Gould students:

  • Collaborate in a writing tutorial
  • Create a portfolio
  • Publish a literary magazine
  • Read to connect to the world
  • Work with published writers

The English department develops a reader’s ability to think clearly, to discuss empathetically, and to convince others through effective writing. Reading, listening, thinking, speaking, and writing are the English process and essential to life beyond Gould.

Through the Richard Blanco Writers Series students work with published writers.

Students employ design thinking, project-based learning, portfolios, speeches, and debates to understand their place in the world.

Summer Reading

Download the Summer Reading Assignment

Departmental Requirements

Four years of English: all students must be enrolled in an English course at all times.

Embedded Honors:
All courses that are not AP English have the Embedded Honors option.  Students who are interested in further challenging themselves can earn honors credit by completing significantly more demanding version of an assignment each term.


English Courses Include:

World Literature

Students in this course experience a shared curriculum with their Human Geography course from Gould’s History department. They work to develop a geographic imagination, so the students can better understand their presence and role in the world. Students begin deliberate development of the skills they need for success in high school, and beyond: reading, listening, thinking, and then writing and speaking. Reading and annotating texts, the writing process, the Socratic discussion method, group work, project management, academic organization, and media presentation skills are built into the curriculum. The course reflects the regions studied in Human Geography and explores those regions through poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Texts may include The Translator, The Alchemist, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, The Good Braider, Dreaming in Chinese, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Persepolis, and Real Time.

European Literature

Students in this course experience a shared curriculum with World History and develop an understanding of the history of western culture through literary analysis. Developing the analytical vocabulary to reason, to write, and to discuss competently about the underpinnings of western culture and society, as it is reflected in literature, is the foundation of the curriculum. Students will journey through the history of western literature by reading drama and poems from Ancient Greece, the Medieval period, the Renaissance, and the 20th Century as well as more modern genres of literature such as the novel and graphic novel. A variety of creative, analytic, and reflective assignments will assist students’ development of analytical thinking skills, the writing process, academic organization, and an understanding of themselves as learners. Texts may include, Antigone, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Everyman, The Tempest, Frankenstein, Maus, The Sunflower, and Snow in August.

American Literature

During Gould Academy’s eleventh grade year of English, students are exposed to a variety of poems, essays, stories, plays, and novels that illuminate the central themes of the course: identity, voice, freedom, justice, transcendentalism, and decision-making. Students focus on the five realms of English (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking) to understand literature and language through critical thinking and analytical skill development. Each textual analysis starts with essential questions based on each trimester’s themes. Students will consider texts in relation to themselves, the world, and other texts. Students will use the essential questions from the course to construct their own essential questions for each assigned project. In addition to a teacher-edited anthology of poems, short stories, and essays, texts may include The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God.

AP English Language and Composition

In this introductory college-level course students read and analyze a broad range of challenging nonfiction prose selections, deepening their awareness of rhetoric and how language works. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to read, write, speak, listen, and think while gaining an awareness of purpose, strategy, and style. Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and historical contexts. Students examine and work through essays, letters, speeches, and images. Students conference on their writing in class and in the Writing Center. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to take the AP English Language and Composition exam.
(Eleventh grade offering by departmental recommendation.)

AP English Literature and Composition

Advanced Placement Literature and Composition is a yearlong challenging course which approaches literature and its themes from a global perspective. We will delve into some of the universal themes of humanity through close readings of a variety of works within the evolving literary canon. The goal will be to read, discuss, and write about these works with precision,sensitivity, clarity, and imagination. The overarching questions will include: How does our past shape our vision of ourselves and our world, our hopes, or our future? What is the nature of evil and its punishment? What does love teach us about life and ourselves? What is literature, and why are we driven to create it? Possible reading selections may include Oedipus, The Awakening, Othello, M. Butterfly, Pride and Prejudice, and Purple Hibiscus. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to take the AP English Literature and Composition exam. (Twelfth grade offering by departmental recommendation.)

Convergences: Literary Analysis and Criticism

A survey of different ways of analyzing popular culture through the lens of literature and criticism. This course provides a foundation for study through individualized readings. Student first learn the process of literary inquiry. Then, each student chooses a topic, selects a novel or non-fiction text on said topic, current research articles, film, and such to enrich the topical focus. Students ultimately present a paper and a presentation on their topic to the class.

Forgotten Language

“I want to tell you what the forests were like I will have to speak in a forgotten language” – W.S. Merwin

Forgotten Language centers around the poetics of the natural world. How do we read, write, discuss, imagine, teach, and walk our way into the “wild”? Students grapple with their own interests and opinions about the environment through a variety of poetry and prose readings, fiction and nonfiction, from Sierra Club founder John Muir to Annie Dillard and Terry Tempest Williams.

Gothic Literature

This course will explore the style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear and horror, as well as Romantic elements such as nature, individuality, and strong emotion of curiosity and suspense. Fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction in this category employs dark and picturesque scenery, startling and melodramatic narrative devices, and an overall atmosphere of exoticism and mystery. Through reading, discussion, and both analytical and creative writing, students will reflect on themes and ideas found in classic and contemporary gothic literature and begin to discuss the question of the human appeal and curiosity to fear and the unexplained. What is it about fear that excites and intrigues us? Texts may include The Haunting of Hill House, Dracula, Carmilla, fiction and non-fiction of Stephen King, and short stories and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.

Creative Writing

Students will read to write, studying contemporary poetry and flash fiction. Becoming an astute reader is the first step to finding power as a writer. Students write exercises that help them understand the potential of each form. Then, students write and conference on at least three drafts of each poem and story. The course culminates in a portfolio presentation.

Culture and Identity: Crossing Borders

In Western cultures, identity often tends to be defined in binary terms: an individual is either black or white, male or female, native or immigrant. This course seeks to explore the nature of identity by focusing on texts in which categories of identity — specifically those of race and nationality — are represented as fluid rather than concrete. Texts may include The Kite Runner and The Prince of Los Cocuyos, among others.

The Science Fiction of Climate Change Meets Design Thinking

This course offers an introduction to the study of literature by focusing on the emerging genre of climate change fiction (popularly known as “cli-fi”). Course readings invite students to think of climate change in new ways–through fiction. The essential question is: how and why does fiction, and specifically literary fiction, matter in the context of climate change? Specifically, we will read a range of short stories and novels, analyzing how features like point of view, characterization, and figurative language enhance the effects that those stories produce on their readers. We will also compare these literary texts to understand and relate to the world. The study of cli-fi text will create the baseline for an action project developed through the design thinking process. (Cross listed with the IDEAS Center. Earns English departmental credit.)

Banned Books and Films

This course explores the First Amendment and its importance to our country and culture. We will consider why books and films are challenged, who does the challenging, and why some books and films are ultimately banned. Through reading, discussion and writing, students will reflect on themes and ideas found in the text and on the screen and then delve into what makes them so “dangerous” or “inappropriate” to deserve harsh criticism and objections. Texts may include The Chocolate War, The Handmaid’s Tale, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Films may include “The Life of Brian,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Hip Hop: Race, Culture, and Art

This course has three movements. First, understanding the history of contemporary Urban Poetry. Second, acquiring the language to read, write, speak, listen, and think about these texts. Thirty-three literary terms will be used to study poetry, with insight from many notable writers. The terms include rhyming couplets, rhyme pattern, stressed/unstressed syllables, scansion, feet, internal rhyme, end rhyme, and slant rhyme among others. Third, critical analysis of each text. Students will write many single and multi-paragraph papers and present two multimedia presentations.

Literature of Adventure and Exploration

Some people are captivated by confrontation or communion with unknown geography and topography and by challenges of unknown proportion. Facing that challenge uncovers dual secrets of the land and one’s soul. Students search for insight into this world of thinking and dreaming, triumph and tragedy. Readings may include Shelley, Blake, Byron, Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott, along with 8,000-meter climbers and ocean voyagers.

English Department Faculty

Denise Manning

Dean of Students
English Department Chair
B.A. Simmons College


Mrs. Manning attended Simmons College, where she earned her B.A. in English and Education. She worked briefly in public schools before embracing the boarding school life. She has taught ninth, tenth, and twelfth graders, headed Davidson Hall, coached Girls’ Soccer, and led the Rugrats Program. She enthusiastically supports Gould’s Four Point Program and the Advising Program, and serves as an advisor with her husband, History Teacher Mr. Rob Manning. Sometimes, when Mrs. Manning isn’t working with students, she has time to read and cook! She and her husband, and their dog, Mookie, live on campus in the Hutchinson House. Their son, Alec, attended Kenyon College.

Dave Bean

English Teacher
B.S. University of Vermont
M.F.A. University of Utah
Writing Center
Skateboard Program Director
Prep Snowboarding Coach


Mr. Bean has taught full-time since 1991 in public and private schools in Utah, Massachusetts, and Maine. His fiction, non-fiction, journalism, and poetry are widely published, and his commentaries have appeared on National Public Radio. He and his wife, Ms. Brooke Libby, Director of College Counseling, live near campus with their daughters Zoe ‘17 and Lilo ‘19; and son, Utah. Mr. Bean enjoys protecting and wandering wild places.

Courtney Cook
English Teacher
B.A. Kent State University
MFA George Mason University

Courtney Cook is a new addition to the English Department at Gould. She is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at George Mason University, where she earned a degree in Creative Writing. Before moving to Gould, Courtney was the senior and sophomore English instructor for two years at Wasatch Academy. Prior to teaching high school, she was a teaching assistant at George Mason University and the Outreach Coordinator for the Sally Merten Writers in the Schools program. Courtney enjoys hiking, camping, skiing, yoga, reading and writing poetry, and cooking.   

Jay Riley

English Teacher
B.A. Bates College
M.B.A. Northwestern University
Winter Outing Club
Road Cycling Head Coach


Mr. Riley first imagined teaching after an inspiring experience in 11th grade English at The Noble & Greenough School. Graduating from Bates College, he then earned a  M.B.A. from Northwestern University. Mr. Riley studied in Avignon and Paris, France for parts of both college and graduate school. His 30-year business career included over 20 years in the medical device industry, initially as a company owner and ending as the chief executive officer of a New Hampshire subsidiary of The Roche Group of Basel, Switzerland. He enjoys helping students learn the real-world benefits of learning to read and think well so they can write clearly and persuasively. Mr. Riley is an enthusiastic skier and cyclist, has climbed a variety of peaks in the French and Swiss Alps, and has enjoyed ski mountaineering trips including the Haute Route and the Shackleton Traverse across South Georgia Island. He served on Gould’s Board of Trustees from 2003-2010, chaired Gould’s 2006 Strategic Planning Committee, and delivered Gould’s commencement address in 2011. Two of his three children graduated from Gould.

Caroline Murphy

English Teacher
B.A., St Lawrence University


Ms. Murphy did a one year teaching internship at the Community School in Ketchum, Idaho. She has been teaching English and coaching soccer and basketball for the past two years at the Rectory School in Connecticut. A native of Massachusetts and an alum of Tabor Academy, she is well versed in boarding school and New England living. Passionate about the outdoors, she enjoys and has led trips in kayaking, backcountry hiking and camping. Caroline will be living in Gehring Hall.

Laurel Fiddler

English Teacher
B.A., Bates College


Ms. Fiddler comes to us from Mammoth Lakes, California. At Bates College, she majored in English and minored in History and Religion. After attending two ski academies, she went on to Bates as a member of their Nordic Team and is now part of Gould’s Nordic coaching staff. Along with her skills in writing and skiing, she is a certified Yoga instructor. She lives in Gehring Hall.