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"Poetry...the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind."

- Maxwell Bondenheim

The English Department’s primary mission is to develop writing proficiency and critical reasoning skills for all students. In addition, the program offers students the opportunity to read and analyze literary works and to develop general knowledge and an appreciation of human values, ideas, and experiences expressed in literature. The department provides a foundation in the study of British, American, and World Literature. Genres studied in the curriculum include the epic, romances, drama, the novel, film, and a wide range of poetry from the earliest ballads to free verse. In keeping with the school’s mission as a comprehensive arts and academic college-preparatory school, the English department provides the philosophical framework that shapes the entire humanities department of the school. Students study aesthetic theory, including those expressed in the works of Aristotle, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, DuBois, Hughes, Wright, Hosseini, and others.


Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
English I or English II or English III or English IV or
English I (Honors) or English II (Honors) or English III (Honors) or English IV (Honors) or
English I (support) English I (support) English I (support) English I (support)
AP English Language and Composition AP English Literature and Composition
1 Credit 1 Credit 1 Credit 1 Credit

Summer 2017 Recommended Reading

​T​he books listed​ below ​are not required ​reading ​for any ​of the ​English ​courses​ being offered at Duke Ellington next year​ (SY 2017-2018)​. However, we strongly encourage students to ​read​ 3-5 books from th​is recommended reading​ list ​​over the summer. Students should select books that ​both ​interest ​and challenge ​them​ regardless of grade level​. ​Additionally, we ​​strongly encourage students to read the newspaper (i.e. The New York Times​​) daily​. Our goal is to equip, encourage, and empower all Ellington students to become critical thinkers and thoughtful leaders with a passion for reading and writing. **Note: Grade level recommendations are based on what grade students will be in for the School Year 2017-2018**

Theogony And Works And Days by Hesiod, M.L. West (9th Grade)
Poetics of Aristotle by Aristotle, Stephen Halliwell (9th Grade)
Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano (All Grades)
Grendel by John Gardner (9th Grade)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini​ *Parental Advisory (10th Grade)
Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid (10th Grade)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (10th Grade)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison *Parental Advisory (9th Grade)
World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time by Katharine Washburn (Editor), John S. Major (Editor), Clifton Fadiman (Editor) (9th Grade)
The Piano Lesson (The Century Cycle #4) by August Wilson (9th Grade)
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (10th Grade)
Only the Strong by Jabari Asim (10th Grade)
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (10th Grade)
The Road to Character by David Brooks (10th Grade)
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates (10th Grade)
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (10th Grade)
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh (10th Grade)
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (All Grades)
Makeda by Randall Robinson (11th Grade)
A Long Way Gone. Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (11th Grade)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (All Grades)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (11th Grade)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (11th Grade)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (10th Grade)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (11th Grade)
Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts by Arthur Miller (10th Grade)
Mama Day by Gloria Naylor (10th Grade)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (10th Grade)
The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie *Parental Advisory (12th Grade)
Home by Toni Morrison (12th Grade)
Playing In The Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison (12th Grade)
Ruined by Lynn Nottage *Parental Advisory (12th Grade)
Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Somé (11th Grade)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley (10th Grade)
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (All Grades)
Writing with Sources: A Guide for Students by Gordon Harvey (All Grades / Resource Book)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz *Parental Advisory (12th Grade)
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (12th Grade)
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat (10th Grade)
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (9th Grade)
Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (9th Grade)
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur (10th Grade)
Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (11th Grade)
Negroes with Guns (African American Life) by Robert Franklin Williams (10th Grade)
Native Son by Richard Wright (9th Grade)
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild (12th Grade)
The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad (12th Grade)
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward
Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment by Angela J. Davis
The Gravity Well: America’s Next, Greatest Mission by Stephen Sandford, Jay Heinrichs
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler (12th Grade)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (10th Grade)
White Lies Matter: Race, Crime and the Politics of Fear by Tim Wise (11th and 12th Grade)
They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein (11th Grade)
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster (10th Grade)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (9th Grade)
The Rising Tide Of Color Against White World Supremacy by T. Lothrop Stoddard (11th Grade)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (10th Grade)
A Brief History of the State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben (11th and 12th Grade)
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder (9th Grade)

Department Chair

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