Academics
Departments and Curriculum

English


In all English courses at Holderness, the school’s Core Values of Community, Character, and Curiosity become habits students practice as they grow into more effective critical and creative readers, writers, speakers, listeners, viewers, and thinkers. At every level, we aim to develop in students an increased self-awareness, a lifelong love of spoken and written language, and a commitment to engaging the world in its complexity and diversity. To find out more about our four-year English curriculum—including our Humanities course, our AP courses, and our senior elective offerings—please read our English curriculum progression.

Outside the classroom, students are encouraged to submit their work to Mosaic, Holderness School’s journal of arts and letters, and to The Picador, Holderness School’s newspaper. Holderness writers are also encouraged to submit their work to national writing contests open to high school students. Students also participate annually in the national poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud


Our Virtual Bookshelf

Every summer a book is chosen that the whole community—students, faculty, and staff—read. Check out our past All-School Summer Read Winners, an eclectic list that annually sparks conversations about books and the societies that inspire them.



Click here for more student work photos



English Course Descriptions

In their 9th grade year, students take the year-long "English 9: Humanities" course, which introduces students to literary study through interdisciplinary lenses. The focus is on developing essential and multisensory reading, writing, collaboration, critical thinking, and habits of mind. Students draw connections between their English study and their service learning during their March Experience, Project Outreach.

In their 10th grade year, students take the year-long "English 10: Global Literatures" course, which presents literary study through global social and cultural contexts. Students think deeply and write frequently about questions concerning their own identities in relation to social identifiers such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual identity, religious belief, class, and privilege. Writing and other assignments link literary study with artistic expression, connecting the course with their March Artward Bound Experience.

In their 11th and 12th grade years, students have the option of one of our AP offerings (per approval by the department) and semester-long English seminars. English Seminars are semester-long courses that expose students to focused topics in literary and cultural studies. These courses allow for deep dives into specific, advanced topics. AP Literature emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking and delves into questions concerning race, class, gender, and sexuality in a variety of complex literary texts. Key texts include Ellison’s Invisible Man, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Morrison’s Beloved. To be considered, students must write in response to an AP Lit question of the Department’s choosingAP Language and Composition students use mainly non-fiction works as a springboard for honing their skills as readers, writers, and speakers, learning—in a more pointed way—to recognize and use rhetorical strategies that help shape audience response and understanding. To be considered by the Department for this course, students must submit a letter of interest, a recommendation from their English 10 teacher, and take an AP Comp pre-test.
  • English 9: Humanities

    1. This year-long course introduces students to literary study through interdisciplinary lenses.
    2. Focus is on developing essential and multisensory reading, writing, collaboration, critical thinking, and habits of mind.
    3. Students draw connections between their English study and their service learning during their March Experience, Project Outreach.


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    More information coming soon.
  • English 10: Global Literatures

    1. This course presents literary study through global social and cultural contexts.
    2. Students think deeply and write frequently about questions concerning their own identities in relation to social identifiers such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual identity, religious belief, class, and privilege.
    3. Writing and other assignments link literary study with artistic expression, connecting the course with their March Artward Bound Experience.

    Order Your Textbook(s)
    If you are in Ms. Dahl's or Mr. Paro's class, please order:

    If you are in Mr. Gaudet's class, please order:

    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • Advanced English Seminar: Creative Non-Fiction

    In this class students will practice many forms of creative nonfiction from personal narratives to fact based persuasive essays. Each class starts with a writing exercise designed to tap creativity, prompt further writing, and create a culture of free expression. Students will learn literary techniques and develop their own writing process. In addition to writing, students will also read creative non-fiction about the writing process.

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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • Advanced English Seminar: Literature of Survival

    How does an individual survive in the wilderness? How might a neglected child survive to become a well-adjusted adult? What do you do when you are left alone...in outer-space? In this class, students will explore the attributes necessary for one to survive difficult situations. Through reading a varied array of fictional tales and non-fictional stories and articles, students will uncover the characteristics of a survivor.

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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • Advanced English Seminar: The Bible as Literature

    Do you have a Bible on your shelf somewhere but you’ve never really read it? Did you know the Bible is more of a library than a book? Are the readings in chapel a total mystery to you? Have you ever encountered a biblical reference in another book and wished you knew more? Are you or a loved one named after a figure in the Bible but know little about the namesake? Do you ever wonder how and why the Bible animates historical and contemporary political speech and action? Do you ever wonder what are some of the biblical sources that undergird Western theories of law and justice? Do you appreciate great writing? Do you wish someday to be able to call yourself well-read?

    The Bible as Literature is an upper-level semester course which provides an additional choice for students seeking to satisfy the graduation requirement in Theology & Religious Studies.  Cross-listed with the English dept, the course is listed as ENG on the transcript.

    METHOD: The course provides an introduction to the Judeo-Christian canon of biblical texts as works of sacred literature and rhetoric.  Students will explore the range of biblical genres through a survey of its historical, prophetic, poetic, sophistic, liturgical, gospel, and apocalyptic literatures.  With analysis of character, plot, form, literary devices, and redaction, they will learn to decipher and defend their own interpretive and rhetorical choices as biblical readers.

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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • Advanced English Seminar: The Good Life: Literature as a Guide to Life’s Big Questions

    Although we read and write fiction for all sorts of reasons—as a reprieve from everyday life, as an academic exercise, as sheer entertainment—one of the most powerful explanations has been put forth by the writer Joan Didion, who tells us that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” This course takes that notion and uses it as a lens through which to approach both classic and contemporary works of fiction. Students will read a number of famous and lesser known novels and short stories, as well as watch a selection of TedEx talks and other public pronouncements, in order to answer the question of what it means to live a good life. In doing so, they will learn how to approach fiction in a more philosophical and moral fashion. Ultimately, they will be tasked with using this evidence and their own experiences to produce a statement of their own personal philosophy as to what exactly a meaningful life looks like for them.
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    Coming soon.
  • Advanced English Seminar: The Novella

    Every November, more than half a million people participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a challenge in which individuals from all walks of life attempt to produce a complete rough draft of a novel in just thirty days. Taking inspiration from that idea and the numerous high schools across the country that participate in the project, this writing-focused class is designed to give students the skills, time, and support needed to produce their own Holderness version of NaNoWriMo: a complete rough draft of a novella (shorter than a novel) over the course of not a month but an entire semester. In doing so, students will learn how to structure narratives, create plots, develop characters, and produce sustained creative writing habits on their way to producing a lengthy work of creative fiction.
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    Coming soon.
  • Advanced English Seminar: Travel Writing in an Age of Isolation

    With recent threats of a pandemic, polarizing politics, environmental degradation, and increased isolationism, one might wonder if the era of unlimited, largely unfettered travel for pleasure has been forever changed. Is travel as we know it obsolete? Or does this era of new nationalism (with its suspicion of foreignness) forecast a kind of proud provincialism in which people feel safe and content sheltering at home? Will travel literature assume heightened status as the main gateway to experiencing “otherness”? In this course, students will ponder these questions and others, while exploring the art and craft of travel writing -- the long tradition of documenting and reflecting on encounters with the unfamiliar. They will both read exemplars of the best in travel writing and write their own narratives of place. 
     
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    Coming soon. Readings are likely to include works by Bruce Chatwin, Anthony Doerr, Mark Twain, Isabella Bird, Frances Mayes, and Elizabeth Gilbert, among others.
  • Advanced English Seminar: Widening the River: American Voices Beyond the Mainstream

    A continuation and extension of Asian American Literature offered last fall, this course seeks to broaden the scope of the American Literary landscape, pulling in voices that have not always been read or heard. We will explore new classics in Asian-American, Pacific-Islander and Native-American literature with a focus on the storytelling traditions of those cultures, guided by the question, "What is the language and narrative structure of a 'hyphenated' American experience?" Readings are likely to include works by Maxine Hong Kingston Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich, N. Scott Momaday, Garrett Hongo, Thi Bui, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, among others.
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    Also on the reading list:
    • Assorted essays by Chang Rae Lee (accessible through school subscription of The New Yorker); Robin Wall Kimmerer (from Braiding Sweetgrass), N. Scott Momaday, Amy Tan, and others
    • Poems by: Ocean Vuong, Li-Young Lee, Garrett Hongo, and others (to be provided by teacher)
    • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich or There There by Tommy Orange (tbd; please hold off on ordering)
    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • AP Language & Composition

    The course aims to further student understanding and appreciation of the English language, particularly language used to argue and persuade. The class will study the logic of English usage, learn new words, and read writing that exemplifies precision and rhetorical force. In the first semester, content and assignments in the course will center on understanding and clarifying personal values, and weighing these against accepted societal values. The second semester will explore specific means of persuasion employed in American society. Articulate, deliberate, precise language will be encouraged and reinforced in writing assignments, oral reports, and class discussions.

    Our curriculum is designed with two factors in mind. First, it is intended to further the language development fostered in earlier grades of our school’s English curriculum and prepare students (those juniors enrolled in the class) for their final year of secondary school. Second, it capitalizes on the specific goals of the Advanced Placement curriculum. The demands of the AP program divergent from our school’s traditional curriculum—among them the focus of specific rhetorical techniques and language and the development of image analysis skills—require our enrolled students to be especially dedicated and diligent.

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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • AP Literature

    AP Literature and Composition focuses on the study of language used for artistic purposes. Students develop their analytical skills by reading poetry, novels, short stories, and plays. In addition to teaching students to appreciate the skillful use of rich, complex, evocative language, the class aims at developing students’ writing skills. Most of the writing in AP literature is analytic in nature, although some time is devoted to the college essay in September. The course is open to 12th graders and culminates in the taking of the Advanced Placement examination in May.

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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.

View Our Curriculum

Faculty

  • Photo of Marilee Lin
    Marilee Lin
    English Department Chair & International Student Coordinator
    (603) 779-5379
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Harvard University (MA) - BA
    Needham High School
    Bio
  • Photo of Sarah Barton
    Sarah Barton
    English Faculty & Director of Senior Thesis
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Trinity College (CT) - BA
    Plymouth State University (NH) - MA
    Bio
  • Photo of Janice Dahl
    Janice Dahl
    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5275
    Plymouth State University - Master of Education
    Upper Valley Teaching Institute
    U of New Hampshire - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Peter Durnan
    Peter Durnan
    English Faculty & Dean of Academics
    (603) 779-5305
    U of California at Santa Barbara - MA
    Dartmouth College (NH) - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Charlotte Freccia
    Charlotte Freccia
    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5302
    Bio
  • Photo of Joseph Gaudet
    Joseph Gaudet
    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5287
    University of Michigan - Ph.D.
    University of Michigan - M.A.
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
    Bio
  • Photo of John Lin
    John Lin
    English Faculty & Dean of Students
    (603) 779-5320
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Carleton College (MN) - BA
    Oxford University (England) - M. Phil.
    Bio
  • Photo of Patrick Livingstone
    Patrick Livingstone
    English & History Faculty
    (603) 779-5286
    Columbia University--Teachers College - MA
    Bates College - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Jennifer Martinez
    Jennifer Martinez
    History & English Faculty & Senior Thesis Advisor
    (603) 779-5363
    Bio
  • Elizabeth McClellan
    English Substitute
  • Photo of Bruce Paro
    Bruce Paro
    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5390
    Kimball Union Academy
    University of New Hampshire - BA
    University of New Hampshire - MAT
    Bio
  • Photo of Jini Rae Sparkman
    Jini Rae Sparkman
    English Faculty & Director of Equity and Inclusion
    (603) 779-5399
    Plymouth State University - MEd
    Plymouth State University - BA
    Bio

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Is Holderness right for you?  The best way to find the right boarding school is to reach out. Check us out in person in New Hampshire or virtually.  See why Holderness is more than a school, it's an elevated experience.
Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245

MAIL P.O. Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
PHONE (603) 536-1257
EMAIL info@holderness.org