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

Read More About Summer Reading and Learning for 2021

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 a 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.

*9th grade requirement

Honors Designation Students who are interested in further challenging themselves and earning honors credit can participate in the Honors program. Honors assignments demand a deeper academic understanding, while being a continuation of the regularly assigned work.

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 about, and to discuss competently 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.

*10th grade requirement

Honors Designation Students who are interested in further challenging themselves and earning honors credit can participate in the Honors program. Honors assignments demand a deeper academic understanding, while being a continuation of the regularly assigned work.

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.

*11th grade requirement unless enrolled in AP English Language and Composition

Honors Designation Students who are interested in further challenging themselves and earning honors credit can participate in the Honors program. Honors assignments demand a deeper academic understanding, while being a continuation of the regularly assigned work.

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.

*11th 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.

*12th grade offering by departmental recommendation.

Literature of Ethnicity and Power

This course will examine three portraits of societies around the world, each engulfed in conflict. Through the exploration of war, genocide, cultural tensions, and postcolonial complexes, we will begin to understand and question the relationship between ethnicity and power. The realist novel, where imagination and reality are juxtaposed, will be our lens to consider what it means to be human in one of these broken societies. Students will form their own essential questions around the ways that history, culture, and societal structures inform power and thus affect individual identities around the world.

Wilderness Writing and Philosophy

“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, The Castle of Otranto, The Yellow Wallpaper, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, fiction and non-fiction of Stephen King, and short stories and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.

Creative Writing

Creative Writing will allow students to invent and analyze original forms of descriptive writing, including poetry, short stories with a focus in fiction, creative journalism, personal narrative, and quite possibly explore the nuances of the found document.  Students will encounter diverse authors and approaches to the writing process and will share insights and knowledge about their personal encounters with the world so as to provide a better understanding between themselves and the writing they embrace. Through our studies of varied writings, students will improve their application of various important techniques such as form, structure, persona, characterization, and voice. Students will present orally and in written form as well as share with a class workshop, and assemble a final portfolio of revised and polished work. Texts may include Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris; The White Album, Joan Didion; Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman; Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction, Judith Kitchen; The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, Alicia LaPlante; Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed; Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Natalie Goldberg.


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.

Imaginary Lands

The imaginary realm of a fictional tale creates an unrealistic yet satisfying and alluring land which pushes the boundaries of human possibilities through fantasy and detachment from reality. The course “Imaginary Lands” is designed to help students appreciate the formal and historical features of different kinds of stories that take place in lands not of our world, and why we feel drawn to escape by taking a trip down the rabbit hole. We will use the lens of our imagination to discuss metaphor, imagery, nuance, and other literary devices that exist in the critical understanding of fiction. Students will analyze plots, characters, and settings as windows into the themes of the texts and also as a means to discuss how imaginary settings can help us to understand the reality of what it is to be human. Students will explore the cultural purpose of fiction and practice interpreting these texts as complex social mirrors which continue to impact humanity as well as influence the ongoing traditions of contemporary literature. Potential readings may include The Chronicles of Narnia;The Hobbit; Through the Looking Glass; Alice in Wonderland; Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow up; The Golden Compass; Lost Horizon; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; and Wicked.

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.”

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.


“Were it left to me to decide,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Narrative journalism, or literary journalism, is creative nonfiction that contains accurate, well-researched information. Through weekly writing assignments, students will learn how to use elements of fiction — character development, scene setting, sensory detail, dramatic tension — to engage readers in nonfiction stories. They will read works by Pulitzer Prize winners to study the techniques of narrative journalists and master editing techniques to make their writing clear, concise and compelling in ways that apply beyond the realm of journalism. One of the most effective tools a writer has is not only to inform, but also to engender empathy in the reader. As students hone that skill, they learn to engage meaningfully in the critical discussions of the day, a skill that helps make them thoughtful, global citizens.

Literature as Social Commentary

Literature as Social Commentary will introduce students to a diverse range of literature that forwards a dialogue based on the notions of individual and societal identities. Students will develop a lens of critical analysis with a focus on understanding societal issues and social justice. A dialogue centered curriculum that focuses on constructing personal narratives will prepare students to be well-informed global citizens. Students will be supported by the course texts as well as additional materials. Texts may include: Notes of A Native Son, James Baldwin; Educated, Tara Westover; Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran-Foer; Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur; and The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.

English Department Faculty

Denise Manning

Dean of Students
B.A. Simmons University


Mrs. Manning attended Simmons, where she earned a 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 Rob Manning. Sometimes, when she isn’t working with students, she has time to read and cook! They live on campus in the Hutchinson House with their dogs, Mookie and Marshall. Mookie is a certified therapy dog, and Marshall is working toward that goal.

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
Academic Dean of Winter Term
English Teacher
B.A. Kent State University
M.F.A. George Mason University

A graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at George Mason University, where she earned a degree in Creative Writing, Ms. Cook teaches English and serves as the Academic Dean of Winter Term. 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.   

Caroline Murphy

English Teacher
B.A., St Lawrence University
M.Ed., Northeastern University

Ms. Murphy, a native of Massachusetts, a faithful Wash-A-Shore to Chatham, MA, has morphed her love for the ocean into a passion for the outdoors that has taken her across the American West and back to the East, making her home here in the White Mountains. A graduate of Northeastern University’s M.Ed. program with a B.A. from St. Lawrence University, she teaches 9th Grade World Literature, 10th Grade European Literature, and 12th Grade electives. She is an avid outdoorswoman and has guided trips for Gould and served as a co-leader on the Junior Four Point winter camping experience. When not in the classroom or dorm, she can be found exploring the beauty of Western Maine on her skis, her bike, or one of the areas many rivers. She loves showing Gould students the amazing wild and natural environments right outside Gould’s doors and on campus just as much as she loves showing students the power of language and prose. She calls herself the “best reader on the mountain.”