Course Syllabus

Wellesley High School

Department of English

21st Century Literature

Academic Year 2022-2023

Teacher: Mr. Day                                                  

Office Hours: Mon-Thurs before/after school or by appt.


Room 309



This core senior course will study literature written in the 21st century. Specific historical events - such as 9/11 and the subsequent global war on terror, the mass introduction and use of smartphones and the rise of social media, and the pandemic - make life in the 21st century tangibly different from life even in the 1990s. Add phenomena begun in the 20th century but only coming into mass consciousness in the last two decades - like climate change, global migration and open discussion of race and gender - and the distinction of 21st century literature becomes obvious. This course will reflect growing awareness of 21st century literature and other forms of cultural production as distinct from what came before them, a distinction that can be understood both through esoteric theories such as postcolonialism and through simple things like having characters in novels who carry smartphones. Students will study the stories we tell about ourselves, our world, and ourselves in the world primarily through what we call literature - novels, poems, plays, short stories and essays - but film, music, history and current events will also regularly be used to supplement our studies. 



Like all 12th grade English students, those in 21st Century Literature will:

  • improve their reading comprehension and critical analysis through exposure to a variety of literature; 
  • improve their ability to communicate clearly and concisely in written form; 
  • employ a variety of technologies to both acquire and share knowledge; 
  • learn research skills to access, evaluate, analyze and employ information; 
  • develop their skills at public speaking. 

Essential Questions:


12th Grade

  1. Who am I? What is my story, and what forces and choices influence this identity?
  2. How does writing help me tell stories? How do I use the stylistic techniques and literary conventions explored last year to tell my stories and the stories of others?
  3. How does literature teach me to empathize and connect with others? 




Crying in H Mart:  Michelle Zauner

Exit West:  Moshin Hamid

Sweat: Lynn Nottage

The Wall:  John Lanchester 

Klara and the Sun: Kazuo Ishiguro



Students will write a lot in this course. Assignments will vary in length and style - from analytic to personal to creative - with a heavy emphasis on revision and rewriting. Students will also engage regularly in project based learning. Daily class participation and unannounced reading quizzes should be expected. Grades will be calculated on a straight point system.


ā€‹ā€‹Homework and Preparedness:

In order to reach our fullest potential (and have fun and create an engaging classroom environment), we must all first commit to doing the reading! ACTIVE READING is crucial (and required).  Read with a pencil in hand, take notes, use post-it notes, make connections, and ask questions. Avoid SparkNotes.  Use that time to read the actual text.


Your thoughtful and active participation in discussions and activities during class will determine how much you learn this year.  This category includes whole-class and small-group discussions, in-class writings, group activities, creative projects and posters, acting/speaking, peer editing, and more.


We will be using the online platform Membean for our formal vocabulary work this year. Each week you will be required to do two 15-minute sessions. One session we will do in class, the other you will do on your own. We will have an online vocabulary quiz at least once a term

Course Summary:

Date Details Due