The English Department strives to “introduce students to a range of texts from different periods, styles, and genres, as well as developing in students the ability to engage in close, detailed analysis of individual texts.” We encourage the students to build relevant connections of the literature to their own lives and experiences
As your students embark on their high school journey, they will learn a variety of academic and life skills necessary for a positive transition into adulthood. One of the most important skills you will learn is the ability to communicate. Freshman Seminar is a writing intensive course designed to develop these critical communication skills. Students will learn to communicate with different audiences through narrative, reflective, and argumentative writing styles. This foundational course provides 9th graders with the skillset to organize their thoughts and ideas effectively through writing. Freshman seminar introduces foundational writing skills - syntax, rhetorical analysis, synthesis, and argumentative - that will be refined in upper-level English courses and mastered in AP-level composition and literature courses.
The central goal of this course is to inspire in students a love of literature. Students will explore key literary works from a range of genres, diverse viewpoints, and various cultural contexts. Students will examine enduring themes including culture and identity, conformity and rebellion, power and government, and the strength of an individual and her/his/their voice. In addition, students will study the specific characteristics and effects of different literary genres: principally fiction (novels and short fictions), poetry, and nonfiction texts and podcasts. Students will hone their expressive and critical reading skills through a range of analytical, creative, personal, and persuasive writing assignments, as well as through public speaking, collaborative projects, and creative projects.
American Studies allows for students to discover the true, and sometimes painful, history of the United States by exploring its past and comparing it to the present from an interdisciplinary perspective. The purpose of this course is twofold:  to educate students on the complex history of our nation, and  to expose students to artifacts (literature, dramas, films, art, music, poems, short stories) that further highlight certain people and moments in American history.
This course will address United States history from pre-colonization through the end of the American Revolutionary War and the founding documents of our country. Students will then examine other key moments later in American history through independent research and analysis. This will include primary source documents and literature developed during various decades in American history. The focus will be on those “unheard” voices or moments that are often skipped - or barely touched on - in a standard US History or American literature course.
Students will be challenged to examine key events in American history from multiple diverse perspectives exploring various answers to the questions, “Who truly built this country?” and “What was sacrificed for it?” Through these questions, students can explore and examine the pluralistic origins of the peoples who contributed to the unique character of the United States. The lenses of analysis will look deeply at the intersection of power, culture, gender, race, and religion.
Testing Requirement: Students are required to take and pass the US Constitution test in order to pass this course and graduate from high school.
Intersectional Literature (Essentials)
Intersectional Studies (Essentials) explores the formation and function of identity. Through the study of diverse literature, we will dissect and discuss the ways in which a person’s markers of identification – gender, race, upbringing, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, etc. – can intersect, creating a unique experience and worldview. We will use this approach to unpack questions surrounding oppression, mapping out the ways in which power functions in different contexts and facets of society and celebrating the voices of people who have been historically marginalized.
Intersectional Literature (Honors)
Prerequisites: Students participating in English Honors courses must have an overall A or B average in previous English classes.
Intersectional Literature (Honors) is a reading and writing-intensive course that explores the formation and function of identity. Through the study of diverse literature, we will dissect and discuss the ways in which a person’s markers of identification – gender, race, upbringing, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, etc. – can intersect, creating a unique experience and worldview. We will use this approach to unpack questions surrounding oppression, mapping out the ways in which power functions in different contexts and facets of society and celebrating the voices of people who have been historically marginalized.
The World Literature course introduces students to a considerable depth and breadth of literature from around the world. Students will practice becoming better readers, writers, and critical thinkers while also exploring new cultures and stories from around the world, such as Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. In addition, students will analyze and interpret popular 20th- and 21st-century novels, poems, documentaries, short stories, and more. Students will respond critically to course material through frequent written synthesis and analysis as well as in-class discussions. The goal of this class is to prepare students for life after high school; students will practice writing with clarity and employing proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in writing.
AP English: Language and Composition
Prerequisites: Students participating in an AP English course must have an overall A or B average in previous English classes, writing samples that demonstrate grasp of organization and Standard English grammar and usage, previous standardized testing scores in reading at or above grade level, and teacher recommendation.
AP Literature and Composition is an introductory college literature course. In this course, students learn how to understand and evaluate works of fiction, poetry, and drama from various periods and cultures. An emphasis is placed on independent reading, high-level text analysis, collaborative discussion skills, and analytical and argumentative writing.
Testing Requirement: All students enrolled in AP courses are required to take the AP exam in May of the academic year. Students and families are responsible for the AP exam fees.
Senior Capstone is a mandatory writing-intensive course that seniors take during the second semester of senior year. The Senior Capstone course is designed to sharpen and showcase students’ abilities and readiness for college and career-level writing. Among these skills are: research skills, the ability to clearly organize ideas in both written and oral formats, and the ability to defend ideas in a convincing and compelling manner. By the end of this course, students will have turned in a polished, research-based essay and participated in the scheduled Capstone presentation.
Josephinum Requirement: Those who do not pass the class and the project will not qualify for graduation.