The English Department strives to present a well-rounded literary education, introducing students to a range of classic and contemporary texts.

Attention is paid to making the material accessible to all learning styles, and depth is emphasized over breadth, the hope being that students will leave Forman with the skills needed to tackle whatever text they are given in college. Students are taught to become active readers and critical thinkers who can engage with literature on a deeper level. An understanding of the writing process is emphasized in each grade, and teachers reinforce the strategies curriculum being taught in both The Institute and in Thinking and Writing classes.

In the Ninth and Tenth Grades, the emphasis is on building reading and writing fluency. Particular attention is paid to increasing a student’s ability to read, react, and respond to a text. Students are taught to use a variety of reading strategies and keep reading journals to mark their progress. During the Ninth Grade, writing assignments focus on making connections to the text and are generally rooted in personal experiences. As students continue on in Tenth Grade, they start to learn the basics of literary analysis.

Eleventh and Twelfth Grade electives are meant to develop and reinforce students’ abilities to think critically, and demonstrate an understanding of organization and development in their writing skills. They learn to display familiarity with aspects of the standard MLA documentation formatting style. Students practice identifying an author's tone, bias, attitude, and purpose in relation to the audience; they are asked to synthesize ideas from multiple perspectives and from a variety of different mediums, genres, and periods of literature.

English Courses

English 9: Introduction to Skills and Literature

  • May be taken at an Honors level

English 9 is an introduction to the fundamentals of the study of literature that focuses on the skills needed to read actively, think critically, make connections, and write with proficiency. Basic grammar and usage, vocabulary building, and study skills are addressed within the context of literature and creative/formal writing practice. Reading consists of short stories, poetry, plays, and short novels and may include classic works such as Romeo and Juliet and The Lord of the Flies.

English 10

English 10 continues to build reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing, and study skills. Course questions ask students to look both inward and outward, examining their identities as readers and finding ways to connect to the reading. Increasing focus is placed on moving beyond initial interpretations and using textual evidence to build a solid interpretation. Readings focus on American literature and will include a variety of classic and contemporary short stories, plays, poetry, and novels. Past readings have included The Crucible, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and The Bell Jar.

English 10 Honors

  • By recommendation only

English 10 Honors continues to build reading comprehension, critical thinking and writing skills. Students in an Honors class are expected to have already established a strong set of study skills so they are ready to handle a greater reading and writing load. Increasing focus is placed on moving beyond cursory reading and using textual evidence to build a stronger interpretation.

Readings focus on the theme of the conflict between the individual and society in the context of American literature. Works studied might include My Antonia, Of Mice and Men, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as a variety of classic and contemporary short stories and poetry.

Sports and the Human Experience in Literature

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

In this one-semester course, students explore human nature and the universal experiences of winning and losing through the study of important novels that center on such sports as boxing, high stakes golf and cutthroat high school football. Past readings include Bleachers, Million Dollar Baby, Breath, and Friday Night Lights. Students will be expected to write knowingly about the relationship between character and fate, as well as master the intricacies of plot, structure and dialogue. Students will be required to keep a writing portfolio, including drafts and revisions, and to develop competence in advanced writing skills and literary analysis. In addition, students will be expected to personalize and deepen their knowledge of literature and writing and to demonstrate proficiency in the kind of note-taking skills that will enable them to improve comprehension and retention.

Crime Fiction

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

This class focuses on crime novels of high literary value by such writers as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie and Walter Mosley. Past readings include A Study

in Scarlet, The Maltese Falcon, And Then There Were None, and Macbeth. Students will examine such literary conventions as archetypes, mood, setting, irony, character, dialogue, story structure, the nature of good versus evil, and the dark motivations of the human predator. Students will be required to keep a writing portfolio of their essays, including drafts and revisions, and to develop competence in advanced writing skills. Moreover, students will be expected to keep a daily journal to personalize and deepen their knowledge of literature and writing and to demonstrate proficiency in the kind of note-taking skills that enable students to improve comprehension and retention.

Hero’s Journey in Literature

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit
  • Offered in the Second Semester

Students will learn critical reading and writing skills as we explore the concept of the Hero’s Journey through a variety of formats (novel, graphic novel, and film) and learn about universal archetypes. We will also study hero stories from various mythologies (primarily Greco-Roman, Norse, and Celtic) and explore their parallel myths and legends. Students will write analytical and research essays, as well as take standard and essay assessments. Some of the texts to be used in this course include:

  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  • The Odyssey by Homer, trans. by Stanley Lombardy
  • Beowulf: A Translation by Seamus Heaney
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli


  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit
  • Offered in the First Semester

In this overview course of Shakespeare’s work, students will read, discuss, write about, and perform scenes from a selection of Shakespeare’s plays to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the influence his work continues to have on literature and theater, to this day. The course will read one selection from each of the “genres” of Shakespeare’s plays: tragedy, comedy, history, and romance. Selection of plays will rotate each semester.

Short Story

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit
  • Offered in the Second Semester

In this semester-long elective, students will develop an appreciation for key elements of this literary genre and what it means to think, read, and write like a writer. While studying essential literary terms such as Character, Plot, Setting, Voice, and Theme, students will also read, consider, and share their various literary impressions. In addition, writing exercises are intentionally designed to provide both writing practice and ample material for students to use.

Dystopian Literature Honors

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

In a world where technology meets overpopulation and increasing government influence, society changes the moral compass of the citizenry. Authors over the last century have attempted to capture their vision of such a world, particularly just after World War II. Dystopian literature is, at its heart, a warning of “things to come”. Big Brother is watching! Students will strengthen skills in critical reading and writing, engage in thoughtful classroom discussion and analysis of source material. Readings may include, but are not limited to:

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Children of Men by P.D. James
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons
  • The Running Man by Stephen King as Richard Bachman
  • Brave New Worlds ed. John Joseph Adams

Literature and Film

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

Joseph Conrad described his role as an author in a memorable way: “The task I am trying to accomplish is to make you see.” This course builds on Joseph Conrad’s premise with an intensive study of the connection between books and movies, both from the standpoint of books that have been made into movies and movies that have been made into books. Students will engage in a close reading of selected texts, judging them initially purely as literature, and then, after viewing the film corresponding to the text, analyze the correlation between book and film. The aim of the course is to build students’ skill as readers and interpreters of literature, and also to provide students with an insight into film techniques, particularly regarding bringing an author’s intentions to the screen. In addition to keeping a response journal of their reading and viewing, students will write essays on selected book vs. film topics. Book/film combinations that might be covered are: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Into the Wild, The Lovely Bones, and Tapping the Source.

Creative Writing: Introduction to the Craft of Storytelling

  • All Grades
  • .5 credit

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” So says Philip Pullman, best selling author of the young adult trilogy His Dark Materials. This course is an introduction to the craft of writing stories. Students will learn to write within three basic story structures: the legend/myth, the personal essay, and short works of fiction/creative-nonfiction. Students will be encouraged to share their writing with the class for analysis and feedback. Our primary texts will be Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers by Joyce Carol Oates, and Method and Madness: The Making of a Story: A Guide to Writing Fiction, by Alice LePlante. The class is open to all students who have a vivid imagination and want to learn how to share their thoughts and ideas in writing with others.

Poetry in the 21st Century

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

Robert Frost believed in the power of poetry to help young people grow intellectually and emotionally, strengthening them in meeting the demands of a modern age. This course is founded on Frost’s belief that poetry tools are an empowering force in a time of explosive growth. The course will begin with a study of poetic styles from the tiny haiku to the imposing epic, move to an in-depth analysis of selected key poets, and close with a study of poetic themes integral to the 21st Century. Rather than employing a traditional chronological approach starting with poems from ancient times on, this course will focus on poetic achievement from many times and many cultures, jumping across centuries, drawing from poets old and young, famous and not.

To fully empower students as creative learners, a major component of the course will be student creation of original poems. Features of the course will include student research into the work of a poet of the student’s choice, culminating in a project interpreting the value of that poet’s work for our modern time; student writing of original poems; the reading of poetry from many world cultures and times; the study of a 21st Century theme as expressed in the work of a variety of poets old and new; linking poetry reading skills with improved reading of prose via focus on literary language, author’s purpose, etc.; and intensive class discussion of poetry to enhance students’ interpretive skills.

British Literature Honors

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • By teacher recommendation

This class will focus on the development of critical reading, writing, and discussion skills through the analysis of British Literature over the last millennium. From unattributed early works like The Dream of the Rood and The Battle of Maldon to Chaucer and Shakespeare, to more recent and contemporary works, we will trace the history and literature of the British Isles while preparing students for a college-level English class. We will read and analyze poetic, prosaic, and dramatic forms of literature. This course is meant to develop and reinforce students' critical thinking skills, demonstrate an understanding of organization and development in their writing skills, and practice identifying an author's bias, tone, attitude, and purpose in relation to their audience.

Likely offerings will include (in both physical and digital format):

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

Henry V by William Shakespeare

Poetic works by Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Shakespeare, Tennyson, The Brownings, Thomas, Eliot, and more.

Cambridge AS Level in English Literature

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • 2 credits, scheduled daily
  • By teacher recommendation

An Honors level course, the Cambridge International Program AS Level English class is focused on helping students to effectively analyze various works in prose, poetry, and drama. The instructor will choose works from a set source list provided by Cambridge International. Students will be responsible for reading the source material, and will also focus on communicating about these works effectively in both verbal and written format. These skills will be explicitly instructed throughout, in order to help prepare students for the Cambridge exam in May. Based on examination score, students may earn credit at numerous colleges and universities. Potential authors and works include the poetry of Robert Frost, various short stories, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Henry IV Part 2 by William Shakespeare, Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come! and numerous companion works. At the end of this course, students will be prepared for, and are expected to take the Cambridge International AS Level Exam.


Forman School
12 Norfolk Road, P.O. Box 80, Litchfield, CT 06759
Phone: 860.567.8712
Fax: 860.567.8317


Forman School is a coeducational, preparatory boarding and day school for grades 9-PG exclusively dedicated to empowering bright students who learn differently.




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