Humanities (English/History) By Sara Hansen and Susan Wu
The Humanities Department embraces opportunities for connections between literary and historical studies. Whenever possible we try and create synthesis points where students can absorb the information from both areas of study in a deeper and more meaningful way.
We have several moments of those happenings taking place this year.
Brendan Riley’s English 10 classes are exploring the value of Shakespearean sonnets and The Merchant of Venice while understanding the merits of having a literary voice and clearly communicating an opinion to a specific audience. Susan Wu’s History 10 classes are navigating the ways in which leaders in the 1600s vied for power and sought to convince others of the legitimacy of their rule. Students then had the opportunity to reflect upon their studies in both classes in the form of a multi-draft editorial piece of writing shared with both Mr. Riley and Mrs. Wu. Editorial topics ranged from the merits of teaching Elizabethan sonnets in modern day classrooms to reasons why the English should have chosen not to behead Charles I.
Similarly, Sara Hansen’s 9th grade students read Homer’s Iliad in their English 9 classes while learning about Ancient Greek values as expressed through its architecture and art in Carleton Cunningham’s History 10 classes. At the end of both units, students participated in a Greek Symposium where they highlighted the merits of Athens and Sparta through a curation of artwork, military strategy analysis, and formal debates.
Meanwhile, in the middle school, Linda Rosenberg’s 6th graders invented a hieroglyphic language in their English classes after studying the Rosetta Stone in their history ones. They then, like ancient archeologists, tried to decipher each other’s Rosetta Stones. Through the cross pollination of history and English studies, the SDJA Humanities Department continues to ignite an appreciation for what it means to be human in an ever changing world.