The English curriculum at BB&N is intended to teach students to read with pleasure and insight and to write with clarity and confidence. The department aims for its students to learn, with increasing skill, to recognize the differences between the profound and the superficial, the eloquent and the awkward, the sincere and the glib.The English program reflects a belief in the value of reading widely and deeply in a variety of literary forms, traditional and innovative, and from several periods, ancient and modern. The faculty believes that writing, both expository and creative, improves with practice and constant attention to basic skills. In grades 9 through 12, students are asked to understand, with increasing sophistication, the essential relationship between form and content and to appreciate the power and beauty of language. The study of grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax and vocabulary is stressed in grades 7 through 10, and reinforced in grades 11 and 12.
- English 9
- English 10
- English 11 (Advanced Placement)
- Grade 11 Choices for Fall 2018-19
- English 12
- Grade 12 Choices for Fall 2018-19
- Grade 12 Choices for Winter 2018-19
The program in Grade 9 includes three classic works, poetry, and contemporary stories, novels, and plays. Most of the first trimester is devoted to a detailed reading of The Odyssey. In the second and third trimesters, all students read Romeo and Juliet and a major nineteenth-century novel, usually either Jane Eyre or Great Expectations. Throughout the year, students write frequently, both in and out of class, on a variety of topics and in both creative and analytical formats. Students also continue their study of vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and grammar.
The literature program in Grade 10 includes works representing diverse voices and cultures. Students read poems, short stories, novels (The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God, for instance), and plays, as well as some excerpts from the Bible. Plays include Shakespeare’s Macbeth and others of the teacher’s choice, such as Sophocles’ Theban plays and Fugard’s “Master Harold”… and the boys. A major focus of the writing curriculum is the essay: students continue to practice the skills, introduced in Grade 9, of crafting an analytical essay. Class-wide debates provide practice in research as well as valuable experience in collaboration and public speaking. Students also continue the study of vocabulary, usage, and grammar.
All Grade 11 English courses focus on developing analytical thinking, reading, and writing skills to a more sophisticated level. The third trimester’s work includes the writing of an eight- to ten-page profile about a person at work. All juniors prepare for and have the opportunity to take an Advanced Placement (AP) English exam, either AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition.
African-American Literature: Race and Identity
This course presents an introduction to the development and evolution of African-American life and culture through literature. Students will read works spanning four centuries, focusing on the underlying historical context, cultural values, and modes of expression. Beginning with poetry written during the 1700s and the slave narrative of Douglass, students will examine the primary issues facing African Americans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They will address the complex issues and divergent perspectives in major representative novels, such as Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars, Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Wright’s Native Son. Students will also read selected short stories, essays, and poetry by various authors to deepen their understanding of how African Americans constructed racial and cultural identities. Through reading, writing, and student–centered discussion, we will explore and redefine concepts of freedom, citizenship, class, color, and gender within the black community.
Students who enroll in the African-American Literature: Race and Identity course simultaneously enroll in the United States History: African-American History course offered through the History and Social Sciences Department. Participation in this African-American Studies Program is noted on a student’s transcript.
This course considers people who feel they no longer belong to the larger entity—a family, race, nation, culture—that has previously defined them. Feeling like aliens in their own lives, these characters struggle to re-establish stability and identity. They look inward and outward at the same time. As they try to maintain their connections or choose to sever ties with their pasts, they confront questions about what it is to be an individual, to be a member of that larger entity. We may also look at some real-life issues, such as immigration, in our world today. Main texts will include both classic and contemporary works; possibilities include Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Wharton’s Summer, Carr’s A Month in the Country, and Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, and stories by James Baldwin, Octavio Paz, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alice Munro, Ernest Hemingway, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others.
For over a thousand years, lovers and rogues, heroes and traitors, serious souls, irreverent fools, royal figures, and common folk have all come to life in the literature of this little corner of Europe, Britain. Discover how hilarious and harrowing the classics can be—and how they continue to shape our understanding of ourselves and others. Works may include the first English epic, Beowulf; the witty character sketches in The Canterbury Tales; a play about our most famous tragic hero, Hamlet; a novel depicting the perils that beset well- and ill-behaved women in Pride and Prejudice; the comic play The Importance of Being Earnest; and poems by such writers as Donne, Pope, and Keats and many others. Written assignments primarily address analytical approaches to literature, though students will have opportunities to write creatively as well.
Sometimes an idea, story, or character can only best be known through its opposite, or its double, or its retelling. This course will explore individual works of literature through specific pairings: the racial undercurrents in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deepen once you’ve read Beloved; Hamlet broadens its concerns through its modern retelling in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Heart of Darkness benefits from a shift in gender, century, and continent in State of Wonder. Smaller pairings of shorts stories and poems will also appear throughout the year before we turn to the Junior Profile and the Advanced Placement exam in the spring.
Ireland is a small nation that has given the world a large number of extraordinary writers—James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, J.M. Synge, Lady Augusta Gregory, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few—four of them winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The twentieth century was a time of intense political and literary activity in Ireland as the nation and its writers struggled with issues of independence and oppression, warfare (open and guerrilla), identity (national and personal), and the intersections of myth and history. This course will focus on the novels, tragicomic plays, short stories, speeches, and poems of this “Irish Renaissance,” which may include Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, Friel’s Translations, and a coming-of-age novel by Elizabeth Bowen or Somerville and Ross. We may also read some more recent works, including Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark, set during the fraught times in Northern Ireland. Throughout the year we will view some contemporary films coming out of Ireland and discuss some of the island’s rich culture and complex history. Students will write critical essays as well as fiction and personal narratives—all in preparation for a major assignment of the year: the Junior Profile.
A magical island with spirits, monsters, and a wizard-king. A haunted English estate with restless, malevolent ghosts. A man who wakes up after an experiment with no memory of his name or past. Another who wakes to find he has transformed into a large insect. For centuries, writers have incorporated elements of fantasy, magic, and unreality into their narratives to introduce suspense and mystery—but also to explore the unseen forces of their worlds and of the human mind. In this class, we will explore a diverse selection of literature that mixes realism with magic, the everyday with the fantastical. In so doing, we might just better understand ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. Main texts for the course could include Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat’s Cradle, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. In addition, we will read a variety of short stories and poems from writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ursula K. LeGuin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and others.
When characters in literature and in life experience difficult circumstances, they mask themselves for all sorts of reasons—to disguise, to deceive, to disrupt or revenge; to flirt, to critique, to conform, or defend. Whether intentional or not, such masking almost always incurs some consequence to personal identity, some confusion or disfigurement with which the masked character must ultimately reckon. Masks will examine this theme and others as we read closely and write regularly in response to literature spanning four centuries. Along with a selection of poems, personal essays, and short stories, our main texts will include Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. We may also read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Shaffer’s Amadeus, and Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars.
What does it mean to break with tradition? How can an author question his or her readers’ assumptions about nation, identity, and literature? In this course, we will focus on authors who are now canonical but who in their own times were considered rebels, as well as contemporary authors who are currently challenging the status quo and broadening the literary canon. Readings may include Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café, Pinter’s The Hothouse, Allende’s The House of the Spirits, and Spiegelman’s Maus, as well as short stories and poetry by García Márquez, Adichie, Hemingway, Chopin, Dickinson, and Whitman. Throughout the year, students continue to develop their expository and creative writing skills in preparation for the year’s major project, the Junior Profile.
Trapped Together and Alone
What qualities and flaws emerge when people find themselves trapped together in unusual circumstances? Whether by shipwreck, hostage crisis, exile (both self-imposed or externally ordered), a writer’s choice to isolate people can serve as a way to examine the qualities that make us human, for better or worse. Through a variety of genres, students consider what traits surface in extreme conditions. In addition to novels and nonfiction works, students also consider how plays, too, present a particularly effective way of creating a sense of limited options. Texts may include Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Shakespeare’s The Tempest or King Lear, Patchett’s Bel Canto, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Thoreau’s Walden, Krakauer’s Into The Wild, and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Travelers and Transients
As Americans, many of us have a simultaneous desire to settle and unsettle, to be rooted and rootless, self-made yet destined for greatness. Roads, tracks, trails, and rivers crisscross the vast expanse of this nation and lure us in many directions—toward adventure, misadventure, and the next potentially great thing. This course explores the importance of movement and exploration in texts and in our own writing and considers not only literal travel but also travel through form, space, time, and the imagination. Sometimes when we roam, we just get lost; sometimes we find things greater than that for which we were looking. Let’s see what we uncover in works such as Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Smith’s White Teeth, and Krakauer’s Into the Wild (film version).
Every day we feel varying degrees of pressure—from parents who expect all A’s, coaches who demand excellence each day, and friends who require loyalty and compliance. At some point we must reconcile the expectations we set for ourselves with the person others want us to be. How we manage these internal and external forces—the extent to which they mold or define us—is at the center of this course. Viewing the world through the lens of young protagonists, such as Nigerian Ifemelu and Obinze of Americanah, Colonial-American Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter, small town hockey players and spectators in Beartown, and Danish Hamlet, we will consider the struggles we all face in striving to craft our identity while balancing the pressures of society, culture, and family. We will also study poetry, shorter fiction, and nonfiction that wrestle with issues of identity by authors who may include Jamaica Kincaid, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Chang-rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Naomi Shihab Nye, George Orwell, and Langston Hughes.
Seniors take two English courses. In the first trimester, courses focus on literature, classic and modern. Each senior writes an eight- to ten-page Senior Essay, either an analytical or an emulative piece about one of the works read for his/her fall course. Second-trimester courses allow for more in-depth study of a particular topic.
Doppelgangers and Distorted Mirrors
What happens when a character meets his creepy double? It is not unusual for an author to create a character to serve as a foil for the protagonist to emphasize, through contrast, traits that reveal distinctive qualities of the main character. In the books we read for this course, characters meet and confront their distorted selves, and we will explore the consequences of these encounters. Texts may include the following: selections from The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Song of Solomon by Morrison, and Richard III by Shakespeare. Writing will include analytical essays, emulative pieces, and a personal essay. We will also view films that complement the themes addressed in the texts.
Summer reading: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
In this workshop course, students read one novel and several short works of fiction by twentieth-century and contemporary writers for inspiration and as models of the craft. Most of this writing-intensive course, though, will be spent producing and discussing student writing. Students are responsible for responding to each other’s work in workshop format and in brief online posts. In studying the elements of fiction writing and learning how to construct plot, develop character, and craft effective sentences, students will also hone their analytical reading skills and their ability to discuss fiction in illuminating ways.
Summer reading: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott and selected short stories.
Law, Literature, and Social Justice
This course will explore the intersection between literary and legal studies with a particular focus on social justice and to what degree the legal system rights previous wrongs. Through literature (and perhaps a film or two), we will examine the role of law in the structure of institutions, relationships, and political/personal power. We will consider the history of our legal system and how it has impacted and served various groups in different ways. Texts may include Njal’s Saga (author unknown), The Trial by Franz Kafka, Nuts by Topor, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Kesey, and The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King (film version).
Summer reading: Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson
Moby-Dick: A Whale of a Work
“Call me Ishmael.” With this simple sentence, Herman Melville begins one of the greatest American novels. Through a careful reading of this masterpiece and its many interpretations, we will dabble in the nautical, historical, scientific, philosophical, and Biblical elements Melville so loves. After learning the actual story of a sperm whale ramming and sinking the Essex in 1820, we will spend the bulk of the term reading about a mad captain, his elusive prey, a tattooed harpooneer, and a young crewman in this literary leviathan.
Summer reading: In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
Pilgrim Souls: Journeys of Self-Discovery
Literary characters often undertake literal and metaphorical journeys to learn about themselves. Their discoveries may change their lives . . . or frighten them into denial. The “pilgrim souls” of our readings may include a nihilistic political lackey, a pair of Upper East Side art dealers, a butler searching for where his life went wrong, and a mysterious group of English students. Probable readings include several novels—Warren’s All the King's Men, Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go—and several plays, especially Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation and Edson’s Wit.
Summer reading: The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
Redeeming the Past
Stories have the power to heal wounds and transform individual, communal, and national identity. In this course, students will explore the restorative power of stories by reading literature in which characters, as well as authors, strive to make sense of war, family dysfunction, or personal rejection to move forward with their lives. Our ultimate concern will be to consider how language helps define, resolve, and redeem human experience. Our readings may include Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Ondaatje’s The English Patient, and Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, along with various short stories and poems. Students will continue to hone their writing skills through expository, personal, and creative writing.
Summer reading: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Ben Jonson famously describes Shakespeare as a man “not of an age, but for all time”—a monumental claim. Jonson may have thought he was exaggerating, but his claim is borne out in the near-worldwide admiration of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Shakespeare’s name has become the byword of educated culture, allusion to his works proof positive of a learned mind. Our work will be to step closer to this enduring literature and take note of the power in Shakespeare’s verse. We will immerse ourselves in a number of great works, which may include texts such as the dark and bleak tragedies King Lear and Othello, the startling and delightful comedy Twelfth Night, the “problem” play Measure for Measure, and many of his sonnets. We will also examine how these plays are represented in modern culture and media, with some viewings of films—and perhaps a live performance.
Summer reading: The Winter’s Tale (Pelican edition)
Sibling Bonds and Rivalries
“Blood is thicker than water.” “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Mom always liked you best.” From Cain and Abel to Cinderella and her stepsisters to the Simpsons’ children, the interactions of brothers and sisters have been a recurrent theme of storytellers. Through the readings in this course we will explore the intensities of sibling relationships, such as the demands of family honor in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the fierce rivalries in The Piano Lesson by August Wilson and in works by Junot Diaz, Eudora Welty, Robert Louis Stevenson, and William Shakespeare. Other readings may include works by Christina Rossetti, Wislawa Szymborska, Eugene O’Neill, Brian Friel, Philip Roth, Ian McEwan, Edgar Allan Poe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Carson McCullers. Students will write expository and personal essays as well as fiction and view some contemporary films from the United States and abroad.
Summer reading book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
True Stories and the Personal Essay
Truth can be stranger and more fascinating than fiction. In this course students will read short personal narratives, memoir excerpts, and expository essays to experience how literary voices that speak individual truths and reflect openly on the world can be as compelling as fiction’s best-loved narrators. Students will also cultivate their own voices, sometimes playfully imitating the writers we read and other times creating original pieces about the people, places, and experiences significant to them. Together we will discuss how to recognize good material, manage memory, and dig down for truths that are unaffected and satisfying. In weekly writing workshops during the long block, the class will review each other’s work with an eye toward finishing the course with individual writing portfolios worthy of submission to contests. Readings will include essays from Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Langston Hughes, and George Orwell, as well as excerpts from Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory; Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love; Alice Sebold’s Lucky; David Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed in Flames; and Anne Lamott’s Grace (Eventually).
Summer reading: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
In film, literature, and real life (or, at least, reality TV), villains enthrall us. Though their actions may be despicable, we find their audacity strangely thrilling, and we wait with bated breath as they inevitably move toward to their demise. As we read about villains who manipulate, betray, and commit violence, as well as societies that imprison and dehumanize their subjects, we will reflect on our own perceptions and definitions of morality. We will also consider the potential for villains to function as foils to the protagonists. Texts may include Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, Shakespeare’s Othello, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and a selection of short stories.
Summer reading: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
All the World’s a Screen
This course surveys the golden age of Hollywood, from the end of the silent film era to the fall of the big studio system a half-century later. Weekly screenings cover each decade from the ’20s to the ’60s as well as some of the major cinematic genres: comedy, the musical, the western, melodrama, etc. In addition, the course introduces students to some major approaches to film theory and to the basic tools of film analysis. We will also read one or two novels about Hollywood and a selection of poems and short stories about film. Assignments consist of weekly screenings and readings as well as several short papers and a long paper or test. Note: Required screenings occur at BB&N on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in place of Tuesday’s class.
Four Centuries of Wit
Like a quick wit? Every century offers works of literature that wield wit wondrously well—but what does that mean for us as twenty-first century readers? Some works seem to speak only to their era, some works appeal even now. We’ll ask why this dichotomy exists and then go about the joyful task of looking for answers. We take as our core wits John Donne, Alexander Pope, and Jane Austen, from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries respectively—each author famous for wit and satire. In reading their challenging and sophisticated work, we will come to understand how authors construct wit and to see the socio-historical contexts in which their wit thrived. This course will also explore how twentieth-century wit embodies a bleakness suitable to its own historical context, and finally we will consider the very present now.
Over the past century, our neighbors to the south in Latin America have produced some of the boldest, most inventive fiction in the world. From the wondrous magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and others, to the stylistic innovations of Julio Cortázar and Roberto Bolaño, Latin American writers have been pushing the boundaries of what novels, short stories, and poems can be. In this course, we will read a selection of works from such countries as Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. As we read, we will also investigate social and cultural trends that influenced these writers and their work. In addition to those mentioned above, other writers may include Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Julia Alvarez, Junot Díaz, Laura Esquivel, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Manuel Puig.
This poetry workshop will require the original composition of a significant body of work by each student. Each week we will focus on a different form or element of poetry. We will likely compose sonnets, performance poems, flash fiction, ars poeticas, and poems based on our dreams. Each week we will read samples of the types of poems we’re writing, short critical pieces about form and composition, and a packet of our own poetry that we will workshop together in class. Works may include weekly poetry and criticism packets, Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith, Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and The Essential Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch.
Immerse yourself in an inspiring pool of major award-winning texts. These works are recognized for their innovation and contribution to the world of literature. We may read National Book Award authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior) and Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin), Pulitzer Prize-winner Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nobel laureates such as playwright Harold Pinter, short-story writer Alice Munro, and poet Wislawa Szymborska. As we read, we will explore what makes a text truly great and discuss how its impact on the reading audience has earned it a place in literary history. Get to know the literature that has earned widespread attention and respected accolades, and enter the discussions of readers everywhere.
The Short Story
At its most basic definition, a short story is a prose piece that can be read in one sitting. Yet, within that span, each tale strives to find unity, totality, truth, or at the very least a single effect. Edgar Allan Poe knew how these limitations can daunt an author: “If his very initial sentence tend not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step.” Similarly, John Cheever insists, “With a short story, you have to be in there on every word; every verb has to be lambent and strong. It’s a fairly exhausting task.” We will see how a range of contemporary writers takes on this task through the individual pieces selected for the 2017 and 2018 editions of The Best American Short Stories.
Speechwriting and Public Speaking
In this course students will develop their speechwriting and public speaking skills by hearing, reading, evaluating, and imitating great orators. A writing and presenting workshop, this elective requires participants to refine what they say as well as how they say it through brainstorming, drafting, drilling, and performing a variety of their own speeches. Prioritized in the course design are regular oral communication practice and peer feedback sessions, so students can expect to become adept at scrutinizing each other’s style and substance. Texts will include excerpts from Peggy Noonan’s On Speaking Well, Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker, Richard Dowis’ The Lost Art of the Great Speech, The Moth (an anthology of stories from the public radio show), and In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, among other readings and recordings. Successful completion of the course means writing and formally presenting several speeches, all of which will be recorded and reviewable online and some of which may gain an all-school audience.
Tales of Survival
Every day humans face obstacles to their success, happiness, and sometimes even survival. These challenges—a low grade on a test, a fight with a friend—may be small; other times these moments define who we are. In this course, we will explore how young protagonists navigate trauma and emerge changed yet intact. Potential texts include Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See with Werner, a German orphan turned Nazi soldier, and Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, during the 1930s and ‘40s; Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Oskar Schell, who tries to make sense of his father’s death on 9/11; and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale with Offred, who strives to maintain her identity after the loss of her culture, family, and freedom. Exploring these characters’ experiences, we will consider how facing challenges and overcoming them defines us as humans.
To Hell and Back
This course focuses on Dante’s Inferno, the first and probably most widely read of The Divine Comedy’s three volumes. Full of colorful characters, imaginatively conceived beasts, and grotesque punishments, this epic poem depicts man's physical and spiritual journey through darkness toward the light. We will also examine some paintings and etchings inspired by the Inferno, one of the texts that artists have most frequently depicted throughout the ages. After a quick glance at Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso, we will look at some modern poems his work inspired, including T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” before moving on to another view of Hell in Jean Paul Sartre’s existential play No Exit. Students’ work will include a couple of short critical papers and the creation of their very own three circles of Hell, detailed in a written narrative and in a piece of artwork.
Writing Life Stories
In this course, a writing workshop, students draw from their own experience to craft nonfiction stories. Students will read short personal narratives that will serve as models, both in terms of style and content, for their weekly writing assignments. Their own stories will focus on experiences that they find resonant and significant. In addition to the shorter readings, students will read two full-length memoirs, one chosen from a list of suggested texts and one of the student’s own choosing. Students will work from memoir prompts and experiment with some poetry exercises as a way of finding their topics. They will put their writing through the drafting, revision, and proofreading process to work on producing pieces that are clear, well written, and compelling. The authors we will use as models include E.B. White, Joan Didion, Tim O’Brien, Alice Walker, Edward Abbey, Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris, and Leslie Jamison.