Through careful reading, thoughtful writing, insightful discussion, and close listening, students come to a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. Acquiring knowledge, developing intellectual skills, and enlarging their understanding of ideas and values help students understand an increasingly complex environment

The Upper School English program at Kentucky Country Day prepares students for course work in English at the college level and for reading, writing, and thinking in their lives beyond college and graduate school. The special topics in British, American, and World literature offer students a wide range of experiences with the written word. A special topics Advanced Placement trimester serves to prepare students for the AP Language and Literature exam in the spring.

The writing curriculum in the ninth and tenth grades allows students to explore ideas more fully in expository and creative writings. The use of a strong, controlling idea, transitions, and more complex forms of organization prepare young writers to confront successfully the level of literary analysis and the variety of writing situations that the junior and senior years demand. Impromptu and creative assignments give students the confidence to explore new options. By the end of the senior year, students will, at least, be well prepared to face the demands of college English wherever they may attend.


The literature read in English 9 provides an opportunity for students to explore a variety of texts and their operating systems that, looking back, we call genre. Texts include the novels Judith Guest's Ordinary People, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the plays William Shakespeare’s Othello, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys, and the poetry anthology edited by Billy Collins Poetry 180. Writing is the main tool for discovery, communication, and analysis in the course, but daily classroom performance is also crucial to students' work and understanding. Finally, vocabulary and grammar study will provide students with the necessary skills for success in the Upper School.


With a new roster of trimester courses, the English department has revamped English 10 to include the following foci:

One trimester on Critical Thinking: core texts, Sophie’s World and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Course will explore how various philosophers have tried to think about the world and what the consequences of these attempts were and / or are. Sophie’s World alone would generate much web research in order to understand the intellectual surveys of the book. Independent reading project includes Brave New World and 1984.

One trimester on Writing about the World: course would include reading and writing cd reviews, movie reviews, concert reviews, and book reviews, and from there branch out to include how to write a profile, writing about paintings, art gallery displays, museum exhibits, and buildings (architecture). A movie review from the Courier Journal and The New Yorker are very different. Students could be lead to see the difference and eventually be able to write for different audiences.

One trimester on Media Literacy: We are all manipulated by the images that surround us. This part of the course would focus on becoming aware of the messages of these images and their power to manipulate. This section of the course would also include web literacy and the essential skill of determining the legitimacy of web sites as sources for papers.

English 10 will involve heavy laptop use by students.

As in the past, there will be an advanced section of this course that requires more work, moves at a faster pace, hits upper level thinking skills sooner, and requires more of a time commitment on the part of the student. Placement in the course will depend on present course grade, teacher recommendation, and a writing test in the spring.

ENGLISH 11 & 12 (Trimester special topics)

Guidelines for trimester special topics:

Because we remain committed to teaching writing, teachers teaching special topics courses will include as part of their curriculum the following: two out-of-class essays written by a process that includes peer editing; two in-class essays each trimester and frequent reading quizzes to ensure students are working. All of the above work will be graded.

Further, the department requires that out of the required six electives students take their junior and senior years, one should concern British literature, one should include U S literature, and one should include world literature

Some trimester special topics carry AP. This designation means that students read more difficult work and work at a faster pace, class presentation and discussion takes place on a higher level, and teachers have higher expectations for written work which is assigned and should be written with practice for the AP test in mind. Students must have a B+ or better in their English classes to consider enrolling in an AP class, but students should also consider the additional level of difficulty when signing up for these courses. They will also be required to take four of their six English special topics as AP to prepare for the exam their senior year.

Abnormal Psychology and Literature

Some writers have delved into the minds of the abnormal. Kafka, Joyce Carol Oates, Gogol, Gilman, Aiken, Chekhov, Faulkner, Cather, Browning, Capote, Lawrence, and many others have shown us the world from the point of view of the obsessive-compulsive, the paranoid, the catatonic, the schizophrenic, the deviant, and the many suffering souls in life. We will read their selections and try to understand their plight.

The American West in Literature

This course will look at the almost gravitational pull the West has had on the American psyche. Students will read such works as John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust, Raymond Chandler’s Little Sister, Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, and the poetry of Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder and William Stafford.

AP Prep

This class will prepare students for the kind of prose and poem analysis that the AP language and literature requires. It will involve careful attention to style analysis in both genres.

This course carries AP credit.

Arthurian Legends

This course will examine the medieval literary and historical origins of King Arthur, one of the most popular figures of the Medieval period and today. This course begins with the earliest sources of the legend and the “historical” tradition Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the King’s of Britain, move on to look at Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, then The Quest of the Holy Grail, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Tristan and Isolde, excerpts from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Spenser’s The
Faerie Queene and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and The Lady of Shalott. A close reading of these texts will enable students to examine many of the larger questions of the development of medieval literature and culture, such as the conception of history, the rise of the romance genre, the oral and written traditions, the themes of courtly love, the chivalric codes, and other philosophical and theological concerns.

Asian Writers in the U S

Some of the finest Asian writers live and work here in the United States. Often these writers were born in this country, usually they write in English, and they write largely with an American audience in mind. Their cultural background, however, remains definitely Asian. In this course, we’ll look at novels, stories and plays by several of these innovative and distinctive contemporary authors. Readings: Bharati Mukherjee, The Holder of the World; Amy Tan, The Opposite of Fate; Anita Desai, Games At Twilight; and Wing Tek Lum, Expounding the Doubtful Points

Early Greek Literature

One can trace almost any element of modern life back to the Greeks. Some of their literature took place before thought as we know it came to be or came to be codified. By studying this early thinking, we learn much about the mind then and now. Readings: Homer’s Odyssey, the rigorous probings of the pre-Socratic philosophers, the works of Socrates and Plato, and Antigone.

This course carries AP credit.


In the wake of the destruction and upheaval of World War I, some artists and writers turned their backs on the methods of expression common to the nineteenth century, particularly realism, and sought new ways to discover and represent human experience and truth. The result is a body of work produced between the world wars that is stunning in its diversity. In this course, students will read fiction by writers such as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Virginia Woolf and poetry by Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, T. S. Eliot, and H.D., among others. We will also discuss literary developments in the context of historical events and broader artistic movements.

This course carries AP credit.

The 19th Century British Novel

This course will look at the development of the novel from the late eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. Students will look closely at Jane Austin’s Emma, a novel of manners, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a romantic novel of doom and passion, Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, with its clash of Victorian ideas, and end with Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, with its naïve social optimism overwhelmed by powerful impersonal forces.

This course carries AP credit.

19th Century Russian Literature

In the last century of the Romanov dynasty in Russia, there blossomed a beautiful literature beginning with the poems of Alexander Pushkin (Russia’s Shakespeare). When the czar freed the serfs in 1841, it is said that some of the writings of Ivan Turgenev influenced his decision. When another writer, Nikolai Gogol, appeared to criticize the czar, he was put under house arrest. Feodor Dostoevsky attended a meeting about socialism, was arrested, and put before a firing squad. At the last minute, the czar changed his mind and the writer of Crime and Punishment was sent to Siberia. Tolstoy, the aristocrat, was ousted from the Russian Church for his writings. The Russians take their writers seriously. We will give them a serious reading.

This course carries AP credit.

Victorian Essays and Poetry

Queen Victoria ruled England from 1837-1901. Especially during the first 30 years of her reign, the English enjoyed a dramatic increase in material prosperity that was largely the result of technological advancements. There was a feeling of optimism and a desire to spread the virtues of English society throughout the rest of the world. At the same time, Victorians struggled with environmental issues, the plight of the poor, the burden of supporting military forces in faraway places throughout the world, and repeated conflicts between religion and science. In other words, Victorian England had much in common with our own American society today. We will investigate some of these parallels by considering a range of selections from this remarkable period. Readings: Anne Perry’s Pentecost Alley; Robert Louis Stevenson‘s “The Beach at Falesa”; essays by Thomas Carlyle and Matthew Arnold, and poetry by Tennyson, Arnold, and Browning.

This course carries AP credit.

Writing of the Vietnam War

The Things They Carried, the title of a novel by Vietnam veteran Tim O’ Brien, offers perhaps one of the most telling metaphors available to describe the experience of war. O’ Brien details the physical things soldiers and civilians carried during the Vietnam War and delves into the psychological baggage many carried during the war and long after. In addition to O’ Brien’s novel, this course examines both the physical and psychological experience of the Vietnam War through Novel Without a Name, by the North Vietnamese writer Duong Thu Huong, as well as various short stories, poems, and letters written by soldiers.