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English 4/5/6 Western Lit and Comp (Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Defoe and others)

Every day as we focus on our primary tasks we also ponder questions like: What is our purpose? How and why do we exist? Is there a God? What is he like? What is our relationship with him? These are questions man has thought and written about for as far back as we have written records. This integrated literature and writing course inspires and guides students to study how writers have been answering these questions since ancient times. We will read “classics” from the western literary canon — many will be familiar and some will be new. We will analyze, discuss and write about these great works and the deep enduring ideas they attempted to capture. We start under the weight of war in the Aeneid and then join the sobering trek of Dante through the underworld. We see Shakespeare’s monologues bring Hamlet, Macbeth and others to life and we follow Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver on his satirical journey. We contemplate the intersection of nature and faith on an isolated island with Robinson Crusoe. We consider myth with C.S. Lewis and the encounter terror with Poe. In addition to required course texts, students will choose readings from a variety of plays to bring their own ideas and interpretations to a unit on drama and dramatic characters. Throughout these journeys and encounters we also learn to write insightful analytical essays using fresh approaches to structure and rhetorical development. Students will leave the course well-read in the classics of Western Literature, and well-prepared for writing analytical essays in later high school and college.
Note: Students typically take two or more English 4/5/6 courses. They may be taken in any order. Regardless of the order, each student’s first English 4/5/6 course will be listed as English 4 and the subsequent ones as English 5 and then English 6 on a signed grade report or accredited transcript.