Humanity is a complicated thing.
At Pomfret, we study literature because stories give shape to the chaos of our lives. By examining words, sentences, characters, and plots, we learn what it means to be human. Incoming third formers must take four years of English, through all three terms of English IV. Seniors must pass all yearlong courses and all courses in the spring term of the senior year in order to be considered for graduation.
- Humanities I: English
- Humanities II: English
- English III: Analyzing Fiction
- Advanced English III: Reading Fiction and Criticism
- Advanced English IV
- Eng IV: Satire and Humor as Literary Strategy
- Eng IV: About Poetry
- Eng IV: Contemporary Lit & Pop Culture
- ENG IV: Creative Writing
- Eng IV: Great Books
- Eng IV: Journalism
- Eng IV: Literature to Film
- Eng IV: Playwriting
- Eng IV: Voices from the Margins
- Eng IV: Intensive Writing
- Eng IV: Public Speaking
Third-form writers hone their narrative-writing skills and by the end of the year are exploring the fundamentals of essay writing. Working first on sentence and paragraph level writing skills, students end the year by writing a short essay. Throughout the third form year, students explore the question, "How do I disturb the universe?" In tackling this question, students closely examine issues surrounding identity, race, gender, and social class. As they explore others' voices through short stories, essays, poetry, plays, and novels, students strive to acquire fundamental writing, close-reading, and oral skills. The focus of written work is the development of exposition, observation, and description skills. Students discover and develop their respective voices through continuous narrative and expository writing assignments. The concrete elements of writing, from word to phrase to clause to sentence to paragraph to completed work receive constant attention, and students practice with the critical essay, descriptive passages, journal entries, short stories, and poems. Grammar and vocabulary are also staples of the third-form curriculum. Texts may include Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis as well as a collection of short stories and essays chosen by faculty.
Fourth-form writers learn how to write different types of paragraphs, from narrative to analysis. By the end of the year, the power of their prose, style, voice, and argumentation skills have grown markedly, permitting longer essays by year's end. Pomfret School’s Humanities II: English course offers a student-centered American studies curriculum that fosters a love of reading through close analysis and critical thinking. Moreover, students will continue developing the skills needed to communicate effectively in various writing forms and in public speaking. Our curriculum seeks to uncover social issues that impact students’ everyday lives. As we move into an increasingly diverse community, our curriculum will balance an education in more contemporary works, particularly as they relate to diverse perspectives, with mainstream texts. Additionally, other literacies will complement texts, including but not limited to film, social media, graphic novels, television shows, podcasts, and works of visual and performing art. Working in tandem with Humanities II: American Studies, students will uncover issues surrounding civil rights and identity in coming of age stories, consider voices from marginalized groups, and understand the role of the media past and present in describing the culture and compass of the United States. Ultimately, Humanities II: English seeks to prepare students to become engaged citizens in an interconnected society.
Fifth-form writers build upon skills developed in Humanities I and II. Grammar, structure, and exposition are reviewed, but the focus turns to the critical essay in this mostly literature survey course. Students are required to write and revise several short and long assignments each term. Fifth formers are expected to be well versed in literary terminology and to use it when speaking and writing. Assignments will differ depending on the instructor, but literary analysis, exposition, persuasion, and synthesis will be stressed. Typically, the fall will be spent reading stories as students craft both creative pieces inspired by the texts as well as thesis-driven analytical essays. During the winter, students can expect to read novels and poetry and write additional analytical essays. The spring may feature a non-fiction unit and/or a unit about World Literature.
The challenging curriculum in the Advanced Reading Fiction and Criticism course is intended to simulate the curriculum in a freshmen college English class. As students encounter several literary texts, analytic emphasis is placed on perceiving how style reflects theme in the craft of several pieces of literature. Students also master the art of integrating multiple sources when they write and learn to speak with eloquence and knowledge when they present. Students are also exposed to different literary lenses, and they are required to write lengthy pieces of literary analysis or argument by the end of the school year.
Selection is based on proven aptitude, effort, grades, and teacher recommendation.
More demanding than English IV: Intensive Writing, this yearlong advanced course helps students to analyze a variety of challenging texts and writing prompts by studying rhetoric and its uses and many forms, including written fiction, informational nonfiction, TV commercials, film, news programing, newspaper journalism, and magazines. In the spring, students will complete a term-long project that involves student choice, exploration, literary criticism, and a public presentation akin to a TED Talk.
Advanced English III is not a prerequisite.
OFFERED: spring term
This course focuses on the use of comedy in literature, beginning with the classical comedy of the Ancient Greeks and progressing to modern day satire in mass communication. Students are required to explore different forms of comedy as they exist in classical texts and identify how those forms are revealed in contemporary media. Along with regular written analyses of literary works, students may also have the opportunity to produce creative projects, such as writing political satire, poetry, film, and possibly, stand-up/performance pieces, all to be shared either with the class and with the school community.
OFFERED: winter term
This course will look at the points of intersection between contemporary literature and popular culture. While we will read the novels in order to understand how they function as distinguished literary works, we will spend an equal amount of time viewing how the works are constructed in the media. In order to get a good sense of media construction, we will look at resources from popular culture, such as podcasts, film, television, music, art, and periodicals that provide a context for understanding the works. Our first concern, as in any English course, is to engage with and respond to the texts. The engagement requires close, careful, annotated reading, focused discussion, and writing that will inspire thinking. Essays, in turn, will be both analytical and personal. For the analytical essay, students will be asked to look closely and thoughtfully at style, narrative trajectory, character, and setting. The personal essay will ask that students plumb the depths of their own intellect and emotions. The result will be a heightened awareness of the role of the individual in society, a greater awareness of particular moments in history and in other parts of the world, and a richer feeling for the possibilities of storytelling.
OFFERED: spring term
This Creative Writing course explores, with playful seriousness, various strategies for developing new, original works. Each student will read, respond to, and experiment with nonfiction, fiction, drama, and poetry. No prior experience is necessary. This course may count toward the fulfillment of either a student's English or fine art graduation requirement.
OFFERED: winter term
Have you ever wished you could choose what to read in an English class? When was the last time you read a book you chose on your own? Have you ever wished you had the time to go to the library, browse a little, pick something out, and read it simply to satisfy your curiosity? The time has come! This elective course will offer you the chance to design your own curriculum and decipher which novel is important to read based on student-produced and teacher-guided criteria. Geared to the long-term goal of creating lifelong readers rather than the acquisition of short-term knowledge, we will flip the classroom, reading in class by day and using online venues for discussion at night. We will read plays, novels, poetry, magazine articles, short stories, and more. We will write each day, compile a theme-based portfolio that maps our own individual curiosities, compose creative and analytical essays, and present to the class what we have discovered within the freedom of our own intellectual quests.
OFFERED: spring term
This Journalism course introduces students to the cultural importance of media and mass communication systems in America. Beginning with ethics in journalism, students will study the social role of the media through reading, writing, and classroom discussion. Articles by George Eliot, Frederick Douglass, John Steinbeck, and others will introduce students to the long journalistic tradition of reportage. As a result, course topics may include race, ethnicity, gender, community, state, and worldwide affairs. Students will engage in a range of communication systems, such as the blog, the vlog, or the alternative weekly. Students will also be required to write their own blogs, editorials, features, lifestyle features, reviews, and more. At the term's end, students will submit a portfolio of their written work, requiring them to apply the principles of ethics and editing studied throughout the term.
OFFERED: spring term
In this class, students may read a variety of diverse novellas, short stories, and nonfiction pieces and compare them to film adaptations. The class may also be guided by a theme that prevails in both text and film. In addition to exploring literary strategies writers use in the novels, we will “read” film through the lens of the director. For example, students will determine for whom the film is made and what kind of emotion the director is trying to evoke. Students will investigate why the director uses creative license in the film (Are parts of what we read omitted from the film? If so, why? Did the director embellish the story? etc.). Students will learn important film techniques to help critique the film in question. Students will help choose what they read and what they watch. The end of the term may include a creative project and/or an analytical critique.
OFFERED: fall and spring terms
Playwriting is designed to identify and investigate the tools needed to specifically craft a stage worthy play. Through a series of reading and writing assignments based on Aristotle’s six elements of drama, each student will explore action, character, idea, language, music, and spectacle. Reading assignments will include plays from a variety of successful playwrights. Each student will be responsible for writing a one-act play by the end of the term. This course may count toward the fulfillment of either a student's English or fine art graduation requirement.
OFFERED: winter term
The study of world literature is not only fascinating, but it has never been more important. To fully understand and embrace what it means to be human in the twenty-first century, one must understand other cultures and ways of life. In this course, we will investigate writers who have been marginalized due to their ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical limitations, or socioeconomic status. Students will collectively explore voices that are generally silenced, unheard, or barely heard. They can choose voices that exist within the U.S. or in other places around the globe. Writing assignments will include prompts designed to challenge students to read closely, think critically, and discover their place in the world by contrasting their cultures with those they study. Students will write each day, compile a portfolio, compose creative and analytical essays, and present to the class their discoveries.
OFFERED: fall term
The sixth form year offers students a common fall-term experience. Assignments and model readings vary depending on the section, but one commonality remains: all students work on the process of writing to create informational, creative, and reflective texts. By the end of the fall term, students will produce a lengthy analytical argument in the form of a written essay. The balance of the sixth form year offers students a wide range of dynamic courses in the winter and spring terms. The year as a whole hones durable skills, offers exciting experiences and choice, and opportunities to mature as an English student and writer.
OFFERED: SPRING TERM
Learning to speak confidently and convincingly in public is a vital skill. Students who sign up for this class will be both brave and ambitious. The class will regularly write and rewrite speeches, learning the fundamentals of how to transform the essay into a text designed to be read aloud. The opening weeks of the term are spent learning the fundamentals of speech writing, focusing on how the speech differs from the essay. The class is organized around four major speeches that students write and deliver before the class. With the third major speech, students must organize their written argument around a visual display that could be a handout, presentation, slide show, or other visual embodiment for the student's argument. Students will also listen to speeches and experiment with different styles, rhythms, and formats. Oral presentations and written work will be required on a weekly basis. While the course is not a literature, history, politics, or current events class, there will be speeches and material drawn from these realms throughout the term.