We offer our students a college preparatory humanities curriculum in a different format from that of many schools. Our courses are generally offered by semester, and conducted in small, multi-age seminars. While we do target specific developmental skills for underclassmen in more conventional courses such as American History or Expository Writing, most classes contain both literary and social science content so that students are required to approach the course’s subject from a variety of academic perspectives. Critical writing, independent research, seminar discussion and close reading are all emphasized.
Students are required to take classes in which they encounter several cultural regions (including, specifically, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Eastern Asia, Southern Asia) and eras (which divide by region). No class could reasonably contain all modes of inquiry—archaeology is more applicable in some courses, political science in others, for example—but over the course of their time at the school, students will be exposed to the research methodologies of a wide variety of social sciences. Similarly, students will be exposed to a wide variety of literary forms that we believe are too often neglected in conventional English classes. These are not presented abstractly, but in their appropriate historical, formal, and cultural contexts. In aggregate, students master much of the same material they might have encountered in broad survey courses, but by approaching that material in a thematically centered, intensive, and cross-curricular fashion, students learn to make different connections, to examine and deliberate and to independently investigate as scholars do.
Blue What is a color? Is it a thing or an idea? Does it have meaning that must be inferred or is it a powerful symbol that is intuitively understood? How does the perception of color change from person to person, culture to culture and over the expanse of history? “Intellectual History” is a genre of inquiry that focused on concepts and theories (whether artistic, philosophical, scientific, religious, or legal) and how they interact with economic, social, and cultural developments. The pedagogic emphasis of this course will be placed on assisting students to develop critical essays while the course content will be generated by student independent research in which “Blue” is explored as a shifting concept over human history.
Commoners of the Hundred Years War: Visionaries, Rebels, Citizens Serfs up! Be they visionary warriors like Jean d’Arc (burnt at the stake), rebel leaders like Wat Tyler (stabbed, hospitalized, then beheaded) and Jacques Bonhomme (tortured and beheaded), or radical priests like John Ball (hanged, then drawn and quartered), many commoners help drive social change during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). Often viewed historically as an endless slaughters of dynastic succession between French and English elites, upon closer examination the Hundred Years War period shows common people sowing the seeds of national identity and class consciousness in both countries. Students will research the changing military, political, and cultural phenomena of the era, beef up expository writing skills, and devise a creative project.
George Eliot Born Mary Ann Evans in 1819, she would rise to become one of the great writers and thinkers in Victorian letters. Over these winter months, students will explore her work as a social commentator (as a feminist writer), life in Victorian England as well as a novelist whose skill and observations rivals her contemporaries like Dickens and Thackeray. The course includes two novels: Silas Marner and Middlemarch.
History of US Newspapers This course will look at print journalism in the United States and the important part it has played in the knowledge citizens have gained throughout. The class will tackle distribution, audience, journalism and the ethics therein. The students will also examine celebrity within print journalism and how that influences readership. Reading and researching newspapers will allow students to gain comfort with primary source research as well as understanding causal relationships.
Introduction to International Relations Introduction to International Relations at CHS helps young people gain an understanding of the everchanging fields of international relations and international affairs. Born out of the First World War and rooted in thousands of years of human history, this discipline focuses on the interactions between nations, other communities and leaders, as well as the causes and effects of such interactions, which often involve great tension. This is a highly dynamic area of study.
Moscow Arts Theatre Much of the training and practice actors take on these days has its roots in the Moscow Arts Theatre. The acting practice takes the apt name, the Method, and branches into a number of schools—all beginning with the work of Constantine Stanislavsky. In addition to exploring Stanislavsky’s philosophical and literary production, this course will explore the playwrights—including Chekhov and Gorky—whose work prospered under such inspired guidance.
Napoleon, Backwards With a stroke of the pen, Napoleon Bonaparte doubled the size of the United States, while the similar élan he dismantled and abolished many of the most archaic institutions of Europe. He is largely responsible for ushering in this era of ubiquitous democratic government while he himself was a tyrant capable unspeakable inhumanity. This short research and presentation focused class will examine the fall and rise of the Emperor of the French – beginning with the remarkable euphoria invoked by the placement of his remains in a mausoleum in 1861 and progressing in a series of critical “flashbacks” through his career in the 1789 Revolution that spurred his rise from obscurity.
Postcolonial Literature of Oceania During the post-World War II decades, as the fruits of political devolution and postcolonialism matured, many indigenous Oceanians experienced a reawakening of oral, literary and musical traditions that stretch back thousands of years. While trying to revive stifled cultural identities, they also began coming to grips with the hidden impacts of their colonial past. This class will begin by looking at postwar indigenous Australian experiences through the short stories of Archie Weller, who lived the urban poverty and race trouble that appear in his stories. Students will research, present and write critically on the creative work of an Oceanian and the postcolonial experience of their people.
The Other, Other F Word – A Survey of Women’s Movements In America and Badass Female Writers We will explore women’s movements in America using various primary and secondary sources. We will challenge the social perceptions of feminism and what it means to be a feminist. Students will bring in different contemporary issues and sources and lead students in class discussions. We will question the historical interplay between gender and culture. We will engage with various pieces of literature by writers such as Adichie, O’Connor, Atwood, and Alderman. Warning -this will be a reading-intensive course.
Utopia: Dystopia Humanity seems constantly to dream of more perfect places and of horrific places, and strives to achieve both. We will read about many imaginary utopias and dystopias from the Garden of Eden to the present day, and look at real-life attempts to put utopian ideas into practice, from Medieval monasteries to contemporary phenomena such as utopian schools and the Occupy encampments of 2011. We will find that often, one person’s/group’s utopia is another’s dystopia.