English Language Arts
The English curriculum develops and enhances the skills of close reading, thoughtful writing, and respectful speaking and listening. Students practice their critical thinking skills in seminar-like classes, which encourage them to interact in collaboration with their teachers and each other. Harkness discussions (text-based, student driven dialogues) occur regularly in all classes and require participation by all. Over the course of four years, students encounter a wide range of increasingly challenging literature which, combined with their personal experiences, provide a rich mine of shared experience – the subject matter for the extensive writing they do in each of the rhetorical modes. In a multi-layered process, beginning in the ninth grade with complex thesis construction and culminating with the research and organization associated with the I-Search in the twelfth grade, students develop independence of judgment, mastery in the art of persuasion, and familiarity with effective research techniques.
FCA requires students to take four years of English. In the first three years, students enroll in the yearlong course appropriate to their grade level, with the option of applying to the honors program in November of junior year. In the senior year, students may choose among various semester electives or apply for admission to the yearlong Advanced Placement course. With guidance from their teachers, students may elect to take the AP exam in either Language and Composition or Literature and Composition in May of either their junior or senior year—or both.
This graduation-required course is aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards for grades 9-10 in the following areas: Reading Standards for Literature, Reading Standards for Informational Text, Writing Standards, Speaking & Listening Standards, and Language Standards. Students will read, interpret, and create a variety of informational, literary, and graphic texts. An important focus will be on identifying and using appropriate strategies and processes to improve students’ comprehension of texts and to help them communicate clearly and effectively.
This graduation-required course is aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards for grades 9-10 in the following areas: Reading Standards for Literature, Reading Standards for Informational Text, Writing Standards, Speaking & Listening Standards, and Language Standards. Extending from its prerequisite, students will read, interpret, and create a variety of informational, literary, and graphic texts. An important focus will be on identifying and using appropriate strategies and processes to improve students’ comprehension of texts and to help them communicate clearly and effectively.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of English 9.
This course emphasizes the development of literacy, communication, and critical and creative thinking skills necessary for success in academic and daily life. Students will analyze challenging literary texts from various periods, countries, and cultures, as well as a range of informational and graphic texts, and create oral, written, and media texts in a variety of forms. An important focus will be on using language with precision and clarity and incorporating stylistic devices appropriately and effectively.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of English 10
This course emphasizes the consolidation of the literacy, communication, and critical and creative thinking skills necessary for success in academic and daily life. Students will analyze a range of challenging literary texts from various periods, countries, and cultures; interpret and evaluate informational and graphic texts; and create oral, written, and media texts in a variety of forms. An important focus will be on using academic language coherently and confidently, selecting the reading strategies best suited to particular texts and particular purposes for reading, and developing greater control in writing.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of English 12.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT ENGLISH
For seniors who have demonstrated a committed and earnest approach to the study of English, this full-year course involves frequent writing exercises and intensive reading in poetry, fiction, drama, and non-fiction prose. Works might include Homer’s The Odyssey, Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle, Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Morrison’s Beloved, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Ellison’s Invisible Man. AP candidates must exhibit both a high level of interest in reading and writing about challenging literature and a willingness to engage actively in frequent discussions. AP students must be motivated to do consistent, honors level work. All students enrolled must take the AP Literature & Composition exam in May.
While the English Department considers all students who express a desire to take AP English, the strongest candidates will have attained grades of B+ or higher in both English 10 and English 11, as well as the final approval, by consensus, of the English Department. Students admitted to AP English are required to read one extra book over the summer.
According to scholar Harold Bloom, Shakespeare's plays are our "secular Scripture, or more simply the fixed center of the Western canon"; Hamlet, for example, "is the [second] most cited figure in Western consciousness." But what is it that makes the Bard of Avon so timeless, so universally acclaimed and applicable, reflecting his time but still speaking to our own? How did he compose such vital characters with such diverse voices, from beggars to kings? How did his theatrical innovations revolutionize the nature of playwriting and stage performance? Addressing these questions, we will engage Shakespeare’s plays as theatrical texts through traditional analysis as well as performance, exploring their remarkable depth of meaning as well as how they work onstage. We will study Shakespeare’s sonnets and two or more of his plays (possibilities include Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, and Henry IV, Part I), approaching them as actors, designers, directors, and members of an audience, investigating how the playwright "hold[s], as 'twere, the mirror up to nature."
This course will take an intensive approach to the writing process. Students will write frequent short essays as they learn various composition strategies and aspects of style. Students will generate personal essays, descriptive pieces, editorials, and a final analytical essay, in addition to more frequent journal reflections on the texts. Students will also read essays by such writers as Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, E. B. White, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Alice Walker, Edward Hoagland, Richard Rodriguez, and Maxine Hong Kingston, as well as selections from contemporary periodicals. They will examine and apply to their own work what published writers have to say about the art of the essay.
FICTION INTO FILM
In 1936, art historian Erwin Panofsky wrote, “If all the serous lyrical poets, composers, painters and sculptors were forced by law to stop their activities, a rather small fraction of the general public would become aware of the fact and still a smaller fraction would seriously regret it. If the same thing were to happen with the movies the social consequences would be catastrophic.” Film is arguably the most powerful and popular art form of the past hundred years. So what happens to a novel when it gets adapted to film? How can the two mediums communicate? While studying cinematic elements (mise-en-scene, cinematography, and editing) to better understand the significance of what becomes “invisible” when viewers lose themselves within a film’s “illusion of realism,” we will consider each text as an independent work of fiction as well as a source that inspired adaptation/ translation, asking how each film remains faithful to or alters the original’s plot, style, and message. Works may include The Children of Men, The Silver Linings Playbook, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, and Million Dollar Baby.
READING AND WRITING POETRY
This course will expose students to a wide range of poets, styles, and sensibilities in a workshop format, which will involve frequent writing both of and about poetry. Each student will compile a collection of original, thematically focused work and participate in the creation of a class anthology. The primary text will likely be Strand and Boland’s The Making of a Poem. Other texts may include poetry by Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lucille Clifton, Coleman Barks, and other prominent poets who have read at FCA. Students will be encouraged to attend two or three poetry readings during the semester.