William Pearson is in his sixth year at the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. He is the chair of the Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy Department, and is a faculty member in the Literature and Writing Department. He has created and taught seven original courses in his time at the school, covering Dante’s Commedia, Latin American Literature, Class Literature, Irish Literature, Shakespeare, The Novella, and an Introduction to Western Philosophy. William also coaches basketball and volleyball at ESLA, and has moved his fair share of furniture as the school’s campus and enrollment have grown.
William graduated from The University of the South: Sewanee in 2016 with an English major and a Philosophy minor. He wrote his Honors Thesis on Dante's use of speranza ("hope") in his Divine Comedy.
Naming the Unnameable (7-8th Grade)
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" — Ludwig Wittgenstein
This course will investigate the ways in which we create meaning in the world. We’ll look at the ways literature can mediate between personal experience and the world at large, tring to fill in the indescribable gaps that we feel all around us. We’ll read a range of short fiction by authors including Flannery O’Connor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ursula Le Guin, Italo Calvino, and George Saunders alongside selected poetry to develop an understanding of what it means to name something and how that name can take on a life of its own.
We’ll then take our conclusions about naming and apply them to the ways we try to know ourselves and those around us, discussing the challenges of using language to describe a world that is constantly changing.
The Burden of Memory (9/10th Grade)
“Nostalgia comes with the smell of rain, you know.” — Donald Justice
This course will look at the ways in which memory and nostalgia can warp our experience of the present — often overwhelming and contorting the world around us. We’ll read a range of short fiction by authors including Alice Walker, James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Flannery O’Connor, and Vladimir Nabokov alongside selected poetry in order to map the past’s particular gravity in a present moment. We’ll also take stock of memory’s grip on us as contemporary readers, and consider the implications of letting its influence go unchecked.
We’ll also address why literature is particularly suited to confronting the problem of nostalgia: why do personal and historical memory become the territory of fiction and poetry? How does this form interact with its thematic preoccupations?