Dublin School English classes nourish students’ passions and voices, encouraging them to become more perceptive and discerning readers, more confident and courageous thinkers, more engaged and patient listeners, and more expressive, organized, and persuasive writers. With small, student-centered, discussion-based courses, the English department develops a classroom dynamic of trust, empathy, honesty, and courage, one in which students gain confidence in expressing, listening, questioning, and considering other points of view. Dublin School English classes encourage and empower Dublin students to view reading as a both a critical labor and a source of joy and discovery. We not only believe strongly in the value of required texts in the classroom, but also the value of a strong, independent reading practice outside the classroom.

We encourage a cultural understanding that grows from exposure to a wide range of issues related to gender, race, socioeconomics, and sexual identity. In content, genre, and perspective, our texts ask us to encounter the unfamiliar and unsettling, the breaks in pattern that create the complexity of our ever-changing world; through such encounters, we learn to value and revalue those conventions we take for granted. Students become aware of the bridge language makes between individuals and the society in which we live. In reading different voices, students deepen their appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of humanity; they deepen their empathy for it.

Teachers draw on a wide variety of perspectives, genres, and styles of expression, including print, digital, audio, and visual sources. By engaging with texts that expand their sense of the language, students are equipped to enter conversations in multiple forms—literary, analytical, argumentative, experimental—and are challenged to do so.

Dublin students learn to be discerning, active readers, to develop a conversational reading voice rather than one that mechanically recites the text. As a result, they learn to write with clarity and eloquence, mindful of their purpose and their audience. The department’s goal is that students embrace both reading and writing as a unified craft, a process of engagement, expression, and revision that sharpens not only the technical elements of their work, but also the lineaments of their thought. Students should emerge from their Dublin experiences with the courage to question and ponder the many truths expressed in the written word in order to better understand and articulate their own.

Course of Study

English 9: Coming of Age in Literature and Composition

The purpose of Dublin’s freshman English course is to provide you an opportunity to read and write deeply, inquisitively, and effectively, engaging with diverse genres and styles. You will find common themes in many of the works you explore, but it is your own lived experience that will serve as the core element of the curriculum. Course texts—including Our Town, Romeo and Juliet, Persepolis, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Burial at Thebes (a version of Sophocles’ Antigone)—explore the “coming-of-age” experience through a wide variety of voices in novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. Emphasis is placed on those skills that will serve you well across disciplines: the ability to read closely, to articulate and then refine your reactions, to engage in discussion, and to consider other points of view. To be successful in this course requires a curious mind and a willingness to actively engage with your classmates, your reading, your writing, your teacher, and yourself—as a thinker, learner, and human being.

English 10: Global Voices and the “Danger of the Single Story”

This course develops deeper reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills through encounters with texts by authors who hail from many countries, many cultural traditions, and many literary genres. These include Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima, Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. By considering, in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s terms, “the danger of a single story,” you will expand your understanding of how power, knowledge, and literature circulate on a global scale. How does literature add texture to or erase the realities we live in? Who has the power to write these stories? What are the political and artistic roles of the author in society? In daily journal activities, in essays honed through many drafts, and in student-led classroom discussions, sophomores in English gain confidence in the art of their own expression and the important role it plays in all of our lives.

English 11: An American Conversation

In American Literature, you will develop as an engaged citizen: first, examining your own identity and the lenses, privileges, and values it carries; then, through disorienting historical investigations, examining what history is, means, and implies; and last, analyzing current social issues and working to understand the roots and repercussions of these relevant conflicts. You will generate your own questions about American identity and American Literature: What does the storyteller have to do with the way we perceive the story? Who decides what is right or just? Why do different people have different destinies? Throughout your investigation of canonical and contemporary texts, you will examine some of the fundamental myths, assumptions and popular perceptions that influence American ideals. We read work by Tim O’Brien, Sherman Alexie, Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Junot Diaz, Alison Bechdel, James Baldwin, and Claudia Rankine, among others. Engaging with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and graphic novels, you will develop awareness of genre, purpose, and rhetorical strategy. Specific attention will be paid to the continued development of active reading and language skills, the development of the essay, the progression of mindful and intensive revision skills, and an appreciation for and curiosity about America’s literary history.

AP English Language and Composition

This course asks students to become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts, and skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. In essence, AP English Language and Composition asks you to become an engaged citizen. By reading, synthesizing, and evaluating a wide range of texts, members of this course will develop an awareness of audience and purpose, using models of literary expression to write effectively and confidently in forms including the expository, analytical, reflective, and argumentative essays, personal narrative, and blogs. While the majority of texts under study will be essays and nonfiction, we will also explore novels that converse with the other texts we study. Texts have included Capote’s In Cold Blood, Walls’ The Glass Castle, Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, excerpts from Moore’s The Other Wes Moore and Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, and for fiction, Huxley’s Brave New World, Larsen’s Passing, and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Prerequisites for this course include the successful completion of English 10, World History II, an in-class writing assessment, and summer reading and writing assignments. Other considerations for admission to the class are verbal, reading, and writing standardized test scores, previous English and history grades, teacher recommendation, and approval by the course instructor and Academic Dean. Because this is a college-level course, you should expect a rewarding but highly rigorous academic experience.

AP English Literature and Composition

AP English Literature is a fast-paced class for students ready to immerse themselves in a rigorous reading and writing curriculum. You will engage in the close reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature—drama, poetry, and narrative fiction. In particular, literature will be considered aesthetically: How do its authors use language to provide meaning and pleasure? What gives language beauty? How does that beauty lend a particular work its enduring power to move readers? To move the world?

You will be introduced to the study of critical theory and learn to dissect texts with the varied lenses offered by New Criticism, Structuralism, Reader-Response Theory, Marxist Criticism, Feminist Criticism, and Postmodernism. Texts such as Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man guide you in the development of your own craft. You can expect to write multiple analytical papers and experiment in poetry, creative nonfiction, playwriting, and short fiction by year’s end. A week-long editing workshop concludes each term, as you prepare your own portfolio for submission to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Prerequisites for this course are the successful completion of AP English 11 or exemplary performance in and completion of English 11, along with summer reading and writing assignments. Other considerations for admission to the class are verbal, reading, and writing standardized test scores, previous English and history grades, writing samples, teacher recommendation and approval by the course instructor and Academic Dean. Because this is a college-level course, you should expect a rewarding but highly rigorous academic experience.

Current and Recent Electives Offered

Electives offered by the English department serve as opportunities for more focused and thorough investigation of literature within a particular genre, era, or subject of interest. Here, as in many college seminars, depth of knowledge within a specific field is privileged over the breadth of a survey. These courses are open to students in all grades. Seniors not enrolled in a year-long English course take an English elective in each of their three trimesters. Electives are often designed with an eye to authors and topics that students have encountered in previous courses: let your teachers know what piques your curiosity, and you may find an elective tailor-made.

  • Creative Writing
  • Racism in America
  • Hemingway, Fitzgerald & the Lost Generation
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Literature of the Devil and Hell
  • Art of the Autobiography
  • Shakespeare: Comedy, Tragedy & History
  • Literature and the Human Condition
  • Fairy Tales & Folklore
  • Evil and Postmodern Literature
  • Gender In Society