1. Summer Thinking Assignment
English 12 Pilot Course
Seniors – do not order your English 12 summer reading until you know which section you will be in.
You will be notified by July 1.
“Space has a spiritual equivalent and can heal what is divided and burdensome in us.”
--Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces
Think of summer as space and believe us when we tell you that we want you to fill up that space in the ways you see fit.
We want you to spend as much of it as possible doing what you want to do. But we also want you, at some point, to begin
preparing yourself for the school year ahead. We would not wait until the very last, red second to complete this
assignment, but we do recommend that you complete it toward the middle/end of the summer rather than right out of the
gate. You forget things. You know you do.
So on to the assignment. Our request is threefold: 1. We want you to read Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild. You must
buy a hard copy of the book; e-book readers will not be permitted 2. We want you to watch the 1989 TV miniseries
Lonesome Dove starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones and based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. 3. We want
you to write a short reflection paper in which you consider some of the questions below. Now we can see that you are
brimming with questions, so let us provide you with some details about each piece of the assignment.
A. We recommend the Anchor 1997 paperback edition of Into the Wild. (ISBN-13: 978-0385486804). You DO need
your own copy of the book. It should probably be marked in, highlighted, annotated, and otherwise beaten up by
the wear and tear of active reading.
B. Lonesome Dove is a time commitment. The most current DVD edition has 4 episodes, each about 90 minutes – so
you will need to do some planning here. You have several options for watching Lonesome Dove:
• Buy it. You can buy the actual DVD for $14.99 on Amazon, or you can buy individual episodes
to watch instantly on your computer for $1.99 each. iTunes likely has a similar deal.
• Watch it on Netflix streaming, if you have an account.
• Watch it with us: we’ll be offering screenings of the episodes at St. Andrew’s over the summer,
starting in mid-July. We’ll show one episode per week – check your email over the summer if
you are interested in this option.
• Rent it from us. If you are worried about buying your own version, we will likely be able to rent
out specific discs for short periods of time over the summer.
Timing is not everything, but it can be crucial. Do not wait until the last minute to track down LD. You will
be so bummed if you do.
C. The essay. You’re right: 2-3 pages is not very long and completely doable. And once you’ve read such an
incredible book and watched such a great miniseries, you will want some sort of vessel for your thoughts. Let us
direct you a bit with the set of questions below. You may choose which set you would like – but no matter which
prompt you choose, write while holding both of these very different texts in your mind and considering what they
have to say to one another. In what way are they both part of the same conversation?
• In these two stories, what is the myth of the frontier? Is the myth reaffirmed, or proved to be
false? Does the vision of the frontier match its reality?
• What purpose does the frontier serve? Or, how does it affect the individuals who venture into it?
Is it a place that saves us? Ruins us? A place where we get lost? All of the above? None of the
• How do these two stories define the idea of "escape"? What are the individuals escaping from?
What are they escaping to? Do they succeed in escaping?
You may feel that you really need 8 pages to contain all that you think, but we’d like you to stay within the length
parameters. Your essay should be written in 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, and with normal
headings and margins and etc. You should have it ready to turn in on the first full day of classes, and you will
need to submit to turnitin.com, as well. You should not use any additional sources for this essay beyond the two
texts and your own highly capable brain.
There’s more?! Yes. Flip over.
2. Some final thoughts:
Your reflection paper is the initial proof that you have done what you’ve been asked to do. The best way to prove this is
not extreme emotion or praise but obvious knowledge of the two materials at hand. You will want to quote from the
book and the movie as much as you can while still leaving plenty of room for your insights and commentary. By now,
you are well versed in how to quote directly from a book. Quoting from a movie might include dialogue, but it also might
consist of you describing a particular scene or detail. Always err on the side of being too specific rather than too vague.
A note about watching films for school assignments: it’s not exactly like watching a film for entertainment. You will
need to take notes, and to pay attention not just to plot and dialogue, but to setting, camerawork, music, lighting, and
anything else that goes into creating the feel of a film. Unless you own the film, you can’t always easily go back to
remind yourself of a particular line or shot (unlike a book, where you can flip back to all those passages you marked up
and highlighted and annotated, right?) – this makes it all the more important that you take notes, because you will need to
reference the film in detail, just like you would use direct quotes from a book.
Phew...we think that’s it…
Okay, since you’re still there and this is already a two-page document, one last comment. Consider it friendly advice.
Our hope is that you will find this assignment pretty painless and surprisingly engaging and even entertaining. We also
hope that it will make you think. If you deem it only a task to complete or some form of punishment administered by
boorish thugs, then you will hate it. BUT, if you can think of it as an intellectual pursuit, as a process of finding out what
you think, then it really could be something you enjoy. And this holds true for everything that we will do next year.
Also, who doesn’t like Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones?
Alright. We’re done. But if you have any questions, of course, please do email us.