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Advanced Literature Seminar

Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Twelfth Grade

Upper School



The essential question shaping our work in Advanced L:iterature invites students to reflect on what it means to “come of age,” and how different societies facilitate or impede the process for their young. While contemplating this, students will hone their literacy skills and probe what it means to become an adult– is it just turning 18 and being legally recognized as such, or do certain experiences propel us across the threshold, leaving childhood forever in our wake? Furthermore, in what ways does our identity have an impact on how society helps or hinders us through the process of maturation?

To wrestle with these questions, we adopt a three-pronged approach to balanced literacy, focusing on reading, writing and language as individual, albeit intimately connected, aspects of our work. Learning objectives for each of these elements are listed below:

I. Reading

Students will fortify their analytical and interpretive skills as we read across genres in Advanced Lit. Specifically, we will be practicing active, close reading and annotating to observe how authors use literary elements and devices to deal with the theme of coming of age in their texts. By pairing poems, short stories, film clips and non-fiction articles with the plays, novels and memoirs we read, we will see how an author's choice of genre also shapes his/her/their treatment of the theme.

II. Writing

Some sort of writing will transpire in class every day. Writing exercises and practices will range from informal (SYB exercises to begin class, stop-and-jot on class handouts and notes, free writes to generate ideas, journals, letters, etc.) to formal (critical analysis essays, book reviews, final creative pieces taken through the writing process, etc.). Much attention will be paid to generating complex, provocative thesis statements and supporting them with the use of textual evidence. Additionally, when delving into more creative writing, we will experiment with different styles, forms and techniques used by the writers we have studied in class.

III. Language

Through formalized language study, we will build vocabulary and deepen our understanding of Standard English Grammar rules. The goal is to bolster students' mindfulness and intentionality when making choices as speakers and writers, so their communication is cogent, compelling and original. Activities will include a study of morphemes and parts of speech, sentence structure analysis and reflection on how diction and syntax create a writer's voice.

Some of the longer form texts we will be reading include: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Color of Water, Speak, Woman Hollering Creek, Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Awakening.

Regarding social and emotional learning, students will build their empathy by engaging in perspective taking from multiple characters' points of view. When considering the touchstone texts we share as a class, students will write from non-narrating characters' perspectives and identify biases in the narrator's and/or author's recounting of the tale. Similarly, in creative writing, students will tell a personal story but displace themselves as the protagonist and write from a third party's point of view. Additional projects, like mock trials where characters are held to count for plot events that transpire, will promote students' ability to infer psychological factors, desires and environmental circumstances that impact one's behavior.

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