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English
Mission Statement

The Stuyvesant English Department's most vital jobs are to help students use literature to understand their world and themselves, and to help them to articulate their thoughts clearly, both orally and in writing. Students at every grade level should expect to read literature that will challenge and engage them, to listen to and participate in class discussions and activities that will deepen their understanding of the texts, and to complete assignments designed to improve their writing skills and provide new insights into the works and topics they address. We believe that Stuyvesant students should be given a great deal of freedom in determining their own trajectory through the English program. Nevertheless, there are some canons of literature that all students will encounter and some common skills that all students should become proficient in during their four years at Stuyvesant.

Freshman Year

All students should expect to read texts representing a variety of eras and countries, and will be exposed to a wide range of literary genres, including novels, nonfiction, poems, plays and short stories. Students will learn to analyze and discuss basic literary elements, such as plot, setting, character, mood, dialogue, theme and subtext.

All students should expect to write critically and creatively in response to those works (both in class and over the course of at least six major assignments per semester), to improve grammar skills and vocabulary, and to learn the fundamentals of the literary essay (thesis statements, use of quotation as evidence, etc.). The second term also emphasizes nonfiction writing, particularly research writing, for which students will learn to interpret and cite information from a variety of sources. All students should expect to become familiar with and proficient in Parts 1 & 2 of the ELA Regents exam.

Sophomore Year

All students should expect to read major works from the Classical and European canons, and to develop an appreciation for how works of literature reflect and comment on the historical eras from which they emerge. Students will learn about the major philosophical and artistic movements (such as Rationalism, Romanticism and Modernism) that provide historical context for the texts, and may be asked to consider the texts through a variety of critical approaches.

All students should expect to write critically and creatively in response to these works, both in class and over the course of at least five major assignments per semester. Students will build upon and move beyond the basic skills they learned as freshmen, focusing especially on literary analysis and how to deepen and develop ideas. All students should expect to develop supplementary grammar skills, and to become familiar with and proficient in Parts 3 & 4 of the ELA Regents exam.

Junior Year

All students must devote at least one semester to a core English class, in which they should expect to read major works of American literature. There are three likely trajectories for juniors, who may choose to:

  • Spend the entire year studying American literature, either by enrolling in a yearlong AP Language and Composition course or by taking both Early and Later American Literature
  • Spend a semester studying either Early or Later American Literature and devote the other semester to a more specialized literature or workshop class
  • Spend the entire year studying American Literature and take one or more of the specialized classes concurrently, as English electives

All students should expect to write critically and creatively in response to the literature, both in class and over the course of at least five major assignments per semester. Students will build upon and move beyond the skills they learned in the first two years, focusing especially on how to develop a personal voice and sense of style. All students should also expect to review all four parts of the ELA Regents exam (which they will take at the end of the first semester).

Senior Year

All students must devote at least one semester to a core English class, in which they should expect to read major works of British literature. There are three likely trajectories for seniors, who may choose to:

  • Spend the entire year studying major works of British and World literature, either by enrolling in a yearlong AP Literature and Composition course, by taking both Early and Later British Literature, or by taking either Early or Later British Literature one semester and another core class, such as Shakespearean Literature or Victorian Literature in the other
  •  Spend a semester studying British literature in one of the core classes and devote the other semester to a more specialized literature or workshop class
  • Spend the entire year studying British and World literature and take one or more of the specialized classes concurrently, as English electives

All students should expect to experiment with a variety of critical and creative responses to the literature; assignments may require students to experiment with longer and/or non-traditional forms. In the first semester, students will complete at least five major assignments, including a personal essay which they may choose to develop and submit as a college essay. In the second semester, students will complete at least four major assignments, the last of them a course-appropriate culminating project that may have a research and/or portfolio component.