English Department

Grove City College

The English program at Grove City College is dedicated to the study of the great works of English, American and world literature. Our approach is to read the literature to explore the great questions regarding the nature of man and God; good and evil; moral choice; the purpose of life; and the meaning of salvation. We believe that God has revealed truth throughout all creation, including the creative mind of man. Our goal is to equip our students to discover God's truth wherever it may be found, but especially in the great works of the literature of Western civilization.

 

We feel an obligation to the literature and to the truth it expresses.  We study classical and contemporary approaches to literature, and we attempt to glean from them all the tools that will help us to unlock the treasures of good literature. We take seriously such contemporary theories as deconstruction, Marxism, feminism, new historicism, reader-response, and multiculturalism; however, we also challenge such perspectives to the extent that they posit the relativism of truth. We believe in absolute truth and believe that our study of literature should be a quest for the ongoing revelation of that truth in our lives. We are open to discovering this truth in new authors and works of literature, yet we believe that literary works that have stood the test of time have done so because they have best satisfied the two classical purposes of literature: to teach and to delight.  They do so in ways that transcend the barriers of gender, race, nationality, class, and historical period.  They are universal.

Our approach to the study of literature could best be defined as exegetical.  This involves three major phases of analysis:

  1. Idea:  What was the author trying to say?  What timeless, universal truths does the work communicate?  What values?  How did the author's initial audience read and understand the literature?  How did this work reflect—and shape—its culture?

  2. Form:  How does the work of literature express those values and truths in effective, memorable ways?  How are form and style intertwined with content and essential to comprehending the work?

  3. Response:  How do we as twenty-first century Christians respond to the literature?  To what extent can our response be enriched by various classical and contemporary approaches? How do we respond to the ethical, theological, and aesthetic dimensions of the work?


All three of these steps are essential, but the third must follow, not precede, the other two.  Only then can our response to the literature be properly informed.

We believe that the exploration of these questions will enable us to understand the greatness of the great works of Western literature, and that such understanding ennobles the imagination and enriches the life of the individual student.  The study of literature is for us an experience of Christian stewardship, and we welcome into our program all those eager both to stir up in themselves the God-given gifts of intelligence and imagination and to think after them the thoughts of the greatest writers of Western civilization.