September 28, 2021
Open a Book & Open a Mind
This summer, Caroline Boardman ’22 took advantage of her Martin Nicholson Scholar summer stipend and attended a literature program week at Mount Holyoke College called Great Books where students have guided discussions within large and small groups on thematically arranged works as well as study various literary genres. In Boardman’s week, the program’s theme was “fate and free will,” and the students did a deep dive into Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, war poetry, and Shakespeare.
Boardman said much of the discussions about free will were philosophical in nature. “It was fun waiting in line for lunch with the counselors, many of whom were philosophy majors in college, and we’d say: ‘what do you think? Is there free will? Or do you think everything is a web of decisions? Where does it end?’ I liked that everyone was so passionate about it, and everyone wanted to take our discussions to another level. Many of our discussions overflowed into daily life and life outside of the classroom,” she said.
“I think that everything exists on a web. You are impacted by the world web of choices but every possibility creates a fork in the road. There are branches onto each fork, and it keeps going. In that decision-making process, there is just enough chance where there is free well. It’s very complicated when you think about it,” she said.
The Great Books program introduced Boardman to a literary genre that she was unfamiliar with, magic realism. She enjoyed the space to explore something new, particularly the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and move out of her element. “Reading is something that I love and enjoy. Magical realism was a new way of looking at literature, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Being with other kids who had the same passion pushed me to take it a step further. I think I learned a lot from that,” Boardman shared. She enjoyed the aspect of the genre where 99% of the novel is realistic fiction and one element, small or large, is introduced that is fantastical. “As a reader, there is this acceptance of the unusual. You just go with it.”
Boardman revels in reading and took full advantage of the opportunity presented to her. In college, Boardman plans on studying classics and ancient history while weaving literature throughout. A book is never far from reach.