Upper School Curriculum Guide
The principal goal of the English program is to equip students with the tools and the understandings they need to know about themselves and others. Who am I, what do I value, and why? How can I respond reasonably and sensitively to views that are different from my own? In order to engage with these and related questions, students must learn to read more perceptively, write more rigorously, and listen and speak with greater nuance. At all grade levels, students are expected to craft analytic essays; to experiment with journal writing, narrative, and poetry; to read challenging works of literature; and to come to class prepared to contribute to discussion every day.
COURSE SELECTION GUIDELINES
Honors American Identity and Honors Seminars placement is based on the following criteria:
- Year-end grade of B+ or higher in a regular section or a B- or higher in an Honors section
- Recommendation of teacher from previous year
- Written statement of interest, if requested
- Approval of the department
Students who are currently in a regular section of English (grades 9, 10, or AP Language & Composition) and who hope to enroll in either Honors American Identity or an Honors Seminar must have the required B+ average (as reflected by 1st semester, 3rd quarter (projected), and exam grade) and should have had a conversation with their present teacher about their commitment to an advanced course. If a student does not maintain a year-end grade of B+ or higher in their regular section or a B- or higher in an Honors section, that student will not be enrolled in an Honors English course for the next school year.
Those who are currently in an advanced course will already be listed as eligible if they have an average of B- (as reflected by 1st semester, 3rd quarter (projected), and exam grade) and if their current teacher approves.
The department will then meet to discuss the candidacy of all students (in regular or advanced sections) seeking admission to advanced English courses. If accepted, they will receive an email advising them to check the appropriate placement. In all cases, by year’s end, the above criteria will again be reviewed in June before permanent placement is made for the following year.
During the course of the year, a student's standing in an Honors or an Honors Seminar section may be subject to review if performance is consistently below the B- mark.
The English Department offers four 1/2 credit, semester-long Honors English Seminars during junior and senior year. These courses range in topic and focus and are described below.
- Classes include a mix of 11th- and 12th-grade students, allowing students the opportunity to interact with and learn from a greater diversity of peers.
- While the focus of each class is different, the English Department Chair coordinates with teachers of Honors English Seminars to standardize the workload across classes.
- None of the seminars are AP-branded, and in both skills and ideas they push beyond the current scope of the AP curriculum. Honors English Seminars leave RCDS students well prepared for either English-based AP exam, should students elect to take them.
- The Honors Seminars allow all students to access classes that are advanced, compared to typical high school English curricula.
Honors Seminars are open to qualifying students only. The English Department also offers traditional AP classes as our regular track, open to all students.
All students have the option to take the AP Language & Composition and the AP Literature & Composition exams. To help prepare students with specific test-taking strategies, we offer a spring review session for each exam that a teacher with AP-course experience coordinates. As the exams approach, department members with expertise in the respective AP English curricula make themselves available to review student packets and answer student questions about the exams.
Readings in English 9 provide an introduction to literature, including poetry, drama, the novel, and the short story, with many of the texts addressing the tension between individual and community. Core texts include works such as Sophocles’ Antigone, Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine, and Yang's American Born Chinese. The writing program in English 9 is designed to improve all basic writing skills, with special attention given to the formation of thesis statements, the organization of ideas and paragraphs, and the clarity of sentences. Students also submit creative pieces of writing and collaborate on various projects with their classmates. Grammar instruction reviews punctuation, standard usage, parts of speech, sentence structure, and phrases and clauses. Vocabulary work consists of Vocabulary Workshop, Level E. (1 unit; Grade 9; required)
AMERICAN IDENTITY IN LITERATURE AND HONORS AMERICAN IDENTITY IN LITERATURE
Students in this required course use literature and art to explore the formation of contemporary American identity in its multivarious forms. As part of this inquiry, the course requires students to make multidisciplinary connections, particularly to the Humanities curriculum. In addition, alongside an exploration of social identity, students have ample opportunity to reflect on and write about their own identities and experiences. The course begins with a focus on persuasive and personal writing to help students build their composition skills; strengthen their ability to craft cogent, well-supported arguments; develop their beliefs about contemporary social and political issues; hone their ability to approach difficult, nuanced conversations with civility and openness; and navigate the complexities of personal identity. After this beginning, students spend the year engaging with literature that examines identity, especially racial and gender identity, at varying points in American history, from enslavement to globalization to contemporary social trends. The readings in the course include texts such as The Crucible, The Line Becomes a River, Ethan Frome, and Interpreter of Maladies and help students examine how global political and economic systems affect individuals and form the social constructs in which identity exists. To complement their reading, students write in a variety of modes: literary critical essays, research essays, personal narratives, poems, short fiction, oral histories, etc. Overall, beyond merely producing fluent writers, this course challenges students to become analytical thinkers and cultural critics, who are deeply invested in the world of ideas and, critically, in the impact those ideas have on the world that surrounds them.
The Honors sections of this course require additional readings and have more demanding writing and speaking requirements. (1 unit; Grade 10; required)
AP LANGUAGE AND COMPOSITION
AP Language and Composition is the regular-track English course for juniors. The course is an introduction to rhetoric and to the theory and practice of persuasive writing and speech. To explore and analyze rhetorical structure, style, and modes, we will study a wide range of rhetorical works – speeches, essays, nonfiction narratives – as well as some literary works that are polemical or convey a social message. To practice and experiment with various rhetorical modes, students will write regular compositions, both short and long form. For example, students will write one research paper and one personal narrative essay. They will also complete timed-writing assignments in response to AP-style prompts. Students will learn to construct and support effective arguments, an ability essential to success in any academic, professional, or public setting. Papers will be evaluated for clarity and quality of argument, effective and logical organization, use of appropriate supportive evidence, engaging and varied sentence structure and vocabulary, and overall facility with the English language. Above all, they will strive to become profound thinkers, to go beyond assignments and the daily grind, and to become students of humanity and informed, active, and free-thinking citizens. (1 unit; Grade 11; required)
AP LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION
AP Literature and Composition is the regular English course for seniors. The course focuses on works by authors such as Shakespeare, Austen, and Dangarembga, as well as on classic and contemporary drama and poetry that reflect diverse voices. The analytic writing requirement is intense, and students should expect to complete both reading and writing homework each night. Students produce a research paper and various forms of creative work. The course seeks to prepare all students to take the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition examination given at the end of the year. (1 unit; Grade 12; required)
Honors English Seminars
(1/2 Unit, Grades 11 and 12. Please note that not every seminar listed below will run every semester.)
20th-Century Women’s Literature
In this semester-long course, students will study major women writers of the 20th century. Through close textual readings of poetry, short stories, and novels, students will examine how women during this time period boldly and imaginatively expressed their voices and ideas, often despite social expectations and daunting obstacles. Course texts may include The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, Sula by Toni Morrison, and short stories and poems by Maya Angelou, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Marie Howe, Sharon Olds, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Virginia Woolf, and Jhumpa Lahiri. Literary analysis will be a major writing focus in the course; in addition, students will have opportunities to express their own voices and creativity, using our mentor texts as inspiration. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
The African American Poetic Tradition
This semester-long course traces the development of African American poetry from its enslaved roots to its contemporary flowering, from Phyllis Wheatley to Tyehimba Jess. The course is anchored in Kevin Young’s anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, but students will also engage with critical essays about the Black American poetic tradition. In addition to studying poetic terms and forms, students will explore notions of freedom and liberation; the evolving sense of Black identity; the intersection of race, class, and gender; the relationship of art and social justice; and the interplay of the past and the present. The course will require students to write analytically about the poems they encounter but will also ask students to apply techniques learned from these poems to craft their own creative writing. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
In this semester-long course, students will be introduced to the study and the practice of rhetoric. Students will engage in the art of persuasive writing and will practice building arguments and analyzing the arguments of others. Students will study how speakers and writers persuade an audience to adopt their point of view. They will also explore and analyze rhetorical structure and style with the goal of developing their own writing style and voice. Students will read and analyze the works and rhetorical styles of such contemporary and historical thinkers and writers as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Jr., Jhumpa Lahiri, Anna Quindlen, David Brooks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Toni Morrison, and others included in the course’s text, The Norton Reader. Current articles and opinion pieces will be used as supplementary texts, as well. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
American Short Fiction
In this semester-long course, students will read and study short stories of American authors since the mid-19th Century to the contemporary short story authors of today to appreciate this unique form of literature. The course will focus on understanding how to read and interpret the short story as its own genre. We will also look at the development of the short story and its shifting role in the American literary canon, and we will consider the historical and literary contexts that shaped short stories over the last two centuries. Students will read the works of such authors as Alexie, Baldwin, Cheever, Chopin, Ellison, Faulkner, Gilman, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Hurston, Irving, London, Morrison, Oates, O’Connor, Poe, and Wharton. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Asian American Literature and Identity
In this semester-long course, students will explore the rich and complex literary legacy of Asians in the United States. Spanning the mid-nineteenth-century arrival of Chinese railroad laborers to contemporary Asian American involvement in multiracial movements for racial justice, this course will examine the emergence and diversity of Asian American literary traditions over the past century and a half. As we sharpen our literary analysis and research skills through our exploration of both Asian American fiction and nonfiction, we will take up related issues, such as representations of Asian Americans in popular culture and film; the myth of Asian Americans as the “model minority”; Asian Americans and affirmative action; and the intersectionality of Asian Americanness with gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and more. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Beyond Binaries: An Introduction to Queer Literature
This semester-long course studies LGBTQIA+ literature, with a particular focus on how these writers offer us alternative narratives to dominant, heteronormative concepts of gender and sexuality. In addition to introducing students to poets, essayists, playwrights, cartoonists, and novelists from ancient Greece to today, this course will offer students a foundation in queer theory, gender studies, and feminist theory. The intersectionality of gender and sexuality with other identifiers, including race, religion, and socioeconomic status, and the relationship between queer identity and activism will also be central themes. The course will require students to write analytically about our shared texts and to deepen their understanding of our many topics through research. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Black, Asian, & Minority Ethnic British Literature
This course introduces students to the politics of minority British cultural production. In the afterlife of the British empire, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic writers have dismantled and reinvented what it means to be “British.” In this course we will trace some of the major fault lines of the racial and national politics from the 1950’s, when mass migrations from the Caribbean and South Asia brought “cheap labor” to England, to the current moment of Brexit and renewed xenophobia. Authors and texts may include Hanif Kureishi, Sam Selvon, John Akomfrah, Meera Sayal, Kazuo Ishiguro, Bend it Like Beckham, Anita and Me, My Beautiful Launderette, The Stuart Hall Project. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Black Magic: Magic Realism in African American Literature
This semester-long course focuses on Black writers’ use of magical realism as a means of surfacing untold histories and deconstructing accepted historical narratives. Students will read novels from Gloria Naylor and Toni Morrison, short stories from Randall Kenan, and drama from August Wilson. Alongside discussions of race and history, students will examine the formation of gendered space, the generational toll of injustice, and the construction of “the real.” In response to the class reading, students will hone their analytical writing and research skills. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Bombay Dreams: Literature from the Metropolis
Salman Rushdie famously coined the term “chutnification”—the process of becoming a chutney or a mashup—to describe living in Bombay/Mumbai, a city where 22 million people from all across India and the world live today. In this course we will study literature, art, and film from the bustling metropolis and ask how the city has become the epicenter and testing ground for an Indian commitment to secularism, socialism, and a pluralistic society. Home to Bollywood cinema, a powerful far-right political class, and the extremes of income inequality, we will ask what special “mixture” of culture, blood, money, and language it takes to become a “Bombayite” or a “Mumbaikar.” Material may include work by Salman Rushdie, Arun Kolatkar, Jeet Thayil, Anita Desai, Bollywood cinema, Mira Nair, M.F. Husain, Cyrus Mistry, Nissim Ezekiel, Dom Moraes, Naresh Fernandes, and Katherine Boo. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
The 19th Century is often considered the golden age of British literature. In one sense this was a time of great wealth when Britain was an unparalleled global superpower. Yet, it was also a time of great social and political change. Writers of the period sought to illuminate the questions surrounding these changes, such as: How does the simple, individual love story fit into the powerful and complex political story of the British Empire? Do older institutions like the aristocracy matter any more? How has money and ambition changed the way people interact with each other? Examining works like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, this course will investigate the changing place of the individual in British society.In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Complicating the Southern Myth
The South is popularly known as a mythological place steeped in melancholy, nostalgia, exceptionalisms, and oppressive norms in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality. Yet, throughout literary and cultural history, authors and artists have told counter-narratives that defy the myths and portray a diverse and complex place. In this course, we will examine how the Southern myth and canon came to be, analyze the power those narratives wielded, and complicate what it means to be “southern.” Students will examine southern cultural identity, recognize the diverse cultures, ethnicities, and global influences that have shaped the South. Students will consider the region in all its complexity through literature and multi-disciplines including film, art, music and popular culture. The syllabus includes canonical texts by authors such as William, Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, Zora Neale Hurston, Carson McCullers, Cormac McCarthy, and Alice Walker. In addition, students will read texts by a slate of contemporary writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, Jericho Brown, Bryan Washington, Sarah Broom, Monique Truong, Kevin Wilson, Edwidge Danticat, Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Gipe, and Lauren Groff. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Contemporary American Poetry
This semester-long course will offer students an opportunity to engage with contemporary poetry collections and formally inventive responses to literature. In recent years, a wave of podcasts and lyric essays have enlivened and served as an important addition to traditional literary criticism. Students will develop the ability to analyze the formal construction of full-length poetry collections, the literary and historical links between authors and poems, and essays on literature. Then, students will build upon these skills in creative ways, offering all students models to creatively engage with literature. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Imaginary places, invisible cities, and surveillance societies - all of these topics, and more, are explored in the thought-provoking genre of dystopian fiction. In this semester-long course, students will read and study a number of narrative works that imagine alternative worlds to the one(s) we know. The course will focus on understanding the genre as well as the literary history of dystopian literature. We will also investigate the philosophical, cultural, and contextual catalysts behind these unusually anxious and exciting explorations of our possible future(s). Students will read works such as Utopia by Thomas More; 1984 by George Orwell; Kindred by Octavia Butler; stories by Haruki Marukami; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; On Such a Great Sea by Chang-Rae Lee; A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet; and films such as Children of Men. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Who is most hurt by environmental degradation and abuse and who benefits? In this course we’ll examine what contemporary world literature has to say about environmental racism, ecofeminism, and toxic colonialism. We will be attentive to such issues as the social construction of nature, globalization, and urban ecological issues. We will ask: What is the role of art in the struggle for social change? Our study will focus on the intersection of environmental issues and various systems of social injustice, especially racism, sexism, and economic inequity. Materials for this course—novels, poems, stories, films, documentaries, art— come from diverse racial and national locations, including South Africa, multicultural U.S., India, China, Iraq, and Guatemala. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
From Sophocles to Spike Lee: Greek Drama Across the Ages
Think of Classical Greek Dramas as plays performed by grizzled old men in togas? Think again! Greek Dramas explore the human condition in enduring ways that have laid the foundation for a wide variety of modern productions. In this course, we will study plays by ancients such as Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Euripides, becoming versed in classic dramatic structure. These plays will be paired with contemporary takes on the “classics,” such as the recent Amazon Studio’s Blow the Man Down, that use the structure, form, and themes of Greek theater to reflect on life in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Students will hone their close reading, analytical writing skills, and research skills. They will explore their inner playwright, creating an adaptation of a section from an ancient work, making it relevant to a modern audience. This class requires parental permission due to the mature content of some films. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit; parental permission required)
Shakespeare, that seemingly quintessential British author, has long been an inspiration to writers, thinkers, and filmmakers from social and political contexts vastly different from Early Modern England. In this course we will examine the usefulness of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays to contexts as widely different as the caste politics of Northern India, the feudal dramas of Japan, and the high school romance of Seattle teenagers. We will read both the original plays and watch the adaptations. Texts may include Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Macbeth, Omkara, Throne of Blood, and Ten Things I Hate About You. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Jewish American Literature and Identity
Where did our modern ideas about Jewish American identity come from? Is Judaism a religion, an ethnicity, or something else altogether? What makes Jewish American literature Jewish—and what makes it American? This course, which will focus primarily on Jewish American literature and voices from the 20th and 21st centuries, will answer these questions and many more as we explore a range of Jewish American identities—immigrant, first-generation, secular, orthodox, interfaith, and beyond—through genres such as fiction, drama, graphic novels, comedy, history, film and TV. Paying particular attention to the relationship of Jewish American identity to gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, and national belonging, we will discuss topics such as assimilation, politics, humor, and cultural memory. Material might include work by Myla Goldberg, Jonathan Safron Foer, Dara Horn, Michael Chabon, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Sacha Baron Cohen, and TV shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Journey & Epic: Questions of Travel
This semester-long course will survey journeys and epics in literature and media. From Dante’s descent into the underworld in The Inferno, to Anthony Bourdain’s exploration of the human condition through food, journeys have been the subject of and played a crucial role in inspiring art throughout history. The seminar will include works of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and travel television that respond to a variety of journeys and epics - immigration, exploration, travel for leisure, mythological journeys, the sharing of food and cultures - that celebrate the powerful experience of self discovery through movement. In response to the class readings, students will creatively document their own journeys, hone their analytical writing, and refine their research skills. Possible titles may include Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck; War by Candlelight by Daniel Alarcón; Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino; excerpts from Rail by Kai Carlson Wee; selected essays from M.K. Fisher; excerpts from Best American Travel Writing 2021; and episodes of Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
New York, New York: The Idea and Reality of New York in Literature
New York City has been called “The Big Apple,” “The City That Never Sleeps,” “Gotham,” and even “The Center of the Universe.” How true is Frank Sinatra’s claim that “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere”? In this semester-long course, students will read literature that captures both the idea and the reality of The City through the ages. We will study poetry, short stories, essays, novels, and films written by luminaries such as James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edwidge Danticat, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Washington Irving, E. B. White, Walt Whitman, and Jacqueline Woodson; and, as it’s only appropriate, songs by The Beastie Boys, Billie Holiday, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, and Alicia Keys. Students will hone their close reading and analytical writing skills and will explore their creative voice, contributing a unique piece that captures their own version of New York. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Power of the Pen: Resilience, Resistance, & Protest Literature
How does literary art get involved in politics? What is the border between propaganda and art? This course explores how characters and people experience, survive, resist, and thrive in spite of adversity and injustice because of a number of factors—culture, race, gender, sexuality, and religion. Students will compare and contrast how people find ways to live, to speak, to act as human beings in the face of adversity and injustice. Sources include a wide variety of genres—short stories, poems, essays, podcasts, film, photographs—and a range of voices. Students will use the primary sources as inspiration and model text to write and create work of multiple genres—such as personal narratives, analytical essays, creative stories, poetry, podcast, and film—to master the power of the pen and rhetorical strategies. Literary texts may include selections from the following: "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin; The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward; Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; and A Burning by Megha Majumdar. Podcasts may include This American Life, The Moth, Code Switch, and Floodlines. In addition, the syllabus will include poetry by Jericho Brown, Traci K. Smith, Joy Harjo, and Elizabeth Acevedo. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Satire, Humor, and Ethics
Laughter is the best medicine; this is often true for society as well as for individuals. Through the ages, starting with the ancient Greeks (if not earlier), humor and satire have been used as a tool to critique and challenge social norms. By ridiculing ideas, customs, governments, and more, satirists raise essential ethical questions and play an important role in shaping and reshaping morals. In this course we will examine the function, as well as the limitations, of humor and satire. Topics will include the difference between humor and satire, the role of irony, the ways in which identity and identifiers are used by comedians, and the many ethical questions raised–both in positive and negative ways–by humor and satire. Course material will include works from Jonathan Swift in the 1700s to the present-day SNL episodes; readings include novels, essays, letters, speeches, cartoons, and “comic” performances. Students will hone their close reading, analytical writing skills, and research skills. They will become satirists in their own right, creating a satirical essay critiquing an element of contemporary society. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Literature & Composition and/or AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Sport and Literature
In this semester-long course, students will read and study a variety of genres and texts (articles, short stories, poetry, and a novel) written about sports. Students will learn to understand and appreciate the rhetoric of sports writing, while also exploring the common symbolism, allusions, and metaphors that authors use in literature about sports. We will also explore the role sport has played in the mythos of American (and other countries’) values and beliefs and its role in social change, national character, and cultural reflection. Students will read the texts of such writers as Deford, Dryden, Halberstam, Keillor, Lardner, Malamud, Plimpton, Rhoden, Schaap, Thurber, Updike, and various contemporary sportswriters of the 21st century. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
True Voices: Reading and Writing Memoir
In this semester-long course, students will study and practice the craft of memoir writing. The course will be both a study of literature and a writing workshop. As students read in a variety of genres—including books, essays, and poetry—they will explore the techniques writers use to discover and reveal their identities through storytelling. Course texts may include The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and essays and poems by David Sedaris, Brian Arundel, Michele Leavitt, Sarah Kay, Rudy Francisco, and Phil Kaye. Students will be encouraged to take creative risks as they write extensively, experimenting with voice, tone, meaning, and structure. They will also enhance their literary skills by developing their writing fluency and practicing how to give, receive, and implement constructive writing feedback. In conjunction with other seminar courses in the department, this course will help prepare students for the AP Language & Composition exam. (1/2 unit)
Students in grades 10, 11, and 12 may also take an English elective in addition to the required English course for each grade. These electives are separate from the Honors Seminar Program and are not part of this advanced course of study. English electives are offered each semester but run depending on student interest and teacher availability.
CREATIVE WRITING 1
Creative Writing 1 provides an opportunity for working creatively on several planes: in word play, genre experimentation, and the cultivation of writerly habits and sensibilities. Students are invited to test the limits of the relationship between word and idea, form and pure content. In tandem with reflective study of important pieces by literary masters and new voices alike, students will develop their own craft through projects in fiction, nonfiction, and a range of poetic forms, including spoken word. Class time is largely dedicated to workshopping. (1/2 unit; fall; Grades 10, 11, 12)
CREATIVE WRITING 2
Creative Writing 2 builds on students' fundamental understanding of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Structured in terms of advanced technique and approaches to process, the course seeks to deepen students' craft across the genres. It also offers exposure to humor writing (parody and satire) and screenwriting and, to stimulate further experimentation with the versatility of language, opportunities to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects with peers in the concurrent visual arts and filmmaking electives. Class time is largely devoted to creating, workshopping, and revising. (1/2 unit; spring; Grades 10, 11, 12)
Expository Writing is a semester course whose purpose is to bolster specific writing skills that are important for an individual’s success – not only in academics, but also in the world at large. Students review the basic “building blocks'' of sentence, paragraph, and essay construction, with an eye towards both form and style. Class time is spent studying model essays, practicing composition, and engaging in peer review, and students ultimately build a portfolio of work from which they select pieces for formal assessment. In addition to sharing their work with an audience of their peers in class, students are encouraged to submit to a range of publications, from RCDS’s Crop to local and national newspapers and magazines. This is a non-homework bearing course. (1/2 unit; fall; Grades 9, 10, 11, 12)
Journalism is a semester course that is offered to all students in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. More than simply writing for a publication, students will learn a combination of highly developed skills in a number of areas: brainstorming, establishing contacts, interviewing, writing, and editing. Students will have their own beats to cover and will submit multiple articles during each cycle; these articles will serve as the central form of assessment. Also, student submissions may be published in Crop, the RCDS student newspaper. Daily reading of news is a requirement, as is the use of a stylebook and a journalism text. (1/2 unit; spring; Grades 9, 10, 11, 12)