What's New in Academics

ENGLISH 12. Modern Verse-Novels. Fall. Mr. Foster. 4 meetings weekly. Block TBA. As any reader of the Iliad and Odyssey knows, a poem can tell a story, and a long poem can tell a long and complex story. We will read five recent American poems that keep this tradition alive:  Tobey O’Brien’s Sharp Teeth, a Homeric tale about shape-shifting lycanthropes in modern-day Los Angeles; Kenneth Koch’s Ko, a Season on Earth, a humorous tale of a Japanese baseball player told in ottava rima, a favorite verse-form of Italian renaissance comic epics; Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, an amazing modernist retelling of the Geryon myth; Louise Gluck’s A Village Life, a lyric evocation of a nameless Mediterranean town; and James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover, a brilliant story of the poet’s investigation of the universe through his Ouija board.  

ENGLISH 14. Twentieth Century American Literature. Fall. Ms. Hutcheson. 4 meetings weekly. Block TBA. American writing in the twentieth century was as diverse as the population. We will attempt to survey that enormous landscape of literature by focusing on different geographical units and reading a range of short stories and novels. We will study the tradition of Southern writing, reading William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, among others. Then we will move west, and examine the literature of the West including Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx, and Ernest Hemingway. Our final focus will be the literature of cities and suburbs, where we will sample from John Updike, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, and others. There may be no single great American novel, but we will do our best to read widely from the greats.

ENGLISH 18. The Lost Generation. Fall. Mr. Hilsabeck. 4 meetings weekly. Block TBA. This class will study the generation of American expatriate writers who lived and worked in Paris just after World War I, affectionately dubbed the “Lost Generation” by Gertrude Stein. Authors will include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, E.E. Cummings, Edward Dahlberg, T.S. Eliot, and others. We will read novels, stories, and poems by the above writers, as well as selected letters and biography.

SCIENCE 1. Ecology: Life on Earth. Fall. Mr. Hutcheson. 4 meetings weekly. Block TBA. Open to Class II and III. This course serves as an expansion of ecological concepts introduced in previous biology or life science courses.  Students will become familiar with the requirements for life on our planet and explore the biotic and abiotic components of living systems.  Energy flow, food webs, population dynamics, major biomes and ecosystems are some of the major topics to be covered.  Also of interest will be the mechanisms by which life exists at the extremes, in the harshest conditions on earth.  The class will have multiple opportunities to take advantage of outdoor resources and engage in field research on or near the Middlesex campus as part of our regular laboratory schedule.

SCIENCE 2. Applied Science: Engineering. Fall. Mr. Shapiro. 4 meetings weekly. Block TBA Open to Class I and II. This hands-on course will consist of a series of projects that survey the major fields of engineering: structural, chemical, electrical, mechanical, and biomedical. Students will form teams for each unit and will work together to design, build, and test functional prototypes in order to solve various real-world problems. Each project will challenge the teams to think critically and creatively in order to develop their unique solution to the task. Likely challenges will include: developing the farthest traveling wind up car, capturing the most solar energy, launching a water balloon the farthest over Eliot, and designing the most practical surgical tool. Additional challenges will be determined based on the interests of the class.  By examining the process by which products are engineered, students will develop their own methods for solving problems and will learn to allocate scarce recourses among competing priorities. Students will be assessed by the success of their prototypes, their analysis of each problem, their reflections on their process and product performance, and on their mastery of each scientific topic being leveraged in each challenge. By the end of the course students will have gained valuable insights into their own style for solving problems, new confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles, and will have a personal portfolio of developed products.

HISTORY 25. Afro-American History. Fall. Mr. Whitlock. 4 meetings weekly. Block B1235. Distributional credit in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. This course will explore the African-American experience from the seventeenth to the late twentieth centuries. Using primary, secondary and cinematic sources, students will hear the stories, explore the cultures and delve into the causes and effects of slavery in Colonial America, and explore the black presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Students will learn about the complex interplay of freedom and restriction in the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Modern African-American History focuses on the struggle to dismantle segregation against the forces of resistance through the World War periods, culminating in the advances of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Students will deepen their understanding of the complexities of color, class, and race in United States History.

HISTORY 29. Climate Change: A Historical Look at Development, Science, and Policy. Fall. Concord-Carlisle High School. 2 extended meetings weekly on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Open to members of Class I and II. Limited to 3 students. Prerequisite: Completion of Modern European History and concurrent enrollment in United States History. This course must be taken on a PASS/FAIL basis. Climate change presents the most significant global challenge of this generation, and so far attempts to address it have failed. This course will explore the historical, political, economic, and scientific issues underlying the climate change debate. The end goal is to understand why international consensus on climate change has been so difficult to achieve. Students will examine the history of industrial development and the genesis of climate change as well as the history of that development from a non-Western perspective.  We also will look at economic questions: What is the economic impact of climate change, and how do we model its impact 10, 50, or 100 years into the future? What are the costs of attempting to mitigate the impact of climate change? Who should bear these costs? Should the history of development influence our answer the latter question?   Finally, we will concentrate on the politics and history behind the science: how the scientific models of climate change were developed, why the science has become a front for ideological battle in this instance, and what happens when science becomes part of policy debates.  While focusing specifically on climate change, the course will use climate change as a case study to explore generally the intersection of history, economics, science, and policy-making. Students will explore how science and economics are modeled, how the models (and model-makers) are politicized, and how history itself influences the politics. To return to the original goal of the class, students will explore how (or perhaps whether) intelligent policy – accounting for the needs of all the stakeholders involved – can be made in such an environment. 

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