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  • Grace Kirch

Pick your English semester course!

Are you thinking of changing your schedule for the last semester or even thinking ahead about your options for English classes for next year? Either way, Stevenson offers a wide range of unique semester courses for you to explore.

Gothic Literature

According to the Stevenson Curriculum Guide, “Gothic literature delights readers through its tantalizing combination of suspense, secrecy, the supernatural, and—sometimes—romance. In this course we will trace the development of gothic fiction from its origins in eighteenth-century England to present-day expressions of the macabre on the large and small screens.”

Reading for Gothic Literature course

In the semester course of Gothic literature, students explore the ways in which frightful stories may reveal the underlying fears of an era, from “the concerns about reverse colonization in Victorian England to the ways in which slavery and Native American removal haunt the literature of the United States.”

If you take this course, you would read and analyze Walpole’s Castle of Otranto. The work is regarded as the first gothic novel and follows Manfred, the prince of Otranto, who is keen to secure the castle for his descendants in the face of a mysterious curse. Additionally, students analyze short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Angela Carter, and Carmen Maria Machado.

Reading Disney

“Most of us encounter the stories and characters of the Disney empire as children. But where does Disney get those stories, and what do the “Disney versions” teach us? In this course, we will investigate Disney’s powerful role in shaping the many worlds—physical, social, emotional, commercial—that we inhabit daily.”

In this course, students draw from a variety of readings: literary sources (including Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, the sixth- century Ballad of Mulan, and versions of “Snow White” and “Beauty and the Beast” from all over the world), Disney’s feature-length films, “essays in literary criticism, media literacy, and critical theory, and discussions of the architecture and design of the theme parks.” This course aims to challenge students to advance their critical perspectives on representations of race, gender, violence, and nation.

Discussions based on popular Disney movies

The California Dream

“The natural, social and political landscape of California has served as the muse for some of America’s greatest writers, working against a backdrop of striking beauty and under threat of earthquake and fire.”

Through a diverse collection of readings and frequent class discussion, this course explores the literature of California as well as “the California dream plays in the American consciousness.” Readings draw from the work of Joan Didion, Angie Chau, John Steinbeck, Paul Beatty, Toshio Mori, Walter Mosley, Jennifer Egan, Gish Jen and others.

Short Story and the Craft of Writing

“This course allows students to get curious about how stories get written— and about how to engage their own experience and imagination to create original fiction. By examining a range of short stories—from Kate Chopin and Ernest Hemingway to Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie and Ted Chiang—we study and apply salient lessons of craft to our own writing.”

Much of the course focuses on analysis of assigned readings and discussions about the author’s craft. Students write craft essays on style, conflict, subtext, point of view, abstract and concrete language, and character interiority. Students are also encouraged to submit to the School’s literary journal. Readings include The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, and They Say I Say.

The Art of the essay

“A lasting and relevant art form, the essay endures as a popular and useful genre of writing, executed by students, academics, writers, journalists, and politicians all over the world. Due to many essays’ relative short length and topicality, it may become the type of writing you read—and compose—the most in your adult life.”

In this course, students learn about various types of essays - personal, political, and opinon. Students explore argumentation, as well as rhetorical skills, and how to effectively persuade a reader. If you were to take this class, you will also learn how to compose a well-crafted personal essay for college applications. The course culminates in students writing an opinion essay on a topic of their own choosing, which will be considered for publication in Tusitala.

The Family Drama on Stage: Introduction to Dramatic Literature

“From Greek tragedy to contemporary drama, we will consider 2000 years of dramatic representations of love and betrayal, family secrets, sibling rivalry, and the pursuit of power within the microcosm of the family unit. We will view the family dynamic at its best and worst and consider the relationship between the past and the present, collective and individual memory, and the depth of what it means to belong.”

Students will study the “effect of social and historical contexts on the creation and reception of the genre by studying various texts and schools, including realism, tragedy, absurdism, and verse drama.”


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