I’m a computer science PhD student, but as an undergrad I majored in English literature. People raise eyebrows when I explain this, but I wish they didn’t — I wish we could hold the many fields of study to be simply different understandings of the same shared reality, as if they were, in the words of poet Lisel Mueller, “islands that are the lost children of one great continent.”
This website is an experiment in modeling such thinking out loud. I was inspired by English professor Robin Bates’ blog Better Living through Beowulf. Professor Bates believes that great literature can guide us through life: that it can save American politics, offering us lessons as we face the challenges of our time, challenges that literature often reveals to be timeless. I believe that this theory generalizes to the American tech industry: that engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs, too, can find comfort in these texts— indeed, that we have a special capacity (responsibility, even) to learn from literature and see the wisdom that others may miss.
Great poets have the courage to render into words the qualities of being human that we all suspect we share. A great poem makes us feel less alone. I wish, with this website, to seek out as a graduate student those moments of relation: to recognize in texts from the past our own present experience.