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English Department

English 9

Fall Term: Introduction to Language Arts (description below)

Winter Term: Choose from one of the three theme-study electives including Identity, The Hero/Heroine, or The Ethical Dilemma (descriptions below)

Spring Term: Choose from two of four electives including Creative Writing, Playwriting, Non-Fiction Writing, and Poetry (descriptions below)

English 9 Instructor: Abigail Reed and Jane Mellow

Course Descriptions

Fall Term: Introduction to Language Arts
This freshman-level survey course implements a variety of literary genres to hone student skills in literary analysis, writing, and speaking. Reading analysis covers a student’s explicit understanding of texts read, but also delves into the deeper meanings of a work through the application of literary elements and the lens of author design. Concurrently, through reading responses, short paragraphs, and essays, students also learn to express their ideas clearly in writing, substantiating statements made with textual evidence. Finally, this discussion-based class encourages students to find their own voices through the daily exchange of ideas in pairs, small groups, and whole-class discussions as well as oral presentations. Works covered will include a selection of the following: short stories, novels, non-fiction, drama, and poetry.

Winter Term Choices:

Theme Study: Identity
All of us face pressure- both internal and external- to define who we are as individuals. In this course we will examine literary approaches to finding identity, looking both at characters who succeed and fail at this most universal quest. The works we read will examine such themes as the relationship between identity and community, the challenge of being a nonconformist in a conformist society, and the struggle to confront and define who we truly are.

Theme Study: The Hero/Heroine
Since the beginning of oral tradition, and certainly since the beginning of the written word, there have been tales of heroes and heroines. Yet how have these roles played out in literature? Who are some of the more classic and more famous (as well as more contemporary and not-so-famous) heroes and heroines of the literary world? Students will also discover thematic elements and representations common to the depiction of literary heroes. Finally, the class will delve into how the definition and depiction of a hero has changed over time. After all, today’s heroes are so very different from the heroes/heroines of mythology and Medieval times… or are they? This course is novel-based.

Theme Study: The Ethical Dilemma
The field of ethics is a thorny one at best. With no absolute moral center and the rise of moral relativism, it is difficult to determine just what is meant by right and wrong. This course tackles that issue head on, exploring literature, both ancient and modern, that addresses the ethical dilemma. We will study texts that question the notion of the villain, stories of ambiguous conflicts, and search in our writing to answer the fundamental question we expect even small children to answer: “Don’t you know the difference between right and wrong?”

Spring Term Choices:

Creative writing
In this course you will focus on developing your own creative writing, both fiction and poetry. While the focus of this workshop is on your writing, we will read various short stories and poems to help us learn what effective writing entails.  Through these published works we will examine the literary techniques and stylistic choices employed by writers of both fiction and poetry. Creative writing exercises will help you experiment and explore new techniques. You will share your writing with the class for structured “workshops,” where you will receive peer and teacher feedback that will be used to revise your work for the final portfolio: a collection of polished writing exercises, stories, and poems.

Playwriting
This course splits its time between process and product: students will both read and write plays.  We will study styles and genres of play, and read both ancient and modern work.  In writing, the emphasis is on narrative structure, with writers expected to produce fully developed characters and a discernable story arc, with a beginning, climax, and ending.  Plays we read will be discussed in an open, collaborative atmosphere, and student work will be examined similarly, with sharing and discussion.  Students will write scenes alone and in groups, and the trimester will culminate with a staged reading of each student’s original one-act play.

Non-Fiction Writing
One of the fastest growing genres of writing in America is creative non-fiction.  From memoir to technical journals, the self-publishing opportunities provided by the internet have allowed anyone to offer his or her opinion on any subject.  In this course, we will turn a critical eye on this genre, reading texts both historical and modern, and practicing our own writing through blogs, vlogs, essays, and reflective journals.  Our goal is not only to produce strong, compelling prose, but also to develop a metric for appreciating truly great writing, and discerning compelling from lackluster or unreliable non-fiction.

Poetry
This course is designed both to introduce students to poetry, and to encourage them to find their own voice and style.  Students will explore various aspects of poetic craft, including (but not limited to) structure, rhythm, rhyme, theme, and symbolism.  Students will study poetic types, from the simple yet elegant haiku to more complex epic and lyric poetry.  The trimester will culminate with a catalog of each student’s work, carefully selected and organized by the student, and presented to the class.

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