Pingree’s four-year English program provides a space for students to reflect, connect meaningfully with literature, develop strong communication skills, and to remind us of both the frailty and vitality of the human experience—to help us be authentic people and better citizens as we navigate a complex world.

With an emphasis on skill-development, we provide a strong foundation in writing during the freshmen and sophomore years. During the junior year we teach American Literature alongside US History, and we offer an array of electives senior year. We aim to balance analytical writing with creative writing, to infuse our curriculum with a diversity of literary voices, and to instill in students a love of reading and a willingness to take intellectual and creative risks. We believe wholeheartedly in our small and discussion-based classes, that students deserve detailed and thoughtful feedback on their writing, and that we should always strive to meet students where they are.

English Courses

Sharing Voices

Required of all Freshmen.

Ninth grade English students focus on reading, discussion, and writing strategies they will use throughout their four years at Pingree. Students will read, discuss, and write about a variety of texts exploring different voices, perspectives, genres and time periods, encouraging them to tell their own stories and discover and experiment with their own voices. Readings include Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and a Shakespeare play. Vignettes, a persuasive essay, a memoir, and literary analysis, in addition to shorter creative and analytical works will be assigned. Classes will emphasize student participation in class discussions.

Literary Forms

Required of all Sophomores.

The Tenth Grade curriculum will continue to develop writing strategies, reading practices, and discussion principles established in Ninth Grade through a study of the development of different genres — short story, novel, poetry and drama. Possible course texts include 1984, Oedipus Rex, A Room with a View, City of Glass, Macbeth, Master Harold and the Boys, short stories and poetry. There are frequent writing assignments based on the reading, both analytical and creative, and an emphasis on learning vocabulary from the reading and implementing a variety of the literary terms used in discussing the literature. Students will continue to develop and explore a discussion-based classroom.

American Literature

Juniors must take either American Literature or American Cultural Studies. If they take American Literature, they do so for Trimesters 1 and 2, and then choose a seminar for Trimester 3.

American Literature (Trimesters 1 and 2) offers study of the formation of American character and culture. The course examines works of American writers from the seventeenth century to the modern era, exploring conflicts between indigenous and imperialist cultures, and between the individual and society in terms of race, gender and economic issues. We will also study literary and artistic movements such as romanticism, realism, and modernism. In addition to a diverse array of shorter pieces, texts include The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Reservation Blues, and either The Bluest Eye or Their Eyes Were Watching God. This course also includes intensive work on writing in conjunction with the literature; writing assignments may be both personal, creative, and analytical, and range from short paragraphs and timed essays in class to longer polished pieces written at home.

American Literature Seminars:

After the Dream

The Art of War An American Literary Perspective

Glimpses of America

Native American Literature

American Cultural Studies

Enrollment determined by departmental (English & History) recommendation.

American Cultural Studies, an interdisciplinary year-long course taught jointly by the History and English Departments, moves beyond the traditional classroom model. This course will meet during two periods and students will receive full credit in both English and History. We’ll study key historical topics and read influential literary texts, as well as consider how art, music, film, and popular culture all play a role in shaping our culture and defining who we perceive ourselves to be as individuals and as a nation. As we draw upon these media and other disciplines, students will make cross-curricular connections, visit significant local sites, read and research independently, bring their personal histories and stories to bear on the course material, and play a key role in selecting and introducing course topics. Possible texts include The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, What's Up America?, The Great Gatsby, Caleb's Crossing, The Bluest Eye, and The Things They Carried. The course includes field trips to local sites like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isaac Royall House in Medford.


Seminars are designed to serve as a transition from high school to college level English. Typically the seminars are thematic or focus on the literature of a particular area, author, or time period. Students read a variety of works; there are frequent papers, and most seminars conclude with a final test or a term paper. Sample courses include:

Love American Style
The Shape of the Word
America Family Drama
Creative Non-Fiction
Dramatic Literature
The Immigrant Experience Through Literature
Literature of the 1980s
Literature and the Long View: Seeking a Good Way to Live
Literature of Modern India
Hidden Figures: Contemporary Women Writers
Literary New York
Nigerian Literature: A Postcolonial Lens
Retelling Shakespeare
Fictions of the Apocalypse
Literary Otherness
Mirrors and Windows: Individuality and Identity within Families

H-Creative Writing

This course is intended for students who are committed to developing their talents as creative writers. Students will respond to a variety of writing prompts and be expected to share and workshop their pieces with their peers.