English Department

Literary analysis and the articulation of ideas in written and verbal form constitute the basis of the English curriculum at St. Anselm's Abbey School.

Department Overview

The English department of St. Anselm's Abbey School recognizes that its mission involves working with students of above-average academic ability who enjoy the challenge of producing high quality work.  The department also recognizes that students' varying degrees of ability and areas of interest occasionally demand that teachers meet individual challenges in order to help each student develop to the best of his ability.

Literary analysis and the articulation of ideas in written and verbal form constitute the basis of the English curriculum at St. Anselm's Abbey School.  Generally speaking, the English faculty presents the study of literature primarily as a means of personal fulfillment, while student success in composition, speaking, and listening is seen more as a necessary, practical achievement. These objectives  guide the faculty's teaching and are mastered sequentially by the students from Form A through Form VI.

Curriculum Sequence

Form A Introduction to Composition, Grammar, and Literature
Form I English I
Form II English II
Form III English: Literature and Composition I
Form IV English: Literature and Composition II
Form V  AP Language & Composition (1 semester); Choice of Elective 
Forms V & VI

Recent AP Literature and Composition electives include The Bonds of Culture; Voices from the Wasteland; Shakespeare's History Plays; Literature from the American South; Portraits in Villainy in Literature; African-American Literature; Representations of Women in Literature; Moby Dick and the American Renaissance; Inner Conflicts in Literature; Literature of The Greatest Generation; The Modern American Experience; Magic Realism; Heroes, Rebels, and Exiles in Literature; Logic and Morality in Literature; and Conceptions of Leadership in Literature.  A non-AP Literature elective in reading and writing poetry is offered every Spring semester.


Course Descriptions

Form A English

Description:  The school year for the A Form is divided into three trimesters. Form A students have English class five times a week. Their English class consists of grammar, vocabulary, literature, and writing.  Form A English students read novels, plays, including one play by Shakespeare, and an ancient Greek epic. Poetry is covered as well, and creative writing has an emphasis on fun. Class activities include grammar drills, vocabulary exercises, class discussion, lectures, group projects, audio and video presentations, and writing.  Inherent to the Form A English curriculum is a constant emphasis on basic study skills. Students learn that writing is a process and that all writers are re-writers.  Narrative, expository and argumentative writing assignments will be included in the progress of the course.

Course Length: Two Semesters
Registration Policy: Required for Form A

Form I English

Description: The school year for Form I students is divided into three trimesters. Form I students have English class five days a week. Form I English differs in several ways from the Form A course.  Form A students have a separate composition class, but Form I students have one teacher for all the disciplines of English. Class activities in Form I include journal writing, grammar and spelling activities, class discussions, group projects, and guided reading. Form I students closely study two novels and one play over the course of the year. This is supplemented by a sampling of short stories and poetry. Additional work is also done in a sentence diagramming workbook. All of the Form A students are starting their first year at St. Anselm's, whereas typically more than 50 percent of the Form I students will have already had one year of St. Anselm's English. The Form I teacher meets individual challenges throughout the year in order to help each student develop to the best of his ability.

Course Length: Two Semesters
Registration Policy: Required for Form I


Form II English

Description: In the Second Form, students move toward integrating the various aspects of English during this final year of middle school. Form II students have English class every day. Students review the basics of grammar as they begin learning the essentials of writing formal, expository essays.  During the course of the year, students read three novels and a Shakespeare play.  Vocabulary is taught from a vocabulary book and from the literary texts covered in class. A central goal of Form II English is the development and nurturing of higher cognitive skills in literary analysis, while a secondary goal is to prepare students for the academic rigors of high school. Activities include writing workshops, peer editing, discussion, dramatic activities, lecture, group projects and presentations, free writing, and videos. The school year for Form II is divided into three trimesters. 

Course Length: Two Semesters
Registration Policy: Required for Form II

English: Literature and Composition I

Description: As first year students of high-school English, Form III students are expected to demonstrate a sufficient mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage. Furthermore, upon completion of the year, they should be able to write a traditional, five-paragraph, literary exposition. If review is required on the basics of sentence mechanics, paragraph structure, and essay composition (particularly in the case of transfer students), small group work or individual support is available. Class will be a combination of lecture, reading, note taking, cooperative interaction, creative writing, multi-media presentations, and occasional small projects. Students will read two novels, one Shakespeare play, and an extensive selection of poetry.  Practice tests are taken to prepare for the PSATs and SATs.  Students are also introduced to the scholarly documentation style of the Modern Language Association. Creative writing is encouraged  and  often  required.  The school  year  for Form III is divided into two semesters.

Course Length: Two Semesters
Registration Policy: Required for Form III


English: Literature and Composition II

Description: Fourth Form English provides students with the opportunity to continue developing their critical thinking skills through an advanced study of composition and literature.  Work will continue on mastering the mechanics of sound and effective writing while in-class discussions of course material will continually promote clear verbal communication.  Texts include a literature anthology, two novels, a Shakespeare play, and a student writing handbook.  In-class work will include group discussion, writing exercises in a journal, lectures, timed essays, and exams.  At the end of the year, students will be expected to produce an extended, formal literary exposition, complete with properly annotated primary and secondary sources per the commonly accepted scholarly guidelines of the Modern Language Association.   The school year for Form IV is divided into two semesters. 

Course Length: Two Semesters
Registration Policy: Required for Form IV

AP English Language & Composition

Description: Through analysis of selected fictional texts, students will work toward refining their critical reading and writing skills. This is a writing intensive course, so in addition to studying fiction and nonfiction, students will do writing assignments from a college-level freshman composition text that outlines various rhetorical modes and genres. Students will also study rhetorical devices (e.g. diction, syntax, and tone) and incorporate use of them into their own writing. Additionally, students will refresh your knowledge of sentence structure and grammar via exercises from The Bedford Handbook. Finally, with practice, students will become familiar with the multiple choice and essay sections of the AP Language and Composition test.

Course Length: One Semester (offered in Fall or Spring)
Registration Policy: Required for Form V

AP English Literature & Composition: The Bonds of Culture

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice." Steven Jobs offered this advice in a commencement address in 2005. Society is indeed bound together by fixed beliefs, necessary rules and shared aesthetics. But how does a person escape the deeply ingrained beliefs (or dogma) of his culture? In this course we will discuss this bond of culture. What is culture? How is it conveyed? Taught? Enforced? Enjoyed? How does it bind a community and the individuals therein for better or worse? We will read texts that explore the relationship between the community and the individual. These include Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Benito Cereno” by Melville, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. We’ll also ask how authors are influenced by their racial, sexual, socio-economic, and national identities.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Voices from the Wasteland

Description:  This AP seminar will focus on the literary themes and styles inherent to the period in world literature known as “High Modernism.”  Students will read and write about literature from the years leading up to, during, and shortly after World War I.  Characteristic work from this period is highly experimental, establishing unique and often avant-garde “voices” which challenge traditional notions of “narrative.”  These new literary voices are usually driven by a writer’s desire to represent a modern view of reality that reflects the radical and often-pessimistic philosophies of the time, particularly after the devastation of The Great War.  Works to be read which exemplify this “shattered” world view include Masters’ Spoon River Anthology , Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises , Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury , and (of course) Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Course Length: One Semester 
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V and VI.

AP English Literature & Composition: Shakespeare's History Plays

This course requires the reading, study, and analysis of several of Shakespeare’s History Plays. These dramas include Richard II, Henry IV, parts I and II, and Henry V. Students will train their efforts on the extensive analysis of individual plays and the exploration of key thematic issues. An important facet that will be pointed out and examined will be the concept of studying these particular dramas from the aspect of an “epic perch,” one from which Shakespeare, like a latter day Homer, poetically recalls and records vital periods of a great nation’s extended history. Additionally, many issues relevant to the Elizabethan era will be discussed and analyzed.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Literature of the American South

This course involves the reading of various literary works (poems, short stories, plays, novels) composed by writers from the American South.  The literary works studied in this course will exemplify and explore what makes them truly both “American” and “southern.”  Along with close readings of the material, students will refine their composition skills throughout the semester and practice AP style questions and essays to prepare for the AP Literature and Composition exam. Authors will include the following: William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Erskine Caldwell, Eudora Welty, and Jean Toomer.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Portraits in Villainy in Literature

Looking at the real and imagined boogeymen throughout the ages, this course will ask how a vision of villainy manifests itself on the body, in the mind, and in a culture. Texts include The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee, and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: African-American Literature

A study of some of the principal contributions to American literature made by black writers, this course will examine the thematic, structural, and stylistic characteristics of African-American literature, from its origins in the 18th century through the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. Texts will include Go Tell It On TheMountain by James Baldwin, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and poems and short stories from authors Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Ralph Ellison, Nikki Giovanni, Angelina Grimke, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Phillis Wheatley, Richard Wright, and others. Along with close readings of the material, students will refine their composition skills throughout the semester and practice AP style questions and essays to prepare for the AP Literature & Composition Exam.  Summer reading will be Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Representations of Women in Literature

Poet Adrienne Rich said, “Re-vision – the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction – is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.” In this election year in which women and men of various generations have debated the standards, obligations, and opportunities for women, we will look with fresh eyes on the ways in which images and characterizations of women in literature have developed and evolved over time and the ways in which these representations reflect and shape women today. We’ll read full texts, essays, excerpts, and short stories. Voices we’ll hear from include Cather, Chopin, Kinkaid, Morrison, O’Connor, Plath, Rich, and Woolf among others. Summer reading will be a collection of Adrienne Rich’s poems.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI


 

AP English Literature & Composition: Psychoanalytic Approaches to Literature

This course explores the motivations of famous literary characters from a Psychoanalytic perspective.  As a precursor to delving into the course’s literary content, readings introducing “psychoanalytic aspect” will be required; however, students need to plainly understand the course is topically centered on literatureand no prerequisite related to the subject of psychology is required. Works penned by Shakespeare (Macbeth), Ring Lardner (Champion), Franz Kafka (The Hunger Artist), Edith Wharton (Ethan Fromm), Dorothy Parker (Big Blond), J. D. Salinger (Perfect Day for a Bannafish), and others will be explored. Students will practice composition of AP style test essays study AP vocabulary lists. The summer reading selection is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

 

AP Literature & Composition: Moby Dick and the American Renaissance

“One grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air” lurks behind many thematic assumptions of nineteenth century American literature. Although Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglas, and Emily Dickinson don’t directly engage Herman Melville’s greatest creation, all of these writers anticipate and/or address issues tackled in Moby Dick .  The radical philosophical themes explored by these writers, and how these themes continue to shape American thought, will be closely examined during the semester. Relevant chapters of The Whale will be interspersed throughout our studies of the period in American letters now commonly known as “The American Renaissance.” The class will take a field trip to Frederick Douglass’ home in nearby Anacostia.  Summer reading will be a collection of Poe’s short stories and poems.


Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

 

AP Literature & Composition: Inner Conflicts in Literature

Man has always been fascinated by how other people confront obstacles, whether they be environmental, social, or psychological.  Ultimately, the challenge each person encounters defines him or herself either partially or completely.  This class will read a spectrum of works as they explore the dynamic way in which people address significant fears.  Students will study Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Shakespeare’s King Lear, McEwan’s Atonement, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Joyce’s The Dead, and Tan’s Two Kinds as well as other short stories.  Summer Reading of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment will begin the analysis of this theme.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

 

 

AP Literature & Composition: Literature of Greatest Generation

In The Greatest Generation,Tom Brokaw relates the stories of individual men and women who “came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America.” Despite suffering from the devastating impact of the 1930’s, this generation became “united with a common purpose …and common values” to defeat the Axis powers and lead extraordinary lives. In this course, we will read narratives of a few of those remarkable Americans who reflect this phenomenal period.  Lauren Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, Daniel James Brown’s The Boys on The Boat, Lynne Olson’s Citizens of London, as well as selected poetry and short stories.  Students will read primary source materials, letters from servicemen to family, from two private collections.  We will also look at essays of or about great sports figures such as Jesse Owens, and musicians such as Benny Goodman who embody that American spirit.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

 

AP English Literature & Composition: The Modern American Experience

This course will look at the modern American experience and assess it from the point of view of a variety of short stories, plays, and novels. In this course we will attempt to identify and trace the special spirit of America as reflected in our literature. Although our focus will be contemporary, we will briefly discuss some of the works of our late-nineteenth century authors who have become hallmarks of our culture. As William Faulkner said in his nobel Prize acceptance speech, we look to “the verities of the past” and relate them to the realities of the present.  Twentieth century works included will be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited,” Katherine Ann Porter’s “The Grave,” Ernest Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Ernest Gaines’” The Sky is Gray” and A lesson Before Dying.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy:  Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Magic Realism

This course will study writers who combine realistic depictions of events with elements of the fantastic, often drawn from myth, dreams, and fairy tales. Looking at the incorporation of the magical within a realistically rendered narrative, we will ask how this unusual combination of elements works to create original voices in literature that successfully search out hidden truths and human potential. Texts will include One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Tracks by Louise Erdrich, The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, and “The Prophet’s Hair” by Salman Rushdie. 

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Heroes, Rebels, and Exiles in Literature

From the earliest ages, man has been fascinated with the image of the hero: what makes him tick, act, and how society responds to him.  Initially, society revered these heroic figures and honored them throughout their lives. However, society eventually felt challenged and threatened by these heroes. Ultimately, society exiled these seeming rebels. In this course, students will engage in the process of analyzing these issues in light of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, Shaw’s Saint Joan and Bolt’s A Man for all Seasons.  Integral to such a study is the consideration of man’s free will and its relation to this mystifying and mythologizing process. Students will discuss these works and write analytical essays relating these ideas.

Course Length:  One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Logic and Morality in Literature

This course will examine a variety of literature in search of answers to a handful of life's essential questions: how do we distinguish between right and wrong, and what happens if and when we can't do so? How do we respond to ethical dilemmas? How are one's moral and psychological traits shaped, and what control do we have over shaping them? In contrast, what effect do our surroundings, whether cultural, emotional, geographical, or physical, have on the shaping of those traits? This course will examine the thematic, structural, and stylistic characteristics of a variety of texts, including Shakespeare's King Lear, Brontë's Wuthering Heights, Heller's Catch-22, and selections from various American poetry movements of the 20th century. Along with close readings of the material, students will refine their composition skills throughout the semester and practice AP style questions and essays to prepare for the AP Literature and Composition exam.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

AP English Literature & Composition: Conceptions of Leadership in Literature

Styles and methodologies of leading may be ruthless, heroic, unwilling, or transformative. What enables leaders with various styles to emerge? How do groups achieve a common purpose? Are leaders born, called, trained, or tempered in time? This class will explore these thematic approaches to leadership through examining texts that include Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd,” Jose Saramago’s Blindness, Ana Castillo’s So Far From God, and Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. This course will also focus on careful reading and critical analysis of literature as well as continued practice in composition skills. To further prepare for the AP Literature test, AP essay prompts and AP objective questions will be administered and reviewed.

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

Reading and Writing Poetry

Students will closely study the work of four or five major poets, poetic movements, or poetic forms. Alternating between these academic units, students will "workshop" their own original poetry. All students will be required to write original poetry and share it with the group. Some poetry to be studied will be decided by the instructor; other poetry to be studied will be decided by the dynamics and interests of the group. Poets and/or movements studied in the past include Shakespeare, W.C. Williams, ee cummings, Sylvia Plath, Sekou Sundiata, Muriel Rukeyser, T.S. Eliot, the Beats, the Harlem Renaissance and The Surrealists. Although the bulk of poetry studied will be from the twentieth century, the group will also spend a portion of the classes reading and writing traditional poetic forms such as sonnets, villanelles and sestinas. 

Course Length: One Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V & VI

Department Highlights



Video:
St. Anselm's English students recite Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" in a video to promote the annual Poetry Out Loud project.

English Faculty
Mr. Jonathan Vaile, Department Chair
Form III English; AP English Literature & Composition
M.A., Literature, George Mason University
B.A., Literature & Psychology, Randolph-Macon College
 Mrs. Nancy Cholis
AP English Language & Composition; AP English Literature & Composition
M.A.L.S., American Literature, Georgetown University
B.A., Humanistic Studies and History, St. Mary's College (Notre Dame, Ind.)
ncholis@saintanselms.org
Mr. Hal DeLuca
Form A English
M.A., Duquesne University
M.A.T., George Washington University
B.A., Rutgers University 
Ms. Janine Dunne
Form II English; AP English Language & Composition; AP Literature & Composition
M.A., English Education, New York University
B.A., Communications, Virginia Tech
Mr. James Leathers, '04
Form I English
M.S., Education, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., English, University of Maryland
Dr. Michael Manglitz, '00
AP Literature & Composition
Ph.D., English Language and Literature, The Catholic University of America
M.A., English Literature, The Catholic University of America
M.Ed., Reading Instruction, Goucher College
B.A., English Literature & Secondary Education, Goucher College
mmanglitz@saintanselms.org
Mr. Michael McCarthy
AP English Literature & Composition
M.S.Ed., Johns Hopkins University
M.A.T., Secondary Education, Trinity University
B.A., English Literature, Belmont Abbey College
Mr. Alex Morse
Form IV English
M.A., English, Georgetown University
B.A., English, George Mason University