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English

Your skills in reading, writing, thinking and speaking will be developed and strengthened through our rigorous English program curriculum. In each year of study, you’ll be challenged by stimulating reading assignments, frequent writing projects, comprehensive vocabulary program, and oral presentations. And, if you are ready for a still greater challenge as a junior or senior, Honors English and Advancement Placement English classes are available.

Graduation Requirements
4 credits of English, at least one credit per year
  • English IV - Myth and Literature 1

    Seniors not in AP English enroll in an English elective each semester.

    Both Fall and Spring semesters of English IV will be devoted to electives; classes that pursue a theme, topic, author, or genre of the teacher’s choosing.  In these electives, class discussion, presentations and/or performance, and writing and revising analytical literature essays will be paramount.  Paper conferences will be held according to student desire and need.  A final project or essay in lieu of a final exam will conclude each semester.
  • English IV: The Documentary Idea: Reading Documentary Films Past & Present

    This film and media studies based course will explore the documentary from the early Lumière Brothers’ films to Nanook of the North (widely considered the first documentary feature film, albeit a problematic one) to the current resurgence of interest in documentary film.  We will consider how the concept of non-fiction film has developed over the last century and how, at least in film, truth has always been a construction and has always been contested.  We hope to attend screenings at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC in April.
     
  • Journalism

    Full year; design and publication of The Columns; .5 credit

    This course combines instruction in writing with the practical skills of putting together and publishing the Chatham Hall newspaper, The Columns. Students learn various journalistic writing skills, including news, feature, sports writing, reviews, special features, and opinion columns while gaining experience in photojournalism. The Media Lab is fully equipped with cameras, scanners, color printers, and several computer stations, allowing the paper to be produced entirely in–house. Students learn as much about designing pages using Quark Xpress as they do about writing articles. The paper, now Web-based, is produced six to nine times per year.
  • English IV: Foodie, Film, & Literature

    Seniors not in AP English enroll in an English elective each semester.

    Both Fall and Spring semesters of English IV will be devoted to electives; classes that pursue a theme, topic, author, or genre of the teacher’s choosing.  In these electives, class discussion, presentations and/or performance, and writing and revising analytical literature essays will be paramount.  Paper conferences will be held according to student desire and need.  A final project or essay in lieu of a final exam will conclude each semester.   
  • English IV: Protesting for Social Justice: American Authors Strike Back!

    Protesting for Social Justice: American Authors Strike Back!: This English IV elective focuses on the proud tradition of protest in American literature.  Featuring authors ranging from James Baldwin and Gloria Steinem to César Chávez and Winona LaDuke (among others), we will study how and why Americans from all backgrounds have been the voice for change and justice in society.  Readings include essays, speeches, lyrics, and fiction.
  • AP English Language & Composition

    Full year, by application and permission of the English Department and the Academic Dean, for juniors and seniors only; 1 credit

    Advanced Placement English is designed for 11th and 12th grade students who have demonstrated an achievement in analytical and writing skills that qualifies them for a college-level course. The course itself presents students with prose non-fiction written in various rhetorical contexts. Learning different rhetorical strategies, the students will be then apply these strategies to their own writing. The students' reading and writing should heighten their awareness of a writer's purpose and audience as well as the way that the English language can be used for persuasive purposes. A final goal of the course is to provide each girl with the equivalent of a college-level English course in composition so that she will qualify for advanced placement in English at her chosen college or university.
     
    Students shall read a variety of essays from different time periods and representing different styles of writing and rhetorical strategies. The course may be organized by theme or type of essay (analytical, expository, personal) according to the instructor's choice.
  • AP English Literature

    Full year, by application and permission of the English Department and the Academic Dean, for seniors only; 1 credit

    This course is designed for students who have demonstrated an achievement in analytical and writing skills that qualifies them for a college-level course. The selections from British (and some American and World) literature for this course include some the most challenging poetry by Shakespeare, Donne, Wordsworth, Keats, and T.S. Eliot. The study of poetry also includes a history of the structural development of such forms as the English and Italian sonnet, the lyric, the elegy, and so forth.  Other texts to be read for this AP class include those by the novelists and playwrights listed below.
  • Creative Writing I: Introduction

    This is an introductory course in imaginative writing and will explore the possibilities of language when approached outside the rules of the English classroom.  Students will study the craft of existing texts by reading for technique and style, and develop their own craft by performing a variety of formal and informal writing exercises. By the end of this course, successful students will have destroyed the myth of “writer’s block” and understand fully that writing is a muscle – when not exercised, it will atrophy.  This course meets twice weekly and will act as a prerequisite to any other creative writing courses or independent studies that you may wish to take.  
  • Creative Writing II: Portrait

    This creative writing class will use existing work and each other to create pieces that are 100% shared. We will rely on traditional collaborative writing modes such as ghazals, rengas, exquisite corpses, writing circles, and folk tales, and we will reimagine modern collaborative writing exercises such as email chains, Wikipedia pages, and the classified listings of Craigslist.  This class is going to blur the boundary between writing, dance, music, and visual art.
     
    This class will be fun – you will produce humorous work, you will produce heartbreaking work, you will challenge your understanding of writing, you will challenge the idea of “the artist” as a singular figure in a dark room waiting for inspiration, and by learning to take yourself less seriously, you will produce some seriously interesting work. 
  • Creative Writing III: Collaboration

    This creative writing class will focus on portraits in all its forms. We will focus on self-portraiture, environmental portraits, and discuss the role and responsibility of the portrait artist as she frames her subjects. This class will use short stories, poetry, novels, and image to spark our writing. We will also try the tricky task of applying portrait techniques to our own writing by asking questions like, how might like lighting and texture translate to creative writing? As we move through the semester, we will eventually try our hand at other types of portraits and framing, such as oral storytelling, photography, and collaborative art, all in the hopes of discovering why the portrait is the artist’s longest lasting art form.  
  • English for International Students I

    Full year; for non-native English speaking students; 1 credit

    The language and literature course for first-year international students whose English skills need strengthening to eventually merit placement in either EIS II or in a mainstream English class. It is essentially designed to review and reinforce introductory level grammar, reading comprehension, and the structure of academic writing and its application in literary contexts. Students learn how to engage in and react to texts and the author’s point of view with a critical eye. The ultimate goal of the course is to give students whose first language is not English the fundamentals of language and literature to ease them into the mainstream English curriculum.
  • English for International Students II

    Full year; for non-native English speaking students; 1 credit

    A language and literature course for international students whose assessment allows them to bypass EIS I, or for those international students who have taken the EIS I course, but need a reinforcement grammar and literature course, sometimes in addition to a mainstreamed English course. This course introduces students to the different forms of literature in the English tradition and the vocabulary for discussing literature. Writing assignments progress from plot summaries to character analyses, and ultimately develop into discussion of literary themes. This class is meant to build on students’ prior English language knowledge to help mainstream the students into the higher-level reading and writing English curriculum.
  • English for International Students III

    Full year; for non-native English speaking students; 1 credit
  • English III

    Full year; required for juniors, unless taking Honors English III or Advanced Placement: Language and Composition; 1 credit

    English III is a year-long course that uses American literature to highlight major thematic topics and cultural issues in American history.  The course encourages the analytical reading, thinking, and writing that students engaged with in English II. Classes will be discussion-based and students will write regularly on their reading assignments. During the second semester, students will learn research and library skills as they work on an eight page analytical research paper on an American author of their choice. As with English I and II, students will meet regularly with their teacher for paper conferences in which grammar, punctuation, and stylistic matters will be addressed. Written work will be emailed to the instructor by PDF and both graded and commented upon using iAnnotate. We shall continue vocabulary acquisition, and grammar and punctuation review both semesters.  We shall work on public speaking skills through class discussion and oral presentations.
  • Humanities 10: Literature

    Full year; required for sophomores; 1 credit

    Building on the firm foundation laid in English I, English II focuses on an in-depth exploration of the various genres in literature (poetry, short story, drama, novel, and film) as well as the different genres that cross those structural lines (comedy, tragedy, satire, romance).  Students broaden their literary base and work towards finding their own interpretive voices.  Among the texts to be read include The Bluest Eye, Frankenstein, Ethan Frome, and Othello.
     
    Writing regularly is the best way to improve skills and to explore different forms of expression. Writing activities, including a weekly writers notebook, analytical essays, personal narratives, journals, playwriting, poetry, and short fiction, are designed to give students exposure to diverse styles and strategies that will prepare them for upper-level courses. Direct instruction in a variety of writing techniques provides the necessary framework for students to refine their skills and develop their distinctive, authentic voices. 
     
    Grammar instruction is linked primarily to essay writing, with individual problems being addressed via the revision process and group problems being addressed in class meetings designed to explain grammar errors and ways to correct them. Vocabulary instruction is primarily contextual and focuses on words commonly found on SAT tests. With every vocabulary list, students write creative stories so they not only learn definitions but understand usage as well.

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Mary Edmonds
    Mary Edmonds
    English Department Chair
    434-432-5206
    Bio
  • Photo of Cameron Ayres
    Cameron Ayres
    English & Creative Writing Instructor; Theatre Department Director
    434-432-5240
    Bio
  • Photo of Deborah Glymph
    Deborah Glymph
    History Teacher; English Teacher; Director of Diversity and Inclusion
    434-432-2941
    Bio
  • Photo of Andrea Green
    Andrea Green
    English Teacher; History Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Sheppard Morrison
    Sheppard Morrison
    Latin Teacher; English Teacher; Quilting Teacher; Associate Director of Residential Life for Staff
    434-432-5546
    Bio
  • Photo of Alan Spearman
    Alan Spearman
    Latin and English Teacher
    434-432-5229
    Bio
A girls' boarding and day school in southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers advanced courses, global study and travel, as well as project-based learning. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.
800 Chatham Hall Circle | Chatham, VA 24531 | 434.432.2941 | admission@chathamhall.org