2 semesters, 1 credit
Prerequisite: English III or AP English Literature and Composition
English IV students select from a range of course offerings. Options shift from year to year, based on student interest and schedule availability.
-Murder and Mayhem: The Villain in Literature
Murder and Mayhem will explore the “dark side” of the human character. In this course, we will read novels, plays, poetry, short stories and essays as a way to speak and write about the nature of evil. We will explore society and the human mind in order to discover what makes people do wrong, and we will study the impact of retribution, both individual and societal, for wrongs done. What does it take to be a villain? What is the source of evil? Who is to blame if one engages in villainous activities—the individual? Society? The family/ neighborhood/ environment in which the person is raised? Are we villains if we do not actively confront evil? Is redemption possible? Texts may include The Inferno, Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, Heart of Darkness, Native Son and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
-Rhetoric: Conflict in the Classroom
LJCDS has been working toward building and sustaining a culture of dignity as outlined by author Donna Hicks, Ph.D. Our efforts recognize that many traditional school practices fail to enhance dignity and sometimes even harm it. This course aims to ask and answer important questions about ethics, justice and conflict resolution, with an eye toward LJCDS’ vision of “Leading with Dignity.” Please note that this is NOT a course that aims to accept one philosophy as a universal truth. Dissent, disagreement and debate will be at the epicenter of our conversations, and we will read from a wide variety of texts in order to form a robust understanding of what each of us stands for. Eventually, our goal will be to create a shared vision for the future that takes all beliefs, opinions and philosophies into account. The final project takes the form of a proposal to the head of school to enhance practices that support the dignity of members of our community.
-Tragedy, Triumph and Teenagers
This course will explore the joy and heartaches experienced and the wisdom gained from the teenage years. What does it mean to grow up in America? How does the meaning shift according to gender and cultural backgrounds? What are the rites of passage, and why are they important? What types of moral/ethical growth take place? Texts may include The Bluest Eye, A Lesson Before Dying, The Things They Carried, Am I Blue? Coming out from the Silence, Ceremony and The Joy Luck Club, as well as essays and short stories.
-Gender Studies: The Legacy of Adam and Eve
Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary multicultural course designed to address issues pertinent to gender identity in the areas of writing, coming of age, relationships, politics, health and bridging the cultures. We will be discussing topics such as health care, eating disorders, civil rights violations, laws affecting gender equity, sexism in the classroom and workplace, societal myths about gender roles, media propaganda and in general, what teens learn about themselves as they become adults.
Creative Writing 101 is a prose-based writing workshop (with accompanying contemporary readings) drawing on narrative strategies and the distinctive forms and techniques of memoir, fiction, travel and food writing, personal essay, art, cultural criticism, journalistic reportage, etc. Students will learn how to read like a writer (with an eye not only toward content but for qualities of form and language) and make reading an active part of their writing practice. Typically, workshops are free-wheeling explorations of form, style and content and this one will be no different.
How have marvels—or disasters—of innovation like electricity and computing shaped society and artists’ reactions to the changes? What constitutes a social ideal? How do humans aim for utopia while dystopia is the inevitable result? Authors of dystopian fiction create fantastical tales of joy and horror that mirror aspects of the human condition in culture. The semester is devoted to reading and critiquing dystopian writing of the past century. In the process, students will reflect on contemporary society’s social/moral/technological/medical advancements and failures. Sample readings include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The texts will be coupled with post-apocalyptic films such as Blade Runner and I Am Legend.
-World Beat: African and African Diaspora Literature
World Beat will follow the historical and political path of African literature beginning with a great legacy of oral literature to the contemporary African novel and exploring the literary arts from countries such as Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda and on to the African Diaspora created by the slave trade. As countries, cultures and individuals are confronted by outside forces, whether it is colonialism, political corruption, censorship, genocide, or migration to unfamiliar destinations, the necessary adaptation forces an examination of the tenets of identity and the notion of home. Literature allows us to experience the profound influence of culture through the lives of characters struggling to define themselves in relation to race, gender, religion, politics and nationality. The perspective through which people view unfamiliar values, expectations, modes of expression and standards of beauty will also force us to explore our own sense of the familiar and foreign.