The English curriculum at Harpeth Hall includes an array of literary works that provide opportunities for each student to think deeply about her relationship to the world around her and the complexities of the human experience. Writing, reading, research, grammar, and vocabulary strands serve as the foundation of our program. With a focus on literary analysis and writing, students hone their ability to think critically and imaginatively while writing with increasing sophistication. Freshmen, sophomore, and senior English classes cover a variety of genres and periods in American, British, and World literature. The introduction of rhetoric in the junior year, with a focus on non-fiction, invites students to appreciate the myriad ways that writing is used across academic disciplines and in public discourse. Over the course of four high school years, students engage in project-based learning, collaboration, and independent research. By the end of senior year, students will have developed a strong repertoire of writing and critical reading skills as well as a demonstrated confidence in their own writing voice.
In addition to the four required years of English, the department offers a Creative Writing elective course for students interested in developing their skills in this area. Winterim courses also provide freshmen and sophomores specific areas of study. Recent examples of English-related Winterim courses include Loving Shakespeare, Teen Reads, Play Writing, andNaNoWriMo. In recent years, we've also had Winterim offerings that focus on specific authors, such as John Green, Jane Austen, and J.K. Rowling.
Full year, one credit, Required for freshmen
Using the American Experience as a unifying theme, this course focuses on intensive reading and writing. Students read a wide variety of literary works in various genres, including novels, short stories, plays, and poetry. As an introduction to analytical composition, the course requires structured responses to literature, short and long-term research assignments, and personal response journals. Creative writing assignments are included to expand students' writing experience, and vocabulary and grammar are concentrated studies throughout the year. Students may also choose to read outside reading books for enrichment credit.
ENGLISH II or HONORS ENGLISH II
Full year, one credit, Required for sophomores (Honors English II only with department approval)
English II explores literature of the world and the journey of the hero in classical through contemporary works. Students read drama, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Sophomores write a variety of literary analyses, personal essays, creative pieces, and reflections. Several culture-oriented research projects related to literature are brought in to set the stage for more challenging research projects of the junior year. Technology is used for creative design projects, presentations, and discussion boards. Vocabulary and grammar are ongoing studies throughout the year, including PSAT review. Sophomores are encouraged to read for pleasure and receive library book talks to expose them to important works of world literature as well as more contemporary, young-adult choices. Honors sections of English II challenge the students who have demonstrated keen motivation and sophisticated skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Honors students move at a faster pace, reading additional texts of greater sophistication and writing more frequent and demanding papers.
Full year, one credit , Required for juniors who do not take AP English Language and Composition
This course will mirror the content and concepts of AP English Language and Composition but will do so at a slower pace and covering fewer works. Students will be exposed to the concepts of rhetoric and composition, enabling them to write effectively and confidently across the curriculum. It will emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication. Students will read and respond to nonfiction works of historical and contemporary import, such as speeches, documents, articles, and essays, as well as visual texts such as documentaries, charts, and graphics. Additionally, students will study key novels and plays in the American canon, with the added goal of increasing their cultural literacy. PSAT, SAT, and ACT test prep is incorporated throughout the year.
AP ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND COMPOSITION
Full year, one credit, Open to juniors
AP English Language and Composition may be taken by juniors in lieu of English III. Designed as the equivalent of a college English Rhetoric and Composition course, this class will enable students to write effectively and confidently across the curriculum. It will emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication. Students will read and respond to nonfiction works of historical and contemporary import, such as speeches, documents, articles, and essays, as well as visual texts such as documentaries, charts, and graphics. Students will complete an independent research paper that will help them learn the steps of any successful inquiry-based research and writing project. Additionally, students will be able to choose and respond independently to documentaries and nonfiction books that discuss contemporary issues. All students enrolled in this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in English Language and Composition.
Full year, one credit, Required for seniors (unless enrolled in AP English Literature)
Senior English focuses on masterworks in the American literary tradition while investigating the cultural, historical, and philosophical movements that affected this country's literary development. Readings reflect the ethnic, economic, and racial diversity of the American literary landscape from the Puritans to the Post-Modern. Featured writers include Hawthorne, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, as well as Kate Chopin, Flannery O'Connor, Alice Walker, and Zora Neale Hurston. Students continue to improve their rhetorical skills by writing expository prose on literary topics. In addition, students have opportunities to explore more sophisticated forms of literary analysis, interpretation and criticism.
AP ENGLISH LITERATURE
Full year, one credit, Open to seniors (only with department approval)
AP English Literature requires widespread and in-depth reading and writing and the ability to engage in serious critical analysis. The AP English Literature course moves at a rapid pace with an extensive reading list and requires the close examination of novels, dramas, essays, short stories, and poetry. Students are expected to be able to interpret literature and literary criticism with finesse and to analyze literary works both in sophisticated composition and purposeful class discussion. All students enrolled in this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in English Literature.
One semester, one-half credit, Open to sophomores through seniors
This course is an introduction to the art and craft of creative writing. Students will read, write, and discuss works of literature in various genres, including fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Students will build their skills through short daily exercises, crafting some into longer pieces that will receive feedback through peer editing, writers' workshops, and teacher response. Reading will complement the students' study of writing. Students will work toward completion of a portfolio of their finest work and will also be encouraged to submit their work to the school’s literary magazine, Hallmarks, and to national and regional writing competitions.
CULTURE SHOCK: MODERNISM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
One semester, one-half credit, Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors
This is an interdisciplinary, team-taught class based on the theme of twentieth-century Modernism. Modernism is among the most fruitful and transformative artistic, social, and technological periods in human history, the Modernist Era amounts to a period of tremendous promise and disruption. In addition, it offers striking examples of the way that the arts reflect and influence larger societal change. More than any other movement, it continues to shape who we are today, even as we still are trying to digest its implications. To understand ourselves, we must understand Modernism. Students will gain a broad perspective through the presentation of material through a variety of academic disciplines based on discussion, lecture, audio-visual materials, and guest speakers.