The English department curriculum is a four-year program with two levels of instruction. All four years prepare students for college work. Qualified students in their junior and senior years may take AP instruction. All English courses include extensive analytical writing and address the principles of organization and correct expression.
The ninth grade curriculum offers a blend of American and classical Greek literature, and the tenth grade offers a survey of British literature. The junior year is a survey of American literature and the senior year is a final refining of critical reading and writing skills and a survey of World literature.
NOTE: All levels of English at St. Agnes have a summer reading assignment. Students are required to do the reading before school resumes in August, and they are given a test on the book or books during the first week.
Connie Bitto, Department Chair
105 ENGLISH 1 (1 credit)
The regular English 1 course focuses primarily on grammar, sentence structure, and composition with emphasis on paragraph development leading to literary analysis. In literature, the student will be required to identify different literary elements and to recognize character development through a study of American and classical Greek literature as well as Greek mythology. The students' vocabulary skills will be expanded through the vocabulary encountered in their literature and through their vocabulary workbook. At least one novel or non-fiction work will be required summer reading.
110 HONORS ENGLISH 1 (1 credit)
In addition to the objectives of regular English 1, students will write more sophisticated compositions based on their reading. They will do a more detailed analysis of language and literary devices in the works they study. Students will review grammar and study grammar in the context of their own writing. Students will study vocabulary in conjunction with works of literature.
115 ENGLISH 2 (1 credit)
In English 2, British Literature, students study the major literary genres-poetry, drama, novel, essay and short story-from the major periods of British literature. On the foundation of this study of literature, they hone their critical thinking skills through textual analysis, vocabulary building, and various forms of writing practice. Throughout the year, they review and extend their understanding of standard English grammar. In the second semester, students learn the tools and skills of research through work on a research paper. In the research project and in weekly and quarterly writing projects, students develop their critical ability to use computer technology.
120 HONORS ENGLISH 2 (1 credit)
This course addresses in more depth than English 2 the areas of English composition, vocabulary, literary analysis, and critical thinking skills. Grammar is studied in the context of writing as well as topically. This course requires extensive composition and emphasizes reasoning skills in the close reading of selected works of British literature. Vocabulary enrichment is based on lists from the literature.
125 ENGLISH 3 (1 credit)
English 3 is a survey of American literature which focuses on the development of the American literary tradition. The students study the works of Twain, Chopin, Fitzgerald, Williams, and Lahiri as well as selected short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Students write formal literary analysis papers, refine their grammar skills through composition, and study vocabulary from their reading.
130 HONORS AP ENGLISH 3 (1 credit)
This course, an Honors survey of American Literature, parallels the rhetorical focus of a first semester college composition class. The students in this course are committed to a college-level study of the complexities of literature, non-fiction as well as fiction, and also to an analysis of the relationship between the rhetorical structure of a written work and its meaning. Students demonstrate their skills through attentive reading, analysis, and interpretation of a given text. In the first semester, students put their research skills into practice as they research and write a rhetorical analysis essay on a particular literary work. In order to hone their writing abilities and in preparation for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam in early May, students write in a variety of forms throughout the year, with a focus on timed writings in the second semester. Students also study the thematic effect of rhetorical and literary devices, in addition to a thorough study of the vocabulary they encounter in their readings.
AP Course fee (includes AP exam): $92
135 WORLD LITERATURE (1 credit)
The English 4 program culminates the study of literature and the refinement of writing the literary analysis essay. The purpose of this course is to read the works of writers around the world, connecting a study of literary and rhetorical forms with an exploration of cultural expression. Personal essay and literary analysis essay writing will be reviewed and refined with a minimum of one formal essay per quarter. Vocabulary study will continue through contextual use in every reading assignment. Students will read extensively and with concentration in the traditional genres or types of literature (lyric, epic, tragedy, satire and essay) and more contemporary modes of literary expression (novel, short story, memoir).
140 HONORS AP ENGLISH 4 (1 credit)
The Honors AP English 4 program culminates the study of literature and the refinement of writing the literary analysis essay. Students read important works by major British, American, and world writers from the ancient through the contemporary periods. The emphasis of this course is the analysis of the relationship between form and content. Students work on precise analysis of literary texts, exploring how the writers devise strategies and use literary and rhetorical techniques to create meaning. The course gives much attention to writing skills through timed essay writing practice, formal out-of-class literary analysis essays, and the personal essay. The course is designed to offer the student a strong and varied background for possible placement out of the second semester English requirement in college. As a course requirement, students take the AP exam in Literature and Composition given in May.
AP Course fee (includes AP exam): $92
165 CREATIVE WRITING (1/2 credit)
An excellent one-semester course for students interested in the art of creative writing. Students will explore different forms and styles of writing while creating a portfolio of their own work. The focus of the course will be divided between poetry and fiction; however other forms will be introduced and explored. One of the greatest tools a creative writer can possess is a critical eye. We will work to develop a critical eye through weekly editing exchange sessions. Students will also be encouraged to discover personal mentors and inspiration through the study of sample works of poetry and fiction.
This elective is open to all grade levels.
170 AMERICAN POETRY (1/2 credit)
This one semester course is an exploration of the richness and variety of some of America's greatest poetry. Students will discover how poets speak the truth using language that is both moving and meaningful. Class discussion will be a key component of the course as students share their insights and responses to language, examine the structure of a poem, and analyze the literary techniques of the poet. Students will sharpen their reading comprehension, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. In addition to discussion, coursework will include keeping a journal with both personal and analytical responses to poems, quizzes, and one formal analytical paper.
Offered in the spring.
Sophomore, junior, and senior level elective.
174 RACE, GENDER, AND CULTURE ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN LITERATURE (1/2 credit)
Almost one hundred years after the Civil War, the American literary, artistic and ideological landscape had changed enough for more minority writers to feel empowered to put a voice to the experience of race, gender and cultural differences. They wrote of identity formation, conflict and confrontation: revealing the complexities of being a minority in a largely white and male dominated culture. This course is designed to read and explore some of these works that transformed the literary context and allowed new voices to be heard. Texts that may be read and studied: To Kill a Mockingbird, Handmaid's Tale, The Joy Luck Club, In the Time of the Butterflies, and The Color Purple. Assessment will be based on reading logs, class discussion and seminars, a project and a paper.
Offered in the fall.
Junior and senior level elective.
176 GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHOLOGY (1/2 credit)
This course introduces the major mythological cycles of ancient Greece and Rome. Centered around primary sources (Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Virgil, Ovid, etc.) and classroom discussion, the course examines the ties between myth and religion, comparative approaches to mythology, myth as history, myth and literature, reception of the mythology in later Western tradition (especially the Catholic tradition), and other topics of interest.
Junior and senior level elective. Taken at Strake Jesuit.