constant flux? What questions might our future pose? How do literature and art guide our understanding? Representative texts include short stories; novels such as The Scarlet Letter, A Mercy, Americanah and Midnight's Children; the films Metropolis, The Godfather, Up Heartbreak Hill and Mudbound; and articles from both academics and contemporary journalists.
KAP English IV
KAP English is a college-level course that increases awareness of a variety of critical perspectives--such as feminist, psychoanalytic, New Historicist and post-colonial--that inform our readings of texts. A central unit is an interdisciplinary study of the writers of the Irish Renaissance--Yeats, Synge, O’Casey and Joyce—in the context of Irish history, mythology and politics. Students write analytical essays of increasing sophistication and enjoy opportunities for informal writing and creative projects. Thematically, students examine the role of culture in shaping the individual, including characters who surrender knowingly or unknowingly to repressive social norms as well as characters who try to escape social norms in order to create selves that are courageous and ethical. In addition to the writers mentioned above, texts include Hamlet, Wuthering Heights, A Doll’s House, Heart of Darkness and Mrs. Dalloway.
Prerequisites: departmental recommendation and acceptance of the student’s KAP application by the US Office and Kenyon College.