English at George School

English at George School is a celebration of language and its ability to unite and enlighten us. Diverse reading lists range from Achebe to Austen, Twain to Tan, and your classes will be discussion-based and lively. Very lively.

Your teachers will help you hone your analytical powers through extensive critical reading and writing. They will help you cultivate your own voice and expand your imagination. You will leave class with insight into the lives of people from all walks of life.

Our Faculty

Poet Terry Culleton sometimes writes sonnets for his advisees’ report cards.

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Kim McGlynn enjoys the challenges of teaching students who challenge her, one another, and themselves.

English Courses

Literature and Composition I

This course centers on the theme of characters on journeys. Of particular interest are those who are undergoing the transition from youth to maturity. Students examine the various ways in which young people in literature negotiate this transition, weighing dependence and independence, family and friends, duty and passion, self-possession and love. They also explore these tensions in their own writing. Works studied in all sections of this course are J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and selected short stories. Other authors recently studied are Golding, Hughes, Potok, Shaw, Steinbeck, Tan, Twain, Wiesel, and Wright. The English Department participates with other departments in introducing important foundational skills for reading and writing across the curriculum. The English writing curriculum develops further, as it emerges from the reading, and introduces the students to a variety of expository forms, including descriptive, narrative, reminiscent, and personal essays. Students compile a portfolio of their work at the end of the year. The course also covers a core group of topics in grammar and mechanics, culminating in a test on these topics taken by all freshmen.

Open to: Freshmen

Literature and Composition II

The content of this course is organized around the theme of conversations in literature with a focus on American Literature. It celebrates, explores, and analyzes the power of language and literature to communicate meaning and experience. Texts are examined from the premise that there is not one ultimate version of reality or truth but rather that literature provides an imaginative, artistic, and technical entrée into the lives and minds of people from all walks of life. Students examine the ideas, experiences, and points of view presented in various texts in relation to each other. Learning to connect the experiences and ideas raised in the literature to the real world is a central part of the course. Through daily discussion and debate, students develop their ability to inquire, question, synthesize, and argue. Explicit study of rhetorical and literary craft prompts students to grow in their appreciation for how language and form influence meaning. Students grow in independent thinking through creative and critical writing with a particular emphasis on argumentative writing and passage analysis. Throughout the year, students work towards an understanding of how language is used to persuade and influence while developing their own facility with language to do the same.

Open to: Sophomores

AP English Language and Composition

AP Language and Composition has the same philosophy, approach, and content to Literature and Composition II. However, this is a fast-paced course which requires independent study and pays special attention to preparing students to take the AP English Language and Composition exam. All students are required to take the AP exam in May.

The content of this course is organized around the theme of conversations in literature with a focus on American Literature. It celebrates, explores, and analyzes the power of language and literature to communicate meaning and experience. Texts are examined from the premise that there is not one ultimate version of reality or truth but rather that literature provides an imaginative, artistic and technical entrée into the lives and minds of people from all walks of life. Students examine the ideas, experiences and points of view presented in various texts in relation to each other. Learning to connect the experiences and ideas raised in the literature to the real world is a central part of the course. Through daily discussion and debate, students develop their ability to inquire, question, synthesize, and argue. Explicit study of rhetorical and literary craft prompts students to grow in their appreciation for how language and form influence meaning. Students grow in independent thinking through creative and critical writing with a particular emphasis on argumentative writing and passage analysis. Throughout the year, students work towards an understanding of how language is used to persuade and influence while developing their own facility with language to do the same.

Open to: Sophomores

World Literature 1: Focus on the Americas

This course furthers students’ understanding that while literature is considered a product of the time and culture within which it was written, we strive also to look for universal understandings or transcendent beliefs that unify human existence or human culture.

Students learn that writers are often in communication with writing and writers of previous times, creating a discourse across time. The course examines the various roles that literature then plays in society and the nature of the knowledge acquired through literature. Through reflection and inquiry, students examine how their own experiences influence the way that they understand and respond to what they read. Students are expected to participate in class discussions every day, weighing various points of view, synthesizing ideas in relation to each other, and ultimately forming an opinion of their own.

Written and oral assignments are both creative and critical in their implementation and process, demanding an ever-increasing appreciation of the choices writers make in their work. These assignments take students through the process of gaining feedback, editing, and revising. Each term is a self-defined unit covering an aspect of World Literature, focusing on the skills of close reading, inquiry, writing, and speaking.

Open to: Juniors

IB HL World Literature 1: Focus on the Americas

This is the first in a two-year period of study which fulfills the requirements of the IB HL English Literature course. Students write an extended research paper on an American writer and a formal critical essay on a work in translation. Emphasis is placed on a student’s ability to respond independently to works they have not seen before. Students work towards written and oral commentaries which pay particular attention to the writer’s craft.

This course furthers students’ understanding that while literature is considered a product of the time and culture within which it was written, we strive also to look for universal understandings or transcendent beliefs that unify human existence or human culture.

Students learn that writers are often in communication with writing and writers of previous times, creating a discourse across time. The course examines the various roles that literature then plays in society and the nature of the knowledge acquired through literature. Through reflection and inquiry, students examine how their own experiences influence the way that they understand and respond to what they read. Students are expected to participate in class discussions every day, weighing various points of view, synthesizing ideas in relation to each other, and ultimately forming an opinion of their own.

Written and oral assignments are both creative and critical in their implementation and process, demanding an ever-increasing appreciation of the choices writers make in their work. These assignments take students through the process of gaining feedback, editing, and revising. Each term is a self-defined unit covering an aspect of World Literature, focusing on the skills of close reading, inquiry, writing, and speaking.

Open to: Juniors

IB SL World Literature

Classic and contemporary world texts are examined through literature, essays, and film in this course, as students learn to evaluate secondary sources and engage in deeper readings of the texts. Such treatment prepares them for the complexity and rigors of college analysis. Students explore thematic connections that run through classic and modern works in spite of their differing cultural traditions. Among the authors recently studied are Achebe, Atwood, Camus, Carver, Conrad, Ishiguro, Kafka, O’Connor, Olen Butler, Orwell, Shakespeare, and Sophocles. Students are expected to think independently, do close readings, and articulate their interpretations maturely and thoughtfully. Major assignments include oral presentations, critical commentaries, and essays that develop the analytical skills acquired in the junior year.

Open to: Seniors

IB HL World Literature 2

This course fulfills the expectations of the IB curriculum and prepare students for both the IB and AP exams. Students are expected to formulate complex and nuanced interpretations of literature independently and to question and challenge the interpretations of others. Excellent reading comprehension and attention to detail are assumed, as is the ability to move quickly to abstractions. Among the authors recently studied are Achebe, Austen, Chaucer, Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Greene, Kafka, the Romantic poets, Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Voltaire. Students must sit for either the IB HL or AP exam.

Open to: Seniors

IB HL World Literature 2—Writer’s Focus

This course fulfills the expectations of the IB curriculum and prepare students for both the IB and AP exams. Students are expected to formulate complex and nuanced interpretations of literature independently and to question and challenge the interpretations of others. Excellent reading comprehension and attention to detail are assumed, as is the ability to move quickly to abstractions. Among the authors recently studied are Achebe, Austen, Chaucer, Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Greene, Kafka, the Romantic poets, Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Voltaire.

The Writer’s Focus version of the course considers literature with a view towards developing a more fully articulated understanding of the art and the craft of writing poetry, drama, and prose fiction. In addition to literary discussion, Writer’s Focus classes features workshop-style critiquing sessions. Participants in the Writer’s Focus class should be committed creative writers who are comfortable having their work read aloud and critiqued by peers. Students must sit for either the IB HL or AP exam.

Open to: Seniors