Hello, Q4! Just four weeks from graduation, the second-years are into their last round of classes. I'm signed up for two reading seminars right now — and two very different collection of books.
Thomas Jefferson Reading Seminar
This Darden classic is held on the Lawn, on main grounds. (Darden resides on North Grounds, a mile or so away.) Behind the Rotunda and the statue of Thomas Jefferson, you'll find a long stretch of grass lined with brick, columned buildings. Students live on the Lawn. Firewood, little charcoal grills, and rocking chairs sit in front of the doors. (Random fact: Edgar Allen Poe lived on the Lawn as a student. His room is preserved with look-in glass now in the doorframe.) Between sets of student rooms are bigger, elegant rooms. Our class is held upstairs in one of those homes on the Lawn.
Our books include:
"Jefferson and His Time" (Volumes 1 and 6) by Dumas Malone
"Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose
"Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis
"John Adams" by David McCullough
This week, we read "Undaunted Courage," an account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore a possible Northwest Passage to the Pacific. I admit, I was filled with vague sense of dread at 400 pages of detailed flora and fauna discoveries and various historical tidbits. I had never understand the appeal of reading history for fun. "Undaunted Courage" may have changed all that. I loved it. The stories of the Lewis-Clark partnership, the encounters with the Indians, the struggles along the way, the quiet devotion of President Jefferson.
Business Ethics Through Literature
If I had any question of where my heart resides, it was answered by this class — my most enjoyable, by miles, of any class I've taken at Darden.
It is not a business class. It is a literature class. A writing class. An ethics class. An art class. I have the same sense that people who love what they do when they say "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this!" Well: "I can't believe I'm getting MBA credit for this!"
Our books include:
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The Good Doctor" by Damon Galgut
"The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga
"The Imperfectionists" by Tom Rachman
"Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro
"Little Bee" by Chris Cleave
I've read all but one so far. "Little Bee" is my favorite. I think it may be destined to be a modern classic.
As if I was not thrilled enough, our final project is to write a short story. Goodbye, PowerPoint! Hello, my old writing life!