The English Department's goal is to develop in every Salisbury student the ability to read and think critically and analytically, and to write and speak with clarity and precision. We strive to instill in our students a life-long love of reading through an understanding and appreciation of both the traditional canon of Western literature and the diversity of expression and ideas of different cultures. All courses include continual practice in writing, with emphasis on the expository essay as well as opportunities for creative and personal writing. Vocabulary development is stressed throughout the program.

In the Third and Fourth Forms, the curriculum provides a solid foundation in thinking and writing skills and exposes students to a variety of literary genres and traditions, including mythology, short stories, novels, poems, plays and essays. A year-long theme unifies students’ reading and thinking in each of the lower forms: “coming of age” for the Third Form and “man’s dual nature” for the Fourth Form. Formal study of grammar is also an integral part of the curriculum for the lower forms.

The Fifth Form year concentrates on American literature. Students undertake a research project involving a particular author, period or theme, often in conjunction with their course in American History. Preparation for the SAT I and II tests is a regular part of classwork. Sixth form students, while continuing to hone their writing and test-taking skills, may select from a variety of elective courses in American and world literature or in modes and methods of composition. The most capable fifth and sixth form students enroll in the two-year program of Advanced Placement English Language and Composition followed by Advanced Placement Literature and Composition.

English Department Courses

III Form (9th Grade)

E111 Foundations in Language and Literature Honors

This course is an accelerated version of E112. (Permission of the Director of Studies is required.)

E112 Foundations in Language and Literature

Foundations in Language and Literature will have four goals: to instill the basics of grammar and rhetoric; to teach stu-dents how to approach the study of short fiction, poetry, drama and longer fiction through annotation and reader re-sponse; to expose students to one longer work of fiction per trimester: and to present word skills for vocabulary build-ing.

E113 Foundations in Language and Literature

Similar in structure and content to English 112, this course provides additional reinforcement in the basic skills of Eng-lish, including grammar, organization of essays, spelling and vocabulary.

IV Form (10th Grade)

E221 English II Honors

In the honors level English II course, the instructor augments the English 222 syllabus with works appropriate to this level of critical reading, thinking, and writing. (Permission of the Director of Studies is required.)

E222 The Writer's Journey

The Writer’s Journey will focus on the building blocks of reading and writing for all boys of the Fourth Form. Students will read and respond to short nonfiction readings in order to reach the following course goals: to understand, and to imitate, how writers operate within various rhetorical modes; to learn and apply the grammatical, syntactical, and stylis-tic rules of standard written English; to write a cogent précis of a short nonfiction essay; to successfully analyze one longer work of literary fiction per trimester; and to incorporate supporting evidence into a student’s own writing.

The Writer's Journey

Similar in structure and content to English 222, this course provides additional reinforcement in the basic skills of English, including grammar, organization of essays, spelling and vocabulary.

V Form (11th Grade)

E331A Advanced Placement English Language & Composition

This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Examination in English Language and Composition through the study of non-fiction in American literature. The reading list in AP English Language is drawn from a body of non-fiction that dates back to Colonial times and includes such genres as sermons, journals, slave narratives, autobiography, speeches, political documents, and journalism. Students continue to develop reading comprehension and writing skills, while preparing for the AP Exam, which requires their analyzing non-fiction passages in terms of such stylistic elements as diction, syntax, tone, rhetorical techniques, and figurative language. (Permission of the English Department Chair and the Director of Studies is required, as is additional summer reading.)

E331H English III Honors

In the honors level English III course, the instructor augments the English 332 syllabus with works appropriate to this level of critical reading, thinking, and writing. (Permission of the Director of Studies is required.)

E342AS American Studies - Only open to 5th formers

This team-taught year-long course will follow the chronology of American history to explore the interplay between society and literature in the ongoing development of America. 


VI FORM (12th Grade)

E441A ENGLISH Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This year-long course will prepare students to take the Advanced Placement Test in English Literature and Composition. It is a course for students with a serious interest in reading, thinking, talking, and writing about some of the English-speaking world’s greatest literature. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, our principal text, will provide most of the material for a selective survey of literature in English from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to contemporary writers such as Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Nadine Gordimer, and J.M. Coetzee. Shakespeare will be an important focus in the course. In addition to Hamlet, students will study closely a selection of Shakespearean sonnets. In recent years, the AP class has also read Henry IV: Part One. Other key texts will include Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, and Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers. In addition to the summer reading required of all Sixth Formers, students preparing for AP English Literature also read Leon Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. Projects assigned throughout the year give students a high degree of responsibility to make presentations and lead discussions. Some of these projects engage students with critical resources about a particular writer or work, which material is then incorporated in both presentations and essays. Students will also practice writing essays following the AP format and rubric as well as becoming familiar with the multiple-choice component of the test. Whether or not a student continues to explore literature in college, he will develop skills in this course that will serve him well in a variety of disciplines throughout the humanities.

(Permission of the English Department Chair and the Director of Studies is required, as is additional summer reading.)

E 441H-1 A Survey of English Literature
Fall Trimester: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Age of Satire

In the fall trimester of the sixth form honors course, students will begin by studying Chaucer’s late 14th century work Canterbury Tales, a work which, at the time, was surprisingly written in English, not French and was thus legitimized in many ways. Students will study selected tales from Chaucer’s work and will be given additional short stories and will view film clips to broaden their understanding of the tales. Moving chronologically, students will read and act out portions of the 1601 play Hamlet. They will also view and interpret different film adaptations of the play and be asked to wrestle with unusual, sometimes controversial interpretations of play. Finally, students will finish the fall trimester by reading and analyzing the satirical works of Jonathan Swift, Pope, and William Hogarth, representatives of the “age of wit” in the 18th century.

Winter Trimester: The Romantic Period

Students will begin the winter term by studying Mary Wollstonecraft, who is a valuable writer both for her pioneering feminism but also her rhetoric brilliance. Students will then further their understanding of the progressive politics of the Romantic writers by studying the first and second generation canonical Romantic poets: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats. Students will finish the poetry unit by completing a project in which they will research and present on one of the Romantic poets and their poems. The class will then read the classic Romantic novel Frankenstein, which represents the gothic, supernatural sect of the Romantic Movement and relate it to the science fiction film Blade Runner to illustrate the ways in which the Romantic philosophy is not something of the past.

Spring Trimester: TBA

(Permission of the Director of Studies is required.)

E 442LF From Literature to Film

While some films are blamed for falling short of the books on which they are based, other films enlarge the ideas of the original author and surpass the written text in greatness. This course will look at novels and short stories that have been made into films to see the potential – both positive and negative – of the transition. (Fall)


Widely credited for enlightening the world about the plight of the migrant worker in the 1930’s, John Steinbeck au-thored richly textured narratives that range from short fiction to novel to nonfiction. This course will examine The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Travels with Charley in Search of America. (Fall)


Some of the greatest works of literature have been (or currently are) banned in various school districts, bookstores, and even countries. This course will look at some of those texts and will debate the validity of their ban. Readings will in-clude Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (Fall)


It is particularly relevant that we, as an all-boys school, have a course exploring the bonds between men. This course will explore the often complex relationships that exist between sons and their fathers. This class will explore literature that examines this complex, rich and sometimes troubling aspect of the human experience. (Fall)

Tentative Readings: A River Runs Through It, Big Fish, Oedipus the King


America was founded in a bold act of political protest. The Constitutional protections for free speech combined with the democratic system of government have allowed for a rich tradition of written dissidence. Covering issues of race and slavery, the role of women in society, the appropriate role of government in the lives of citizens, and social inequality, this tradition carries on and provides a rich narrative backdrop of American history. (Fall)

Tentative Readings: Common Sense (Paine), The Jungle, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, The Feminine Mystique, modern musical and film selections


The two major works in this course will be Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We will also read excerpts from both Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative and Harriet Beecher Stow’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as poetry of the Harlem Renaissance by writers such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay. Students will also choose a work for an independent reading project from among Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land, Malcolm X’s Autobiography of Malcolm X, or another work of comparable literary merit. (Fall) 


Students will experience a wide variety of poets and poetry from the classic to the contemporary. We will use Laurence Perrine’s classic text Sound and Sense, but students will also have the opportunity to pursue poets of personal interest for in-depth study. “How to read a poem” – both aloud and quietly to oneself – will be an important focus, involving exploration of the many musical, figurative, and rhetorical techniques poets use to reimagine and intensify their sub-jects. Writing poetry will also play a part in the course. (Fall) 


The purpose of this course is to prepare students to develop creative themes in their writing and communicate them in a clear, enlightening and interesting way. Ideas – the way they are presented, reworked and the way they are evaluated – will form the basis of this elective. All types of writing genres, including short stories, poetry, songs and playwriting, will be included. (Fall) 

Goals will be met through a variety of reading, writing and speaking activities. Students must be ready to present their work to the class. They will also be required to critique their own work and that of others in a positive and constructive way. 

Emphasis will be placed on writing styles and the use of diction, word choice, sentence length, symbolism, imagery and metaphor to enhance the effectiveness of storytelling. 


One of the great writers in contemporary America, Sherman Alexie details the horror and hilarity of Native American life in the Pacific Northwest. This course will focus on the narrative structure, character development, and themes of Alexie’s major works, such as Reservation Blues, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and War Dances. (Fall) 


Public speaking is an invaluable tool that a boy can utilize throughout his lifetime. This course will introduce Salisbury boys to practical tactics of public speaking and the techniques of speech writing. Topics include the basics of speech writing and delivery, how to formulate and convey a clear and concise message, and develop the self-confidence to overcome the nerves that accompany speaking publically. Students will learn to utilize technology and visual aids to enhance a presentation. The college and job interview process will be among the topics covered. Students will be ex-pected to give a minimum of 6 speeches to the class, with one speech given to a greater audience. (Fall, Winter, Spring) 

E333 WRITING WORKSHOP (Assigned by English department) 

This course will cover the foundations of writing by reviewing basic elements (words and clauses) and by studying more advanced components (transitions, tone, point of view). Students will write frequent shorter pieces and will read professional models to gain a deeper understanding of how to improve as a writer in any rhetorical mode. (Fall) 

E342AS AMERICAN STUDIES – only open to 5th formers 

This team-taught course year-long class will follow the chronology of American history to explore the interplay be-tween society and literature in the ongoing development of America. 

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