The English Department teaches and empowers girls to value, explore, and analyze a wide range of literature and to express their own ideas. Students engage actively with rich and enduring texts. In class, they engage in deep thought and conversation, showing a commitment to their own learning and a willingness to challenge themselves intellectually and creatively.

Throughout their time at Miss Hall’s, students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills. Reading through diverse curriculum, students learn to engage in deep thought and conversation, to make connections between their reading and the larger world and to connect with their scholarly community by entering lively conversation with their peers and teachers. Students graduate as skilled readers and writers who engage confidently in further studies and in all aspects of their lives beyond the classroom.

English Courses

List of 12 items.

  • English I - Foundational Classics

    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 IV - The Body in Literature

    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 ansd ourselves one in the same? This coure 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 - Theory and Practice of Literary 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? How can a critical reading of a film inform one's experience of a text? This course explores the transformation of text into film and the critical theory about such adaptations. Students work with a vast range of texts that may include Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson; The Color Purple by Alice Walker; Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx; Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson; and a selection of poems adapted and reimagined in film. 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 - African American Voices

    This one-semester course examines themes in African-American literature, poetry, and drama from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. We explore voices of celebration and of oppression, of pride and of anger, of passion and of purpose. Authors include Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others. This course is writing intensive. Students will write several analytical essays and will craft short responses and extended process pieces.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV - Dystopian Fiction as Agents of Change

    "Let's say it's an anti-prediction: if this future can be described in detail, maybe it won't happen." ~Margaret Atwood, 2017 Preface to The Handmaid's Tale
    Even as we describe 21st century society as a “brave new world” or talk about how “big brother is watching,” writers of dystopian fiction continue to spin out dark visions of distant or not-too-distant futures, where today’s greatest challenges--climate change, technology, political instability, uncontrolled viruses--have turned with terrible force against the human race. We read these stories with fascinated horror, torn between wanting to reject their bleak predictions and knowing that life can and will imitate art if we do not change our destructive ways. This course will examine dystopian fiction as agents of change, as writers use their imaginative gifts to shake readers out of their complacency about the state of the world. Students will create their own dystopian visions and share them with the community in order to encourage the self-reflection we will need to relegate these visions to the world of fiction. Texts include Margaret Atwood’s classic The Handmaid’s Tale and Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower; a selection of short fiction from the 1950s to the present; the films “1984” ((Michael Radford) and “Brazil” (Terry Gilliam); and episodes from the acclaimed Netflix series “Black Mirror.”
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • English IV - Refugees: Stories of Exile

    According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are 65 million forcibly displaced persons around the globe today, all of whom carry with them their own unique voices and stories. In The Refugees, we will encounter a broad range of narratives that tell the stories of people living in exile. Course texts will include non-fiction selections from Voices From the “Jungle” written by migrants in the Calais Camp in Northern France, and Looking to London, which visits members of the Kurdish, Somali, Tamil, Sudanese, and Syrian refugee communities in London. Fictional works will include Mohsin Hamed’s Exit West, a creative, magical depiction of the world refugee crisis, selections from Viet Nguyen’s The Refugees, depicting experiences of Vietnamese refugees to the US, and The Silence and the Roar, a dystopian novel by a Syrian refugee which is banned in that country. In addition to these diverse texts, students will have the opportunity to perform independent research and project-based work on the topic of the global refugee crisis.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Leadership in Literary Dialogue through AP Texts

    This full-year Advanced Placement course 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 smallerscale 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: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; 1st or 2nd semester)

English in Action

  • English Translations Presentations - 5.14.18

    Students in the English IV: Translations class challenged their classmates to create a 3-line poem using a selection of Chinese words.

    5 photo(s)

  • 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)


Meet the Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Rebecca Cook-Dubin 

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

    English Teacher
    University of Chicago - M.A.
    Fordham University - B.A.
  • Emily Pulfer-Terino 97

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

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

    English Teacher

News from the English Department

English Department Core Values

492 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone: (413) 443-6401

About us

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