The English Department engages students in critical thinking, imagination, empathy and self-understanding through reading, writing and discussion.Embracing literature’s power to instruct and delight, the department values curricular complexity and inspiration. Our literature program combines a core of landmark literary texts with a complement of varied and diverse works, cultivating the analytical skills needed for close textual analysis while fostering ethical awareness and an understanding of cultural, social, racial and historical backgrounds. Our literary curriculum celebrates intellectual engagement, cultural literacy and a lifelong appreciation of literature.
Our writing curriculum develops insightful, disciplined, thorough and coherent expression in a variety of rhetorical modes. Through expository writing, creative projects, public speaking, debate and personal narrative, students master the fundamentals of written expression, developing voice, confidence and verbal fluency. All of these modes invite students to explore a range of literary texts, synthesizing complex, disparate ideas in coherent language.
Active participation plays a central role in Prep’s English classes. Engaging in full-class and small-group explorations, Socratic seminars, debates and oral presentations, students apply course readings to their own experiences, sharpening their skills in close reading and broader interpretive argumentation. This emphasis on student-centered discussion clarifies moral values and highlights the timeless relevance of literature to our lives.
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Writing 7th Grade
“Describe a conversation with an adult that you’ll never forget.”
“Are you satisfied with your present age, or would you rather be younger or older?”
“Describe a turning point in your life, a time when a change in circumstances affected you.”
These are examples of daily writing prompts from this course, a wide-ranging exploration of narrative and creative composition. By giving students daily opportunities to write about what matters to them, and by emphasizing the skills of reflection, description and elaboration central to both personal and expository writing, this course lays the foundation for composition across Flintridge Prep’s broader curriculum.
English 7th Grade
Exploring authors from a variety of genres, students gain confidence in literary interpretation, using basic concepts such as plot structure, characterization, setting and theme. Works such as The Diary of Anne Frank, Of Mice and Men, Twelve Angry Men and Fahrenheit 451, along with short fiction and poetry, provide a framework for oral presentations and interpretive writing. Students develop a foundation in paragraph development and move forward to the multiple-paragraph essay, examining the relationships among composition, vocabulary and grammar. As a creative project, students produce video book trailers.
English 8th Grade
Encountering rich works such as Romeo and Juliet, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies, students refine the skills in close reading and insightful writing vital to effective literary analysis, with particular emphasis on symbolism, figurative language, theme and tone. Engaging in group projects, oral presentations and content-oriented compositions, students advance their skills in expository and creative writing, moving beyond the level of paragraph development to consider the essay as a whole and mastering more sophisticated techniques of narration, illustration and exposition.
Students travel across time and place via texts that address the search for self amid change and challenge, both internal and external. In this yearlong “writing boot camp,” students respond to novels, plays, short fiction, poetry and non-fiction, as well as to film, music and art. Students draft, revise, polish and complete written works in analytical, creative, personal, poetic and research-based modes, as well as honing their skills in presentations and visual projects. Core texts include Sophocles’ Antigone, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis, Shakespeare's Othello and an anthology of international authors. Students receive regular feedback from teachers, as well as self-critique and peer-edit each other’s work to develop writing voices that are strong, cogent and lively.
English 2 American Literature
This course connects canonical texts of our past to contemporary literature exploring life as it exists in the America we inhabit today. From Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, students explore how regional and historical contexts inform an author’s style, message and concerns. At the heart of this course is the questioning of the American dream. Through analytical and creative writing, through student-led discussions and through projects and presentations, students quest to discover whether this dream is attainable or merely a myth.
AP English Literature
Students in this course engage in the age-old conversation of the inward truth of the individual in conflict with the demands of society. Debating such rich, historically significant works as Crime and Punishment, Macbeth, Heart of Darkness and Pride and Prejudice, along with extensive poetry and some contemporary texts such as David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, the class emphasizes close textual analysis and complex expository writing. Students master structure, voice, diction and syntax in their compositions, producing a variety of analytical and creative compositions. In preparation for the AP examination, students also write a series of timed interpretive essays from past exams.
English 4: Identity Honors
This semester-long honors English course, taken by all seniors, combines a college lecture style with a culminating research project. The course examines how individuals search for personal identity in group, cultural and political contexts. During the first half of the course, students attend several lectures and one classroom discussion each week, introducing them to college-style teaching methods. The second half of the course features a scholarly research project with seminar-style feedback from peers and teachers, culminating in a celebration of student projects in a program of oral presentations.
English 4: The City in Literature Honors
Throughout its relatively brief history as a modern city, Los Angeles has been both the center and the subject of a wealth of culture and artistry. The class explores the rich, urban experience of Los Angeles through fiction, fact and film. This semester-long course is an active and curious cultural history in which we focus on the translation of classic L.A. texts from the page to the screen. Through the lenses of both literary and cinematic theory, students analyze major themes in the city’s history while looking closely at how those elements figure in the celluloid products of a Hollywood industry that “plays itself.”
English 4: Contemporary Fiction Honors
This class will explore a unique assemblage of diverse voices in contemporary literature through a combination of prose, poetry, and drama published since 2001. The most important facet of the course will be our collective effort to understand both how/why the literary imagination attempts to explain and examine the rapidly changing world around us. The course will supplement some of the more highly-regarded authors of the new millennium with selected pieces from classical literature to help understand the perennial complexities of the human predicament.
English 4: Shakespeare Honors
This course celebrates Shakespeare’s unique understanding of the richness, depth and passion of our shared experience. Embracing film and theatrical production, this course explores several plays from different genres—comedies, histories and tragedies—with side trips through several of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Students participate in open discussion, crafting both expository essays and creative responses to the readings.
English 4: Literature of Dissent Honors: Ghost Stories in Film and Literature
Do you believe in ghosts? Regardless of the answer, are you intrigued by the eerie, bone-chilling “pleasure of the shudder”? This course will explore the widely varied—and yet perhaps hauntingly predictable—genre of ghost fiction, from the classic Gothic tale to the modern psychological thriller to myriad works of writing and film crafted to send a chill up and down your spine. We will try our hand at creating our own spookiness while also seeking answers to such curriculum-based questions as: When are ghosts more than shadowy specters of the departed? Can we [not] see them as metaphors for various social constructs? Might they be our own subconscious emotions, such as guilt, fear, and frustration? What informs skepticism and what informs belief? How are gender, race and religion represented in these stories through time? And what is the significance of the haunted house? The course contains projects that are both creative and analytical.
English 4: Literature of Dissent: Contemporary Science & Speculative Fiction
This course is a study in the history of science fiction from its nineteenth-century precursors to the present and beyond. The course will pay special attention to the shift in the genre's status, from respectable work of the imagination ("speculative fiction") to despised escapist entertainment ("pulp") and back, before it became a spectrum of subgenres (cyberpunk, horror, "literary,” etc.). The interpretation of the science fiction texts is thus set within the history of science fiction readers, publishers and writers, from the earliest pulps to massive "convergence culture" science fiction that straddles books, film, tv, and internet fandom. All facets and outlets of the genre will be source material for the mixed lecture and discussion course format.
Imitation of Genius: Creative Writing
Students in this class examine the universal principles that inform all good writing—essays, short stories, speeches, blogs, screenplays, etc.—and apply these principles to their own work. The class considers the writer’s essential questions: What ideas do I want to convey? Who is my audience? What is the form that best suits my purpose?
Form and structure are paramount to this course. Examining models of effective writing, students recognize elements of form and emulate these elements in their own writing, developing precision, economy, style, and voice, along with rhythm, tone, balance, and fluidity.
This fourth-year English class expects both student autonomy and collaboration, encouraging regular peer feedback on works in progress.