English Department

The English Department

The English program at Montgomery Bell Academy has a long tradition of teaching young men to become close readers of great literature and confident writers with a strong background in grammar and stylistic principles. Along with challenging students to develop disciplined study habits, the faculty teaches literature as a way for a boy to better understand himself and grow into a responsible citizen. 

English Department Course Descriptions

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • English 7: Literature & Comp

    Students improve their reading and writing skills by studying short novels, short stories, and poems. With a heavy emphasis on academic skills like annotating, organization, and time management, Literature and Composition students are introduced to the structure of a paragraph and the process of evidence selection. Students also work on composition skills by learning to write clear, complete, correct sentences, well-developed paragraphs, and essays in response to assigned readings. They also have opportunities for informal and imaginative writing. Core texts for this course include The Hobbit and A Christmas Carol in addition to a study of mythology.
  • English 7: Grammar & Vocabulary

    A prerequisite course for Latin I, Grammar and Vocabulary students examine the eight parts of speech, analyze and diagram sentences, and engage the study of roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Students also learn the “language” of language, such as independent vs. dependent clause, subject-verb agreement, antecedent, and direct object. In addition to the grammar instruction, students also work their way through a list of 100 words over the course of the year, striving for complex mastery of word nuance for application in the Literature and Composition course.
  • English 8

    English 8 students continue their study of grammar, expanding their foundation from seventh grade to include verbals and noun clauses. Biweekly vocabulary study, emphasizing word mastery, is an integral part of the course.  Boys study a range of novels, short stories, poetry, and drama. Core texts include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Students learn to write analytical compositions that examine major characters and ideas in the literature they have read and discussed in class. The course also includes quarter recitations, including a final rite-of-passage in the recitation of Antony’s funeral speech.
  • English I (Regular or Honors)

    English I provides a review of basic grammar skills taught in the junior school with an emphasis on applying knowledge of grammatical constructions to the students’ own writing. Throughout the year, students will study samples of great works according to genre: short story, novel, poetry, drama, and epic. The core texts of the course include a mixture of the following titles: All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, Macbeth, The Odyssey, The Catcher in the Rye, The House on Mango Street, A Raisin in the Sun, The Left Hand of Darkness, Slaughterhouse-Five, and A Tale of Two Cities. Ninth grade compositions consist mostly of analytical themes about literature. In addition, students will write some creative pieces—a personal essay, movie review, or narrative.
  • English II (Regular or Honors)

    In English II students review the grammar skills taught in the junior school and ninth grade and begin to focus on recognizing grammatical errors in their themes. A survey of U.S. authors from the colonial to the modern era, English II emphasizes major writers who built an American literary tradition. Students write a variety of essays: analytical themes on their reading, personal essays, a narrative, and a research paper on a major American novelist. Core texts of the course include a mixture of the following titles: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Red Badge of Course, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Glass Menagerie, Walden, and Cannery Row.
  • English III (Regular or Honors)

    In English III students study a survey of British and Irish literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the modern period with continuing study in vocabulary, grammar, and critical writing. Emphasis is placed on literary history, the relation of the major writers to their respective periods, and analysis of the styles and themes of each author. Conscious of the way grammar skills influence style, students write expository analyses, memoirs, narratives, and other types of essays. Core texts of the course include a mixture of the following titles: Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, The Remains of the Day, Othello, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
  • English IV (Regular)

    The first semester of English IV is a study of tragedy from its ancient Greek origins to modern fiction and drama. Beginning with Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone and Aristotle’s theory of tragedy, the course progresses to Elizabethan and modern visions of tragedy, with students studying Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Miller’s Death of a Salesman. A review of summer reading, grammar, and stylistic principles is factored into the first quarter. During the second semester of English IV, seniors participate in a seminar-style colloquium devised by their first-semester teacher. In the past, teachers have designed courses such as Speculative Fiction, Fiction into Film, Philosophy and Literature, Shakespeare Studies, Sherlock Holmes, and an Introduction to Southern Literature. The offerings change from year-to-year depending on enrollment and faculty assignments.
  • English IV (AP): Literature & Comp

    Students begin the AP course discussing their summer reading books with an emphasis on analyzing syntax, imagery, diction, and tone, the four areas tested on the AP examination. Throughout the year, students will work on sample AP questions, including multiple-choice and essay responses. Grammar review focuses on the correction of grammar and stylistic errors and on correct usage. Students will write brief critical essays and a major profile of a person of their choice. Students will also read critical essays and cite these sources in their themes. Likewise, students prepare a number of presentations, including recitations. Students also read The New Yorker, examining some contemporary prose and poetry. Core texts of this course include Beloved, Invisible Man, Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, Antigone, The Awakening, Fences, Death of a Salesman, A Doll’s House, The Great Gatsby, The Sound and the Fury, A Farewell to Arms, and All the Pretty Horses.

Montgomery Bell Academy

4001 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 298-5514