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

  • Humanities English

    In this year-long Humanities English course, we empower our students to ask good questions, wrestle with problems, communicate effectively, collaborate with others, grow more aware of self and their environment, contribute to their community, and adapt to and persevere through change. As ninth graders begin their learning journeys at Holderness, they delve in this course into these Essential Questions: How do experiences of immigration, migration, dislocation, and adaptation shape ideas of what it means to be human? How do I learn best? What do I do with an idea? As they grapple with these questions, students will develop an understanding of the kinds of thinking and work writers and literary scholars do. At the core of this course are the intertwined practices of reading, writing, and thinking about literature within various Cultural Studies contexts.

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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.
  • English 2

    Tenth graders continue their study of literature through a cultural studies approach and focus on Global Literature. As they study books such as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, and Chimamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus, they think deeply and write frequently about questions concerning their own identities in relation to global notions of self. Writing and other assignments in this year link literary study with artistic expression, connecting English class with their March Artward Bound experiential learning program.

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    If you are in Ms. Dahl's class, please buy the books above as well as the following:

    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.
  • English 3

    Building on the first two years of English at Holderness, English III develops concepts already introduced to students. American Literature is an integral part of this course with writing and discussion focused on the analysis of readings and ideas. Writing assignments begin to focus more on analysis of readings than on structure and content. The year culminates in a major paper inspired by the students’ experiences during Special Programs.

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    If you are in Ms. Barton's or Mr. Livingston's class, please order the following books:


    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.
  • English 4: 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.
  • English 4: Creative Writing

    Creative Writing is for students interested in writing poetry and short fiction. 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, elements of poetry and fiction, and more about their own writing process. While the bulk of the class is writing based, students will also read poetry and fiction, as well as a book and articles about the writing process. Students must be willing to take risks and be a member of a supportive community of writers. The class culminates in a writing portfolio of work and reflections done throughout the semester.

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    No textbook required.
  • English 4: Humanity's Monsters

    Throughout history, stories have been told about monsters. These creatures have been saviors, outcasts, and at times, fed on the flesh of the living. We have called them insane, Messiah, god, and demon, and murderer. They terrorize the living and sometimes they walk among us. What is a monster? Are we our own greatest enemy? Monsters have come to represent not only society’s fears, but our desires as well. They are humanity’s mirror—holding our every weakness before us for critique by their very existence. There is a rich history of conceptions of man as the monster. What is it about fear that fascinates us? How do we respond to fear and desire? How does our culture create monsters to battle oppression and repression? We will explore how these images have changed over time in response to cultural and personal crisis. How are stories told? We will consider how tales are created and what that means in the past and the present. The course would culminate in an argument relating the human experience to concepts of monsters. Possible texts: World War Z, Warm Bodies, Monster, X-Men, Frankenstein, The Yellow Wallpaper, Brave New World.

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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.
  • English 4: Shakespeare Page to Stage

    In this team taught class, students will work toward an understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s plays through performance, their own and others’. Students will learn the basics of film study and analyze the various ways actors and directors have approached Shakespeare. Students will also enhance their understanding of language, character and story through their own performance. Students do not need to have a strong understanding of Shakespeare to enjoy the class; they should, however, be willing to take creative risks and be a member of a supportive community.

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  • English 4: Resistance, Remembrance, and Reimagining—A Study of Graphic Novels

    From prehistoric cave drawings to computer-generated avatars to Bitmojis and filters on Snapchat, visual storytelling has been part of our human origin story. Reading, analyzing, and creating graphic compositions require the development of specific skills. Graphic novels are texts that embrace visual storytelling. Through careful evaluation of graphic novels, we can attempt to define notions of identity, character interaction, intertextuality, comic art, caricature through historical themes, and literary analysis. Like other English courses, this course is reading and writing intensive. Each student will complete their own graphic novel in addition to writing critical analysis of a graphic text. And we will ask the important questions: “What is considered literary? And what is not?” Possible literature studied in the course includes Fun Home (Alison Bechdel), What It Is. (Lynda Berry), Watchmen (Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, John Higgins), Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Art Speigelman), Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Scott McCloud, and Aya (Marguerite Abouet).

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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 Language & Composition

    The course goal is 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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  • 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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View Our Curriculum

Faculty

  • Nicole Furlonge

    English Department Chair & Director of Teaching and Learning
    (603) 779-5332
    U of Pennsylvania - MA
    U of Pennsylvania - BA
    U of Pennsylvania - PhD
    Bio
  • Sarah Barton

    English Faculty & Director of Senior Thesis
    (603) 779-5302
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Trinity College (CT) - BA
    Plymouth State University (NH) - MA
    Bio
  • Janice Dahl

    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5275
    Mohawk Trail Regional High
    University of New Hampshire - BA/English
    Upper Valley Teaching Institute
    Plymouth State University - Master of Education
    Plymouth State University
    Upper Valley Teaching Institute
    Upper Valley Teaching Institute
    U of New Hampshire - BA
    U of New Hampshire - BA
    Bio
  • Peter Durnan

    English Faculty & Dean of Academics
    (603) 779-5305
    U of California at Santa Barbara - MA
    Dartmouth College (NH) - BA
    Bio
  • John Lin

    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5320
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Carleton College (MN) - BA
    Oxford University (England) - M. Phil.
    Bio
  • Marilee Lin

    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5379
    Middlebury College (VT) - MA
    Harvard University (MA) - BA
    Needham High School
    Bio
  • Bruce Paro

    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5390
    Kimball Union Academy
    University of New Hampshire - BA
    University of New Hampshire - MAT
    Bio
  • Jini Rae Sparkman

    English Faculty & Director of the Office of Inclusion & Equity
    (603) 779-5399
    Plymouth State University - MEd
    Plymouth State University - BA
    Bio
  • Katherine Weymouth

    English Faculty & Dean of Students
    (603) 779-5315
    George Washington University (DC) - MA
    U of New Hampshire - BA
    Forman School
    Bio
Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness NH, 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257