Senior Electives Course Descriptions

  • 12 AP English Literature and Composition
    Course Descriptions
    The AP Literature & Composition course seeks to build mature readers, thinkers, and writers through a study of some of the best works in the English canon, along with more contemporary works of literary merit. AP Language is not a prerequisite, though we will build on essay skills learned in previous years. The course is not strictly exam preparation, but allows for creative expression, rich discussion, and analytical writing in response to great works of literature. Fall semester projects include the college essay and an in-depth, fully processed literary analysis paper. Spring includes a longer research project on a poet's life and works. Timed essays, independent reading journals, and AP exam preparation are ongoing throughout the year.

    Examples of possible texts (subject to change):
    Structure, Sound and Sense, 12th ed. (poetry--all year)
    Pygmalion by Shaw
    Candide by Voltaire
    Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
    A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
    The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
    The Sound and Fury by William Faulkner
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Oedipus Rex and other Theban Plays by Sophocles
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    King Lear by William Shakespeare
    Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
    No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    The Brief Wondrous LIfe of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
    Short stories from various authors
    Independent Reading (500 pages)

    African American Literature/Harlem Renaissance
    Course Descriptions
    Students will receive an introduction to the role of the African oral tradition and New World slave narratives in the creation of African-American literary tradition. Through class discussions, reading, videos and collaborative workshops, students will explore the history and issues revealed through slave narratives, modern autobiographies and contemporary literature. Students will work throughout the semester toward exploring their own issues of identity in contemporary American society. Second semester, students will take knowledge from first semester to transition into the movement known as the Harlem Renaissance and its influence on the Civil Rights Movement and contemporary American literature and poetry.

    Examples of possible texts (subject to change):
    Excerpts from Interesting Life of Oluadah Equiano, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Louis Asa-Asa, Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman;
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
    The Dutchman by Amiri Baraka
    Incognegro by Mat Johnson
    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    Native Son by Richard Wright
    The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza
    March by John Lewis and Nate Powell
    Selected Poetry featuring Hughes, Brooks, Hayden, Tupac, Nikki Giovanni, Selected short stories from Alice Walker

    California Literature
    Course Descriptions
    This course follows two major perspectives about California that have evolved throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. One perspective focuses on California as a tropical paradise: end point of Manifest Destiny, land of sunshine and surf, a place where people find stardom, where people reinvent themselves, a place of refuge and sanctuary, cultural synthesis, and ideal opportunity. In contrast, California also emerges as a dystopia: site of earthquakes, El Nino, environmental pollution, race riots, unwanted immigration, poor public education, superficial celebrities, fiscal irresponsibility, overcrowded prisons, and popular fads. We will examine primarily the field of literature, but also the realms of history, geography, politics, urban development, public policy, popular culture, food, language, advertising, television, and film. In addition to these two major perspectives, this course continues to be an ongoing examination of newer experiences and definitions of California as manifested in the changing voices, places, myths, policies, and trends of our golden state.

    Examples of possible texts (subject to change):
    Selected poetry by Al Young, Robinson Jeffers, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dana Gioia, Michele Serros, and other California poets
    Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
    The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Under The Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes
    Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
    Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez
    Chavez Ravine by Culture Clash
    The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
    Selected readings from Beat Generation writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Snyder)
    Selected short stories of Los Angeles
    Selected essays from The Los Angeles Times

    Chicanx-Latinx American Literature
    Course Description:
    A two-semester course that provides an engaging introduction to a rich and complex literature and set of cultures. The literary imagination studied in this course will be represented by core works of literature, classic and contemporary, along with the examination of corresponding history, mythology, visual art, film, and music. While the course aims to explore the great themes and preoccupations that have helped shape the Chicana/o and wider Latin American experience throughout history, it also takes on the task of examining contemporary reiterations of those themes through the diversity of newer voices. Some of the topics discussed in class include: conquest and colonialism; writing as a tool of empire and resistance; authorship and authority; immigration, migration and exile; the contentious relationship between art and political engagement; cultural hybridity; challenges to gender; and the ideas of modernism and postmodernism. This course will be characterized by traditional studies of literature along with more experiential pathways for discovery.

    Sample of authors and texts to be examined (subject to change):
    Sandra Cisneros - Woman Hollering Creek
    Luis Valdez - Zoot Suit and Other Plays
    Culture Clash - Chavez Ravine
    Helena Maria Viramontes - Under The Feet of Jesus
    Graciela Limon - In Search of Bernabe
    Gabriel Garcia Márquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Junot Diaz (Selected short stories)
    Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist
    Robert Shapard, ed. - Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories From The United States and Latin America
    Rick Heider, ed. - Under The Fifth Sun: Latino Literature From California
    Note: In addition to the titles above, poetry will also be a major component to this course.

    Feminist Literature
    Course Description:
    In Feminist Literature, students will receive an introduction to feminist thought throughout history and the feminist critical lens as an approach to literature. Through class discussions, reading, videos, and collaborative writing workshops, students will explore the history and issues revealed through various nonfiction texts on feminism, and apply the lens to fiction and poetry. Additionally, students will reflect on modern feminism’s reach in their own lives, how it relates to their personal values and identity, and how feminist ideology has changed over time.
    Examples of possible texts (subject to change):
    Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
    Hunger: A Memoir of my Body by Roxane Gay
    The Poet X by Elizabeth Aceves
    She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor
    Don’t Call me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso
    Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
    We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by SamraHabib

    Course Description:
    The first semester of Folktales and Mythology is dedicated to the reading and studying of classical Mythology. We focus on learning about, identifying, and understanding key mythological characters in order to explore what these Greek and Roman myths reveal about their culture as well as how they connect to our society today. In Folktales, second semester, we explore multicultural tales through various critical approaches, such as psychological, archetypal, feminist, and more. This class is devoted to helping students expand upon the skills garnered in previous English classes while refining the students' personal style as a writer, reader and critical thinker along with preparing them for life after high school.

    Examples of Possible texts (subject to change):
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton
    Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
    Best-Loved Folktales of the World by Joanna Cole
    Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
    **Students are also responsible for reading 2 independent reading books per semester

    Graphic Novels & Literature

    Course Description: Graphic Novels and Literature
    This course will explore the relationship between “classical” literature and graphic novels. Students will critically analyze the ways in which graphic novels and comic narratives are a means of exploring our own stories and identities in a cultural and socio-political context. We will relate the study of graphic novels to interdisciplinary fields of study, including but not limited to literature, history, political science, gender studies, ethnic studies, sociology, etc. What are the unique literary characteristics of Graphic Novels and how do they compare to traditional novels? What do Graphic Novels add to the literary canon? How do Graphic Novels function structurally to tell a story? How do we deconstruct graphic novels and comics and analyze them as a literary medium? Students will complete a Capstone project at the end of the second semester to showcase their work throughout the year. 

    Core Texts:
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    Maus by Art Spiegleman
    Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    They Called Us Enemy by George Takai
    March by John Lewis
    Incognegro by Mat Johnson
    The Silence of Our Friends by Long, Demonakos, Powell

    Shakespeare Literature
    Course Description:
    This course explores the timeless works of William Shakespeare - an influential author whose texts have impacted the literary, social, and cultural milieus the world over. Students will examine the modern relevance of Shakespeare's everlasting, universal themes and motifs by analyzing significant characters and moral thematic elements throughout his plays and poetry. This college preparatory course is designed to investigate, discuss, and thoroughly analyze the many complexities and layers of Shakespeare's famous pieces of dramatic literature, ranging from revenge tragedies to problem comedies. Moreover, the class will focus on 'enacting the text' to help bring Shakespeare's words to life by harnessing the eloquence and dramatic qualities of his diction and syntax. Students will have the hands-on opportunity to recite, practice speaking and performing both Shakespearean prose and poetry. By reinforcing literary and dramatic terminology, students will compare and contrast characters and language. Ultimately, we will prioritize engagement through multiple creative mediums (skits, reader's theatre, scenes, debates, Socratics, discussions, etc.), all the while learning how Shakespeare connects to students' modern day lives through influential pop culture--song, art, dance, theater, television, and movies. In addition, students will have the opportunity to partake in watching a full professional play at the local Santa Monica Broad Stage theater. Promo Video:

    Examples of Possible texts (subject to change):
    Shakespearean Sonnets
    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    King Lear
    Much Ado About Nothing
    The Merchant of Venice
    Twelfth Night
    The Tempest

    Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC)
    Course Description:
    The goal of the Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) is to prepare college-bound seniors for the literacy demands of higher education. Through a sequence of eight rigorous instructional modules, students in this yearlong, rhetoric-based course develop advanced proficiency in expository, analytical, and argumentative reading and writing. The cornerstone of the course - the assignment template - presents a process for helping students read, comprehend, and respond to nonfiction and literary texts. Modules also provide instruction in research methods and documentation conventions. Students will be expected to increase their awareness of the rhetorical strategies employed by authors and to apply those strategies in their own writing. They will read closely to examine the relationship between an author's argument or theme and his or her audience and purpose; to analyze the impact of structural and rhetorical strategies; and to examine the social, political, and philosophical assumptions that underlie the text. By the end of the course, students will be expected to use this process independently when reading unfamiliar texts and writing in response to them. Course texts include contemporary essays, newspaper and magazine articles, editorials, reports, biographies, memos, assorted public documents, and other nonfiction texts. The course materials also include modules on two full-length works (one novel and one work of nonfiction). Written assessments and holistic scoring guides conclude each unit. Students who take this course by CSU ERWC Certified Teacher and who receive a grade of "C" or better in the course will be deemed ready for college level coursework in English by the CSU. Meets the CSU English proficiency exam requirement.