English

Overview

The English department’s primary objective is to develop students into highly effective readers, writers, and thinkers. Studying English requires imagination, discipline, and a mind open to new possibilities. Our classrooms are a cooperative environment where students are encouraged to lead discussions, discuss complex topics, and articulate their ideas. The acquisition of fundamental skills (grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing) is approached as a separate topic in the freshman and sophomore years and through course content in the junior and senior years. The first three years of the curriculum involve the study of the classics to the contemporary. In each course, careful reading, thoughtful discussion, and regular formal and informal writing are expected. In the senior year, students have the unique option to take electives of their choice, including opportunities to write for the literary and art magazine, study classic adventure novels, delve further into Shakespeare, or study the process of turning novels into screenplays. Our program focuses on analysis and expression—the fundamental requirements for later success.

Suffield’s English curriculum teaches students to:
Write an effectively organized and thorough analytical essay in correct, standard English
Use acquired skills to analyze and interpret imaginative literature
Hone skills in writing, both analytically and creatively
Develop a thesis and defend it, orally and in writing

Course Descriptions

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • + Beginning Literature

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed for students whose native language is not English and introduces them to American and international stories and novels that are typical for a high school English course. The texts expose students to literature that offers various points of view, rich literary devices, life lessons, and opportunities for critical thinking. Students will learn techniques to increase their reading rate, word recognition, and comprehension skills while strengthening their knowledge of authors, basic literary terms, and genres. The texts will also provide the subject matter for a variety of oral and written practice throughout the year. Writing will focus on both form and expression, and students will express themselves orally in conversation, discussions and presentations. By the end of the year, students will acquire the skills necessary for success in Suffield’s English courses. Prerequisite: Multiple-measures assessment (placement test).
  • + English I

    Term: Full year
    English I is a course that builds skills. It recognizes that students enter Suffield with a wide range of backgrounds in the study of English. The course begins with a reading of short stories and uses these to introduce a variety of literary terms and story elements that are expanded upon all year. From short stories, students advance to the reading of drama and novels, then end the year with a study of poetry. Thinking and analytical skills are developed as the level of sophistication increases with the texts. In addition, each term is augmented with the formal study of grammar and vocabulary. At the heart of the course is the teaching of writing skills. Students begin the fall by reviewing the elements of a well-crafted paragraph. As the year progresses, students learn to create well-developed essays. At all times, students are encouraged to become active thinkers and participants in class discussion. Course texts include English Workshop, Shostak’s Vocabulary Workshop, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, The Catcher in the Rye, and selected poetry.
  • + English I Honors

    Term: Full year
    English I Honors is a course designed for the passionate student of literature whose skills are beyond the scope of the regular English I curriculum. The themes of the course can be described as a journey of self-identity as illustrated in the classic The Catcher in the Rye and the memoir This Boy’s Life, a journey of identity within one’s place in the family as depicted in Ordinary People and Pride and Prejudice, and finally, a journey of identity through the imagination as presented in The Secret Life of Bees, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the short stories of Gabriel García Márquez. English I Honors focuses deliberately and methodically on improving analytical writing. Weekly writing workshops cover topics from advanced issues of grammar to structure of formal essays and incorporation of textual material and analysis. An annotated bibliography project is incorporated into the winter term. Vocabulary skills are developed throughout the year using Jerome Shostak’s Vocabulary Workshop. Prerequisite: Permission of the academic dean.
  • + English II

    Term: Full year
    English II is a course aimed at developing students’ reading, writing, and discussion skills. Different genres are explored including short stories, novels, drama, and poetry. Readings include short fiction by Poe, Jackson, Hemingway, and Faulkner, and texts such as The Odyssey, Othello, A Streetcar Named Desire, Oedipus Rex, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. One of the primary goals of this course is to develop a common language for literary analysis. Our exploration of literature also includes the thematic links that tie short stories and novels together. Major topics for discussion include illusion and reality, loyalty and betrayal, first impressions and deeper knowledge, and innocence and experience. Students build analytical writing skills with emphasis on thesis development, quotation analysis, and revision. Significant emphasis is placed on vocabulary study with the goal of developing more effective written and verbal skills. Students also continue to develop grammar skills through class exercises and writing assignments. Class participation is a major feature of the course. Students are encouraged to contribute to daily discussions in order to develop their confidence, voice, and interpretative opinions.
  • + English II Honors

    Term: Full year
    English II Honors is offered to students who have been recommended by their previous year’s teachers or who are deemed qualified by the academic dean. Students entering English II Honors have well-developed writing skills and a sincere interest in exploring all forms of literature at a challenging level. Formal vocabulary study is also part of the course. The fall semester is spent studying a diverse group of poets and learning how to analyze their poetry. The winter semester presents a survey of drama, which begins with classic Greek tragedy and moves forward to the present. The spring focuses on fiction and essays. Students are expected to contribute actively to class discussions, and essays are assigned on a regular basis. Course texts include An Introduction to Poetry, Oedipus Rex, Othello, Hedda Gabler, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fences, “The Dead, The Bear,” and “The Overcoat.” Prerequisite: Permission of the department chair or academic dean.
  • + English III

    Term: Full year
    English III is a survey of American literature aimed at further developing analytical writing and close-reading skills. This course illuminates ideas and movements of intellectual and literary history, such as Romanticism, Realism, and Modernism, as they relate to American authors. In addition, English III explores a constellation of themes: the question of the American identity, the fashioning and evolution of the American Dream, the exploration of the American landscape, and various issues in relation to American culture. Students learn to appreciate all literary genres, each studied in the framework of literary history. Analytical essays are composed throughout the year, and a year-long, focused vocabulary study supplements the reading and writing assignments. Issues of grammar are studied in context. Major works include The Scarlet Letter, the poetry of Dickinson and Whitman, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Awakening, The Great Gatsby, Fences, and selections of modern American poetry. Our primary text, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, allows individual teachers to supplement the curriculum with additional selections.
  • + English III Honors

    Term: Full Year
    This course is specially designed for students who revel in reading quickly with a high degree of comprehension, whose analytical writing is already advanced, and who exhibit insatiable curiosity about literature. While it is not officially an AP course, students are prepared for and are required to take the English Literature and Composition AP Exam in May. In addition, the course continues work done on vocabulary in the freshman and sophomore years using Jerome Shostak’s Vocabulary Workshop series. Quizzes and cumulative tests are given in the question format of the SAT and AP. Students write papers throughout the year on topics of an interpretive and analytical nature. The course’s major emphasis is a survey of American literature. Honors English III students are expected to move through this survey rapidly and more thoroughly than their peers in the standard level. Major titles in this section include The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, My Antonia, The Awakening, The Age of Innocence, The Sun Also Rises and The Great Gatsby. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is also contextualized within an intensive examination of the dramatic tradition. Plays examined in this also unit include Macbeth, Hamlet, and Doctor Faustus. In the spring, Whitman and Dickinson, are placed within the lyric tradition with other major poets, such as Shakespeare and Donne. During this focus, each student produces a critical research paper on the work of a poet of his or her own choosing. Prerequisite: Permission of the department chair or academic dean.

12th Grade English Program

Seniors study English following one of three paths. The first path is composed of term electives. Seniors in this program take a common elective (English IV) in the fall term and then select their course of study for the winter and spring terms. The second path is pursued by most post-graduates. These students take English V in the fall and then select their course of study for the winter and spring terms. The third path is an honors curriculum that is taught within the context of a full-year course. Below are the courses.

List of 12 frequently asked questions.

  • + English IV

    Term: Fall
    This course is designed to fulfill two functions for Suffield seniors. Chronologically, its first function is to assist students in the college admissions process by providing feedback on college essays. Students read a selection of sophisticated short stories as they work on their essays, paying particular attention to character development. The second and overarching function of this course is to continue students’ exploration of foundational literature in its different forms. In addition to the short stories, they read Hamlet, and sonnets of Donne and Shakespeare. Writing assignments are frequent, and students are expected to be active participants in discussions. In sum, they begin to bridge the gap between high school and college English courses.
  • + English V

    Term: Fall
    This course is designed for post-graduate students who have already completed four years of high school English. Its focus is on the close reading and accurate analysis of prose fiction, poetry, and drama. During the term, the students take several reading quizzes and write many three-to-five page papers. The goal of these writing assignments is to reveal, through careful organization and thorough documentation, the theme of each work. The papers are evaluated on their thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and control of standard written English. The intention of this course is to further hone the writing skills of students in preparation for their college experience.
  • + English IV Honors

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed for students with advanced skills who take full advantage of a challenging and rich curriculum. The course prepares students for undergraduate work in English, and is intended as a survey of the major developments in British literature, from its beginnings through the 20th century. The course begins with Beowulf, and continues to trace the developments of the language by examining Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Students approach the 18th century through Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and practice writing essays of steadily increasing length. Our study of the 19th century introduces students to the major Romantic poets in the context of the revolutionary philosophies of their time. Students produce an extensive critical essay, and the winter term finishes with discussions of major Victorian poems and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, followed by a presentation on a 19th century novel of each student’s choice. The spring term uses novels, poetry, and plays to explore the breakdown and experiment of language that characterize the modern period. Students delve into novels by Joyce and Woolf, the poetry of such authors as Yeats, Owen, and Eliot, and conclude with plays by Beckett and Stoppard. Highly focused papers provide students an opportunity to hone their skills. Prerequisite: Permission of the department chair or academic dean.
  • + Answering The Bell: The Role of the Servant in Literature

    Term: Winter and Spring
    The current popularity of the BBC series Downton Abbey illustrates that, though not as much a part of our contemporary society, people are still as fascinated today with those who polish the silver spoon as those who eat from it. Servants play a critical role in running households and therefore have a unique glimpse into the intimate lives of those they serve. This places the role of the servant in literature in an unparalleled place among minor characters; they are within and outside of the action. Whether they are the traditional British butler, the upscale Manhattan nanny, or the southern African American domestic worker, servants witness and often quietly influence the lives of the main characters. Though these main characters have all the wealth and power society esteems, the servant is often the character in the work that wields unseen power. Some authors even chose to focus on the servant’s perspective as the main character due to this driving tension. This course will examine the servant in works such as Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, Bronte’s nineteenth century classic, Jane Eyre, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, The Remains of the Day. We will also read about more Americanized versions of servants in The Help and The Nanny Diaries. Cinematic versions of some of the works will also be viewed and compared. Students will write several short papers as well as a comparative essay.
  • + American Studies

    Term: Winter and Spring
    The American Studies course focuses on an historical issue that has local as well as national implications. With an appreciation for the pedagogy of “place-based” learning, some of the course’s underlying goals are for students to develop an appreciation forpreserving historical resources and an awareness of the history of our campus (www.promiseofplace.org). This year’s class will conduct a comprehensive study about the Underground Railroad that existed in our local area during the nineteenth century. Three documented lines of the UGRR traveled north into Farmington, and one traveled through Hartford and Bloomfield. All four lines converged on Springfield and eventually Northampton, Massachusetts. Therefore, the class will investigate several homes in our town that are, according to legend and lore, safe houses for fugitive slaves along these documented lines. Students will visit our local historical societies as well as the State Library in Hartford to examine documents shedding light on the African American history important to our investigation. The class will also go on some local field trips to examine sites on the Connecticut Freedom Trail that are similar to ones in Suffield. Cultivating a project based dynamic, students will work as a team to explore a variety of ways to conduct our challenging research, as many fugitive assistants did not leave traces of their illegal activity. The class will work as a team in May to make a presentation to the community of what we learned about the Underground Railroad. In terms of writing skills, each student will create an inventory of their strengths and weaknesses as a writer. We will tap into these strengths and challenge these weaknesses when we break into research groups. We will also take time to address writing issues important for each writer in the class. Given the challenges of proving and documenting an Underground Railroad site, students will be conducting a good deal of research and writing.
  • + Classic Adventure Stories

    Term: Winter and Spring
    This course is designed to introduce seniors to a selection of adventure stories and authors. In addition, several movies are shown to augment the understanding of the adventure story. As the two terms progress, students explore the characters, elements, and motifs central to these works. They learn to define what constitutes heroic behavior and how to differentiate between the respected opponent and the vile enemy. Journeys and quests are taken to alien lands where strange new beings, customs, dangers, and events constantly appear. Course texts have included Havelock the Dane,A Night to Remember, King Solomon’s Mines, Tarzan of the Apes, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Films have included The Hero’s Journey, Zulu, Search for the Titanic, Robin Hood, Stage Coach,and The Princess Bride.
  • + Creative Writing

    Term: Winter and Spring
    This course provides an opportunity for students to move away from the analytical essay and to explore different forms of writing. Over the course of two terms, students will continue to read and discuss published writing, but they will use those pieces as inspiration to develop their own work in their own style. They will learn to give useful feedback as part of a writers’ group, and to receive feedback from their peers—sometimes a difficult process. By the end of the year, all students will have produced an audio piece using GarageBand, learning to write for oral presentation. Their finalexam will be a portfolio with their best poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, and dramatic scripts, as well as a self-assessment of their own work. The only requirement for this course is the correct attitude: a willingness to put intense effort into all forms of writing and to support peers in their effort to become better writers. Being a “good writer” at the moment is not necessary!
  • + Gothic Literature: It Was A Dark & Stormy Night

    Term: Winter and Spring
    Gothic tales have been a staple of popular literature since the 18th century. These stories of ghosts, curses, and other supernatural elements are the forerunner of modern mystery and science fiction novels (and, yes, the Twilight series as well). This course will trace the development of the Gothic genre, from its beginnings with Horace Walpole’s classic The Castle of Otranto through modern Gothic tales like Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. Students will learn to identify the characteristics of the genre and to recognize elements of the Gothic in other works. Course texts will include works such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Students will also complete an independent study project on a Gothic work of their choice.
  • + Greek Literature

    Term: Winter and Spring
    The purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of the ancient Greek world through readings, lectures, and other media. Students explore the ancient Greek model of the world’s creation and learn about Greek gods and goddesses; they read the myths, travel with the heroes, and relive the great battles and adventures. Students are assigned essays and projects regularly; they are also expected to contribute actively to class discussion. Course texts may vary from year to year but have regularly included Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, Homer’s Odyssey, and three plays: Agamemnon, Lysistrata, and The Bacchae.
  • + Philosophy, Faith, and Fiction

    Term: Winter and Spring
    Supplementing some of the content of the Comparative Religions class (offered every other year) with fiction and essays, this course will provide students with an education in the world’s major religions through memoirs, poetry, and fiction. The course will include some of the classic texts of Eastern thought, including The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana, and the Tao Te Ching, while adding some levity with The Tao of Pooh (yes, Winnie the Pooh). We will also examine the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and deviations from those ideas through essays, memoirs, novels, and film. Students will have the opportunity to explore their own interests through small research assignments and reflective essays; they will also learn how to understand character motivation and author’s intention better because of their understanding of philosophical or religious affiliation. This is a great opportunity to learn about religions and philosophies that are new to you, while also learning something new about those that are more familiar. By the end of the course, students will have read some great classic texts, and they will have a better understanding about the religious world in which we live.
  • + Shakespear’s Comedies and Romances

    Term: Winter and Spring
    How can modern readers master Shakespeare’s challenging language? With a good laugh, of course! By senior year most Suffield students know several of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Now it is time to appreciate the Bard’s genius through his ability to create thoughtful laughter and artful romance. This course will devote the first week of the class to establish everyone’s comfort level of understanding Elizabethan English. We will then build islands of competency around Shakespeare’s language and dramatic tools. Elizabethan puns and comic put-downs will be rolling off the tongues of students by the end of week three. Throughout the whole course students will truly develop an appreciation for why Shakespeare commands the title of one of the greatest writers in English. Traditional papers will be balanced with technology projects and journal assignments. The class will try to attend a local performance of one of our plays. Plays include: Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest. We will also take advantage of a wide range of movies in order to help us improveour understanding of Elizabethan language. Assessments will range from analytical essays to journal responses to some creative writing pieces involving comic conventions.
  • + 20th Century World Drama

    Term: Winter and Spring
    This course explores dramatic literature of the twentieth century throughout the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. A number of aesthetic movements emerged in the 20th century, including Realism, Naturalism, Expressionism, Absurdism, and Postmodernism. Theatrical conventions, innovation, and techniques developed in the Western and non-Western theatres will be explored. Some of the plays discussed in this course have included Miss Julie, A Raisin in the Sun, Top Girls, Woza Albert!, Angels in America, and Twilight: Los Angeles. In addition to reading and discussing the plays, students will be responsible for analytical writing and creative projects.

English Office

List of 13 members.

  • Bill Sullivan 

    Chair, English Department
    Catholic University - B.A.
    SUNY at Binghamton - M.A.
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  • Taylor  Coats 

    English Department
    University of Southern California - B.A.
  • Thomas Dugan 

    Chair, Performing Arts Department
    Emerson College - B.A.
    Emerson College - M.A.
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  • James Fuller 

    English Department
    Hobart College - B.A.
    University of Virginia - M.A.
    University of Connecticut - Ph.D.
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  • Molly Gotwals 

    English Department
    Smith College - B.A., M.A.T.
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  • Rachel Lloyd 

    English Department
    University of Massachusetts - B.A.
  • Jonathan Medwid ’96 

    Marketing & Communications
    Wesleyan University - B.A
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  • Benjamin Morgan ’06 

    Assistant Academic Dean
    Hobart College - B.A.
    Bread Loaf School of English - M.A.
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  • Amy Pentz 

    English Department
    Mount Holyoke College - B.A.
    University of Rochester - M.A.
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  • Anu Rawlings 

    English & Languages Department
    Roger Williams University - B.A.
  • Mandi Repoli 

    English Department
    Quinnipiac University - B.A.
    Quinnipiac University - M.A.
    Bread Load School of English - M.A.*
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  • Rebecca Strong 

    English Department
    Harvard University - B.A.
    Stanford University - M.A.
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  • Brett Vianney ’70 

    English Department
    University of Connecticut - B.A.
    Wesleyan University - M.A.L.S.
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Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411