Writing and critical reading are essential elements of the English curriculum. In the junior and senior years, students choose from courses that emphasize college-level analysis and writing. Students who are not native English speakers take regular English classes along with any necessary ELL courses.
Juniors and seniors choose one 11/12 course per semester.
- English 9
- English 10
- Place-Based American Studies (open to juniors, replaces U.S. History and 2 11/12 English courses)
- English 11/12: American Literature I (Fall)
- English 11/12: African American Literature (Fall)
- English 11/12: British Literature I (Fall)
- English 11/12: Contemporary British Literature (Fall)
- English 11/12: Expository and Creative Nonfiction: Writing Intensive (Fall)
- English 11/12: Shakespeare Pre-1600 (Fall)
- English 11/12: American Literature II (Spring)
- English 11/12: Ancient and Medieval Literature and Philosophy (Spring)
- English 11/12: British Literature II (Spring)
- English 11/12: Fiction, Drama, and Poetry: Writing Intensive (Spring)
- English 11/12: Science Fiction and Speculative Literature (Spring)
- English 11/12: Utopian/Dystopian Literature (Spring)
English 9 encourages students to think logically, analytically, critically, and independently. Novels, short stories, poems, and plays are used to promote a love of reading and encourage an awareness of theme, characterization, conflict, setting, point of view, style, tone, and literary devices. Students expand their vocabularies while improving their reading and writing skills. Writing exercises focus on basic sentence structure, punctuation usage, paragraph structure, and logical essay format. In addition to formal essays, students discover their own voices through creative writing. Students are also introduced to the basic principles of literary research and documentation. Texts may include The Odyssey, Macbeth, A Raisin in the Sun, Lord of the Flies, Oedipus Rex, and The Bean Trees.
English 10 focuses on world literature from ancient to contemporary, in order to broaden students’ understanding and appreciation of different cultures. Complementing the History 10 course, we examine the ways in which culture and history affect people’s lives, emphasizing the impact of historical events on the development of individuals, communities, and nations. Students will also explore various philosophies from around the world, leading them towards a deeper understanding of themselves. English 10 students continue to hone their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, focusing on the development of reasoning skills and writing techniques. Class discussion and writing assignments emphasize critical and creative thinking, encouraging students to write in a variety of genres, such as personal, expository, and literary analysis essays, as well as fiction and poetry. Potential texts: Othello by William Shakespeare, A Thousand Splendid Sunsby Khaled Hosseini, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, selections from Bhagavad Gita, Chuang Tzu, Qur'an, and Confessions, and ancient and contemporary poetry and fiction.
Place-Based American Studies examines essential themes in the literature and history of the United States through a lens that focuses on a fixed, place-based approach. This interdisciplinary, team-taught course also incorporates contributions from archaeology, cultural anthropology, politics, religion, film, and art. Rooted in serious research and off-campus experiences, including required field investigations to regional sites, students deconstruct the national narrative and develop a deeper connection to Sewanee, the Appalachian region, and the South. Projects of civic engagement and service learning are integral parts of this course. Potential texts include Ely: An Autobiography by Ely Green and The Mountaintop by Katori Hall as well as works by James Agee, William Faulkner, and Jesmyn Ward. For completion of this double-block, yearlong course, students receive credit in English (equivalent to two one-semester offerings) and History (equivalent to the graduation requirement in United States History). Note: Open only to juniors; also, students completing Place-Based American Studies will be ineligible to take American Literature I and II as seniors.
American Literature I focuses on American literature from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, from the early days of settlers and colonists to the development of a distinct literary and cultural identity with the birth of a new country. We will study a variety of perspectives involved in the settlement of Europeans inhabiting the New World and eventually establishing their independence. These diverse literary voices will present the cultural prospects and challenges facing American society undergoing transformation. Potential Texts: The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 8th edition, Vol I: Beginnings to 1865*; The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
African American Literature focuses on literature by African American authors from slavery to contemporary writing, as well as examines the idea and construction of race and the reality of racism. The class explores the ways in which authors have approached race, as well as the ways in which authors have challenged the idea of race itself, refusing to be categorized as other. We will read works in a variety of genres: novel, autobiography, poetry, and essay. In addition to discussing and writing about the literature, we will learn about the historical and cultural context for these works of art. We will explore how African American literature has developed, how these writers have influenced our own ideas and beliefs, as well as how they speak to our lives today. Students will also choose a poet to study in depth for their final project. Potential texts: Jubilee by Margaret Walker, Passing by Nella Larsen, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
British Literature I students read representative British works ranging from the Anglo-Saxon period through 1800 and varying in genre from poetry to essays (general and personal), short stories, and novels. Students will focus on the development of heroic traits and heroes throughout this time and analyze the changes this reflects in society. Potential texts: Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney, Gawain and the Green Knight translated by J. R. R. Tolkien, Grendel by John Gardner, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Norton Anthology of Poetry, poetry selections: Thomas Wyatt, Christopher Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, and William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
Contemporary British Literature students will read representative, modern and contemporary British works varying in genre and voice, expressed through poetry, short stories, and novels. The students will develop analytical and critical skills (in both prepared and spontaneous writing), while they also refine their individual styles by writing personal essays and journals. Texts will be used from the last hundred years and focus on expanding students’ understanding of this multicultural metropolis. As in other English courses at St. Andrew's-Sewanee, the study of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax is an important component of the class. Potential texts: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Children Act by Ian McEwan, Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Expository and Creative Nonfiction: Writing Intensive provides students with the tools and guidance needed to critically analyze the writing of contemporary nonfiction and essay writers, as well as instruction and feedback in replicating the form. In addition to reading critically and writing analytically, students will write extensively in a variety of essay styles, including personal and expository. Together, students will explore many aspects of essay writing, working to expose and to express their ideas with clarity and a strong voice. Above all, students will learn to create writing that is meaningful and engaging for both the writer and for the reader. Students will write often in class, as well as on their own, outside of class. Students will collaborate with each other to generate new material and to increase their writing’s power through peer feedback and extensive revision. They will create a body of work that they have taken through a process of generation, composition, revision, and editing.
William Shakespeare’s literature presents us with a “map of the mind,” observed critic Harold Bloom. To study Shakespeare’s work is to study the sorrows and triumphs of being human. This course will challenge motivated students to analyze the plays with an eye to, among other things, the following: corruption, transformation, and the madness of love. The plays will be read as pieces of both literature and theatre, yet the course will also maintain a focus on the mythology and history Shakespeare used to construct the plays. Students who take this course should be prepared to work hard in order to develop the following skills: close and imaginative textual analysis; student-driven discussion; and peer critique of writing. Lastly, the course will explore different filmic and stage interpretations, and we will perform our own adaptations of scenes throughout the semester. Potential texts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and Julius Caesar.
American Literature II explores the representative literature of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Students will compare and contrast numerous works of poetry and prose while pursuing the corresponding historical and cultural developments of the day as a backdrop. They will find that the literary movements of these decades reflect the times in which they formed. We will read literature from a range of voices, including, but not limited to, the work of writers such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, T. S Elliott, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and William Faulkner. Potential texts: The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 8th edition, Vol II: 1865 to the Present, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Ancient and Medieval Literature and Philosophy samples some of the landmark literary and philosophical texts that define the still-evolving cultures of East and West in a sweep of several millennia of history and a fairly wide swath of geography, from the ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia/Babylonia, India, China, and Greece to the almost-modern medieval worlds of Europe and Japan. Readings represent many genres: poetic cycle, epic, drama, biography and autobiography, lyric, as well as religious and philosophical writings. Study and discussion will mostly address the texts, but also the historical periods that inspired them. By comparing and contrasting readings from different cultural backgrounds, we will explore both the values and questions that are universal and enduring, as well as the beliefs that distinguish the intellectual and spiritual worlds the readings project. Potential Texts: Inanna, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Ramayana, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, The Bacchae by Euripides, Inferno by Dante
British Literature II explores themes which can be seen in 17th-20th century English novels. We will discuss honor (personal and societal honor), power (how it is gained or lost, and what the price of power involves), social norms (what is considered acceptable and unacceptable in English society), religion (the place of religion in British society and within individuals), and nature (the relationship of human beings to the natural world), among other ideas. Potential texts: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Fiction, Drama, and Poetry: Writing Intensive provides students with the tools and guidance needed to critically analyze and create short fiction, drama, and poetry. This course is designed for student writers who want to be part of a community of writers, actively engaged in the world of creative writing. Thus, students will learn to read and analyze fiction, drama, and poetry as writers, to generate new material, and to revise deeply. Studying a wide range of poetry, drama, short fiction, and craft essays by diverse contemporary writers, students will develop a deeper understanding of the craft of writing. In addition to reading critically and writing analytically, students will write extensively in all three genres. Students will write often in class, as well as on their own, outside of class. Students will collaborate with each other to generate new material and to increase their writing’s power through peer feedback and extensive revision. They will create a body of work that they have taken through a process of generation, composition, revision, and editing.
Science Fiction and Speculative Literature focuses on literature that encourages students to think about the following question: What can our views of the universe and the future tell us about ourselves? In this course, students will study and discuss various influential works of science fiction and speculative literature, from the foundational short stories of the pulp-magazine era to contemporary bestselling novels. The stories will be studied in various socio-political and intellectual historical contexts. Potential texts: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, short stories by Phillip K. Dick
Utopian/Dystopian Literature will be an investigation of common themes, subjects, and characters of dystopian/utopian literature as well as the philosophical basis of a utopian world. We will begin with an introduction to the utopian ideology, and from here we will jump into the dystopian worlds of imperfect utopian structures. We will look at the ramifications of attempting to create a perfect society, particularly regarding the effect on personal identity, but also encompassing the loss of privacy, the necessity of censorship, the inaccuracies of information, and the human tendency to corrupt such attempts through self-interest. We will also contemplate the implications of an apocalyptic dystopian world, which will provide a different lens through which we will study human nature. Potential Texts: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, The Road by Cormac McCarthy
M.Ed. English Education, University of Massachusetts
M.F.A. Poetry, New England College
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 3145
M.A., Bowling Green State University
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 1017
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 4122
M.Ed., Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 1018
School: 931.598.5651 ext. 3225
Did you know that Sewanee is home to America’s oldest continuously published literary quarterly? The Sewanee Review was founded in 1872 and established Sewanee as a hub for literary activity. The Sewanee Review, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, and the Sewanee School of Letters bring writers to the Mountain throughout the year for engaging lectures, talks, and workshops.