Well worth the time, especially if you love books.
Congratulations to our 2013 English and Integrated Language Arts graduates.
Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hopes for literary forms? Why are we reading, if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage and the hope of meaningfulness, and press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power? What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and which reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered?”
—Annie Dillard “Write Till You Drop
Read more here.
Josh Thomas is a junior English major with a film studies minor. He’s also on the MVNU men’s soccer team. Below are some of his thoughts on the value of studying literature.
Why did you choose English for your major?
I initially chose English simply because I loved to read, and I enjoyed fiction. I also could not see myself in any other field of study. I think the most common and seemingly uncanny response I get from people when I tell them I am an English major is, “Well, what do you want to do with that?” They never ask why I am an English major or what the infinite coolness of being an English major is like.
It is not at all ironic that I have fallen in love with English more and more as I have been studying it and can now better voice why I chose English as a major. I know now why I love reading so much; I love fiction because—as the great David Foster Wallace wrote—“fiction is what it means to be a human being.” I love studying humanity and trying to figure out a text and what is really going on and why any of it matters to the human reading it. In high school, I knew I liked to read, but now as a college student I understand why…. A long answer to a short question but I am still trying to make sense of why every single person in college is not an English major.
In what ways has studying literature shaped your thinking?
More than shaping the way in which I think, studying literature has really taught me that I need to think more. I think that in the present world we live in we do not think enough. We move at an incredible pace and everything has to be quick, immediate, and constant. We barely have time to slow down for anything, let alone art. Literature and all its facets requires us to slow down and sit down without any distractions and asks for your complete attention; it requires you to think. That attention translates to life as well. It teaches you to slow down and think about situations and people, actions and consequences. As elementary as that sounds, I think it holds true. Literature simply reminds us that we need to think (I think).
What kind of work would you like to pursue after you graduate?
After graduation I plan to continue to study literature and go to graduate school with the intent to one day be a professor and if not, who knows.
This summer, ten students will join Dr. Brett Wiley for a week in New York City as a part of mvNYu, one of the English and Modern Languages departmental travel-study programs. Students study the literature and culture of the one of the most important cities in the world: reading ”Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, taking in a Broadway musical, or wandering the aisles of the Strand bookstore.
The trip takes place during the summer of each odd-numbered year. The picture above is the group from the 2011 trip.
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.