The English program is about learning to love to read and write. It is also about mastering the poetics of media and culture. We seek to produce introspective and informed young women who can express their views effectively. While establishing a firm foundation of reading and writing skills, our courses expose students to a broad range of works in traditional print literature. Students are also trained in critical analysis from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, history – any discipline that uses interpretive texts.
The literature component draws from classics and new world literature, especially works by and about minorities. We also capitalize on our all-girl status by choosing many books by and about women. Active participation through discussion is a main focus. A variety of writing assignments ensures that each student will have the skills needed for college and later life. Although assignments stress expository writing and clear, informed analysis, informal writing assignments are included in our core courses, the sophomore poetry workshop, and the senior electives. Our four-year study of vocabulary serves students on SATs while enhancing their broader verbal ability. We offer special instruction to Honors students, for whom the desire to learn exceeds course requirements, as well as intensive preparation for Advanced Placement.
The Writers’ Club publishes a literary magazine of student work, and each spring, in addition to a workshop led by our poet-in-residence Janet McNally, the Elizabeth McNulty Wilkinson '25 fund enables us to invite a nationally recognized poet to work with sophomore classes and present to the school.
Departmental requirements: 4 years
English Department Head:
Includes electives, though not all elective courses are offered each year or trimester. Students may also enroll in additional electives and AP's offered through SEM's membership in the Online School for Girls.
- African-American Naturalist Novels
- AP English Language and AP Literature
- Author Study: Octavia Butler
- Conspiracy Literature I: Ghost Hunters and Haunted Houses
- Conspiracy Literature II: Utopias, Dystopias, and Cults.
- Conspiracy Literature III: Natives and Aliens
- Creative Non-Fiction
- Death in Literature I: Femmes Fatales and the Southern Gothic
- Death in Literature II: Eternal Life of the Warrior Soul.
- Expressions of Femininity in Literature & Pop Culture I & II
- The Hero in Fantasy Literature
- Literature and Photography
- Medieval Literature and Chivalric Romance
- Modern and Contemporary Poetry
- Moby Dick; or, The Man Who Hates an Animal
- Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
- Music in Film
- Poetic Proclamations in Hip-Hop
- Postmodernism and Literature
- Psychology and Literature I: Child Psychology and Self-Development
- Psychology and Literature II: Perception and the Mind
- Psychology and Literature III: Trauma, Memory, and Personality
- Introduction to Critical Theory: Queer Theory
- Science Fiction and Progress
- Short Story