English Department

Stories give shape to the confusion of life.

The English curriculum at Pomfret is vigorous and vibrant. By examining words, sentences, characters, and plots, our students learn what it means to be human. English courses at Pomfret challenge students to engage fully with the texts, their teachers, and their peers in discussion-based classes. Students write often, in a variety of genres, from the analytical to the personal to the imaginative.

Sample Courses

Are You Afraid of the Dark? American Horror

This course examines ideas surrounding the gothic and horror genre across American literature and film. What makes us terrified of the dark? What stylistic techniques do writers and directors use to convey our fears? And what are their intentions? Possible materials include Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw, the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and the films The Others, Halloween (1978), and Alien.

Nuestras Historias: Latin American Literature and Film

This course will offer a survey of contemporary Latin American literature and film. The selection of works introduces students to pertinent issues addressed across cultures in Latin America such as coming of age, migration, Magical Realism, immigration, gender roles, and racial conflicts. Possible materials include stories from Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and Junot Díaz’s Drown, Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate, poetry by Pablo Neruda, and the films Maria Full of Grace and Coco

That Escalated Quickly: The Art of Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is a genre of fiction characterized by its brief nature, usually consisting of only several hundred words. In this course, we will read several dozen examples of flash fiction, including but not limited to the micro-memoirs of Beth Ann Fennelly (Heating & Cooling), and the weird, awesome, and often unsettling flash fiction of Etgar Keret (The Girl on the Fridge). We will look at the importance of word choice and tone when length is so limited, as well as take a stab at crafting our own flash fiction collection.

Walking Through the Apocalypse: Visions of the Future

Apocalyptic literature reveals the author’s vision of “End Times,” that is, what happens to humanity when traditional ways of life come to an end. In this course, we will look at the apocalypse as it is envisioned by a variety of authors. Possible texts include McCarthy’s The Road, Mandel’s Station Eleven, and Oliva’s The Last One. While all texts in this course expose a haunting post-apocalyptic world, we will ask (and answer) some important questions about what an apocalypse might mean for the future. Moreover, what if an apocalypse happens and we don’t know? Though the stories all different in nature, each carries several common threads of perseverance, tenacity, and strength.

सर्वं ज्ञानं मयि विद्यते: Exploring post-colonial literature in South Asia

Do you recognize this language? Written in Sanskrit, an ancient Hindu language (almost 3,500 years old!) this line loosely translates to “All that I have to learn is within me.” In the last 100 years, many South Asian authors have emerged on the global literary scene. And yet, often, their work is classified as ‘exotic’ or ‘different’ and not as important or lasting as more classical western literature. Yet as the Sanskrit quote indicates, many would argue that South Asian authors capture the unique parallel experience of being an insider and also an outsider in their post-colonial landscapes. In this advanced level course, students will explore several different works by authors such as Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, as well as others, all why asking the question, “What does it mean to remake worlds in literature?”

Literature of the Land

Wendell Berry boldly asserts, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” During our trimester together, we will explore this idea of a fundamental connection between self, community, and place. This discussion-based course presents an opportunity to read and respond to literature that explores the relationship between people and the natural world. We consider a variety of topics: What is nature? What are our obligations to the natural world, and how do those obligations inform–or conflict with–our obligations to one another? What constitutes a sense of place, and what role does this concept play in developing a sustainable relationship with the land? As we consider the way writers have viewed nature, we will examine and shape our own attitudes and beliefs about the relationship between the written word and the world around us. Analytical and creative writing assignments will provide opportunities both for analysis of the readings and for introspection, and this class will frequently take us outside.

Strong Women: Antigone and A Doll’s House

This course will focus on powerful women who were, in many ways, pioneers as they each sought to rebel and seek a life outside of a masculine society. Looking at these texts in translation (from Greek and Norwegian), students spend time looking at the development of Drama from the 5th century tragedians to modern day and where these two plays fall on that spectrum. We will look at a variety of English translations of these two plays, write analytically, engage with literary criticism, and act out small scenes. If possible, we will try to see a professional production as well.

Our English faculty is comprised of teachers who love the literary arts and make it a large part of their lives. Many of Pomfret's English faculty are published authors and have established reputations for their work far beyond the halls of Pomfret School. The Department also offers an exciting annual lineup of visiting authors, further broadening the horizon of what is possible for our students.

Marvin Aguilar

Marvin Aguilar

English Teacher
Katie Forrestal

Katie Forrestal

English Teacher
Dan Freije

Dan Freije

English Teacher

Fantasia Hanmer

English Teacher
Todd Matthew

Todd Matthew

English Department Head
Charlotte McMahon

Charlotte McMahon

English Teacher
Gregory Rossolimo

Gregory Rossolimo

English Teacher
Sheridan Zimmer

Sheridan Zimmer

English Teacher, Form Dean