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"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” Franz Kafka

    This year-long class is for students who plan to take the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Exam. It is the equivalent of a first-year college English course. In a seminar format, students engage in a close study of poetry, drama and the novel. Writing focuses heavily on the critical analysis of literature, though the course also incorporates less formal writing styles. Through close reading, discussion and frequent writing, students sharpen reading, thinking and writing skills while exploring a wide variety of classic and contemporary literature.

    This course develops students’ language and thinking skills as they continue the formal study of literature through four themes: Tragedy; the Real and Ideal; the Individual, Nature and the Divine; and Culture and Identity. The course emphasizes close textual analysis, written analysis, and argumentation. Writing assignments include a comparative essay, a personal-experience narrative, a “This I Believe” essay, and a ballad. Students learn that writing is a process; workshops, peer reviews and individual conferences. Students also write for reflection in order to learn the use of writing as a tool for thought, and are required to develop a habit of building vocabulary. The study of grammar focuses on types of phrases and clauses. Class discussion is an essential part of the course — and active participation is required of all students.

    This course introduces students to the cultural heritage of the United States as found in the nation’s literature; promotes their ability to write in a variety of modes, formal and informal; improves students’ language skills; and helps students think critically about themselves, our society, and our world.

    Students write for a variety of purposes, with an emphasis on analysis and argumentation. The course requires both in-class and out-of-class writing assignments. Writing is taught as a process; students participate in workshops, peer reviews and individual conferences. Students also write for reflection with the goal of using writing as a tool for thought. Teachers choose vocabulary from the literature, with an emphasis on context, word analysis and the different forms of words. Discussion is an essential part of the class; active participation is required of all students. An oral component of the class requires formal presentations in conjunction with group and individual projects.


    This course introduces students to the beginnings, development, language and themes of British literature, and teaches them to write with clarity and precision. Focusing on major writers from the Middle Ages through the 21st century, the course examines themes and ideas in a variety of genres. In class discussions and through writing assignments, students analyze and compare the themes, techniques, influences on, and effects of the works they study. In addition to impromptu in-class essays and prepared essays, students do a major research project related to a literary text. Vocabulary is, for the most part, taken from the literature. Grammar, mechanics and usage are addressed in formal exercises and in students' own writing.

    NOTE: Although the British Literature course does not prepare students specifically for the AP English Language and Composition Exam, many juniors take this exam in May. This decision is encouraged by the school. The English faculty can offer guidance and assistance with preparation for the AP exam in the second semester. 


    This course offers a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and historical examination of the role and function of the comic in society and in literature across time. Students study satire and irony as rhetorical devices and subversive tools. Humor often allows the expression of thoughts that society suppresses, forbids, and defines as taboo; humor can let out what Sigmund Freud calls “forbidden thoughts,” or what Plato in the Philebus sees as ”ridiculing the weak.” Tracking the history of comedy from ancient Greece, students also explore how comedy can often be serious in its objective to combat the ridicule and pain that social groups feel due to criticism and oppression because of their religion, gender or race. Students study the use of the comic in a variety of genres such as short stories, plays, novels, film, cartoons and sitcoms. Students read these texts with sensitivity, using critical thinking and analytical tools to deconstruct the materials. Applying Freudian theory, the class examines the morphology and technique of jokes. Students write analytical papers and conduct research that considers primary and secondary sources. Students gain an understanding of the psychology of jokes and humor within diverse cultural backgrounds.

    This course explores and practices forms of non-fiction writing, with an emphasis on personal narrative. Students start with the nuts and bolts of the writing craft, reading and discussing chapters from William Zinsser's On Writing Well in order to develop technique and avoid novice writer pitfalls. The course is workshop based, so students share and discuss their non-fiction works and the works of their peers in an atmosphere that is supportive and challenging. Exercising listening and response skills is an essential part of the democratic workshop practice. Students read and analyze the works of published authors from the Touchstone Anthology, and also watch video clips of acclaimed authors discussing the writing process. Students learn to think and read like writers and, in so doing, are exposed to writing as a culture. The course intends to spark students’ creative passions. Some of the themes and topics developed include the self-portrait, humor, the experience of nature, daily routine, travel, family and local culture.

    This course develops and enhances a beginning writer’s knowledge and appreciation of imaginative writing through the craft of writing itself. Students concentrate on writing poetry and short fiction. The class explores the process of creating a short story and writing poetry using reading assignments and various writing exercises that hone the techniques of craft. Class time is devoted to rigorous analysis of narrative and verse technique, in theory and in literary application, as well as to workshops in which students critique and discuss their own work and the work of their fellow students. Poetry and Short Fiction is a writing-based workshop course.

    Students in this course study narration as a thought mode and mode of writing, principally through the genre of screenplays. By studying sophisticated and classic screenplays, students enhance their ability to read and understand the relationship between visual images and written/spoken language that is prevalent in so much of our modern media. Moreover, students deepen this understanding by writing their own one-act screenplays. In exploring the process of screenwriting, students practice the art of storytelling. Thus, they deepen their understanding of storytelling techniques such as character development, plotting and sequencing. The writing workshop is an important methodology of the class; students’ own work is at the center of discussions employing the writer’s workshop. Students also work in groups to create a short film from one of their screenplays.

    This course traces the rich history of crime and detective fiction, a genre that the reading public embraces though critics have often wrongfully dismissed it. In fact, crime and detective fiction has historically dealt with such issues as the psychology of evil, the existence of absolute truth, racial tensions in the U.S., moral relativity, and so on.

    It's tempting to think of digital technology as the enemy of literature. In her trailblazing study Hamlet on the Holodeck, the media scholar Janet H. Murray argues quite the opposite: the computer is "the child of print culture," a powerful representational medium of its own that promises to continue the evolution of storytelling and "reshape the spectrum of narrative expression." In this course, students think about how the unique affordances of digital technology (e.g. its ability to create an inhabitable virtual world, or its ability to invite the participation of the “player”) allow for different modes of storytelling. What kinds of stories can we tell using digital technology that we wouldn't have been able to tell as effectively using the linear medium of print? In particular, we focus our attention on critical analysis of video games, a medium that is culturally significant, aesthetically complex, yet not often subjected to deep analytical scrutiny. How do games work as narrative artifacts? How do they use their unique form to convey philosophical or political ideas  about identity, human nature, social structures, violence, etc.? How might we extract meaning and insight from what they allow us to do and where they allow us to be?

    In this elective, students read, discuss and write about texts that explore ways that sexual and gender identities exist as social constructs rather than as biological facts. Using both pieces of contemporary theory and works of fiction, students examine how various socially prescribed gender roles, issues relative to sexual orientation, and prevailing yet shifting conceptions of masculinity and femininity shape individual and communal identities in profound and often restrictive ways. The exploration of themes relating to gender and sexuality inevitably intersects with themes of race, religion, ethnicity, class and nationhood. As a result, students examine how conceptions of gender and sexuality shape — and are shaped by — other pivotal aspects of complex human identities.

    This course is first and foremost a study of great individual works of literature. Yet the course allows students to explore the incredibly rich Japanese history, culture and literary tradition that engendered such great works. Works read in the course are relatively short in order to allow the class to look at several authors rather than focusing on a few particular authors. Discussions focus both on how these works reflect Japanese sensibility and culture and on how they are works of world literature. Students consider the influences of China and Buddhism on the literature, particularly as those influences relate to Japanese conceptions of beauty (aesthetics). Students also read some works that reflect the cultural upheaval in Japan as it opened its doors to the world in the Meiji Period and quickly became the first Eastern world power by the early 20th century. The course examines texts of post-WWII and more contemporary Japanese authors. Finally, students probe, if only briefly, the relationship between Japanese manga and the literature they have read.

    This course is designed to help students gain a better understanding of the increasingly complex and multifaceted world of the modern news media. The course looks at traditional and digital media, the media industry, and the way our political, social and economic spheres are influenced by media messaging. We consider the role of the media in a democracy and in today’s cultural and political climate, exploring the consequences of the erosion of traditional news publications and of news being disseminated via social media. The course begins with media history, tracing the development of newspapers and broadcast journalism across the 20th and 21st centuries, and focusing in particular on important case studies such as Watergate, high-profile fabrications and Wikileaks. The course then pivots from the theoretical to the practical, asking students to go out into the community (both RE and beyond) to report, interview and write articles in a number of different journalistic genres. Assignments include extensive writing and reporting (including holding press conferences with invited guests from the community) for print and digital audiences, helping students to develop interviewing, research and editing skills. Students also engage in analyses of modern news outlets, allegations of media bias and the overall direction of the media industry.

    Literature of Adventure examines non-fiction and fiction works that explore the testing of the human spirit in extreme environments and under extreme circumstances: journeying by sled across the Antarctic in midwinter; rafting the length of the Amazon; walking alone across the Grand Canyon; scaling the dizzying heights of Everest; struggling to endure a harrowing thousand mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. We will be looking at why people seek out such experiences, what it’s like to live life “on knife’s edge,” and what they (and we) can learn from their experiences—about nature, human nature and ourselves.

    This course examines times of great social upheaval, past and future. Through the vision of great writers, students look at tumultuous periods following the French Revolution and during the Russian Revolution, and they also examine projected changes in their nation’s future in light of contemporary problems globally and nationally. Students will study the background and causes of change; universal themes of faith, love, goodness; and the will to survive in times of social turmoil and change. Students also consider changing times on a personal level through a book of poems that Pablo Neruda wrote when he was 20.

    “...magical realism is a literary device or a way of seeing in which there is space for the invisible forces that move the world: dreams, legends, myths, emotion, passions, history.”
    —Isabel Allende

    In literature, magical realism is commonly conceived as a genre associated with the boom in Latin American literature of the 1950s and 1960s. Yet magical realism may be more properly understood as an international movement that has become a key component of postmodernist fiction during the past 50 years. In examining the use of magical realism by world-class authors, not only do students explore the “magic” and pleasure inherent in reading this genre, but they also examine universal themes the genre shares with traditional literature. In addition, the course looks at magical realism in film.

    This course focuses on how science fiction, with its particular narrative freedoms, provides a singular means of understanding what it means to be human. The course addresses how science fiction reflects issues and anxieties of the era that produced it. Students examine a number of issues: fears of nuclear/ technological annihilation, Cold War fears of totalitarian control, the ethics of genetic engineering, and life after environmental catastrophe.

    This course explores American short fiction, both from the viewpoint of the writer and from the viewpoint of the critic. Students examine elements of short stories (plot, character, point of view, setting, tone and style, theme, and symbol) in relation to classics of the genre, along with various approaches to literary criticism. Students complete creative work and analytical essays in the course of their study.

    In a contemporary American society increasingly influenced by widespread consumerism, preoccupations with status, superficial entertainment, and the belief that scientific and religious traditions are inherently at odds with one another, there has been a growing concern that the world we have created ignores and neglects the spiritual lives of its citizens. Unearthing Spirit explores that contention and seeks to probe age-old questions about what it means to be human, about the relationshipbetweenloveand spirituality, and about the need to nurture our inner lives if we are ever to reach our full potential, both individually and collectively. The texts students read, discuss and write about come from diverse sources, some from particular religious traditions, others from non-denominational, humanistic origins. Although the course centers on spiritual concerns, students inevitably confront issues ranging from war to entertainment, politics to economics, and identity formation to mortality.

    “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
                                                                —Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist (1821-1881)

    Voices from the Inside is an interdisciplinary course that provides students with the means to think critically about a vast array of social issues related to mass incarceration. Students explore various ways in which different societies discipline their members, and they investigate how well rehabilitation systems actually rehabilitate. Students examine the controversy over capital punishment, and investigate how race, class and gender relate to penal systems. The class incorporates different kinds of texts, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction and social theory. Additionally, students participate in a writing exchange with men or women incarcerated in a correctional facility.

    This course examines the universality of human experience by looking at myths across human cultures and through time, from ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek literature to the Harry Potter phenomenon. The course is interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating psychological, anthropological, theological and historical perspectives in an attempt to identify archetypal patterns and values that shape our society. Modern myths are explored both in relation to their meaning in our society and as windows into the ancient cultures that created them. The exposure to a wide range of myths from different cultures and civilizations develops students’ sensitivity to and respect for our differences as well as our shared heritage.


  • Photo of Jennifer Nero
    Jennifer Nero
    Humanities Department Chair, History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Providence College - B.A.
    Marquette University - M.A.
  • Photo of Frances Alexander
    Frances Alexander
    English Teacher
    Northwestern University - B.A.
    Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English - M.A.
  • Photo of Gila Aloni
    Gila Aloni
    English Teacher
    Tel-Aviv University - B.A.
    Tel-Aviv University - M.A.
    University of Paris - IV - D.E.A.
    University of Paris - IV - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Elisabeth Anderson
    Elisabeth Anderson
    English Teacher
    Salve Regina University - B.A.
  • Photo of Flavia Araripe
    Flavia Araripe
    English Teacher
    Pontificia Unversidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro - B.A.
    University of Texas - M.A.
  • Photo of Juan Arrastia
    Juan Arrastia
    Florida International University - B.A.
    Nova Southeastern University - M.A.
  • Photo of Kathryn Bufkin
    Kathryn Bufkin
    English Teacher
    University of Georgia - B.A.
    University of Georgia - M.A.
    University of South Carolina - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Kristin Castle
    Kristin Castle
    English Teacher
    University of Tennessee - B.A.
    University of Tennessee - M.S.
  • Photo of Lindsay Danielson
    Lindsay Danielson
    Upper School Dean of Students, English Teacher, Coach
    Columbia University - B.A.
    Teachers College, Columbia University - M.A.
  • Photo of Thomas Dughi
    Thomas Dughi
    Dean of the Junior Class, English Teacher, Coach
    Columbia University - B.A.
    Columbia University - M.A.
    Johns Hopkins University - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Danielle Ellis
    Danielle Ellis
    English Teacher, Upper School Yearbook
    Georgia State University - B.A.
  • Photo of Michael Groeninger
    Michael Groeninger
    English Teacher
    Illinois State University - B.S.
    Southern Illinois University - M.A.
    College of New Jersey - M.E.
  • Matthew Helmers
  • Photo of Amy Lanning
    Amy Lanning
    English Teacher
    Hunter College - B.A.
    New School University - M.F.A.
    University of Washington - M.A.
    University of Washington - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Matthew Margini
    Matthew Margini
    English Teacher
    New York University - B.A.
    Columbia University - M.A.
    Columbia University - Ph.D.
  • Photo of James McCrink
    James McCrink
    English Teacher
    Florida International University - B.A.
    University of Nottingham - M.A.
  • Samantha Morse
  • Photo of Corinne Rhyner
    Corinne Rhyner
    Upper School English Department Coordinator, Assistant Dean for Student Activities
    George Washington University - B.A.
    Georgia State University - M.A.
    Georgia State University - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Rachel Rodriguez
    Rachel Rodriguez
    Head of the Middle School, English Teacher
    Florida International University - B.S.
    Nova Southeastern University - M.S.
  • Photo of Jody Salzinger
    Jody Salzinger
    Middle School English Department Coordinator
    Brandeis University - B.A.
    Columbia University - M.A.
  • Photo of J. Michael Townsend
    J. Michael Townsend
    English Teacher
    Hawthorne College - B.A.
    Bread Loaf School of English - M.A.
  • Photo of Samuel Upton
    Samuel Upton
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, English Teacher
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
    University of Michigan - M.A.
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Middle School2045 South Bayshore DriveTel: 305-250-6850
Upper School3575 Main HighwayTel: 305-460-8800
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.