St. Benedict tells us, “No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.” This is the attitude with which we in the English department approach our students and the curriculum. Our aim is to help the young men under our instruction recognize, analyze, appreciate, and effectively communicate Truth.
Our foundation is a focus on grammar and vocabulary, without which effective communication cannot occur, as well as composition. With that foundation, we introduce a variety of literature, challenging students to analyze with sharp logic the pieces of the human condition reflected in any given work, allowing us to become more profoundly connected to our fellow humans.
The English department provides students with skills that top tier colleges and universities seek. While we saturate our curriculum with analytic and academic writing assignments that require deep critical thinking–skills which allow for great success at the collegiate and professional levels–the real value is far higher. We provide the opportunity for students to deepen their ability to empathize and build meaningful relationships with a wide diversity of people. Moreover, we stretch the imagination’s capacity to grasp what is true, good, and beautiful in this world.
C. S. Lewis’s commentary on Myth can be applied to the endeavors of our department when he says, “the real-life of men is that of mythical and heroic quality. . . . The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores them to the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’” All of the world, all of reality, is rediscovered, and once we have seen it restored, “We are not quite the same men.”