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Course Descriptions

Freshman Courses

1A & 1B

All freshmen who are not enrolled in Honors English take 1A and 1B. Together they serve as an introduction to world mythology and literary genres. In 1A students read poetry, short stories and drama. In 1B students review world mythology and study the form of the novel. Students learn to discern literal meaning in these works and understand the literary techniques employed by successful novelists. They learn how to understand an author’s purpose and to understand what makes the novel a specific literary genre. Half of the freshman class will take 1A in the fall while the other half will take 1B.  Both sections are unique; therefore, they may be taken out of sequence.


Grade Level: 9

Prerequisites: None



Academic Literacy

This course is designed for students who need additional support to succeed in English.  This class is only open to incoming Freshmen, who are preselected based upon their CST English performance.  This class is a required course that must be taken in addition to the student's regularly enrolled Ninth Grade 1 & 2 program.  Students will participate in a comprehensive program designed to support their continuing academic success and to facilitate their continuing literacy growth.  Students will be taught study skills and academic habits appropriate for Lowell's rigorous academic environment.  Students will be taught skills and strategies for comprehending and producing sophisticated academic texts (both written and oral). Students will develop a peer network intended to foster both support and success.

Grade Level: 9

Prerequisites: Preselected based on CST English performance


Sophomore Courses


With an emphasis on adolescent literature, students read novels, short stories, plays, and poems about experiences such as loss of innocence, initiation into adulthood and self discovery. The selections also reflect the cultural mosaic that constitutes America’s diverse population. Students consider the cultural context of each literary work and pay close attention to its language. Students continue the process of mastering the literary terms taught in 1A & 1B, and the learn some new ones as well. Students practice essay structure and write papers both with the reading and with their personal experiences.


Grade Level: 10                                      



Students read writers of different ethnic backgrounds and consequently, learn about the great diversity of human experience. These selections reflect the cultural mosaic that constitutes America’s diverse population. Students also look for formal and thematic similarities between literary works about quite different ethnic subcultures. As in 2A, they continue to understand, discuss, and write about mythic elements in literature, and continue to review and use literary terms in their essays and class discussions.


Grade Level: 10                                    


2B/Writing for publication

The course emphasized a journalistic approach to the literature studied in 2B. Students use the literature as source material to explore and develop skills in new writing, news gathering and news editing. Tailored especially for students interested in preparing themselves to participate on the staff of the school newspaper, the course satisfies the requirements for both 2B and Journalism 1.


Grade Level: 10                                      


10th Grade English Honors(2AH)

Students read books that share the theme of the adolescent in literature. They discuss issues involving the loss of innocence, initiation into adulthood and self-discovery. The protagonists in these works undertake a literal or symbolic journey resulting in a clearer understanding of themselves. Students pay close attention to the author’s styles as evidenced by use of diction and syntax. They are required to recognize and master terms such as symbol, foreshadowing, irony, imagery, metaphor presented, soundly supported theses.

Grade Level: 10                                     


10th Grade English Honors (2BH)

The books read in English 2BH that deal with adult problems and require the examination of religious, ethical, philosophical and even economic issues. English 2BH explores nineteenth-century and twentieth-century author’s depiction of the health of sickness of our society. Although the settlement of America was spurred by the immigrants’ hope of a better life, nineteenth-century writers, such as Hawthorne and Melville, perceived man’s darker nature and questioned his capacity to realize such a goal. Emerson and Whitman, who followed those doubters, reaffirmed a faith in man’s essential goodness and creativity. This course examines both threads of American literature.

Grade Level: 10                                     



Junior/Senior Courses  (Juniors and seniors may not get their first choices, due to book availability and scheduling demands) 


American Literature

Students read American novels, stories, poems and plays.  In this course, however, the texts are more numerous and more challenging than in Ethnic Literature.  Studying writers as diverse as Hawthorne and Hemingway, students think, talk and write about differing visions of American life.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

American Literature 2: The short story

The purpose of this course is to study current literature solely through the form of the short story.  Though early American authors such as Hawthorne and Poe will be examined for their importance as literary influences, the course will focus on writers currently publishing in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper’s.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Comedy and Satire

This course is a survey of comic and satiric material from its origins in classical drama to its expressions in modern novels, poems and plays.  Class material is drawn from Greek and Latin writers, as well as from English, American and European writers of all periods.  Students examine definitions of comedy and satire, study theories of comedy and read representative literature.  In addition to literary examples of comedy and satire, frequent reference is made to cinematic comedy and to other graphic modes of humor.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Current Literature

Students read literature of the last thirty years, considering experiments in language and form.  The course stimulates discussion and writing about values and predicaments which are—or appear to be—uniquely contemporary.  Students develop insight into present day life and literature through thoughtful analysis of timely topics.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

English and European Literature 1

The insistence on personal freedom, the respect for civic order, and pragmatic inventiveness are often thought to be distinctly English.  Students will read major works by authors such as Joyce, Tennyson, Swift, Chaucer and Orwell while considering to what extent these qualities have become American qualities as well.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

English and European Literature 2: Gothic Literature

Why do we scare ourselves? Why do we seek out movies and books that give us the creeps? This course explores the Gothic tradition of literature that thrills and chills, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk. How do these authors scare their readers and for what purpose? What do such shocking works reveal about the societies that produced them and about human nature itself?

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Epic and Myth

Students read literature reflecting mythological themes and allusions that permeate Western thought and literature.  They learn that mythology represents man’s attempt to understand his place in the universe.  They explore the hero or heroine in the epic as the embodiment of diverse cultural values and ideals and review the vocabulary and ideas of modern study such as psychology, anthropology and history.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Literature and Philosophy

Students are introduced to the specific skills of reading, analyzing and writing about philosophy texts and philosophical stories, poems and novels.  In addition, students develop critical thinking skills by exploring questions: What is philosophy?  How and why did it develop?  What is its relevance today?  Classroom discussion and written work focus on understanding philosophical positions.  Students analyze the arguments advanced in support of these positions and write essays comparing and criticizing various philosophical issues.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Literature and Philosophy: The Ethics of Eating

Sustainably farmed carrots, pastured chicken eggs, grass-fed beef, Frankenfoods: What does it all mean, and what does it have to do with us? This course will explore food-production and consumption issues, seeking answers to essential questions that are central to the way we live our lives. While the course will naturally incorporate some discussion of the science related to the major topics and essential questions, its primary focus will be on the aesthetic, cultural, moral and ethical dimensions of the many choices we make each day when we decide what to eat.  

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Literature and Psychology

Why does Lady Macbeth keep trying to wash away that damned (invisible) spot? Why can’t Willy Loman stop telling those ridiculous lies? What’s the deal with that hideous portrait in Dorian Gray’s attic? This course will use basic Freudian concepts regarding the id, ego, and superego, defense mechanisms, and more in order to answer such questions. Students will study basic psychological theory and terminology in order to have a common conceptual basis and language for examining character development and motivation in literature. The course’s dramas, novels, and short stories present psychological issues in a clear manner suitable for students who are beginners in this type of literary analysis.

Grade Level:11-12                                 

Film as Literature

Students enrolled in this upper-division elective English course study film both as an art form and as a form of communication.  They are taught how to “read” a film, just as students who study literature are taught to “see” how writers use different literary forms and conventions to achieve specific effects.  Students also study specific film genres and learn to recognize a film’s purpose.  They learn to recognize and understand the subtext of a film and recognize the technical and artistic factors that contribute to the overall merit of a film.  Students learn to appreciate the roles of those who collaborate on the making of a film.  They learn to write and speak knowledgeably about film, when reviewing a single film or when comparing and contrasting two or more films.

Grade Level:11-12                                 

The Novel

The emphasis in this course is on the history and development of the novel.  Students review literary terms such as irony, symbol, motif and theme through close reading of the literature and guided discussion.

Grade Level: 11-12                                 

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Students in this class use Science Fiction and Fantasy texts to facilitate social and political discussions.  Psychological and biographical inquiries and interpretations are employed.  Biblical allusions are studied.  Issues range from utopias to the technological world and the role of science and technology on the development of the human race.

Grade Level:11-12                                 


Students read intensively rather than extensively, studying a selection of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, developing their ability to read literature of complexity—the best that has been thought and said in English.  They learn specific skills: the use of context clues, the recognition of rhetorical figures and literary techniques.

Grade Level:11-12                                 

Advanced Composition

Students write persuasive essays in response to the arguments of others—taking positions, applying clear criteria and then supporting their positions with evidence from literature or other sources.  The goal of the course is for students to learn to write with controlled purpose and tone.

Grade Level:11-12                                 

Expository Writing

Students write essays appropriate to particular audiences.  In each essay, students develop an expository thesis, as well as two or more sub-points in support of that thesis.  Students learn to use rhetorical modes such as comparison-contrast, cause-effect, analogy and classification.  In their essays students present different forms of evidence from personal experience and reading.

Grade Level:11