English teachers at Baylor enjoy a good deal of freedom to shape each class to best serve the students in that class. The department works for coherence in the program through common texts at each grade level, a common list of correction symbols, a department style sheet, a sequence of literary terms emphasized at each level, a series of tests in grammar and composition, vocabulary study in all four years, and an annual grade-wide contest in each of the upper school grades. English I (the freshman course) and English II build essential skills while exposing students to a wide range of literature and composition. Teachers of these courses work to reinforce connections with the world history courses. English III, the junior course, is largely a study of U.S. literature. At the senior level, a series of college-preparatory courses lasting one semester continue to introduce students to world literature and to a variety of modes of both reading and writing. Honors sections in the freshman year, and AP classes in the sophomore and junior years provide additional challenges to highly motivated students.

English Requirements: Four credits are required. Students must take a full year of English at each grade level.


English I: Ninth Grade

English I is the first year of a two-year study of world literature in which students acquire essential skills in writing and critical reading. Through a wide variety of writing assignments, students begin to develop a clear expression of thought as they write narrative, persuasive and expository essays. They seek to build critical reading skills through a study of multiple genres, including fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. In addition, students regularly study vocabulary. In preparation for assessments in grammar and writing in the spring, they also study grammar throughout the year. Finally, all students participate in a grade-wide writing and oration contest.

English I-H

Students admitted into honors sections have demonstrated enthusiasm and dedication and proven themselves capable grammarians, avid readers, and skilled writers. As a result, they cover the material of English I at a rapid pace. Honors students write several essays and nonfiction; they study at least one long novel, complete a poetry unit, study a play, and read an assortment of short stories in addition to the common English I texts. Departmental approval is required for enrollment.

English II: Tenth Grade

In the second year of the exploration of world literature, students in English II continue to read a variety of genres. Students also hone their abilities to write clearly and with more complexity as they tackle a wide variety of assignments, including persuasive writing, literary analysis, narratives, and a short version of a TED Talk, the grade-wide contest. Vocabulary study extends throughout the year, and students are assessed on their grammar skills with an eye towards preparation for the variety of standardized tests they will be taking in the coming years. Students hone class discussion skills, emphasizing how to analyze elements such as author intent, voice and tone while developing greater depth as critical readers.

English II: AP English-Language

This course follows the outline of English II, but adds rigorous preparation for the Advanced Placement English Examination in Language and Composition, which focuses on the analysis of nonfiction, especially persuasion. Students read and analyze a wide range of fiction and nonfiction with an eye for rhetoric. The reading and writing workload is intensive, and students maintain a demanding reading and writing schedule. Departmental approval is required for enrollment.

English III: American Literature

The American Literature course exposes students to the scope and variety of the literature of the United States. Students read and write about a wide range of texts from different genres: nonfiction, fiction, drama, and poetry. Typical readings range from important documents in U.S. history to slave narratives to the poetry of Dickinson, Whitman, Frost, and others to plays such as The Crucible and Doubt to such novels as The Great Gatsby, All the King's Men, The Things They Carried, and The Round House. In addition, students produce a variety of writing: analytical, personal, creative, as well as research-based. All students participate in the Poetry Out Loud contest, engage in individualized vocabulary study via the online Membean site, and review grammatical concepts in preparation for standardized testing.

English III: AP English-Literature

To the work of English III, this course adds rigorous preparation for the Advanced Placement English Examination in Literature and Composition, which focuses on the analysis of poetry and prose fiction. Students read closely, analyze carefully, and write gracefully about a wide range of literature--fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Students maintain a demanding and fast-paced reading and writing schedule and gain experience working on elements of the standard AP Literature Exam, including multiple choice practice tests. Departmental approval is required for enrollment.

English IV: General

The semester-long courses in the senior year all emphasize a broader awareness of the increasingly global nature of the literary world. Students must take at least one English course in each semester of the senior year. The reading lists for each semester include prose (nonfiction and fiction), poetry, and drama. Each course presents works composed both in English and in translation from a variety of literary traditions. In order to prepare students for the demands of college-level composition, writing assignments include expository, analytical, creative, personal, and editorial writing. Each course in the spring semester includes a research project modeled on the types of assignments typical in post-secondary classes.

English IV: Contemporary Literature

As sales of genre fiction far outpace sales of literary fiction, one has to wonder what draws people to read books for fun. The course examines popular works from myriad perspectives, treating them as actual literature that has found an audience. Ultimately, investigators seek to understand the relationship between fiction, non-fiction and the cultures from which they emerge.

English IV: Identity and Society in Literature

Identity and Society in Literature examines the writings of minority groups as they struggle to use narratives, poems and essays to achieve self-definition. Centering on the theme of identity through ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, sex and sexual orientation, this course will study the boxes that the majority in a society creates and from which minority groups seek to escape.

English IV: Literary Classics

Literary Classics focuses on "great books" of the canon, examining why they are great and what has allowed them to stand the test of time. The course will also examine the world views that these books espouse and evaluate the relevance of such views and philosophies in a modern, globalized world.

English IV: African-American Literature

African-American Literature explores fiction, autobiographical narratives, essays, poems and drama produced by African writers and those of African descent. This course, international in scope, attempts to investigate the nature of these authors' imaginative responses to peoples' situations in foreign societies simultaneously hostile to and dependent upon their presence.

English IV: Literature of Medicine

The field of medicine provides fertile ground for the creation of literature. As they work to alleviate suffering, doctors and nurses often gain a unique glimpse into the lives of their patients, and many physicians have used writing as a way to make sense of a profession that merges triumph and tragedy on a daily basis. This course incorporates the poetry, essays and stories of medical professionals to explore the role of the physician/healer in a variety of contexts.

English IV: Travel Literature

From fear to possibility to exhilaration, the art of travel rarely fails to lead to discovery. This course surveys a variety of books and essays written by travelers. Students study the works of some of the great travel writers while evaluating current articles hot off the press. Local and global authors lead students to find a sense of place and develop an eye for detail.

English IV: Wilderness Literature

The natural world is at the same time the greatest reflection of Man's truest self and of his absolute other. For some, Nature is the mother, and it is humanity’s obligation "to cultivate and to keep" her. For others, Nature is the wild, and society’s challenge is "to rule over and subdue" it. In reading the works of authors who depict humanity's various encounters with the wild, students examine the attempt to conquer Nature and the self.

English Electives

All English electives are semester-long courses. Please note that these courses do not fulfill the English requirement.


In this course, students learn the fundamentals of rhetorical procedure in news, feature, editorial and sports writing. Copy reading, writing style and editing are stressed as publication of The Baylor Notes comprises a component of this course. Students create numerous original stories using varied structures and writing techniques.

For Better or Verse: A Critical Analysis of Poetry

Students write their own poems, adhering to the conventions of various fixed-form and open-form genres, and they regularly engage in group conversation and writing workshops. By the end of term, each student compiles his/her own portfolio of poems and collaborates with classmates to conceptualize, create, edit, design, and publish e-journals of their collective works.

Protest Literature

Music and literature are created in direct response to social, cultural, or political change—but how do those two genres compare as methods of activism? This course examines a range of American literature and music. Topics include slavery and gospel songs, American involvement in Vietnam, Woodstock, 9/11, the Dakota Pipeline, Native American hip-hop artists and more!

Food in World Literature and Society

From the comfort of sitting down to a good meal to the aromatic reminiscences of childhood, few topics evoke such intense emotions as the food we eat. This multi-cultural English course explores the history, politics, traditions and ethnicity of cooking and cuisine. College-preparatory in nature, students explore a myriad of issues surrounding food as depicted in a variety of literary genres and writings from around the world.