ENGLISH

8 Semesters/ 40 credits required

All academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements.

Literature-based English courses offer student-centered classrooms that balance active discussion and collaborative learning with hands-on activities. Reading at all levels is chosen carefully to balance time-honored classics and contemporary and diverse fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction prose. At all levels we work together with religious studies and social studies departments to offer an integrated humanities, weaving an Education for Justice & Leadership throughout our teaching. Each year, we take advantage of local and regional theater to extend our study of written texts. Valuing our access to technology as well as our physical location in San Jose’s downtown core, experiential learning in English ranges from freshmen riding the lightrail to San Jose’s Japantown to seniors creating public blog posts: our world extends our literature and learning. 

College Prep Courses

Honors & Advanced Placement Courses

#1010 ENGLISH 1: LITERATURE OF IDENTITY AND COMMUNITY
10 credits - Grade 9

In English 1 we explore the key concepts of identity, community, and universe of obligation, seeking to understand how we experience and make meaning, through our study of literature. Students reflect, write, discuss, and grow as thinkers who can articulate and analyze their claims, orally, in writing, and through experiential projects. We begin small, with the paragraph, and master this microcosm of meaning before we expand to larger sets of claims. Using a range of resources, technological and creative, teachers guide students to think broadly and deeply. Our reading of literature is infused with the school’s study of Education for Justice and Leadership; similarly, Notre Dame’s integrated curriculum includes English components to the freshman pillar--the Woman’s Place Project.

#1020 ENGLISH 2: LITERATURE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR UNDER CRISIS
10 credits -  Grade 10
Prerequisite:  English 1

The English 2 curriculum includes an interdisciplinary study of human behavior that gives rise to catastrophic events like the Holocaust.  The course focuses on themes such as identity, conformity, rebellion, inclusion/exclusion of groups. Through dystopic and historically-based fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry, we consider a range of issues we face in our present reality. Students reflect, write, discuss, and continue their growth as thinkers who can articulate and analyze their claims, orally, in writing, and through experiential projects. The sophomore research project is a place for students to fully focus on a single contemporary question. Our reading of literature is infused with the school’s study of Education for Justice and Leadership and culminates with a study of the Holocaust that includes a trip to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a lecture by a survivor, and a memorial project where students offer their own voice of witness.   

#1040 ENGLISH 3: THE AMERICAN DREAM                    
10 credits - Grade 11
Prerequisite:  English 2

Eleventh grade English focuses on American literature and the pervasive imagining through our history of an American Dream and the question, throughout our history and literature about the democratic experiment of freedom and justice. Students continue their study of novels, poetry, plays, and such non-fictional writing as slave narratives. At the same time, students work on their own writing, honing their ability to write with clear focus, purpose, and intention. A major research essay about, as well as a cross-curricular field trip to Angel Island, allow students to reach beyond the classroom into our American legacy of immigration and cultural diversity.  

Seniors not taking English Literature and Composition AP must take two of the following four electives. You will be directed to choose an alternative course, in case your schedule conflicts.  

#1001 THE VICTORIAN SECRET: 19th CENTURY BRITISH NOVELS                  
5 credits -  Grade 12
Prerequisite:  English 3

The semester-long 19th-Century British Literature course explores a selection of the most significant works of the Regency and Victorian eras. Students examine how and why the novel came to dominate the literary world, the relationship between narrative and social reality (issues of class and gender), the application of psychological realism to the portrayal of characters, and changes in the novel’s form over the course of the century.  Students supplement their learning with their reading of the historical context and social issues of the period, and explore their learning in their writing, class presentations, and major projects.

#1008 INTEGRATING CULTURE, VOICE, AND IDENTITY                                      
5 credits - Grade 12
Prerequisite:  English 3

In this semester course, students explore authors who write at the intersection of cultures, examining what it means to be a hyphenated or labeled individual and what it means to live at a cultural crossroad in America.   Through the study of novels, memoirs, poetry, short stories, and films students discover how writers define and claim identity. Students extend their learning through their writing, class presentations, and major projects.

#1046 MONSTERS: OUR DARK MIRROR                                                        
5 credits - Grade 12
Prerequisite:  English 3

This semester course explores the societal concept of monsters, both literal and figurative, throughout literature. This course is an intensive writing, text-based, course aimed at enriching the experience of textual literary study and expository, critical and analytical writing. Using major works of fiction, short stories, poetry and nonfiction, students will contemplate the role monsters have in the development of humankind and how monsters have changed as the fears of society change. Students explore how authors subvert the traditional presentation of heroes by presenting narratives of the antihero and analyze the expectation of monster as the other. 

#1049 SCIENCE FICTION                                                                 
5 credits - Grade 12
Prerequisite:  English 3

Science fiction writers envision the effects of environmental, technical, medical and psychological changes upon human beings.  Their visions predict and question, provoke and inspire.  Students will read and discuss novels and short stories, thinking about the historical and current possibilities of the genre.

Honors & Advanced Placement Courses

Honors and Advanced Placement courses are offered at each level, and are available to students who excel in English and are interested in challenging themselves as readers and writers. Students should expect the pace in honors to be quicker and more intense; these courses offer some additional reading.


Eligibility for Enrollment in Honors & Advanced Placement Courses in English 

  • English 1H, English 2H, English Language and Composition Advanced Placement, English Literature and Composition Advanced Placement:
    • A grade of B or better is needed in the student’s current Honors/Advanced Placement English or a teacher recommendation
    • Students not currently enrolled in Honors or Advanced Placement English course need a grade of A or a teacher recommendation

Note: Students must maintain the required grade in the second semester in order to maintain eligibility. All placements will be reviewed at the end of the school year by the department.

#1013 ENGLISH 1 HONORS: LITERATURE OF IDENTITY AND COMMUNITY
10 credits - Grade 9
Prerequisite: see Eligibility for enrollment in Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in English 

In English 1 Honors, we explore the key concepts of identity, community, and the universe of obligation, seeking to understand how we experience and make meaning, through our study of literature. In honors classes we offer additional literature as well as deeper and more nuanced discussion of the material. Students reflect, write, discuss, and grow as thinkers who can articulate and analyze their claims, orally, in writing, and through experiential projects. We begin small, with the paragraph, and master this microcosm of meaning before we expand to larger sets of claims. Using a range of resources, technological and creative, teachers guide students to think broadly and deeply. Our reading of literature is infused with the school’s study of Education for Justice and Leadership; similarly, Notre Dame’s integrated curriculum includes English components to the freshman pillar--the Woman’s Place Project. 

#1055 ENGLISH 2 HONORS: LITERATURE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR UNDER CRISIS
10 credits - Grade 10
Prerequisite: see Eligibility for enrollment in Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in English 

The English 2 honors curriculum includes an interdisciplinary study of human behavior that gives rise to catastrophic events like the Holocaust.  The course focuses on themes such as identity, conformity, rebellion, inclusion/exclusion of groups. Through dystopic and historically- based fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, and film we consider a range of issues we face in our present reality. In honors classes we offer additional literature as well as deeper and more nuanced discussion of the material. Students reflect, write, discuss, and continue their growth as thinkers who can articulate and analyze their claims, orally, in writing, and through experiential projects. The sophomore research project is a place for students to fully focus on a single contemporary question. Our reading of literature is infused with the school’s study of Education for Justice and Leadership and culminates with a study of the Holocaust that includes a trip to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a lecture by a survivor, and a memorial project where students offer their own voice of witness. 

#1045 ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND COMPOSITION ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade 11
Prerequisite:  see Eligibility for enrollment in Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in English
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam 

English Language and Composition AP is a junior-level course focusing, through the study of language, and history, and literature, on an exploration of our ongoing questions about the democratic experiment of freedom and justice.  Students explore the literary and rhetorical techniques of writers to learn how they create purpose, persona, and message in their writing. Likewise, students work extensively on their own writing--their use of diction, syntax, path of logic, tone--in their own increasingly sophisticated process of writing with intention.  Readings range from early American documents through to contemporary and diverse American writing

#1006 ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade 12
Prerequisite:  see Eligibility for enrollment in Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in English 
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam 

English Literature and Composition AP is a senior-year course that deepens and challenges students in their skills of reading and writing about literature. The course stresses critical thinking about genre, theme, style, philosophy and history, focusing on British, American and world literature and including fiction, drama, poetry, expository prose and literary criticism.  Assignments emphasize the maturation and refinement of writing skills and voice at a level equivalent to composition assignments at the freshman college level.  Projects allow students to explore their ideas in non-linear modes, challenging all sides of their minds.