Writing & Literature I introduces students to the English Department at Darrow. Expectations for discussion, writing process, critical reading, and research are introduced and practiced. Students explore sense of place and its effect on identity, both personally and through the experiences of the characters in the books read. What are my approaches, practices, methods to/for reading and writing? What does it mean to have a sense of place? How do I begin to know a place? What is community? What communities do I belong to? What are the expectations of those communities? How do I resist or conform to those expectations? What is identity? How is identity shaped, formed, changed? How do our social and natural environments shape our identities, and how do we influence our natural surroundings and communities?

Explore the ideas associated with finding the power of one’s voice, knowing oneself, and expressing oneself. We will explore the answers to questions such as: to what extent are our views shaped by external forces/internal conflicts of the self? What does it mean to have a voice? Does literature/writing have the power to effect change, and, if so, how? What is injustice? How does literature function as a response to injustice? What happens when members of a society are marginalized?

Prerequisite: Writing & Literature I or equivalent from another school.

The aim of Writing & Literature III is to discover and define the various ideas, philosophies, and social issues that represent, through literary works, the critical components of the American experience and American history. Students will also study different methods of both identifying and delivering critical messages, and use their understanding of those methods to craft their own criticisms of issues important to modern American society. The practice and refinement of these skills are aimed to prepare students for similar analysis and discussion of themes and ideas in other literary canons, as well as to effectively express their thoughts and ideas through writing.

Prerequisite: Writing & Literature II or equivalent from another school.

George Orwell’s 1984 is widely known, but the progenitor of 20th century dystopian fiction, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, is less so. In Russian Literature: Dystopia we will read both novels with the express purpose of determining whether 1984 derives from We and, if so, to what extent. Students in the course will be asked to prepare for and conduct a trial of Orwell on charges of intellectual and artistic appropriation, as well as being tasked with writing their own dystopian fiction, based upon or inspired by these works and/or current events.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

If race has no genetic or biological basis why does it matter so much? How has the notion of race been created and maintained over the last 300 years of American history? What are the impacts of racial categories in society? This course will explore the development of the idea of race through anthropological and historical research, and will apply these insights to works of fiction. Students will gain valuable tools for interpreting and discussing a thorny and problematic topic, and for analyzing current events and everyday interactions. Students will choose whether to earn History or English credit through varied assignments, but all students will read the major assigned texts. This course is cross-listed with History. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

Fifteen or so years ago, two Darrow faculty members made ambitiously wishful plans to make a film based upon Yuri Olesha’s novel Envy. This enigmatic work, with its vibrant poetic language, memorable characters, stunning imagery, and complex narrative structure recommends itself for translation to a performing arts medium. So, although the two faculty members never acted on their nascent idea, in Russian Literature: Screenplay Project, students will immerse themselves in Envy and will create a screenplay based upon that experience.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

What can reading poetry teach us about the relationship between creativity and critical thinking? Between writing and living? What is a poem? What is a good poem? Poetry makes us think about what it means to be human; it paints a picture of how and why we think, and what we ought to think about. No matter what your interests, learning how to read a poem can hone the precision of your thinking, the grace of your expression, and the expansiveness of your thought. This course is an inquiry into the oldest form of literature and an exploration of what is arguably the most complex and profound expression of human experience. The course consists of 75% literary analysis and 25% of the student’s original writing. In addition to a wide selection of poems written in different forms and from different eras, the course will also feature a focus on the poetry of the Beat Generation. We will consider these poets, as well as many others, in an effort to explore their individual perspectives regarding the human condition throughout the ages.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

What does it mean to belong? How does it feel not to belong? What does the process of belonging look and feel like? In this course, we will write our own narratives of belonging while reading literature by and about immigrants, including poetry, short stories, and a novel that explores these themes. Using the immigrant experience as our lens, we will analyze films and talk with guest speakers to learn how others process culture shock, acculturation, integration, and assimilation. Students will be graded on one analytical essay and one personal narrative, as well as leading class discussions. The final project will be curating a story slam about belonging that will be performed for the Darrow community.

In this semester-long course, we will explore the common themes that are found in sacred texts throughout the world, including creation, destruction (sin), redemption, and salvation. We will use Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth as our guide as we explore texts including the Torah, Qur’an, Bible, Vedas, and other important texts from world religions. Students will read these texts critically, looking for the themes that arise in each of them. How are they similar? How do they differ? How does text become sacred? How does culture impact the sacred? As students become familiar with those themes present in all sacred texts, they will be asked to begin looking for themes in the texts that have had significance in their lives. At the end of the semester, students will identify a text that has helped create meaning in their lives and analyze that text through the framework of the course.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

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