After being tested on three books from the summer reading list, the students read one short novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and two long ones, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The students also read Romantic and Modern Poetry. To enhance their appreciation of poetry, the students closely examine poetics in Sound and Sense, leaning how poets craft works of enduring appeal. To polish their writing, the students read Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Then the students familiarize themselves with our library’s on-line databases and research topics of their choice to write MLA style research papers. In preparation for the SAT, students must take the PSAT in the fall and go over each question in class. Students are also required to complete a 15-unit vocabulary workbook. Each week the students are tested on a unit containing twenty-words for which they must know the definition, synonyms, antonyms, pronunciation and spelling. Every fourth test is cumulative requiring students to review all words in prior lists.


The class reads Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, a sixteen-chapter Medieval romance written by a German knight at the start of the thirteenth century. In addition to discussing the story’s allegorical significance, the class writes a series of essays about Parzival’s outer and inner development. To produce notebooks with a Medieval touch, students are given time to experiment with calligraphy and illuminated lettering. A field trip to the Cloisters and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine helps students enter the world of Middle Ages.

Dante: The Inferno

Students read Dante’s Inferno and discuss the major themes in essays and in class. Students collaborate to create a contemporary map of hell, and they create and prepare a performance that includes drama, film and music.

Student produced Dante Movie Trailer

Medieval Romances

The class reads two medieval romances: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Perceval, or The Story of the Holy Grail by Chrétien de Troyes. In addition to discussions, the class writes essays an poetry, illustrates stylized notebooks, and produces an original project. A field trip to the Cloisters and/or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine concludes the seminar.


Students read one tragedy, one comedy and a selection of sonnets. Through dramatic presentations and intensive writing exercises, students engage the Bard, his cultural context, and performance values on several different levels.

Example of Student-Made Group ProjectS: 


Hamlet Movie Trailer

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