Published on: 5 May 2021

Last Friday three Year 12 Literature classes gathered for a lecture on the ever-optimistic and colourful Walt Whitman, and his relationship with the New England Transcendentalists of the 1850s. The Lecture, delivered by Head of English Spencer Davis, explored transcendental beliefs ranging from the notion of a universal soul that connects all humans with nature, to the importance of non-conformity, spontaneity and self-reliance.

The lecture comprised part of the boys’ preparation for their upcoming exams and was designed to replicate a tertiary experience, in line with the types of lectures and guest talks they will take part in at university.

Head of English Spencer Davis spoke about the boys’ engagement with the material, saying “The boys asked a lot of questions that demonstrated a deep interrogation of the course material, the pantheist beliefs of the Transcendentalists – such as the idea that God could exist everywhere, including in a tree or a strand of hair – was of particular interest to the boys.”

Extra-curricular lectures and talks from guest speakers are a fundamental part of the English Department’s academic offering and are crucial in providing the boys with new perspectives and understanding of the subject material. Josh Green (’20), the Beazley Medal winner for 2020, achieved a perfect score in his Literature ATAR exam.