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Ms. Doran’s Infamous Honors British Literature Class: An Insider’s Perspective

Nate Samelson ‘26

Upper School English Teacher Susan Doran’s sophomore Honors British Literature class is one of a kind. Through her firm yet graceful teaching style, she truly turns her students into strong writers, writers who can make an argument and support it with thorough evidence while keeping in mind concision and clarity. Every student who enters Room 347 exits at the end of the year with new depths to their appreciation and love for literature. Doran masterfully weaves together a class in which students feel comfortable to share their thoughts and offer different perspectives. She expertly manages to balance lectures and Harkness discussions and always makes time to show the film version of the book the class is reading. 

Students taking this class responded to a Google Form regarding their experience and thoughts on this course. The overall favorite book was Atonement by Ian McEwan: a novel about a misinterpreted event resulting in a catastrophic chain reaction. Annie Meyer ‘26 said, “Part of what makes Atonement so interesting is the overwhelming injustice of the storyline.” This highly acclaimed novel explores themes of guilt, truth, and morality. 

The class also had a unit on Romantic poetry, focusing on six poets in the early nineteenth century. The overall favorite poet was John Keats, the author of “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” and numerous other poems. Sam Thomas ‘26 said, “Keats’ vivid descriptions and lyricism are part of what makes his poems so enjoyable to read.” Along with his masterful navigation of prose and figurative language, Keats is truly a classic. 

One aspect of this course is in-class writing, an assessment that pushes students to write strong argumentative pieces or poetry explications in a limited amount of time—usually one hour. One student described the assignment as “the worst thing to ever be invented.” 

At the same time, the students understand that it is an effective tactic in making them better writers. Emma Flanagan ‘26 said, “Of course I don’t enjoy [in-class writing] in the moment, but I believe that it does improve our writing and is one of the main reasons I have improved my writing skills this year.” Others simply prefer other types of writing, such as essays or creative assignments. 

The best part of Doran’s class is, without a doubt, the discussions. This is a way for everyone to share their perspectives and opinions, while respecting each other and engaging in healthy disagreement. Maddie Brown ‘26 said, “I love building on others’ ideas and expanding my understanding of whatever we’re discussing.” 

Students also enjoy when we get to act out scenes, specifically during Macbeth. Interactive and engaging material is what makes this class so enjoyable. 

The general consensus is that Doran’s Honors British Literature class is not for the faint of heart, but, within the classroom, students learn and thrive under the guidance of an extremely dedicated teacher.

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About the Contributor
Julia Coniglio '26
Julia Coniglio '26, Staff Writer
This is Julia Coniglio’s first year at St. Luke’s and she is currently a sophomore. This is her first year on the Sentinel staff and she is looking forward to writing articles for the community to enjoy. Outside of the Sentinel, Julia loves reading, horseback riding, and skiing.

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