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Upper School Curriculum

  • English
CL English 12: Escapist Literature
Grades: 12 (Grade 11 with departmental approval)

Humans are resilient, and over time we have come up with thousands of ways to respond to stressful circumstances. One prominent way humanity responds to hardship, stress and boredom is through mental escape: by daydreaming or watching TV, by drawing or going on a walk, by playing games or writing stories — and, of course, by reading. In this course, students will choose their own books to read throughout the semester based on their personal definitions of escapism. They will practice pacing their reading independently, and they will regularly reflect on and analyze these books in small group discussions and in one-on-one conversations with the instructor. In addition, the class will explore a variety of short texts, from several genres and in several formats. Students will treat genre fiction seriously, delving into its history of stigmatization and examining the ways different genres have evolved, in part by preparing a detailed presentation on a subgenre. Students will also discuss books across age levels, taking a trip to the Lower School to connect with favorite stories from childhood. The connecting thread? Everything students will experience fits within the category of escapist literature. Ultimately, all class discussions tie back to two essential questions: 1) What does it mean to escape? 2) What constitutes literary value?

  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12