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Upper School Curriculum

  • English
CL English 12: Banned Books
Grades: 12 (Grade 11 with departmental approval)

This course explores the relationships between dominant cultures and subcultures by investigating books that have been restricted or banned by different groups. Studying the ideas deemed “objectionable” — and therefore worth banning — can give us great insight into both stated and unstated values of a culture, since, as Oscar Wilde said, “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” Essential questions of the class include: Which ideas are considered most dangerous or least desirable in our culture? How can literary art serve as a resistant voice against groupthink (itself an idea derived from a frequently banned book)? After reading books by such authors as Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Isabel Allende, Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Haddon (among others), students will engage in daily discussions, write personal responses, complete creative projects and craft position papers that develop their own thoughts about the power and potential of books, including who should have access to them — or not.

  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12