Students are required to take an English class during every semester of their enrollment at ASL, regardless of the number of English credits they may have accumulated. All Grade 9 students enroll in English 9; all Grade 10 students enroll in English 10. Grade 11 and 12 students choose a different elective English course each semester.

The central goals of a good education are to engage a free and open mind, excite empathy and passion, nurture the habits and values of a citizenry, and ultimately lead students to think for themselves. In the English department, students read a variety of challenging texts to promote critical thinking and stimulate reflection. These represent diverse perspectives and include prose—both fiction and nonfiction—drama and poetry. In partnership with reading texts closely and writing across a range of genres, students cultivate increasingly dynamic speaking and listening skills, including a commitment to respect and equity at the Harkness table. All courses are designed and taught to enable students to develop their skills in all four pillars of our program: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The department sponsors Jambalaya, a student-led literary and arts magazine that accepts submissions from all students. We also sponsor the Writers Seminar, whose members work with a writer-in-residence over the course of the school year. Applications for the following year's Writers Seminar are accepted from current Grade 10 and 11 students in the preceding spring. The students selected participate in the program for one year. 

Grade 11 and 12 English electives

The English department offers a range of elective courses, each course providing the opportunity for sustained inquiry into a given topic, genre or place. Electives engage students as readers, writers, speakers and listeners—deepening, enriching and advancing the skills and understandings cultivated in English 9 and 10. By the end of the electives program, students are close readers sensitive to the nuances of diverse texts, thoughtful writers attuned to their own writing process, and dynamic discussion participants actively engaged as speakers and listeners. Each semester, students in Grades 11 and 12 take at least one elective course; journalism courses must be taken in conjunction with another English course. Some students elect to take one or both of the AP English examinations; for those students, a series of preparation sessions is offered each spring.

Anticipated semester I Anticipated semester II Anticipated semesters I & II

Special Topics in Literature

British Literature

Literature of Migration

Individual and Society in Literature

Literature and Art

Craft of Writing

Post-colonial Literature

Literary Non-Fiction

Gender in Literature

Literary Rule Breakers

Dramatic Literature and    Performance




American Literature

Literature and Film

Middle Eastern Literature