Ms. Gokturk

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Sophomore English


What is Sophomore English I?

Sophomore English is a year-long required tenth grade literature course. The reading list spans thousands of years (beginning from Ancient Greece to the modern day), yet they share many of the common difficulties characters’ face. You will be meeting a cast of characters who may seem to lack traditional qualities that would make them heroes. Some keep secrets. Some are dishonest. Some are blind to the truth. Some are cowards. Some are willing to sacrifice their dignity. We will examine why, despite being at times unlikable or frustrating, we may nevertheless have empathy for these characters. Or, at the very least, they hold up an uncomfortable mirror for which to gaze upon. We will also question if characters deserve what happens to them.


What Kinds of Assignments Will We Complete?


Course Menu: To Conform or Not to Conform?

1st Semester

o   Sherman Alexie’s “One Stick Song” (short story)

o   Dead Poet’s Society (film)

o   William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies (novel)

o   Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (short story)

o   Ursula Le Guin’s “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas”

o   J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (novel) &

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (short story)

o   Edward Scissorhands (film)

o   “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden(poem)

o   The Stanford Prison Experiment (documentary)

o   Kurt Vonneguts’s “Harrison Bergeron” (short story)

o   “The Monsters on Maple Street” (Twilight Zone episode 22)


2nd Semester: What Forces Shape Us?

o   “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson (short story)

o   “Chorus Girl’s Absolutely Final Performance” and “Djemal’s Revenge” by Patricia Highsmith (short stories)

o   The Stranger (novel) by Albert Camus

o   Everything Matters! (novel) by Ron Currie, Jr.

o   Macbeth by William Shakespeare (play)

o   “My Oedipus Complex” by Frank O’Connor (short story)

o   Oedipus the King and Antigone by Sophocles (plays)

o   “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

o   The Truman Show (film)




Students interested in participating in the Honors Option must earn an A first quarter and then maintain an A average for the duration of the year. Students will sign a contract committing to the full year project. Please ask me for my packet, which will outline the required weekly essays, film studies, and the two major essays.


Honors Titles: (select FOUR)

Caroline Ives Gilman’s Halfway Human

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Russell Greenan’s It Happened in Boston?

Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory

Dorothy Bryant’s The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You

Jose Saramago’s Blindness



Core Questions

■ What does it mean to be a conformist, a non-conformist, an outsider or a rebel? ■ What are the gray areas? ■ Does the character have a positive or negative impact on his/her world? ■ What forces shape a person? ■What defines one’s essence? ■ What is existentialism? ■ What degree of morality do characters exhibit? ■ What societal pressures may oppress the individual?



Part of our discussion this year will question individual vs group dynamics and also morality. These are some of the key terms:


Moral – knows right from wrong and chooses to do the right thing.


Amoral – indifferent to whether something is right or wrong; has no moral standards.


Immoral – knows it is wrong but does it anyway; violates moral principles.


Morally Complex – There is no final right or wrong.


Morally Ambiguous -- vacillates between right and wrong.


Moral Superiority – belief that one’s position and actions are justified by having higher moral values than one’s opponent.


Moral Muteness – remaining silent when witnessing immoral behavior.


Moral Myopia – difficulty people sometimes have in clearly seeing ethical issues and ethical challenges.


Overconfidence Bias – tendency people have to be more confident in their own abilities than is objectively reasonable. Can cause one to act without proper reflection.


Self-serving Bias – tendency people have to use evidence for self-interest.