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Upper School Curriculum

  • Advanced (ADV)
  • English
ADV English 12: Medieval Literature
Grade: 12
PREREQ: Teacher recommendation advised 

What’s the relationship between humans and the natural world? How does suffering connect us to the infinite? What is (or should be) permanent and predictable? Are our identities stable? Beginning with Old English poetry in translation, students will study poetry, charms, riddles and spells from a thousand years ago to consider these questions. In so doing, students will practice and refine college-level reading and reasoning to understand how early medieval authors played with language to investigate the complexity of reality itself. Having developed these intellectual habits, students will use different lenses of literary theory (ecocriticism, formalism, cultural studies) to read and conduct independent research about later medieval legends of King Arthur. The course terminates with a genre study of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that challenges students to make particular claims about the tension between satire and social justice — in Chaucer’s work and contemporary iterations of it. 

  • Grade 12