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English

Teaching the principles and mechanics of good writing has been a Hotchkiss tradition since its founding. English classes at Hotchkiss are designed to help students discover and harness the power of language through careful reading and analysis of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and plays. Essays and writing assignments help students sharpen their critical thinking skills, develop their voices, and deepen their understanding of literature.

Required Reading

Summer Reading: Required Texts for 2016

The All-School Read has been announced — The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Please click your class below for the English Department's 2016 summer reading assignments for each class

Summer Reading by Class

Preps

Guiding questions:
  1. What’s involved when individuals risk their own good for the good of others?
  2. How big is any one person’s environment?
  3. How many environments can one person be part of?
  4. How responsible are we for the environment?
  5. What do you consider your environment? What’s your relationship with that space?

Read Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (2001)
Watch Food Inc. (2008)
Read “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

Lower Mids

Notice

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

By Order of the Author
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance
(Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain)


131 years after its original date of publication, Mark Twain’sAdventures of Huckleberry Finn still finds a way both to prod and to nudge our collective consciousness towards an agitated state of critical reflection. It is difficult to read Twain’s notice without hearing its echoes of a call to action. This past year’s events in our nation’s history beg us to consider how, why, and when we choose to talk about race. As educators, we cannot ignore our responsibility to provide students tools with which to participate in a global landscape still rife with racial tension.

Over the course of this summer, we invite our Lower-Mids to engage with Twain’s novel and to reflect critically on their reactions while reading. We appreciate and recognize that students will respond in a number of ways to the novel: there will be moments of humor, discomfort, recognition, and perhaps even anger; there will also be moments that cannot be processed completely or responsibly without further discussion. Thus, we invite you, both as parents and as participants in this conversation, to revisit the novel with your children and to support them throughout their reading experience.

Upon their return in the fall, students will participate in a two-week unit designed to explore the novel’s significance both as a reflection of, and a building block for, our nation’s literary identity. We will be speaking to the novel’s controversial use of the N-word; we will be speaking to Twain’s authority or authenticity as a white writer; we will be speaking to questions of power imbalance, justice, and the role that the individual plays in a given society; and we will be speaking to the powers and dangers of satire both as a political tool and as a form of entertainment. Above all else, we will work to create an environment in which students feel comfortable, safe, and validated while speaking about their reactions to the reading.

Though Twain’s Chief of Ordnance warns us against seeking out a moral, we would be irresponsible to guide your children throughAdventures of Huckleberry Finn now and not attempt to do so.

Respectfully,

Tyler Gardner and Anna Hay
Co-Heads, English Department

Guiding questions:
  1. How do people learn cultural identity?
  2. What is the relationship between cultural identity and self identity?
  3. What effect does place have on one’s identity?
Read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Watch Persepolis (2007) based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel
Read “ The Colonel ” by Carolyn Forche,http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180106

Upper Mids

Guiding questions:
  1. Does service have to be something that doesn’t help the person serving?
  2. If a person doesn’t fight for a cause, is he or she fighting against it?
  3. When and how have you helped individuals and groups? When and why have you avoided helping?

Read A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Watch Stand and Deliver (1988)
Read “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

Seniors

Guiding questions:

Discuss the ways in which The Things They Carried, The Hunger Games, and "A Work of Artifice" reflect the tension between human nature and societal constraints. Some additional questions you may ask yourself might include:

  • How do these works echo, contrast, or inform each other?
  • What are the limits of an individual's responsibility to a society?
  • What does it mean to be a creative follower?


Read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Watch The Hunger Games (2012)
Read “A Work of Artifice” by Marge Piercy

Faculty

Elizabeth Buckles

Elizabeth Buckles

Instructor in English
Christopher Burchfield

Christopher Burchfield

The L. Blair Torrey Jr. '50 Chair in English
Instructor in English
Marcus Christian

Marcus Christian

Teaching Fellow in English
Christina Cooper

Christina Cooper

Dean of the Class of 2018, The Huber G. Buehler Chair
Instructor in English
James Fornshell

James Fornshell

Arthur W. White Teaching Chair
Instructor in English
Charles Frankenbach

Charles Frankenbach

The Russel Murray Bigelow Chair
Instructor in English
Anna Friedman

Anna Friedman

Co-Head of English Department
Instructor in English
Carita Gardiner

Carita Gardiner

Instructor in English
Tyler Gardner

Tyler Gardner

Co-Head of the English Department
Instructor in English
Thomas Herold

Thomas Herold

Instructor in English
Susan Kinsolving

Susan Kinsolving

Poet in Residence, Director of American Literature and Theater, Summer Portals
Stephen McKibben

Stephen McKibben

Instructor in English, Dean of Summer Programs
Keith Moon

Keith Moon

Dean of the Class of 2017
E. Carleton Granbery Chair in the Humanities, Instructor in English, Instructor in Humanities and Social Sciences
Rachel Myers

Rachel Myers

Instructor in English
Parker Reed

Parker Reed

Instructor in English, Instructor in Theatre
Michelle Repass

Michelle Repass

Instructor in English
Peter Winzeler

Peter Winzeler

Teaching Fellow in English