English Electives

Millbrook students mature in their roles as scholars by the time they begin their VIth form year, and while the yearlong VIth form English course was challenging and engaging for many of them, it was not necessarily serving the intellectual curiosity of the entire group. Thus, the English Department re-created the VIth form English curriculum to better serve students and challenge them most effectively.

considers literary and cultural expression centered on the experience of being incarcerated. Students pursuing this course discuss incarceration and explore questions about democracy, freedom, citizenship, and humanity by reading and examining poems, novels, and other stories of corrections, criminal justice, and prisons in several countries. 

In November the class traveled to Philadelphia to tour the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) to experience prison life firsthand. ESP, which closed in 1971, allowed solitary confinement of all its prisoners, all the time, and held some of America’s most well-known criminals, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. Students toured the facility and participated in an interactive exhibit exploring topics such as criminal justice, the death penalty, patterns in American incarceration (e.g., race, economic status, gender, and age of those incarcerated), and mass incarceration in the United States and other countries. 

This trip allowed students to see prison conditions, understand more deeply the personal experiences of prisoners, consider the evolving understanding of mental health in prisons, and put real faces and places to the stories read in class. 

REPRESENTATIONS OF BEAUTY IN LITERATURE explores how Western beauty has evolved over the last two hundred years through both fiction and non-fiction. This curriculum focuses on the evolution of aesthetic preference and the pitfalls of assigning too much importance to human beauty. Examination of novels such as Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray helps students broaden their understanding of beauty around non-Western versus Western ideals and gender fluidity. 

Collaboration with the Art Department in the fall brought students into the Warner Gallery and visiting artist Lissa Rivera’s photography exhibition, which included artworks inspired by sexuality and gender. Students were tasked with writing the didactics for Rivera’s work, and the project inspired thoughtful and passionate classroom discussions. 

Students’ interests guided culminating projects that illustrated their opinions on how beauty will be defined in the next 50 years. Each student developed, researched, and supported a thesis and created a physical representation to support his/her position. 

LITERATURE OF THE OCEAN introduces students to modern and contemporary works of fiction and poetry, while focusing on developing creative practice as an analytical tool. This takes shape in the “un-essay”—a non-traditional analysis of a text—that students produce by the end of the term. 

The idea for this course came out of collaborative work that teacher Lewis Feuer was doing with his partner, writer Rachel Miller. With an interest in coastal landscape, its constant change and variation, and its ambiguous characteristic, Mr. Feuer believed this tension around land and sea would provide an excellent opportunity for creative expression about spaces that are ever-changing. 
Click to learn more about the English curriculum at Millbrook.