The Millbrook English department is offering two new electives for VI form students interested in deeper dives on transcendent literary themes. The fall offering, called “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” was inspired by teacher Nancy Keller-Coffey’s re-reading of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was also presented as the Millbrook Fall play. Themes of hypocrisy and distrust permeate the work, studied in the deteriorating societal conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the toxic political climate of the 2020 election.
Propelled by student-initiated discussions and writing prompts, the class read I, Tituba, a novel that intersects with The Crucible, followed by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and then two fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. Connecting the works by means of the common themes of evil and deceit also informed the Un-Essays students undertook at the end of the term. Poems, drawings, painting, photography, music and a board game demonstrated students’ ability to interpret and present the ideas they had gleaned from the source material.
“Life On Mars” is the second semester elective examining utopian and dystopian themes in literature. Ms. Keller-Coffey has assigned Station 11, Brave New World, The Dispossessed, and The Sirens of Titan as jumping off points for a survey of the genre. Ms. Keller-Coffey will encourage students to “ask questions that may have no answer” as they consider the effects of scientific progress and societal upheaval as represented in the books.
In contrast to the Un-Essay that concludes the fall semester, the English Culminating Essay is the final English assignment graduating seniors undertake at Millbrook. Students can use outside sources and analysis to research and write an in-depth paper similar to what they might be expected to produce for a college literature course.
The two new courses complement other unique English elective offerings and prepare VIth form students to delve further into literary analysis.