09 June 2010

On Life

A while ago a dear friend posed a question or proffered a thought, the gist of which was (as applied to myself): are my interests the center of my work.

I remember when I decided that I wanted to be a professor of English lit. It was my junior year at BYU and I had built my schedule around professors that I wanted to take (rule to live by #1, by Anna Bennion--I should create a list). So, I was in American Novel with Dr. Cutchins, Renaissance Lit with Dr. Siegfried, and Shakespeare Performance with Prof Young. I had never before loved school the way I did that semester. Those classes made me see literature differently--more largely. And, as a result, I felt like my experience of life/the world/ideas expanded. Something new opened before me. (I wish I could describe what that was--what was it? A new world? A new way of thinking?--I'm not sure, smaller than that, and maybe also larger. Certainly, a new love. Newborn passion. Which is odd, because it isn't as if I didn't love books and reading before that semester. What was this love for,then?--we'll come back this). I loved that semester so much that I was sad and depressed after finals, because I wouldn't be able to attend those classes anymore. And that's when I decided that I wanted to get my PhD.

So, why exactly did I want a PhD? What was it about those classes (and classes after) that awoke my desire to pursue this field? Or, what did that semester--and, really, the accumulation of my semesters as an English Major--awaken? What I'm digging for here is what's in that long parenthetical statement above. What was it that made me want to become a professor?

This calls for a good list:

1. Partly, I think, I wanted to become a professors because I had such great ones. My teachers at BYU have had an enormous impact on who I have become/am becoming and on how I think and how I want to be. What was it about them?

2. I loved being in a classroom. I loved thinking about and talking about literature. I loved being part of a discussion and I loved getting fired up about where the things we were reading would lead us. {soft be it spoken, I'm not sure that this love is all healthy--I fear that I like the validation I feel in a classroom. That I like talking and hearing it. That's an embarrassing realization--don't judge).

3. I loved how these classes opened up literature for me. But what does that even mean? How did it open it up and what did I see? I want to say something like "I saw the world differently" but that sounds so cliche and so general that it feels like it means nothing. Maybe literature helped diversify my experience. Or that literature gave me a unique and particular way to think about ideas. (but what was that way? what was/is particular or unique about it?)

4. I loved how literature opened up life. Or opened up experience. Something new, like I said above, opened up before me. I wish I could articulate that thing better.

5. I wanted to help students have the experience with literature, school, college that I had.

{nothing like a good list}

So, some conclusions I draw:

1. What is this thing that I want to articulate? Why is the study of literature so important to me? What was the new thing that was opened by literature for me?

2. Have I lost sight of that?


Jean Bean said...

I don't know what the answers are, but I think you've got a good handle on the questions. And questions lead to answers, so you are well on your way. Love you.

suzanne said...

Keep asking. Always keep asking. Never forget, never let time go by without asking. Grasshopper.