“I Am Saved By Words!”

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I titled my blog “saved by words” because I really do feel that at certain points in my life I was rescued by either things I read or things I heard. In the case of my first year in college, it was a combination of both. I registered for English 150, a survey of American poetry my first semester. It was the only elective I had, since the other three courses(we only took four at a time) were general required surveys in humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. A girl from my floor walked to the same class and we became fast friends. She remained my friend for many years.

My first experience in a large lecture hall with over a hundred students startled me. Somehow I knew so little about the university that I didn’t even realize that most of my courses would be large lecture based! But Albert Gelpi gave well constructed, fascinating talks and I was riveted.

The course began with Anne Bradstreet, a Boston Puritan writer. Her poem on the burning of her house was easy to understand. It was Gelpi’s discussion of it that grabbed my attention. He pointed out that on its surface the poem spoke of not being attached to wordly things, but in its execution it clearly lamented their loss. The idea that she could tell the truth but “tell it slant”(from Dickinson who we also studied) was exciting. I began to read more deeply and with more satisfaction.

Koestler may have put me off, but my American poetry class assured me that I was in the right place. It had “saved me.”

36 thoughts on ““I Am Saved By Words!”

  1. I remember the first Psych 101 lecture at the University I attended, I walked into the largest lecture theatre I had ever seen with a 1,000 students present, it was extremely overwhelming but kind of exciting at the same time!
    As I love learning, study & research, I felt as though I had found my niche! Ahhh, lovely memories of a time past…

    I’m glad you get so much enjoyment from your discipline of English Elizabeth & I have some understanding of your sentiment here. 😀 I always wondered what your blog title had meant, thank you for explaining.
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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  2. I loved the classes in humanities I took in college during the first two years, especially composition and literature. I majored in business/accounting so the last two years while practical and interesting were nothing like the first two.

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      1. I took the classes in humanities as part of general requirements. I started out thinking I might major in journalism but I didn’t like the early courses. Eventually accounting made more sense and was a good fit for me. And yes, there were jobs to be had! 😉

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        1. I sometimes wonder if I’d choose the same major if I had it to do over ……. who knows? But at least I’m finding a way through blogging to fulfill some of that old desire!

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  3. OMG I so get your love of literature. Thank you for explaining your connection.
    Reading school library books saved my sanity as a child. I have, at times, not had enough time to devote to my obsession. Right now, I am enjoying binge reading for hours on end. Reading is the ultimate joyful use of my time.

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  4. Your words sent me straight back to Anne Bradstreet’s poem, and of course, indeed, the lady doth protest too much. And I see similarities in myself, which I can usually forgive, because we are all human.

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  5. I always enjoy knowing the history behind a choice of blog title. Yours is especially apt 😊 How wonderful it is to have a teacher/lecturer who is able to ignite the emotions of his or her students. Awe and excitement are powerful motivators when we are grappling with literature.

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  6. I was very slow in realising that some of the things we read can have life-changing consequences. It can be positive when we find deep meaning in them, or very negative when we think mistakenly we don’t like or understand because of our own deficiencies – as with the Koestler you mentioned previously. It could have put you off words for life.

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  7. Reading also influenced my life, although I never studied literature (or anything else) at a university. Without words, I would undoubtedly have grown into a very different person indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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