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Literature Major Contributes to Wider Academic World

May 11th, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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PHC senior Colin Cutler on an expedition to New England to present a paper at a colloquium at Gordon College

Senior Colin Cutler stepped out of the colloquium at Gordon College where he had just presented an academic paper and said, “I think I figured out what I want to do when I grow up!” Several weeks before, the Army ROTC member and Literature major at Patrick Henry College had seen a flyer for the Literature and Linguistics Undergraduate Colloquium at Gordon College posted on the office door of Dr. Bonnie Libby, PHC Associate Professor of Literature. He submitted a paper he had written for Major Christian Authors class—a scholarly essay that discussed poetry, the medieval world, and the way modern theorists try to break apart the seen and unseen portions of the universe.

When he learned that the Colloquium had accepted his paper, Cutler, Dr. Libby, and several other Literature majors and alumni decided to take the trip to Gordon College together and explore New England historical sites as well. They visited Walden Pond and the North Bridge in Concord, NH, where the Battle of Concord was fought, as well as Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and other locations. And, says Cutler, they sampled “real New England clam chowder.

“We made the trip into a veritable tour of the area,” he grins.

 Of the few dozen students who presented papers at the conference, Dr. Libby reports that Cutler received the majority of questions from attendees. His paper, with its assertion that meaning exists in the world and in literature, stood out from the deconstructionism of most contemporary literary theory.

“When Colin gave his paper, he was so articulate,” states Dr. Libby. “These experiences expose students to ideas not always covered in our classes. They create lively discussions.”

“We [Literature majors] deal not only in stories, but also in the exchange of ideas,” Cutler says. “The purpose of stories is to know the world and what lies behind it. This is the primary job [of our major]. I found the chance to exchange with other academics extremely helpful.”

Cutler, who currently participates in Army ROTC, plans to join the Army National Guard and continue graduate studies in literature. He sees these two goals as complementary.

“As a philosopher, I believe it is my duty to serve in the path of those who have gone before,” he explains, “and to do this you also have to be able to communicate in order to understand people. Literature helps with that.”