Gonzaga Preparatory School

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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

English I: Introduction to Literature and Composition
The English I course strives to provide an academic cornerstone that will directly influence nearly all disciplines and future endeavors students will encounter. The course explores selected works from a variety of literary genres (drama, poetry, short story, novel, non-fiction), and includes specialty units covering Greek mythology and Shakespeare. Additionally, English I emphasizes building a strong foundation of grammar usage, oral communication, and writing skills. The written and oral communication components of the course cover the following: the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, publishing); content (ideas, organization, support); style (word choice, sentence variety, voice); conventions (grammar/usage, mechanics, format); types of writing (persuasive, business, literary analysis, narrative, reflective, expository); and vocabulary building. Overall, the course introduces the primary literary and communication elements that will be built upon throughout the next three years at Prep and beyond. Prerequisite: none. Both honors and remedial sections are available.
English II: World Literature
The World Literature course focuses on representative works of world literature with an emphasis on religious, artistic, and philosophical movements. To this end, the course content includes a wide variety of works ranging from classics by authors such as Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Sappho, and Lao Tzu to modern works by authors such as Rushdie, Golding, Tolstoy, Rilke, Lahiri, Salinger, and Woolf. Additionally, the course affords special attention to critical thinking and communication. The communication component of the course includes composition, grammar, vocabulary building, and speech. Prerequisite: English I. Both honors and remedial sections are available.
English III: American Literature
The English III course examines American literature through representative writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and Emily Dickinson to Tim O’Brien, Toni Morrison, and Adrienne Rich. Ultimately, the literature component enables students to understand the American experience. The course also reinforces and expands on previous study concerning composition, grammar, vocabulary building, and speech. Writing units challenge students to compose formal essays and literary analyses. A centerpiece to this course is a historical research paper. Prerequisite: English II.
English III: AP Language and Composition
Advanced Placement Language and Composition is a junior-level course designed to improve students’ reading and writing of prose. American literature, presented in a chronological sequence, forms the backbone of the class. In writing assignments, students reflect on important themes in American literature and the history of which it is a part. Some of the themes considered in the course are the tensions between the needs of a community and the freedoms of an individual, the myth and reality of American exceptionalism, and the philosophical and stylistic changes from one American literary movement to another.  Prerequisite: Honors English II or teacher recommendation and English Department approval.
English IV: British Literature (Semester 1)
The British Literature course examines the evolution of the English language and literature from Old English to Contemporary English. Emphases is placed on the invasions by the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans; Medieval England; the English Renaissance; the expansion of the British Empire; and the modern and post-modern eras. The primary literary focus centers on students’ reading and analyzing the works of the greatest writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Brontë, Tennyson, Hardy, Lawrence, Eliot, Yeats, Joyce, Lessing, and Woolf. The communication component of the course includes composition, grammar, vocabulary building, and speech. Writing units challenge students to compose effective college application essays, formal essays, research papers, technical writing, and literary analyses. Prerequisite: English III.
English IV: Elective (Semester 2)

Second semester students will have a choice of English offerings with which to fulfill their English requirement.  The elective choices may vary from year to year. All electives are aligned in units, vocab, grammar, and writing assignments. The biggest difference in courses is based on the literature used to achieve the course outcomes. Current electives offered are as follows:

  • The Grotesque: exploring authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Flannery O'Connor, and H.P. Lovecraft or works such as Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
  • Meaning and Mystery: exploring literature such as The Alchemist as well as short stories and poetry that focus on exploring concepts such as life, love, reflection, and exploration
English IV: AP English Literature
Advanced Placement English Literature is a senior-level course emphasizing reading and responding to representative selections of prose, drama, and poetry. Because this course is aligned with the requirements of AP English Literature and Composition, there is a particular emphasis on European writers from the 16th century to contemporary times.
This college-level course requires careful analysis of literary works, writing in various modes, and frequent and high-quality participation in discussion. Reading, writing, and discussion are of equal value in the learning process, and each is seriously considered in the grading for the course. Prerequisite: AP English III or teacher recommendation and English Department approval.