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Studying Literature 'For Wisdom and Delight'

Studying Literature ‘For Wisdom and Delight’

Date published: August 24, 2016

Esther Moon’s mother taught her how to play the violin at a young age. Interest in music and the various arts disciplines soon overflowed in her life as she grew up in Texas. After studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at The King’s College in New York City, Moon was restless, and she responded to that restlessness by pursuing further study in literature through the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas.

Where were you before you decided to pursue a graduate degree?

EM: Before I came to UD, I was working a desk job in Colorado, trying to “be responsible” and pay off student loans after gallivanting about Europe for six months on an internship in the Macedonian Parliament and in Belgium. I was so bored I was depressed, and then some good friends suggested literature studies at UD.

What was the experience at Braniff like for you?

EM: When I got here, I was befriended by some really lovely international grad students and worked in the campus library before school started. I would flip through the books I was shelving and smell the old book smell and think, "YES, I fit here." When classes started I was especially challenged and inspired by Dr. Bourbon and Dr. Wegemer. I started seeing papers and research projects not as a chance to perform well so much as a chance to explore questions that were important to me, my classmates, and my teachers. It became really fun.

How has this degree played into your plans for the future?

EM: When I began in the Master's program I just wanted to study something I enjoyed and have some breathing room to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. In the first year I liked the program and my studies so much I knew I wanted them to be a more permanent part of my life, so I applied for the Ph.D. program. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made that commitment at any other school. I definitely wouldn't have enjoyed my studies as much anywhere else, because I have so many incredible colleagues at Braniff, and there's freedom to approach the subjects and texts from different angles.

Is there a course or professor you particularly enjoyed?

EM: That's hard. Dr. Wegemer comes first to mind; he combines fascinating subject matter with well-organized Socratic discussions and lectures in such a way that I think I'm actually wiser at the end. Big claim, I know, but that's the goal. Also, Dr. Wegemer has been extremely generous with his time and advice when I have questions about class or academic life in general. Dr. Bourbon has encouraged me to be careful in my thinking, and I'm so grateful for his logic and his kindness. Seriously, I have a long list: Dr. Roper keeps us sharp in class while also fostering the most generous and positive academic environment I've ever experienced; Dr. Kenney is full of information and fun and takes the time to give specific, targeted help. Actually, some of the teachers who have been most generous with their time and help I haven't even taken a class from yet--Dr. Romanick Baldwin and Dr. Osborn. Some of my favorite classes are Chaucer with Dr. Roper, Thomas More with Dr. Wegemer, and Religious Poetry and Problems in Literary Criticism with Dr. Bourbon.

How has your experience at Braniff shaped you personally and professionally?

EM: Well, I'm finishing my Ph.D. coursework this fall and hoping to teach, which I wasn't really considering before coming to UD. And thanks to the Visual Arts department and Braniff's flexibility, I've been able to work on integrating visual arts and literature, my two main interests. I've been able to travel to Italy  working with the English Department's Shakespeare in Italy program, so who knows--maybe studying painting while teaching literature in Florence? Right now I'm thinking Chaucer, one of the many things UD has helped me love, for my dissertation. So maybe I can manage to do research in England or something. Really, though, no matter what happens I've learned to study literature for wisdom and delight, and if I can keep doing that and share it with others that's enough.