English + Humanities

English + Humanities

English/Humanities at Northwest Academy combines language and literature studies with other disciplines — history, social studies, civics, economics, philosophy, and comparative religions — traditionally studied separately. This combined course is given double the class time of other classes. The course sequence grounds the student in the history of ideas, emphasizing concepts such as form and genre; cultural structures and belief systems; and historical scandal and personal transformation. All Northwest Academy students learn to frame original questions and complete original research, culminating in a written thesis project during the first half of the fourth year, and either a second thesis or a multi-disciplinary capstone project during the second half of the year.

Northwest Academy Reading List, Grades 9-12


Focus: World Cosmology and The Foundations of Culture

  • Writing basics and the art of the analytical essay
  • Grammatical structures and design
  • World religions and empires
  • Parables, proverbs, the oral tradition, and the role of the storyteller
  • Comparative mythology
  • The psychology of belief
  • Representations and perspectives — truth greater than fact
  • Prophets, poets, heroes, and teachers
  • Myth as cultural identity and history
  • A new cosmology – myth in the modern world


Focus: A World of Certain Order and Meaning

  • Myth, Concept, Violence, and the Sacred
  • Power, Reform, and the Renaissance Mind
  • Satire: Social Class and the Invention of Difference
  • Satire: Enlightenment and Secularism
  • A World of Uncertain Order and Meaning
  • Science, Nature, and the Politics of Knowledge
  • Romanticism: Nature v. Nurture
  • Revolution, Realism, and WWI
  • Propaganda, the Holocaust, WWII, and the New Realism
  • The Nuclear Past and the Nuclear Future


Focus: The American Dream/Nightmare

  • Socratic Origins of Democracy
  • Rhetoric and the Art of Argumentation
  • Conquest and Slavery in the Americas/Hierarchies of Subordination
  • Heroification and Revisionist History
  • Transcendentalism and the American Identity
  • Ecocriticism: Literature and the Environment
  • Individualism and Social Consciousness
  • American Greatness and the Democratization of Tragedy
  • Capitalism, Socialism, and American Labor
  • Representing the Depression in Literature and Film
  • Varieties of American Experience 1960-1999
  • Immigration, Identity, and Pluralism
  • Initiation to Research


Focus: The Myth of Everyday Life

  • Realism and Naturalism in Literature and Art
  • War and the Modern Memory
  • History of American Suburbia
  • Varieties of Modernism
  • Postmodern Film and the New Wave
  • Tragicomedy and the Transience of Desire
  • Research, Writing, and Revision of Senior Thesis 1
  • The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
  • Psychology of Loss, Recovery, and Memory
  • Analytical Psychology and the Study of Dreams
  • Theme of the Double
  • Psychoanalysis in Literature and Film
  • Solipsism and the Atomic Individualist
  • Parody, Formalism, and the Postmodern Aesthetic
  • Research, Writing, and Revision of Senior Thesis 2
  • Lunch Events

    Friday Lunch events include everything from distinguished guest speakers (such as University of Oregon President and Multnomah County District Attorney) to friendly games of dodgeball.

    Lunch Events
  • Creativity Matters Here

    We value creative, independent thought in both our academic and arts classes.

    Creativity Matters Here
  • Exceptional Faculty

    Teachers include professional artists, writers, and performers as well as former college instructors.

    Exceptional Faculty
    Teachers As Mentors
  • College Counseling

    Our College Counselor works with students to find schools that will be a good match for them. Northwest Academy graduates attend a diverse selection of colleges and universities across the country including Duke University, Bard College, New York University, and Rhode Island School of Design.

    College Counseling
    College application workshop