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English

 

 

read and think critically

The English department believes that the ability to think, read, and write through both critical and creative lenses is vital for success. The progression of our curriculum is designed to introduce and develop these skills in a manner that aligns with the intellectual and emotional growth of boys during their teenage years. Our goal is that students, upon graduating from Salisbury, possess the tools needed to succeed in the next chapter of their education as well as in the world beyond the classroom. 

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.

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition is available to qualifying Fifth Form students, while exceptional Sixth Form students may apply for Advanced Placement Literature and Composition. The English Department also offers honors sections at each form level, which motivated and capable students may apply to take.

English Offerings at Salisbury:

Third Form Courses

E111 Foundations in Language and Literature - Honors  

This course is an accelerated version of E112.
​​​​​​​(Permission of the English Department Chair and the Director of Studies is required.)  

E112 Foundations in Language and Literature 

Foundations in Language and Literature has four goals: to instill the basics of grammar and rhetoric; to teach students how to approach the study of short fiction, poetry, drama and longer fiction through annotation and reader response; to expose students to one longer work of fiction per trimester; and to present word skills for vocabulary building.  

E113 Foundations in Language and Literature 

Similar in structure and content to English 112, this course provides English language learners additional reinforcement in the basic skills of English, including grammar, organization of essays, spelling, and vocabulary. Daily activities foster conversational English and center around life at Salisbury, especially community experiences such as chapel and school meetings.  

Fouth Form Courses

E221 The Writer’s Journey – 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 English Department Chair and 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 stylistic 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. Students will also study classic and contemporary works of fiction to build and develop critical reading skills.  

Fifth Form Courses

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 Modes of Written Expression – 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 English Department Chair and the Director of Studies is required.) 

E332 Modes of Written Expression   

Modes of Written Expression is a yearlong course that explores various themes and genres within American literature. Student writing in the course revolves around personal, persuasive, and expository essays. While the focus of each trimester will vary according to the instructor, all sections will investigate rhetorical devices, subtext, and context. Students will be asked to consider the author’s audience while integrating evidence into their own writing. During this year, students will refine analytical and discussion skills by questioning and presenting to their peers. In addition to working towards mastery of grammatical rules, students develop voice in their writing as they learn more about how a text’s purpose informs its design. 

Sixth Form Year-long Courses

E441A Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition  

This yearlong 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.) 

English 441H English IV Honors: A Survey of English Literature  

English IV Honors is an intensive (but not comprehensive) survey of British literature. The curriculum spans from the 14th to 19th centuries, with a few anachronistic but thematically relevant detours. Students will study many of the canonical works of the English language in order to develop an understanding of the social, political, and literary evolution of British society. During the spring trimester, the course’s scope will shift to American expat literature, specifically the writing of Ernest Hemingway. As an honors course, this class will move a brisk pace. Students should expect a rigorous workload in terms of nightly reading assignments. Furthermore, students will write frequently in order to demonstrate their grasp of the material and develop their composition skills.  

(Permission of the English Department Chair and the Director of Studies is required.) 

Sixth Form Trimester Elective Courses

Fall Electives

In the fall English electives, all students will explore poetry through a thematic lens. Teachers will also introduce works of prose to support the course's focus. 

E442FS Fathers and Sons Literature   

Using a broad definition of the labels "father" and "son", the course asks students to consider their male relationships as they read selections of poetry and a memoir. By reflecting upon these relationships, students will finish this class with greater awareness and empathy for the difficulties of fatherhood. It will also help them to develop a stronger sense of the men they hope to become. Major course texts/authors: a collection of poetry from authors such as Kipling and Wordsworth, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Beautiful Struggle. Quizzes and tests are part of the curriculum as well as daily journal writing and advanced vocabulary. 

E442BL Banned Literature   

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, while also exploring and discussing the issue of censorship more broadly.  

E442NA Native American Literature   

This course will explore Native American perspectives of wisdom and spirituality through a study of the poetry, songs, stories, myths, and other literature of past and present. It will help us to develop our understanding of ourselves, our community, our relationships with nature, and our awareness of life's deeper mysteries. We will also frequently step outside the classroom to study the inspiration for much of this literature and the greatest book of all: the outdoors. We will finish the course by reading examples of contemporary Native Literature to increase awareness about the current challenges facing indigenous populations in modern America.  

E442BA Brothers in Arms  

This course will explore the theme of brotherhood, one of the core values of Salisbury School. What does it mean to be a brother? What are the characteristics of a fraternal relationship? Are there differences between the relationship of familial brothers (by blood) and metaphorical brothers (by close bond or association)? Students will be responsible on a daily basis for generating discussion topics and analyzing literature that features brothers who have to navigate a shifting and sometimes complex dynamic. Students will write frequently and will also collaborate with their peers on multiple projects throughout the term.  

E442PH The Poetry of Hip-Hop 

This course is an exploration into the development of hip-hop as a genre of music and poetry. In the first half of the trimester, students will learn the roots of hip-hop including: slave spirituals, jazz, and gospel. In learning about the evolution of the genre, students will gain a better understanding of the tropes that are visible in hip-hop dating back to its inception in 1976. In the second half of the trimester, students will gain a better understanding of the formal composition of effective hip-hop. Through the study of virtuosic writers, understanding will culminate in eventual composition and performance of a verse on a topic of their choosing. Through careful study and exploration of text, students will develop and employ conventional tools of poetry and analysis. 

Winter Electives

In the winter English electives, all students will explore dramatic works through a thematic lens. Special attention will be given by all classes to William Shakespeare's classic work, Hamlet. Focus on this play will differ depending on class themes. Teachers will introduce works of prose to enhance student understanding of central ideas. 

E442LF Literature of the Family  

There is little doubt that family has the power to uplift us, but it can also be the source of our greatest challenges and heartaches. In this course, students will read plays and novels that focus on the complex influences of family in our lives. By looking at different literary examples of archetypal families, students will expand their understanding and appreciation of these formative bonds.   

E442CS Contemporary Short Fiction and Drama  

This course will survey more recent trends in American short fiction. By examining different writing styles and artistic trends, students will gain a broad exposure to the changing landscape of modern American writing. The goal of this course is utilize the idea of the “glimpse” to break short stories down into their essential components. By distilling fiction writing down to its basic elements, students can gain better understanding of how great characters and plots are made. The course will focus on works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Major course text: The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. 

E442LF Literature in Film   

This course will explore the process of adaptation by studying texts that have been transposed to the silver screen. Students will examine the various tools employed by literary and visual artists to construct narratives and generate emotional reactions. Readings and film screenings will help students develop the literary skills—analytical, critical, and visual—that facilitate intellectual growth. Frequent writing assignments and Socratic discussions will provide students with different forums to express their ideas and consider new perspectives. Major course texts/authors: The Graduate, Hamlet, and No Country for Old Men. 

E442SU Literature of Survival   

The ability to survive in extreme conditions not only makes for very engaging literature, but it also teaches valuable lessons in perseverance, positive thinking, and remaining rational and calm when the going gets tough. Students will read non-fiction dealing with extraordinary survival situations and write reaction essays based on the reading. Quizzes and tests are part of the curriculum as well as daily journal writing and advanced vocabulary. 

E442LB Literature of the Black Experience   

“America never was America to me,” writes the black poet Langston Hughes, expressing what many blacks living and working in America throughout its history have felt: that the promises of freedom and opportunity that America makes have never been meant for them. This course will listen closely to their conversations across time about what being black in America is like. This tradition is not only an essential element of America itself, but it is also an important, moving, and inspiring example of the deep determination and strength of the human spirit as it opposes injustice and adversity in hope of a better life it knows it deserves. Major course texts/authors: Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. 

E442LS Literature of the Stage 

This course is an exploration of the various genres of theater. The first half of the trimester will be focused on analyzing Hamlet and the theatrical elements that go into making it a successful drama. Students will gain introductory understanding into the basic elements of drama. The second half of the trimester is dedicated to bringing voice to the words and analysis of contemporary works. Students will be assigned monologues and scenes from various plays. They will become familiar with rudimentary acting and performing skills. From a literary perspective, the class will analyze the rhetorical elements of theatrical works. This analysis will allow students to see what makes certain plays memorable and powerful. 

Spring Electives

In the spring English electives, all students will have the opportunity to pursue an in-depth exploration of the writing process. The courses offered allow students to focus on their preferred mode of expression. These courses will all involve a capstone work to culminate the school year and their Salisbury experience. 

E442JM Journalism   

This elective provides an overview of the basics of journalism. Students will learn how to assess the news value of an event or situation, how to develop story ideas, and how to craft an informative, thought-provoking article. After an in-depth exploration of print journalism, the class will shift its focus to broadcast journalism. Students will learn how to use the tools and technology in the Buehner Media Lab to create a range of video news stories. In past terms, journalism students have visited ESPN’s campus in Bristol and have drawn from that experience to create their own Salisbury SportsCenter broadcast. 

E442AP Argumentative and Persuasive Writing  

The goal of this course is to improve students’ ability to write persuasively and to argue with effect. Students will build upon the skills developed in Modes of Written Expression by reviewing the basic elements of persuasion, and then they will study the more advanced components of argumentation. Students will write frequent shorter pieces and will read professional models to gain a deeper understanding of how to improve as a persuasive writer. Students will learn how to best convey their understanding of various subject material and ultimately to apply that towards developing convincing arguments that go beyond what they have read or heard. 

E442CW Creative Writing  

Opening the channels of imagination and creativity and combining them with the basics of clear writing are the goals of this course. Students will receive prompts to use as a starting point, but they will be encouraged to expand upon them in their weekly papers. Students will read their work in class and participate in ensuing constructive discussions, in addition to keeping daily journals. Vocabulary growth will be approached from a word root basis. 

E442DE Literature of the Dramatic Experience   

This elective is designed to equip students with a skill-based, practical knowledge of screenwriting. We will study the presentation and development of character as the key element in writing for the screen. Students will learn how to “read” films as well as screenplays, which will enhance their understanding of narrative structure and dramatic writing. Students will explore the influence of ancient Greek drama on modern storytelling; Aristotle’s Poetics will serve as a starting point. In the second half of the term, students will apply this theoretical knowledge to a hands-on project as they develop and write their own original screenplays.  

Honors English   

Honors English   

GRADE: Eligible applicants must have a B+ or higher in Honors English or AP English Composition or an A- or higher in a regular English section through the winter trimester.  

RECOMMENDATION: In consultation with the Honors teachers, the applicant’s current teacher will make a recommendation based on the applicant’s performance, ability, work ethic, and in-class behavior.  

Opportunity to supersede initial placement: If a student does not meet the grade requirement but has demonstrated a strong work ethic and genuine desire to study English at a more rigorous level, he can sit for a 40-minute placement test that will be administered at the start of the spring trimester. This test will be evaluated by the appropriate Honors teacher who will consult with the applicant’s current teacher to make a final decision before the end of the spring trimester.   

English Department Requirements for Advanced Placement Study 

GRADE: Eligible applicants must have an A- or higher in Honors English or AP English Composition or an A or higher in a regular English section through the winter trimester.  

FORMAL APPLICATION: To be considered for an AP English course, a student must write a formal application letter indicating to the appropriate teacher his interest in being considered. In this letter, the applicant will share something about his experiences with literature that will help the teacher gauge both the applicant’s readiness to meet the challenges of the course and the contributions the applicant is likely to make toward the effective growth of the group. The applicant will submit the letter to the appropriate AP English teacher upon returning from mid-winter break.  

RECOMMENDATION: In consultation with the AP English teachers, the applicant’s current teacher will make a recommendation based on the applicant’s performance, ability, work ethic, and in-class behavior. 

WRITING SAMPLE: In consultation with his current teacher, the applicant will choose a writing sample to revise and submit to the appropriate AP English teacher for consideration upon returning from spring vacation. 

MINI-AP EXAM: Applicants are required to sit for a 55-minute exam. This exam will replicate the AP English Language and AP English Literature exams by presenting students with one passage for multiple-choice responses (15 min.) and one passage for written analysis (40 min.). These exams will be evaluated by the AP teachers. This exam will be administered at the start of the spring trimester, conditional on the completion and evaluation of the formal application, the recommendation, and the writing sample (as described above).  

The academic life at Salisbury is motivating. The teachers, coaches, and mentors at Salisbury are exceptional. They bring passion and expertise into their intimate classroom settings. Collaboration, innovation, problem solving, creativity, and civic responsibility are just some of the principles that guide Salisbury School’s educational model. Most importantly, these men and women partner with you each day and always with the highest expectations. 
Dean of Academic Life Sarah Mulrooney

A Glimpse At Just Two Of Our English Offerings:

The Poetry of Hip-Hop 

 This course is an exploration into the development of hip-hop as a genre of music and poetry. In the first half of the trimester, students will learn the roots of hip-hop including: slave spirituals, jazz, and gospel. In learning about the evolution of the genre, students will gain a better understanding of the tropes that are visible in hip-hop dating back to its inception in 1976. In the second half of the trimester, students will gain a better understanding of the formal composition of effective hip-hop. Through the study of virtuosic writers, understanding will culminate in eventual composition and performance of a verse on a topic of their choosing. Through careful study and exploration of text, students will develop and employ conventional tools of poetry and analysis. 

BROTHERS IN ARMS

This course will explore the theme of brotherhood, one of the core values of Salisbury School. What does it mean to be a brother? What are the characteristics of a fraternal relationship? Are there differences between the relationship of familial brothers (by blood) and metaphorical brothers (by close bond or association)? Students will be responsible on a daily basis for generating discussion topics and analysis of literature that features brothers who have to navigate a shifting and sometimes complex dynamic. They will write frequently and be responsible for a research paper of literary criticism.

Major course works/authors: Assorted poetry, Band of BrothersGoing After CacciatoFor Whom the Bell Tolls, and As I Lay Dying.