This is already my final blog post, and it’s weird to see how fast this semester has gone. I first want to thank Professor McCoy and all of you who are reading this for inspiring me by expressing your thoughts, connections, and interpretations of all the literature we have read and the topics we have discussed this semester. As a biology major, there isn’t very much opportunity or need for me to stray from taking heavily-science based classes or other curriculums that are required to help prepare me for MCATs. Although I did take this class initially due to its incorporation of the topic of medicine, I feel that I found value in learning about literature and how to interpret and talk about such works through this class.
Along with this class, I also took Humn I this semester, so I was definitely reading a lot more creative literature than I’m used to. I’m writing a final essay for that class at the moment, and it has given me a chance to talk about how Humn I could be relevant to our lives. My thesis involves the fact that the class gives us the opportunity to speak about our existence and human morals that are reflected through the classical literature we have covered, and I feel that this class has done the same. I feel that both classes involve the idea of being aware about anything besides yourself, even if it’s a little bit. To further clarify, I don’t necessarily mean you have to be aware of all the political, social, economical, etc. issues in the world. A lot of the characters that I read about in Humn fell into despair because they were too wrapped up in gaining power for themselves that they couldn’t understand that other people were working hard to be happy as well. For example, in Dante’s Inferno, a man named Ugolino felt that his survival was more valuable than taking care of his children. This lead to Ugolino eating his own children as his “hunger proved more powerful than grief” (Dante, 372). On the other hand, characters such as Joseph (from the book of Genesis in the Bible) who understood other human’s struggles claimed seats of power. In Joseph’s case, he helped interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams instead of dismissing them. The Pharaoh appreciated this act and placed Joseph as his right hand man.
I promise that I’m not trying to preach to our class; bear with me. I feel that these characters discussed in Humn were good examples for me to realize that I should understand that people all have their individual struggles; I’m not the only one struggling to figure out life. I feel that this connects to the both/and principle that Professor McCoy emphasized since the beginning of the semester. By realizing that people come from all different backgrounds means that they will bring different ideas to the table. When these different ideas are presented, I can talk about my own but it is only fair that I address the variety of ideas as well. Throughout the numerous discussions we have had in class, there were a multitude of times where I was taken aback at how others reached different interpretations from the same passage that I read. Especially with the exercise that was done in class where we shared our favorite quote from one of our books and our reason why, I remember choosing the same quote as two other people but we all chose it for different reasons. Just as there are overlaps in opinions, there are even more distinct paths where opinions and the conclusions reached can diverge. We all don’t have to agree on the same standpoint about all the issues in the world, but it makes that much of a difference when one is aware and acknowledges that people are different and come from a variety of places in life. This knowledge can then make for a fruitful discussion.
I say this as I think about the issues that were brought up from Medical Apartheid that I was not aware of before this class. I apologize as I don’t remember who exactly mentioned this, but someone pointed out that the issues of medical experimentation diffused into books like Zulus as the rebel people observed Alice Achitophel like an experimental animal as experimenters did to African Americans in history. I honestly would not have seen this connection if it were not for this individual. I was then able to find another connection that could be made between this book and the world we live in today. I can’t quite recall where I learned this from, but I remember learning that literature is just a reflection of society. I think I learned this in the context of Shakespeare some number of years ago, but it is still true in today’s literature as well. There were definitely crossroads between what Medical Apartheid talked about in America’s history with medical experimentation and a fictional novel like Zulus. If our class hadn’t covered Medical Apartheid, I feel that many of us would have dismissed Zulus as another utopia/dystopia novel and called it a day. I also would have treated Zulus as a light read and simply moved on to another book. However, being aware of medical experimentation and being open to other’s perspectives opened up my eyes to see such connections between the two works. I feel that this collaboration of being aware and accepting of other’s opinions can teach someone how to be a human being more than any other science class ever can. And with that, I leave English 101 with a reminder that literature is relevant despite what major or path you choose to go down and that everyone’s opinion matters.