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.

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.

Women's Voices In Literature

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

In this course we will study and examine literature written by women.  The focus is to understand women through their unique literary voice, as a reflection of their history, their place in society and their role in this ever-changing world.  This course will examine the changing perspectives of female writers from the 19th century to present day.  We will be doing this through various genres including poetry, novels, short stories and non-fiction. Possible authors we will study may include, but will not be limited to, Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Wolfe, Sylvia Plath, Zora Neale Hurtson, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver and Sandra Cisneros.

Restlessness, Solidity, and Passion: Reading New York

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. ...Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” E.B White, Here is New York

Using White’s quote as a template, this course will examine human nature through the setting of New York, New York, the most American of cities. Students will be expected to write knowingly about the impact of environment on fate, hope, free will, and identity. Students will keep a daily journal and writing portfolio, and participate actively in discussions related to readings and films. Students will hone their writing and analytical skills and develop a proficiency in note taking as a life-long tool for learning. Readings may include Bartleby, The Scrivener by Herman Melville, Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, and current issues of The New Yorker.

Nature Writing: An American Perspective

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

The question of what wilderness and nature mean to humankind has long preoccupied writers. In this seminar, students will grapple with this question, focusing on what wildness means to America, and what their own relationship to the natural world is and should be. In addition to conventional nature writers, students will read a variety of texts from voices not often considered in the study of American Wilderness Literature. This will encourage students to continue to question what American nature really is, and also discuss who has access to wilderness and in what ways.

Assigned readings will reference literary works by American writers such as H.D. Thoreau, John Muir, Walt Whitman, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, David Barnhill, Henry Beston, Terry Tempest Williams, Gary Snyder, and Janisse Ray.

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.

American Drama

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

Students will read, discuss, and write about several major works of American drama from the latter half of the 20th century. The class will explore how social and historical events influenced the themes of the modern American theater and how earlier playwrights’ work influenced future writers. The class’s reading will move chronologically from the late 1930s to the early 1990s.

Potential plays that may be read for the course:

  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  • Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  • Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  • Fences by August Wilson
  • Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
  • Angels in America by Tony Kushner

Graphic Novel Memoirs

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • .5 credit

Graphic Novels are more than just collections of comic books reprinted for resale in a handy omnibus. The graphic novel has developed into a genre of contemporary literature that allows the author to tell a concentrated story in relatively few words in conjunction with vivid images. This form of visual storytelling lends itself to tales of memory and memoirs. Students will spend the first part of this elective studying various graphic novel memoirs and analyzing their effectiveness as a storytelling medium. The last part of the semester will be devoted to the students creating a graphic novel memoir that tells part of their life story.

Texts may include Persepolis, Fun Home, Ghost World, Blanket, Epileptic, This One Summer, American Born Chinese

World Mythology Honors

  • Grades 11, 12, PG

This full-year Honors course is designed for students to exercise and expand their critical thinking and analysis skills, collaborative work skills, and creativity as they study the concepts and literary connections to various world mythologies.  Students will become versed in a variety of cultural myths and legends, explore what makes a hero, and learn about universal truths contained within many or all mythologies. 

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

Cambridge International Education - English Literature - Honors Class

  • Grades 11, 12, PG
  • Honors
  • 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.

Note: Exam dates are not posted by Cambridge International Education until October, and students/parents should be prepared for the possibility of taking an exam in June, and returning to Forman for the exam at their own expense. Forman School has no control over the Cambridge course exam dates and they do not offer alternative dates for examinations.



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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