Yesterday was CC 2016’s first Lit Hum lecture, delivered by Gareth Williams. Here are the thoughts of Isabel Robinson, CC ’16.
Tuesday afternoon, hordes of freshmen could be spotted milling around Lerner, slowly but steadily making their way through a line that stretched three sides of the building. Buzzing through the air was one main question: did you actually read it? Did you read The Iliad? Answers varied from Sparknotes references to protests that watching Troy would suffice, with a couple students even claiming to have finished the whole thing, introduction and all. The migration could only mean one thing: the first Lit Hum lecture was upon the class of 2016.
Professor Gareth Williams’ lilting accent lent a supremely dignified air to the excerpts—a feat which the monotone, teacher-from-Charlie-Brown murmur couldn’t come close to matching. That same NPR-like lilt combined with the warmth of the auditorium and sleep deprivation also made for a powerful sedative in some students’ cases—others were already falling prey to the lures of Facebook and Twitter. But for those who managed to fight the temptations there was true entertainment, like the comedy of watching prospective commenters in the balcony struggle to be noticed by those below. Or the shock of realizing just how incorrectly you’ve been pronouncing every character’s name (Simoeis? Aipeia?) Or even Professor Williams’ explanation of parallel narrative that made you realize The Iliad may not be the most boring book in the world. Maybe.
Another anecdote from the lecture much mocked by the first-years, from Alexander Pines, CC ’16:
The last student speaker questioned the central theme of the book, beginning her comments with, “Death and life are things I’ve thought of a lot, and it’s something that interests me. And I actually read the introduction.” She continued to explain that the introduction led her to the conclusion that the book was about life, not death. Apparently, “a videogame helped [her] come to this conclusion.” Finally, she quoted Oscar Wilde. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
With a practiced patience and even mind, Professor Williams shut her down with Oscar Wilde’s last words: “Either these curtains go, or I do.”