In order to graduate students who value literature and ideas, who think critically about what they read, and who write with clarity and style, CGPS’s English Department designs classes that are meaningful and that help our students express themselves and illuminate their world.
At each level, students read literature that challenges their thinking, explores diverse perspectives, and evokes connections to their own lives and choices. Our courses spotlight subtleties of character and tone, honing students’ awareness and helping them understand the power of language and art. In addition to thoughtful close reading, students are frequently asked to respond creatively to literature, and especially, to emulate authors and prose techniques—a rich exercise that develops a nuanced appreciation of narrative, poetic, and rhetorical style. In teaching writing, the department values depth and voice over pat formulas, whether students are analyzing literature, developing arguments, or describing their own experiences. Teachers often begin with short, low-stakes exercises to give students confidence and to stretch their prose, and then guide students through longer papers, moving from early brainstorming to rough drafts to polished work. Students learn to shape and deepen their ideas and to understand their own patterns of error. As students progress, the department promotes intellectual independence, allowing students to develop their own approaches to assignments and even to select their own courses and texts.