The idea that storytelling can be powerful has gained traction in the 21st Century in ways that the great writers and creators of English literature probably never imagined. Narratives are broadly recognised as having potent political power, whether it is the story that we tell about our past and our histories, or the story of who should be represented in literature or on the screen, or the important question of who has ownership of those stories, to begin with.
A generation of young women who are coming of age in the most recent decade also have powerful mechanisms for telling stories, whether those be through a pithy collection of words and image in a TikTok, or a punchy and provocative 280 word ‘tweet’. In some respects, the power and value of words has never been better recognised, and it is an exciting time to be a teacher of literature and language. On the other hand, the recent controversy over the decision to feature a quote from Caroline Bingley (of Pride and Prejudice), celebrating the joy of reading, on the British 10 pound note, without any consideration of the satirical attitude Austen took towards this character’s pretentious declaration of her love, suggests that there is still a job for as English teachers (and proof readers) after all!
In a world where gratification can seem to be instantaneous, ubiquitous and ephemeral, and the demands of quiet, concentrated thought and reflection can seem difficult to find, literature has so much to offer. It also asks a lot of us.
The recent publication of student work in the 2019 edition of Scripsi suggests that both the love of literature, and the appreciation of its power and significance, is alive and well at Ruyton. Scripsi is an annual Ruyton literary publication that acknowledges and celebrates many forms of writing. It also provides a platform for Senior School students to gain the experiences of a published writer by submitting their works for consideration. Included in Scripsi are poems, short stories and speeches, many of which have received commendations and prizes in highly respected competitions (internal and external).
As teachers of stories, and as avid readers, the English department considers it an honour and a privilege to explore great works of writing with the students of Ruyton. We offer a joyful and enthusiastic welcome to the students in our classes this year. We cannot wait to see and hear what new stories they will bring.
Learning Leader English
Ruyton Girls' School