English Department Mission

The English Department teaches and empowers girls to value, explore, and analyze a wide range of literature and to express their own ideas with eloquence and precision. Students graduate as skilled readers and writers who will engage confidently in further studies and in all aspects of their lives beyond the classroom.

English Courses

List of 15 items.

  • English I

    Students in English I study a range of classic, foundational texts. Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet serve as anchor texts, supported by stories from Greek mythology and a selection of short fiction, poetry, and graphic novels. Class work focuses on developing skills in literary analysis through varying writing assignments, multi-genre projects, and class discussion. Students learn basic research skills and become familiar with library resources. Developing organizational skills and learning to use one’s voice are also integral pieces of the English I curriculum.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • English II - Landscape and Place: Writing and Art in New England

    Students in English II will read a range of literature that looks at landscape in its symbolic and literal forms. We will examine authors such as H.D.Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Donna Tartt, Karen Shepherd, Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, Andrea Barrett, E.B. White, and others. Through reading, writing, and discussion, we will consider questions such as: how can location and landscape influence writing and art? How can landscape be the physical terrain and topography in which the author exists, but also a metaphor for political, religious, philosophic and economic contexts? We will build on the foundational writing skills established in English I as we move through more challenging literary content and deeper discussions. Through class participation, presentations, and projects, students become more confident in their voices and the course progresses towards an increasingly student-led discussion format. Students also grow in their research skills and deepen their engagement with library resources.
    (1 credit full year)
  • English III - Modern and Contemporary Global Voices

    English III provides the opportunity for students to deepen the complexity, depth and sophistication of their reading practice, writing process, and research skills in an environment of increasing independence. To support this growth, English III follows a model of “flex teaching” in which two sections meet at the same time and share the expertise of two teachers. This arrangement allows for or flexible grouping and collaborations among both students and teachers. It also enables students to choose among differing levels of challenge at different times of the year. The English III curriculum includes literature of all genres and emphasizes a diversity of global voices. Texts may include The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Waiting for
    the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee, Waiting by Ha Jin, and Americanah
    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Classes begin with a daily poetry
    circle and students gain increasing charge of Harkness-style
    discussions. The first semester includes a sequenced, comprehensive
    research unit.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • English III Honors Seminar

    English III students interested in the challenge of earning an honors distinction must apply in the late fall for a semester-long honors seminar. To join the honors seminar, which will consist of extensive independent work and a group component, students will propose a project to the English department. Throughout the second semester, students will meet with their instructor in one-on-one meetings that focus on independent work, and the honors cohort will meet as a group once a week outside of the MHS daily schedule. In the weekly meetings, the group will report on progress, problems, and successes, engage with core theoretical texts, and pursue site-based enrichment experiences that may relate to independent projects (e.g. archives, libraries, experts, historical sites). Individually, students will pursue self-designed projects that must include:
    • Extensive reading of literary texts
    • A research component Consultation of experts
    • A series of process reflections
    • A final written component
    • A final product for publication/presentation (which may be the written component)
    The semester will culminate in the publication of the written components of each project and a public presentation of each student’s work.
    P/F - P=Honors Designation
  • English IV - Shakespeare on Desire

    Shakespeare was an incredibly gifted poet and playwright, whose works sustain their relevancy four hundred years after publication. But much to some students’ surprise, his plays were full of desire, transgression, and trickery. In this class, we will read, analyze, discuss, and perform poems and passages from the Bard’s work, examining the author as both lover and lunatic. We will also watch films and discuss relationships among Shakespeare’s sonnets, comedies, and dramas. Texts will include the author’s sonnets, and a sampling of his plays including The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, and Twelfth Night. (1/2 credit, first semester)
  • English IV - The Body in Society

    In what ways does the public dictate the value of our bodies? In what spaces are our bodies allowed and not allowed? Are our bodies and ourselves one in the same? This course explores gender, race, size, body image, public health, and other issues regarding the physical self in society. Readings include contemporary work by Eula Biss, Claudia Rankine, and Maggie Nelson, as well as historical texts across genres. Additionally, media covering current social issues informs students’ inquiry into myriad topics and concerns as we explore what Biss means when she claims that “we owe each other our bodies.”
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex: gender, genetics, and Greek Drama

    Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex was published in 2002 to great acclaim. New York Times reviewer Laura Miller labeled the novel “a colossal act of curiosity, of imagination and of love.” With an intersex protagonist who transitions from female to male, one might reduce the book simply to a lesson on gender identity, but the text invites a much closer analysis. The tightly-woven text delves into the science of genetic mutations and topics of genocide, immigration, race in America, gender stereotypes, sexual orientation, Greek theater, ethics, prejudice, fate, and more. As we move through this primary text in our class, we will read nonfiction essays, poems, and scientific research to deepen our discussions.
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - Translations

    This one-semester course capitalizes on the cultural and linguistic richness of the Miss Hall’s School community. The class will read English-language translations of novels, short fiction, and poetry originally written in languages spoken by members of the class or languages of cultural significance or interest to class members. The syllabus is, therefore, a flexible and collaborative product of the students and their teachers. The class will focus on close readings of these texts while also engaging in broader thinking about the nature of language and cross cultural communication. Students will complete independent projects of their own design, which may include original translations, research-based investigations into the process and art of translations which could present opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations with the Foreign Language Department. Texts may include Why Translation Matters and other readings in the theory of translation, In Other Words (trans. from Italian), Memories of Peking (trans. from Chinese), The Queue (trans. from Arabic), and The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (trans. from Korean).
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • English IV - From Page to Screen: Stories and Film Adaptations

    Is the book really always better? What can happen in a film that cannot happen on the page? What gets lost in translation when a book is made into a movie? This course explores the always exciting, if sometimes awkward or even disastrous, transformation of text into film. Students work with a vast range of texts that may include Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson, Matilda, by Roald Dahl, Brokeback Mountain, by Annie Proulx, Housekeeping, by Marilyn Robinson, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, Wonder Boys, by Michael Douglas, and others. In addition to critical reading and writing, students will experiment with making their own adaptations of a text of their choosing.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV: History & Cultural Legacy of the Brothers Grimm

    A child’s first exposure to story often begins with a fairy tale. From Little Red Riding Hood to Hansel and Gretel, fairy tales still delight young children who fear the cunning wolf or dream of the candy-covered cottage. But where did these tales come from? Who were they for and how have they changed? What purpose do they serve in our contemporary, global society? This course examines the history and cultural legacy of these stories that seem so simple at first glance. We will explore many versions of popular fairy tales across time periods and cultures, including a close look at the popular Grimm brothers and their original, non-Disney-fied tales; we will also read scholars’ critical essays and watch contemporary film adaptations to understand the significance of these tales.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV - From Apocalypse to Zombies: Dystopian Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries

    Dystopian literature -- fictions that present frightening visions of the future of our world -- have been surprisingly popular throughout the last century or so; (think of Orwell's 1984, or more recently, The Hunger Games or the Divergent series). Why have so many writers devoted their talents to producing such dark visions? And perhaps even more curiously, why have those visions proven to be so popular? To what extent do they predict the future, or, in some cases, describe the present? In this course, we will study some of the most important examples of modern dystopian fiction, including film and television versions. Possible texts include: George Orwell's 1984; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; the landmark films “Brazil” (Terry Gilliam) and “Blade Runner” ( Ridley Scott); and episodes from the acclaimed Netflix series “Black Mirror.”
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV: Hearing Voices

    Course description to come.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English - Advanced Placement

    Advanced Placement Literature and Composition engages students in careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone, all of which prepares them for taking the AP Literature exam. The course includes intensive study of representative works from various genres and periods, concentrating on works of recognized literary merit. Readings may include Hamlet, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Oedipus Rex. Students engage in individualized writing instruction with attention to the development of a strong writing process and narrative voice. The class utilizes a seminar format, wherein students are empowered to set the agenda for discussions of the work at hand and carry out those discussions with support but minimal interference from the instructor.
    Grade Level: 12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Introduction to Creative Writing

    This one-semester course prompts students to explore and further develop their authentic voices through the study and writing of poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction. Students read short pieces in each genre, investigating strategies for achieving greater expressiveness in their own work. While students present brief, critical responses to assigned texts, their focus is on generating creative work, on developing as literary artists. Each student writes across genres, engaging different traditions and applying a variety of techniques. Each prepares at least one piece to submit to Sol, Miss Hall’s literary and art magazine. This course is offered both semesters.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12 (1/2 credit; 1st or 2nd semester)
  • Advanced Study in Creative Writing

    Advanced Study in Creative Writing is open to students who complete Intro to Creative Writing. This one-semester course both introduces and builds on creative skills and practices, asking students to delve deeper into craft across genres. Additionally, it requires students to further develop leadership in the classroom. Advanced creative writing students must produce a portfolio and submit at least one piece for publication in Sol, Miss Hall’s literary and art magazine.
    Prerequisite: Intro Creative Writing Grade
    Level: 9-12 (1/2 credit; 1st or 2nd semester)

English in Action

  • Ninth Grade Power of Poetry - 5.3.18

    For the new Power of Poetry project, ninth grade students chose a topic for which they wanted to advocate, researched the topic, chose a poem that spoke to the topic, then wrote their own original poems.

    12 photo(s)

  • Poetry Recitation - 4.30.18

    The English Department hosted its annual Poetry Recitation Contest on April 30 in Centennial Hall. Eighteen students recited poems in a schoolwide competition. Congratulations to Mariah Lewis ’18, Ingrid O’Dell ’19, Rea Rice ’20, and Chelsea Canal ’21, who won the grade-level competitions, and to Julie Xu ’18, who won the evening’s overall competition with her recitation of “My Chinese,” by Athena Chu.

    15 photo(s)

  • Shakespeare and Company perform "Othello" - 3.28.18

    The MHS community was treated to a live performance of Shakespeare’s "Othello" by members of nearby Shakespeare & Company’s Northeast Regional Tour. After the performance, the actors engaged in a conversation with the students, discussing several themes related to the play. Freshwomen also participated in a performance workshop with the actors in the Woods Theater.

    8 photo(s)


English Department Core Values

News from the English Department

Meet the Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Rebecca Cook-Dubin 

    English Department Chair
    Boston College - M.Ed.
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Monica  Kirschmann 

    English Teacher
    University of Chicago - M.A.
    Fordham University - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Emily Pulfer-Terino 

    English Teacher
    Syracuse University - M.F.A.
    Sarah Lawrence College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Julie Schutzman 

    English Teacher / Director of the Writing Center
    University of Pennsylvania - Ph.D.
    Brown University - A.M.
    Brown University - A.B.
    Read Bio
  • Richard Scullin 

    English Teacher
    Read Bio
492 Holmes Road • Pittsfield, MA 01201  (413) 443-6401

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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is an all girls private, college preparatory boarding and day high school for grades 9-12.
© Copyright 2018 Miss Hall's School