The English Department at Colorado Rocky Mountain School concerns itself with the essentials of college preparation: reading comprehension, vocabulary building, and analytical writing. Courses in English offer varied experiences in reading and writing exercises, with an overall goal of the students’ complete engagement with the texts. At the same time, values are taught through literature, and students graduate with the background and skill level that colleges expect.
The expectation is that students graduate with sophisticated writing skills. Students begin in the 9th grade learning sentence and paragraph structures, practicing various forms of writing, and they proceed to the full development of the thesis statement and formation of the critical essay in the 10th grade. As juniors, students hone their essay writing skills and spend a significant portion of their year refining a major research paper. In their senior year, students refine the skills of expository writing and ultimately achieve much more independent responses to the literature they read. Library-research and public-speaking skills are also emphasized in each year of English. The 9th, 10th, and 11th grade English and history teachers collaborate to teach core interdisciplinary themes. For non-native English speakers, please see .
English 9: World Literature
This course is designed to challenge students to become more dynamic readers of the texts they encounter and help them begin to master the skills and conventions necessary to fulfill a variety of academic tasks. The course addresses both expository writing and literary analysis. Revision is a critical component of each assignment, and students are asked not only to edit drafts for sentence-level clarity but also to rework holistic features of their essay, including development, organizational strategy, and focus. The course also provides an overview of literary genres. Short fiction, drama, and the novel form are considered. Students read cross-culturally in a variety of genres and are introduced to some of the basic concepts of literary analysis (the significance of character development, the use of figurative language, etc.). Additionally, this course is closely aligned with the thematic units from World Geography and utilizes non-Western texts to bring student focus to current global issues. Texts may include: The Alchemist, Persepolis 1 and 2, A Long Way Gone, The Translator, Krik? Krak!, Palestine, and Fahrenheit 451.
English 10: Literature of the Western World
This course examines the foundations and history of the Western literary tradition. Students will explore texts considered to be essential reading ranging from The Bible to Shakespeare, Homer to Whitman, and onwards into the Modernist movement of the 20th Century. Students will be instructed in the composition of analytic and argumentative essays which clearly demonstrate their understanding of the texts, the writing process, and sound argumentation. This course is closely aligned with History of the Western World through thematic units, texts, and chronologic progression. Texts may include: The Iliad, The Odyssey, Antigone, Beowulf, Othello, Candide, Frankenstein, as well as a host of excerpts from other seminal texts that reflect Western thinking and culture.
English 10: Honors Literature of the Western World
This course covers the same general material as Western World Literature, but requires that students explore texts, literary periods, and authors in a depth and breadth greater than the regular section. Students in Honors Western World Literature will be expected to provide more sophisticated commentary and analysis, and they will also be required to complete more readings and produce more writing than their non-Honors counterparts. Consequently, the Honors student will gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the Western canon, and will also develop a strong sense of writing composition and communication.
English 11: American Literature
This course for juniors explores the depth and breadth of American literature. Designed to be thematically aligned with the American History curriculum, students will read texts that follow four main themes: American Native, American Ideas, American Other, and American World. In each case, the text selection reflects both the variety of American writing and its progression as a coherent body of work. Students are expected to write frequently both in class and out, in the form of short-response papers and longer essays. This course emphasizes thesis generation and support, argumentation, and an introduction to critical research. Texts may include: Fools Crow, Walden, Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, The Sun Also Rises, Grapes of Wrath, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and supplemental short fiction and poetry.
AP English Literature
AP English Literature engages students in careful reading and critical analysis of literature from a wide array of literary genres. Without question, the course sets and maintains a challenging pace that mirrors a college-level syllabus and is geared for both enrichment and preparation for the AP exam. In spite of the pace, students are expected to read deliberately and thoroughly, taking the time necessary to fully understand a selection’s literary complexities. The method for the approach to reading at the AP level includes the experience, interpretation, and evaluation of literature. The readings are selected from the 16th through the 20th century, and with each text, students read a variety of criticism and compose timed AP writing samples graded on the AP scale. Additional evaluations include periodic AP multiple-choice tests, reading quizzes, objective tests, and term papers. This course is offered to juniors as an alternative curriculum to the American Literature course, and thus focuses heavily on the American texts suggested by the AP board. Additional non-American texts are used to supplement. Texts may include: Hamlet, Oedipus, Walden, Leaves of Grass, The Scarlet Letter, The Wasteland, and others. Students should seek a teacher recommendation before entering this course.
Seniors at CRMS are given the opportunity to take two semester-long electives. In a typical year, seniors may choose from a total of six electives. Course offerings vary from year to year. Some are intended as survey courses; others concentrate on a single author or idea; still others offer students a chance to work on their own creative writing. Recent Senior English electives have included:
This course seeks to unleash the creative power of thought, awareness, and circumstance through the written word. The class reads, reviews, and discusses the various tenets and elements that are intrinsic to short fiction and its craft. The goal is to take a writer’s individual thought and tap into that which is universal, human, and essential. This course demands self-discipline, self-awareness, and an inherent respect for the process of critiques and edits. Readings may include Louise Erdich’s The Shawl, Vladimir Nabokov’s The Word, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, Tobias Wolff’s A Federal Offense, and Zora Neale Hurston’s How it Feels to be Colored Me.
A master of metaphor, artful dialogue, and the expression of eternal humanistic themes, William Shakespeare remains a ubiquitous influence on language and literature some 400 years after writing his final play. This course will delve into Shakespeare’s remarkable use of the English language and his development of unforgettable characters as students survey a number of his comedies and tragedies. Students will access Shakespeare’s canon through readings of his work as well as viewings of film and stage productions (including modern interpretations and adaptations), looking at the plays’ historical backgrounds and analyzing their ongoing thematic value as they go. Readings may include: The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.
The Graphic Novel as Literature
The graphic novel occupies a place in a magical twilight between literature and film, combining the experiential nature of film with the active engagement that literature demands. This combination of artistic forms creates a new and unique intellectual experience for readers. Graphic novels arrived in the cultural consciousness in 1992 when Art Spiegelman won a special Pulitzer for Maus, which is a graphic novel about his father’s experiences during the Holocaust. Students will survey the origins of the graphic novel, both in early newspaper comic strips and in modern art of the early 20th Century. Students will also explore the rich contemporary world of the graphic novel, which explores subject, form, and narrative in ways that differ from the novel. Authors/artists include R. Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Marjane Satrapi, Charles Burns, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Julie Doucet, Chris Ware, Allison Bechdel, and Adrian Tomine.