Honors English

English: The Reading and Writing Apprenticeship (I and II)

Unit 1: The Hero

Course Overview:

This semester we will undertake an examination of the role of the hero in literature. Students will begin by generating their own definitions of heroism and the role of the hero in literature and society. We will then explore Joseph Campbell’s now canonical work, A Hero with a Thousand Faces, and analyze his ideas regarding the stages of a heroic journey. As the semester continues, we will move on to the conception of the tragic hero and end with a short unit on the anti-hero. Novels read for this course include Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison), The Road (Cormac McCarthy), The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), Oedipus Rex (Sophocles), and Purple Hibiscus (Chimamanda Adichie). Additional novels will be assigned throughout the semester.

Class Participation:

This is an honors level, college preparatory English class. Students are expected to read a minimum of twenty pages per night and participate in all in-class discussions. The course is designed as a seminar and depends on a vigorous and respectful exchange of ideas. Students are encouraged to question the assumptions underlying the specific theories/motifs/philosophies that we study in class, specifically with regard to race, sexuality, and gender.

Response Papers:

You will be asked to write short (1-2 page) response papers throughout the quarter. Papers are marked down if they are turned in late: 5% for the first day, 10% for the second day, 25% for any day after that.


Full-length essays will be assigned for each novel we read this semester.

Class Participation:35%
Essays/Response Papers35%