At the Fitzwilliam

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University

I am by no means a great blogger. In fact, I probably have about three out there that I gave up on because I didn’t like the username (or forgot it) or the whole setup thing was way to complicated. All I really know about computers is how to type, surf the web, and use my audio/visual applications. So, here goes another try.

I suppose I should first explain the logic behind the naming of this blog. While I was on vacation in Europe this summer, I read an absolutely amazing book by Salman Rushdie called The Enchantress of Florence. Appropriately, I was in Italy and went to Florence at the time. But that’s beside the point. One page had my scrawling all over it by the time I was done with the chapter, and the words which had moved me so much were these: “The past was a light that if properly directed could illumine the present more brightly than any contemporary lamp… The relaying of wisdom from one age to the next, this cycle of rebirths: this was wisdom. All else was barbarity.” Being a great believer in learning from those who went before us, I was glued to this passage probably for a good hour of the train ride from Venice to Florence. I thought of the reoccurring genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, of the use of Greek philosophy in the Bible, and of basic archetypes which appeared in the dawn of civilization and occur today. We need to use history to make the world a better place in terms of peace, equality, and intelligence.

I could go on and on about how we could better ourselves and the peoples and societies around us by using the knowledge from the past and passing on that knowledge (hey, I love literature and history, especially the ancient stuff, so I get rather worked up about the need to appreciate the ancients). But I won’t. Instead, I’ll finish up this post with a little bit about me.

I am a recent graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota with a major in honors classics and a minor in English. I am currently living back at home with my parents in Oklahoma City while I pack for my already-rented apartment in Bellevue, Washington. I will be taking the time from my move-in until Christmas to tinker with my thesis (on women and transformation in ancient epic) for a better grad school writing sample and to finish applications to grad schools in the UK (Durham, York, St Andrews) and in the US (Minnesota, Washington). The UK offers programs in medieval studies, so I would be able to study the time period in an interdisciplinary program. That’s part of what I love about classics: I can translate Ovid in Latin and be aware of the cultural and historical ramifications and reception of his poetry. I love looking at literature through history. The US universities can only offer literature programs, but oh, the money required to go back to England… If all goes according to plan, just the way I want, I’d get an MA in medieval studies, then an MA in ancient epic, then a PhD in literature “marrying” my interests in the ancient and medieval time periods. And it would be lovely to go to Durham because it has a lot of the features I love about Gustavus (on a hill, river, small-but-not-too-small town size, near a large city) and I would be able to get married, theoretically, in Durham Cathedral, the Britons’ favorite building. To an Englishman, of course… Yep. And after that fantasy bears fruit, I’d become a literature professor and help students learn composition, the importance of the Odyssey and Beowulf, and Latin.

I love books, travel, friends, family, cats, owls, art, classical and neoclassical architecture and sculpture, cathedrals and evensong, periwinkle, green, historical fiction, films, autumn in Minnesota, snow, coffee, tea, and music.

Just to do the basic introduction stuff (“Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m a classicist”), here’s a list of what I’m currently up to and a few favorites. I hope whoever you are, you’re having a lovely day or night!

Currently Watching: Doctor Zhivago (2002). Well, not currently. But it was the last thing I watched in its entirety.

Favorite Film: LOTR trilogy. C’mon. It can only be taken as a whole. It’s so epic! Plus, I want those dresses of Arwen’s. Aragorn wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize, either.

Currently Reading: Anna Karenina and My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead. Bonus points if you can tell me which Roman author the second work is referring to…

Favorite Book: Harry Potter books. Same. All the books have favorite parts for me.

Currently Listening To: The Tudors Soundtrack. Rockin’ Renaissance.

Favorite Band: Coldplay. Just… I’m in awe.

Currently Drinking: mandarin green tea. It even smells good! I could totally make saches out of this stuff. But it’s too yummy.

Favorite Drink: coffee in any form. But a Bellini in Venice or tea in a tearoom in Cambridge can be the best thing in the world.

(picture of me in front of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, where I studied history and medieval studies for a month in summer, 2009)