English Department


The English Department is the hub of critical thinking, cultural conversations, and creative writing at Cheshire Academy. From poetry to prose, from timeless classics to contemporary works, our students find meaning and create connections through the power of ideas and words. Challenging all assumptions, norms and biases, we read diversely, converse deeply, and write passionately.

Engaging students is about creating a classroom environment in which they speak more words than I do; I know students are “getting it” when they tell me something I haven’t thought of before—That’s a lot of fun!

Marc Aronson

English Department Chair

Course Offerings
AMERICAN LITERATURE
The American Literature course focuses on the fundamentals of literature – reading closely and actively, writing analytically, thinking deeply beyond the simple or obvious, and discussing the texts of study in class conversations. The course curriculum takes the major texts of American Literature to practice these skills, reading novels, short fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction from America’s literary history. Assessments in the American Literature course will focus on the traditional writing of literary analysis. Students will have the opportunity to master the basics of strong analytical writing, from crafting and defending a strong central claim in writing to the basic mechanics of grammar. All of these tools will be mastered with an eye toward more effective and efficient written communication. Students will also practice more creative writing assignments as well as oral presentations in response to the literary works they study. Overlapping the reading and writing skills are the essential questions defining American Literature: What makes a literary voice uniquely American? How have generations of American writers influenced each other? How does American literature reflect American culture? How is the American dream reflected in American literature?
Freshman course
AMERICAN LITERATURE (HONORS)
The American Literature Honors course, offered to freshmen with an appropriate recommendation, focuses on the fundamental practices of critical reading and oral and written literary analysis through the lens of American Literature. Students will survey the genres, literary movements, and themes that dominate American Literature. They will read novels, short fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction representing the themes of the American Dream: freedom and independence, westward expansion, war and conflict, justice, religion, immigration, and race relations, among others. Assessments in the American Literature course will include the traditional writing of literary analysis, but will also call on students to think about their texts more creatively, producing writing in which they might adopt the voice of a literary character, or reproduce a part of a text in the author’s voice, or superimpose one literary genre over another. As the English department values the skills of both written and oral communication, students will also participate in a variety of oral presentations that may include formal debates, organized interviews, prepared TED-talk style lectures, and teaching their own lessons. Students use these assessments to make meaning of the texts they study and to grapple with the essential questions of American literature: What makes a literary voice uniquely American? How have generations of American writers influenced each other? How does American literature reflect American culture? How is the American Dream reflected in American literature?
Freshman course
World Literature
World Literature introduces sophomores to a range of literary genres from various time periods and regions of the world. Students explore the universality of themes such as war, national identity, and coming-of-age journeys that have fascinated writers of poetry, novels, short fiction, and drama for centuries. While giving time and attention to many classic writers, students in World Literature will recognize the value of more contemporary writers and texts as well. Students will use these texts as vehicles for the important work of close readings, identifying and understanding literary devices and their effect on a written work. Students will develop their skills for analytical reading and writing, always searching for and creating deeper symbolic meaning and contextualizing that meaning within their own worlds. In concert with their active reading skills, students will work toward clear and effective communication of their ideas —including those of their literary analyses —in their own writing, preparing them for their futures as upperclassmen at Cheshire Academy and beyond.
Sophomore course
World Literature (Honors)
Honors World Literature is a challenging course for the motivated student of literature. This course focuses on texts written by international authors on subjects of international significance. Students explore universality of themes such as triumph over adversity, hope  &  courage, relationships, and emotions, jealousy,  revenge,  love,  friendship,  loyalty, free will vs.  duty, perspective and the danger of the single story/narrative, culture and its influence in society. Students learn about writing and the world around them by examining the texts read for their mechanics of storytelling as well as for their cultural-historical contexts. Active discussion leadership is required of students in this class. Students complete critical expository essays and creative narratives, both fiction and non-fiction. 

Sophomore course

English i (IS)
English I for International Students is designed to bridge the gap between a student who has studied the English language and literature to a student who uses English fluently in the process of critically examining literature at the ninth grade level. Students acquire new vocabulary, discuss key points of literature in class, write essays and creative pieces, and create interactive projects to promote a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Students examine numerous themes throughout the year and explore a variety of texts including short novels, graphic novels, and short stories. Likewise, the genres studied vary from non-fiction to sci-fi/fantasy.
Freshman course
English II (Is)
English II for International Students is designed to bridge the gap between a student who has studied the English language and literature, to a student who uses English fluently in the process of critically examining literature at the tenth grade level. Students acquire new vocabulary, discuss key points of literature in class, write essays and creative pieces, and create interactive projects to promote a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Students examine numerous themes throughout the year and explore a variety of texts including short novels, graphic novels, and short stories. The genres vary from non-fiction to fantasy, but ‘belonging’ features prominently in all of the works. Students create and perform their own poetry, and they learn the basic format of the essay.

Sophomore course

IB Lit & Performance SL1/SL2
This course is a two-year interdisciplinary course that incorporates essential elements of literature and performance and aims to explore the relationship between the two. Students approach literary and dramatic texts as reader, actors, and directors in order to develop their intellect, imagination, and creativity. At the heart of the course is this interaction between (i) a conventional literary emphasis on close reading, critical writing and discussion, and (ii) the practical theatrical elements of performance. In this dynamic process literary texts are viewed from different angles in a way that goes beyond what is characteristic of either literary or theater studies as single disciplines. Students complete four assessments over the span of two years: i.) a performance of a portion of a play accompanied by an written analysis and reflection of a transformation of literary work, ii.) an original performance iii.) a written examination of poetry, and iv.) a written explanation exploring a literary work and its potential for adaptation into a theatrical performance.
Junior/Senior course
IB English Language & Literature HL1/2 & SL1/2
The IB English Language and Literature course aims to draw students’ focus to a critical study of language in all of its many forms and the cultural contexts that produce and consume it. In the first year of the two-year course, students study non-fiction texts—including essays, speeches, journalism, and advertising—and examine the impact that evolving cultures have on the uses of language as a means of communication within and among those cultures. In their senior year, students incorporate fiction literary works into their curriculum, studying novels, short stories, poetry, and drama from a wide array of regions and time periods, allowing them to closely examine the relationship between a literary text and its cultural context. Students complete assessments required by the IB programme, including written tasks, oral presentations, and two course-culminating exams; the preparation for these assessments begins in the fall of their junior year and continues throughout the rest of the course, in the practice of close reading analyses, reading responses, formal literary criticism, oral presentations, and other creative projects. The rigor and discipline of the IB English course challenges and serves the students who take it, preparing them with the content and the skills they will need and use in the future.
Junior/Senior course
IB English Literature HL1/2 & SL1/2
The IB English Literature course encourages students to appreciate the artistry of literature and develop an ability to reflect critically on their reading. Works are studied in their literary and cultural contexts, through close study of individual texts and passages, and by considering a range of critical approaches. In consideration of IB’s international focus and its commitment to intercultural understanding, this course does not limit the study of works to the products of one culture or cultures covered by any one language; studying works in translation introduces students to varied cultural perspectives. IB English Literature SL/HL is built on the assumption that literature is concerned with our perceptions, interpretations, and experiences. The study of literature enables an exploration of one of the more enduring fields of human creativity, and provides opportunities for encouraging independent, original, critical and clear thinking. It also promotes respect for the imagination and a perceptive approach to the understanding and interpretation of literary works.
Junior/Senior course
College English
College English is designed for postgraduate students who seek to increase and refine their communication, reading, and writing skills. Over the course of the term, students will plan, draft, and complete written compositions in response to readings and oral discourse. They will edit their papers for clarity, engaging language, and the correct use of the conventions and the mechanics of written English, with the goal of producing engaging, error-free final drafts. The students are expected to read critically, think analytically, and communicate clearly in both writing and speech. They will respond to the readings with the appropriate lexicon as they interpret the possible influences of historical and social context on literary works.
PG course
Language & Literature A & B
Language & Literature A (Junior Year)

Language & Literature B (Senior Year)

The Language & Literature A & B course sequence aims to draw students’ focus to a critical study of language and literature in each of their many forms, and the cultural contexts that produce and consume them. Students study non-fiction texts—including essays, speeches, journalism, and advertising—and examine the impact evolving cultures have on language as a means of communication within and among those cultures. Students also incorporate fictional literary works into their curriculum, studying novels, short stories, poetry, and drama from a wide array of regions and time periods, allowing them to closely examine the relationship between a literary text and its cultural context.
Junior/Senior course

Creative Writing I & II

Students who undertake this Creative Writing elective prepare to immerse themselves in the written and spoken word, to develop their writing skills and produce a variety of work that reflects their exposure to short stories, plays, poetry, memoir pieces and experimental genres. The work that students produce is grounded in imagination or based upon personal experience. Self-examination, reflection and observation are essential to the craft of writing. Through free-writing exercises and journaling students articulate and explore their feelings in response to prompts that touch upon a wide range of beliefs and experiences. While the self is essential for writing, it is the sharing of the self that allows stories to impact others. Workshopping completed works facilitates feedback as students share their style choices and gather insight into the writing process. Students have the opportunity to participate in author visits and are encouraged to submit their work to Juxtaposition, Cheshire Academy’s literary magazine.
Junior/Senior elective

ELL: Writing, Composition & Expression
Cheshire Academy’s Writing, Composition and Expression courses offer an intensive, context-based, genre-focused sequence of study in writing for academic purposes. The courses are for students whose primary language is not English.

Intermediate Level: Students will enhance grammatical, mechanical and lexical control. The course focuses on improving writing styles such as: memoirs, scientific articles, short stories, analytical responses, and research papers. Further, students will explore how academic writing presents problems, poses questions, gives feedback, and supports discussion in all disciplines. Rhetorical modes include: analysis, description, chronology, process, argument, cause and effect, classification, comparison and contrast, and opinion.

Proficient Level: Students will focus upon models of academic genres in all disciplines and develop an understanding of the purpose of each genre, how each genre is organized, argumentative patterns, and specific language features of each genre. They will develop tools to critique academic texts, understand conventions, link audience and purpose, and revise papers with structural accuracy, lexical and syntactic mastery, clarity and coherence.
Freshman – Senior course

IB THeory OF KNOWLEDGE
Theory of Knowledge is a discussion-based course in critical thinking. Our design is to meet twice a week over a two-year period. There is a visual representation of the course; the TOK diagram, which has the “knower” in the center surrounded by the eight mental processes by which we construct knowledge—imagination, intuition, emotion, language, reason, and so on—and then an outer level, presenting the academic disciplines—history, the arts, natural and human sciences, mathematics and ethics. We explore material related to all of these categories with an emphasis on how we justify and explain what we, as individuals and groups, believe to be authentic knowledge. For homework there is a moderate amount of reading, blog writing, and occasional short essay writing. The major assessments of the course are a ten-minute presentation, which is graded by the teacher, and an essay of about 1600 words based on an IB prescribed title, which is graded externally. 

Required Junior and Senior course for IB Diploma Programme candidates.

English Department Faculty

Marc Aronson

Marc Aronson

English Department Chair; Head Coach, Golf

Allison Bass-Riccio

Allison Bass-Riccio

English Teacher

Nicole Beaudwin

Nicole Beaudwin

English Teacher

Jennifer Guarino

Jennifer Guarino

Director of the Theater Program; English Teacher; Fine & Performing Arts Teacher

Jaclyn Lionetti

Jaclyn Lionetti

English Teacher

Jaimeson Lynch

Jaimeson Lynch

English Teacher and IB Coordinator

Wesley Simon

Wesley Simon

English Teacher and Lower Class Dean

Wendy Swift

Wendy Swift

English Teacher and Director, Center for Writing

Theresa West

Theresa West

English Teacher

Owen Winslow

Owen Winslow

English Teacher

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