“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”
― James Baldwin, interview, 1963.
It was literature, Baldwin continues, that “taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” Indeed, reading literature in solitude reminds us that we are not alone, even as it sharpens our awareness of our own limited perspectives. Sharing literature together has the potential to transform and nourish understanding, community, and meaning.
In the classes I’ve shared with you, it has always been the greatest honour, pleasure, and invigorating challenge to read, think about, and talk about literature—in all of its complexity—together, in community. Your curiosity, enthusiasm, empathy, thoughtful words, commitment, and critical perspectives feed us all, and are dearly needed in this world of pain and heartbreak, now more than ever.
Congratulations, graduates, for what you have accomplished: we are proud of you; we honour, celebrate, and embrace you as members of our departmental community; and we stand in solidarity with you as fellow critical readers.
with affection and appreciation,