I was certainly a late-comer to being an English major. I came to BU with every intention of studying political science or international development. Then it was philosophy and religion, and after that a bit of history. But sometime in the second part of my sophomore year I found what I was looking for, and I came to dwell in literature. Then it wasn’t until my senior year that I found the words that so exactly distill the motivation of my studies: “Only connect…”
Although literature seems a far cry from international development, I now don’t understand them to be so dissimilar. At one point I was concerned that studying literature was too removed from the real world (hence, my short stint with international development), but during my time in the BU English department I found that literature expresses the many dimensions of our world and our fundamental interest in comprehending it. Literature offers up insight into the world, if we are only open to the complexity of it and willing to connect. Between studying the nineteenth century British bourgeois experience of the home with Professor Julia Brown, examining the twentieth century struggles with politics, aesthetics, and identity in African American literature with Professor Gene Jarrett, and puzzling out the Heideggerian meditations on death in Wordsworth’s poetry with Professor Magdalena Ostas, I know I have encountered some part of “this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit” that is life.
Because of its nature, literature demands an ongoing, active dialogue, which is something I hope to continue to engage in. I spent the fall of 2011 studying abroad in London writing an extended research paper on George Meredith’s Modern Love, which was awarded the Robert Yellin Humanities Scholarship the following spring. The many hours I happily spent poring over the collection of books at the London Library for my paper reinforced my interest in graduate school, and I plan to begin a graduate program next fall focusing on modern literature. During my time in the BU English department, I have valued most the encouragement of my professors to personally engage with literature – to connect. I envision that when I am teaching as a professor my philosophy will be something like that.