Seek Truth and Transcend Meaning: Patrick Henry College’s Literature Minor

Do you love to read the great books, write stories, and study famous authors? No need to change your major, simply add a Literature Minor. Part of what makes Patrick Henry College (PHC) distinct is its ability to provide students with a broad liberal arts education that allows them flexibility in what they can study.

Literature Program

The Literature minor at Patrick Henry College touches on a variety of historical, philosophical, and artistic perspectives. It has a flexible 15-credit requirement that is divided between nine credits of Literature Electives, Genre, and Major Author classes as well as six chosen credits from the courses Literary Theory & Criticism, American Literature, and English Literature I and II.

The objectives of a minor in Literature at Patrick Henry College are to be able to identify great works of European and American Literature, apply important statements of literary theory and criticism in the Western tradition, enhance writing skills through critical and imaginative responses to literary texts, and integrate the aesthetic, moral, and philosophical principles of literary works into a Biblical worldview.

Why Do a Minor at Patrick Henry College?

Patrick Henry College’s minor in literature presents a lot more flexibility of credits and subject material than a major is able to afford. Because of PHC’s classical christian liberal arts education, students can study a wide variety of subjects that provide them flexibility in their chosen areas of interest.

Students in the Government major might love politics and policy, but also have an interest in C.S. Lewis. By adding a literature minor, students are able to have the unique benefits of taking an in-depth class on specific authors while getting credit for it and learning in their subject area of interest.

Patrick Henry College uniquely designs its educational model to give students in-depth knowledge on a broad range of topics and allow them flexibility in specializing in their respective fields of interest. This is a key component of PHC’s tradition of a high-quality liberal arts education.

Learn to Seek Truth

Why is studying literature important? The answer is tied to Patrick Henry College’s philosophy of education. As articulated by Robert Littlejohn and Charles Evans: The purpose of Christian education is always twofold…We want our students to grow spiritually, intellectually, and socially, and we want them to foster similar growth in society.

But what is the most conducive environment for growth? The narrative of history points to wisdom and knowledge as pillars of human flourishing. But how does one acquire these? Patrick Henry College believes that knowledge can be found in reading the Great Books of Western Civilization in order to understand truth from varying perspectives and better support one’s understanding of the world. According to Littlejohn and Evans:

To be of any earthly good, a person must understand the world around him and recognize what it needs. He must be capable of discerning between what is true and good and beautiful in society and what is not, and he must be empowered to make a difference through perpetuating the former. In short, he requires wisdom and eloquence. Our activist must understand himself to be the inheritor of a dependable tradition of wisdom (rooted in a transcendent, authoritative source) that he has the responsibility to steward and to articulate to his contemporary world.

Literature transcends meaning. The goal of reading a book is not to be merely entertained, but enriched. The Great Books are designed to take the reader on a journey—by the end of which their perception of the world will be more complete. If books are read merely for entertainment, their purpose is diminished into a test of boredom. If meaning is an ocean, literature is how one navigates it.

Patrick Henry College seeks to raise-up individuals who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. Thus, literature is crucial to the education of students because of its relevance and vital impact on informing one’s mind, body, and soul. Through its rigorous liberal arts curriculum, PHC seeks to provide academically excellent baccalaureate-level higher education with a biblical worldview.

A Unique Perspective to Patrick Henry College

Literature minors are not solely unique to Patrick Henry College. While other schools tend to lean toward Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) career paths, nearly every college and university offers a Literature program.

There are even some high-ranking schools that pursue the classical liberal arts model that Patrick Henry College seeks to imitate. The University of Chicago, which is famed for its liberal arts core, has a 45-credit core. The National Endowment for the Humanities, in a project designed to promote liberal education, proposed 50.

Patrick Henry College has an extensive core curriculum of 63 credits, this is what makes it distinct.

As to the spiritual element of PHC’s mission, there are other Christian schools that offer an education taught from a Christian worldview. However, few Christian colleges fully embrace a rigorous study of Western Civilization and what can be classified as “pagan works” to the degree that Patrick Henry College does.

Patrick Henry College was founded specifically to serve the best and the brightest of Christian homeschooled young people. Thus, the classical christian liberal arts education is at the heart of PHC’s educational philosophy and influences how students engage with literature.

Instead of merely reading from the greatest texts in Western Civilization, students can analyze, understand, and engage truth by having the benefit of an intentionally Christian approach to education. To learn how to be a great writer is to have read great writing.

Patrick Henry College seeks to present students with the opportunity to pursue knowledge through a wide variety of disciplines. However, engaging with great literature through a uniquely Christian perspective is the full realization of knowledge of the good, true, and beautiful.

Patrick Henry College’s motto is “for Christ and for Liberty,” and it seeks to embrace both imperatives through its literature minor by providing students with the opportunity to engage important texts with the benefit of a Christian worldview.

The study of literature unites all of Patrick Henry College’s objectives by exposing students to excellent writers, teaching them how to critically analyze works, and then cultivate their talents in a way that glorifies God with their words.



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Patrick Henry College is Educating Leaders for Preserving America’s Future

Preserving America’s Future

Patrick Henry College prepares Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. Cultural trends focused away from a faith-based biblical worldview indicate that there has been a significant shift away from the essential values of our nation’s founding generation.

The Need to Preserve Liberty

Preserving liberty means preserving certain fundamental notions about what it means to live and what it means to be free. The concept of liberty articulated in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence comes from the understanding that all men have unalienable rights that are rooted in a transcendent Creator.

Founding Fathers Believed in Transcendent Truth

The framers of the Philosophy of Education at Patrick Henry College believe that a thorough understanding of an unwavering, biblical worldview is crucial to being a leader of integrity and committed to pursuing God’s truth. Unfortunately, as more and more national leaders glean their education from secular undergraduate institutions, higher education has been reduced to a body deficient in leadership. There is a void in higher education for producing well-trained, but also biblically-faithful minds. Patrick Henry College is filling the void and training men and women who can lead at the highest levels with a commitment to a biblical worldview—something that America is in desperate of.

Patrick Henry College and the classical model of education are some of the best answers to filling this void.

Patrick Henry College’s Comprehensive Core Curriculum

Patrick Henry College’s broad, 63-credit classical liberal arts core seeks to interconnect a wide-array of disciplines based-upon the trivium and quadrivium. The trivium consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the quadrivium consists of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.

The idea at Patrick Henry College is to educate students in a broad variety of disciplines and specialize minimally within majors. Students will have the benefit of having an in-depth and comprehensive education while being able to gain the specific skills needed for their respective fields while getting hands-on experience through Patrick Henry College internships or taking one of the major-specific classes.

The Classical Core at Patrick Henry College is designed to not only prepare students for the job market, but more importantly, prepare them for life. The liberal arts curriculum connects history with philosophy, literature with theology, economics with government, and more. Ultimately, students learn how to think about the world as well as their place in it.

Understanding the Past while at Patrick Henry College

A key element of Patrick Henry College’s Classical Core is that it draws its inspiration from the past. In order to best understand the world now, one must understand the values, events, and lessons of the past. A comprehensive liberal arts education achieves just that.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans saw education in two categories: pragmatic and liberal (from liberalis meaning “worthy of a free man”). Those who were slaves had a “servile” education in which the focus was technical and job-oriented. The technical education is one focused on survival, not flourishing. However, free citizens were given a liberal education. The free man was able to contemplate the most fundamental questions of life such as “Who am I?” or “Where did I come from?” The thread of liberty is traced back to the origins of a classical liberal arts education.

In the 6th century, the church of Cassiodoras first systematized the seven liberal arts previously mentioned as the trivium and quadrivium. Medieval theologians added theological science as a liberal art because theology was considered integral to education.

The character of classical liberal arts changed during the Renaissance when the rhetoric so highly esteemed from the Greeks became a major focus, as well as a heavy emphasis on the Bible. Reformation leaders Luther and Melanchthon planted schools that were specifically designed to enable all Christians to read the Bible. These schools were not only for the elite but also for the masses in an attempt for Christians from all classes to receive a liberal arts education.

Luther’s doctrine of vocation became an integral part of classical education. He maintained that cultivating one’s God-given talents by means of the liberal arts can equip Christians for whatever arena of love and service to the neighbor that God calls them to.

The American founders believed strongly in liberty, virtue, and self-government. They maintained that people who are to be free must be given an education that equips them for freedom. “Liberal” education, for the founders, was essential for “liberty.”

Patrick Henry College is committed to educating students in the biblical principles that framed America’s founding.

Informing the Future at Patrick Henry College

Unfortunately, the concept of providing an extensive and quality classical liberal arts education has been all but lost in today’s world. More often than not, prestigious secular undergraduate colleges focus on preparing citizens for the job market and having a working mindset rather than learning to live fully and knowing how to think deeply.

Patrick Henry College seeks to draw its students upwards. It seeks to bring a full awareness of the biblical worldview—the worldview that widely shaped the thinking of our Founding Fathers. When students read Aristotle, they read about Ancient Greece, they more importantly read about the thoughts and ideals of the time. They understand virtue through an Aristotelian framework: that it is an end unto itself.

Today, nearly 300 private Christian day schools are members of the Association of Classical & Christian Schools (ACCS), following a classical model of education. In addition, there are likely that many more classical Christian schools unaffiliated with ACCS, such as those connected to the Society of Classical Learning and various denominational institutions. These young scholars are graduating from high school with stronger mental chops and grounding in philosophy, theology, fine art, US History, world history, grammar, logic, and rhetoric than their peers. They do­—and will continue to—shape the future of America.

Patrick Henry College Classical Learning and Homeschool Education

Classical Christian education has also become a major curricular model for homeschoolers. Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (1999) has become a bestseller for W. W. Norton, a major secular publisher. Other widely-used classical resources have become widely-accepted in the homeschool community such as the online tutorials SCHOLA, Escondido Tutorial Service, and the Great Books Academy. Classical Conversations, comprising 300,000 American families and growing strong, is a national network of homeschool co-ops and seminars. Not surprisingly, more than 70% of the students entering Patrick Henry College come from a homeschool background.

Our nation needs an education revival. More than an infusion of Christian principles, the preservation of liberty requires an influx of virtuous and principled leaders. A comprehensive and extensive liberal arts education that is built on a Christian worldview is vital to raising-up a new generation of leaders. Such an education, that was available to the world-changing minds of the past, is now increasingly hard to find.

Patrick Henry College educates students by looking at the cultural movements, the leaders that shaped Western Civilization, and the leaders that shaped the system of government in order to preserve America for future generations. A true and Christian education informs the leaders of tomorrow by keeping alive the virtues that had all too often been left in the past.

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