The English literature and language program at Pierrepont explores a variety of prose, poetry and drama. The goal for these classes is to give the students the context and experience necessary to make them stronger independent readers who are interested and able to do the work necessary to engage challenging, layered texts. We aim to have students take industrious pleasure in reading and in examining the craft of writing. From the earliest classes, wordplay, sentence construction, vocabulary, and an aesthetic enjoyment of language are valued as highly as discussions of broader elements such as character, narrative techniques, and plot exegesis.
We choose enduring texts that, with proper teacher guidance, challenge and engage students. We hope to introduce material that the students would not be likely to read on their own, texts in which the content, vocabulary, diction, and structure will be unfamiliar but comprehensible. We want students to make connections between the details of language and the larger thrust of a text. We attempt to introduce some texts by canonical authors into the various curricula from the youngest age.
Written assignments most often relate directly to the reading that students are doing in class. These can be questions that accompany a reading assignment, longer analysis of language or character, or essays that examine aspects of the text as a whole. Younger students tend to learn about writing well through imitation, which is why writing assignments frequently relate to the texts that they read. As students become older, we expect them to be able to write longer pieces and to take a more independent hand in producing written work. Creative assignments also respond to the reading at hand, often prompting students to employ linguistic structures and/or literary gestures encountered in their reading. Mechanical aspects of writing are taught in conjunction with writing assignments, through the process of correction and revision, as well as through exercises that focus on particular skills.
The overall goal is to graduate students who love and respect reading and writing, students who will be able to take on and make sense of an entirely unfamiliar literary text as readers and critical writers.