If You Only Study One Thing... How to Become a Lifelong Learner Through Literature

Posted by Emma Perley on 7/14/21 9:00 AM

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Literature informs and envelopes all of the liberal arts in a way that no other subject can. It can teach any subject, any part of the liberal arts, and it can teach virtues. Literature forces readers to be empathetic, to see things through another person's eyes.

The lessons learned through literature, paired with the lessons learned from Patrick Henry College’s core curriculum, its apprenticeship program, and its devoted professors, gives students far more than a degree at graduation.

A comprehensive study of literature—that is established on the foundation of the Word of God—enriches a student's life with all of the tools they need for human flourishing and lifelong learning.

No Patrick Henry College literature student has to wonder whether or not their degree will be useful. Patrick Henry College prides itself on a holistic education that provides students with deep historical, theological, and philosophical context for the world around them. The classical liberal arts are not just a sequence of courses, but a conceptual framework and a methodology. The intensive core curriculum guides students through all seven facets of the classical liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, and science. These arts allow students to better appreciate the beauty of the world we inhabit.

Explore Literature and History Camp

As part of the requisite core courses for all academic majors, Patrick Henry College students take two semesters of Western Literature with either of the Literature professors, Dr. Steven Hake or Dr. Cory Grewell. These classes guide all PHC students through the ancient Greek works of Homer to the great Russian novels of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Reading such literature provides first-hand historical and cultural context for the periods in which the authors lived. Literature transports readers to times and places and into minds, whether real or fictional, that they would never otherwise have access to.

At Patrick Henry College, the study of literature is rooted in the Bible.

Dr. Hake shares this:

Let us say clearly that the serious wrestling with the Scriptures that we are talking about is the absolute best way to prepare ourselves—to train our minds—for the reading, study and appreciation of any merely human classic.

If we have even begun to plumb the depths of God's Book—to mine even the tiniest part of its treasures—(we can never exhaust them!) we will have no difficulty approaching any other merely-human book. The reading skills, the inductive study skills, even memorization and meditation skills, will prove excellent allies. Reason honed on a humble study of God's Word will pierce through the most profound human classic. We will find that God's Word is quite literally “unfathomable,” but also that even the most impressive “merely human” classic (and there are many such) will quite readily bounce back our signals when we sound its depths. A very significant measure of a book's greatness and worth is the extent to which it repays multiple reading and close study. There are some truly great books out there, but you will find that none even begins to compare to the Book up close and over time. 

Students majoring in Literature at Patrick Henry College study the great works of European and American literature. They take two semesters of English literature, one semester of American literature, as well as a course in literary theory and criticism. Literature majors study a classical language and take advanced courses in history, philosophy and theology.

As part of major electives, literature students at Patrick Henry College must take classes in either fiction or nonfiction writing, study two distinct genres in more depth, and focus on one major author. They also expand on areas of interest by developing Directed Research & Writing projects in literary studies or creative writing, or participate in literature or writing-related internships such as student teaching, tutoring, or editing.

Lifelong Learning To the Glory of God

Patrick Henry College’s rigorous and extensive core not only gives students a deep context for the things they’ll encounter throughout their lives, it also builds character.

Students can expect to leave Patrick Henry College with a love of learning, a strong sense of humility, and a closer relationship with Christ. These are, of course, all born from the truth they study in literature and the other parts of the classical liberal arts education.

Learn More About the Literature Major

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