Sequestered Nooks and Sweet Serenity

“The scholar and the world!  The endless strife, The discord in the harmonies of life!  The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books;  The market-place, the eager love of ganin, Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain!” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

Fact A) I love poetry.  I don’t talk about it very often here, and I’m on the far end of the spectrum from “master poet,” but I absolutely adore reading it.  Poe’s unquestionably my favourite, but I appreciate pieces across the genre.  [I’m also quite partial to rhyme, much to my former Writing professor’s dismay!].

This was a result I got upon analysis of a piece I wrote for a Gothic Horror assignment.  One of the best compliments I've ever received.

This was a result I got upon analysis of a piece I wrote for a Gothic Horror assignment. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

Fact B)  I love learning.  You all know already that I’m a self-declared ambitious freak, that I take on far too many classes, majors, minors, and activities for my own good.  You know that I love books and writing, and history and music, and movies and memories.  To make a long story short, I love to learn.

My mom likes to joke that I’m going to be a student forever. I’m not sold on grad school yet, but even if I’m not formally enrolled in some sort of degree-based program after my time here at Gettysburg, I’ll still be learning.  She’s right though;  even if I weren’t so avid a fan, lifelong learning (cliché as it sounds) comes with the territory when you decide to become a professional historian.

In the here and now, this translates to reaching beyond the Gettysburg College curriculum.  In this particular case, this means my taking online classes via Coursera this summer.

Understandably, people are appalled when I say I’m taking eight online classes over the course of this summer (as well as three jobs [one of which is full-time for the season], a blog, a conference, and, well, functioning).  Their jaws drop farther toward the floor when they realize these aren’t for credit.  Yes, that’s right:  I’m willingly taking courses, mostly unrelated to my majors/minors, for nothing more than the sake of learning.

These are those courses that fall on a set time-frame.  I'm taking "The Kennedy Half Century," "Introduction to Public Speaking," "Introduction to Philosophy," "Plagues, Witches, and War:  The Worlds of Historical Fiction," "Paradoxes of War," and "The American South:  Its Stories, Music, and Art" on a "do-this-at-your-own-pace" basis.

These are those courses that fall on a set time-frame. I’m taking “The Kennedy Half Century,” “Introduction to Public Speaking,” “Introduction to Philosophy,” “Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction,” “Paradoxes of War,” and “The American South: Its Stories, Music, and Art” on a “do-this-at-your-own-pace” basis.

It’s almost a hobby, in a way.  People don’t understand the concept that I equate learning the philosophy of qualia to their stamp collections and knitting.  Quite frankly, I don’t expect them to.

To me, this is just as enjoyable as anyone else’s pastime.  I find it amazing that I can learn all of these things, from so many different disciplines.  It’s fascinating.

On top of that, I’m receiving this informal education from professors based around the world.  Locally, I’m working with schools like UVA and Princeton.  Worldwide, the University of Edinburgh and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona share their thoughts.  To someone eternally fascinated by the world, this is nearly a magical experience.

So, maybe I’m crazy [to suppose….].  Maybe I’m just different (and I’ve proven that one many times over).  Either way, I’ll keep learning because I really do love it.  The world can question it as much as they’d like.

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