A challenging and dynamic literary arts curriculum is a hallmark of Ashley Hall's Upper School. Beginning in seventh grade, coursework emphasizes reading as an exploratory process which yields both enjoyment and a deepened understanding of the human condition. In the eighth, students receive a thorough grounding in the fundamental elements of English prose style, including an intense review of grammar and syntax. All juniors are required to take the Advanced placement English Language course, which prepares them for the AP exam and ensures that all graduates will be adequately prepared for (if they do not place out of) college-level freshman composition.
Ninth and tenth grade English is subsumed under the heading of Humanities and is integrated with the History Department curriculum. This Humanities sequence uses the Harkness Table approach to class discussions of canonical primary sources. In their senior year, students are offered a variety of semester-long electives, each of which invites girls to engage in more intense and concentrated investigations of specific literary genres or representative authors.