In the richness of its course offerings, its small classes typically conducted in a seminar format, and its emphasis on writing and discussion, English at Deerfield exemplifies the academic rigor and standards of excellence found across the Deerfield curriculum. All courses stress careful reading, responsible thinking, and clear, precise expression of ideas. Students study literature representing a broad range of historical and cultural perspectives, with a particular emphasis during tenth grade and junior year on British and American literature.
Writing is an important part of the Deerfield curriculum and it receives special emphasis in the English Department. Starting with the fundamentals of strong persuasive writing in English I, students work their way through Deerfield’s rigorous writing curriculum. Ninth graders orally interpret a short story in a prepared reading. Tenth graders present a memorized excerpt from a literary work. Juniors write essays on American experiences or themes of their own choosing and then speak the piece from memory. Seniors construct longer essays called meditations, linking personal experience to something larger in the world. The reading of selected meditations at school meetings in the spring is an important Deerfield tradition. Students also share their talents and develop their poise in required declamatory experiences.