Corona Babies, Emerging Irving Scholars: Potential Outcomes from 2020

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BY TRACY HOFFMAN
President of the Washington Irving Society

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

We joke about a baby boom after couples “shelter in place,” but I’m wondering who else might emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Might we have a scholarly boom?

Is it possible that ten or twenty years from now, Washington Irving scholars extraordinaire will credit this time period for changing the trajectory of their lives?

This thought may seem a little out there, but it’s not that far-fetched. Turning points in my life can’t be attributed to pandemic, but they were often times of “quarantine.”

I’m stir crazy about right now, and I’ll readily admit that. But I usually view being alone to write and study and research as a treat rather than a punishment. So how did I get this way?

Though the answer is more complicated than I’m about to present, let me throw out two incidences which formed my bookish ways.

First off, in sixth grade, my parents moved me out of private school and into public school. I was so far ahead that my teacher often sent me to the library. She gave me projects to complete after I finished my normal daily work. I spent many hours in the library and learned to appreciate my quiet time there. I can still recall unrolling a gigantic, yellow scroll, jam-packed with my drawings and fun facts found in the library, during our unit about ancient civilizations.

Secondly, after graduating from college, while on the job market, I had so much time on my hands that I started reading “great books” because I finally had time to read them. I can still remember crying through David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Having that extra time to read and enjoy the reading—well, it did something to me.

In the past few weeks, I’m noticing a shift in my students. English majors and non-English majors alike are valuing the literature in ways I never expected. Having the extra time to actually do the reading and enjoy it, rather than skimming through, is unprecedented. They’re typically juggling very busy spring schedules with reading for my class.

I’m not saying that all business majors will switch to English Literature, nor am I saying all pre-med students will now minor in creative writing. But I do think students, of all ages, will emerge from 2020 with a new sense of who they are and what they value. And some may learn, for the first time, the joy of contemplation, thinking, researching, reading, and writing.

We could easily have more academics on our hands in the future, and let’s hope some of them find purpose in Washington Irving studies.

– – – – –

Until next week, stay healthy! And please feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. If you need a reply, please message me at Tracy_Hoffman@baylor.edu. I try to respond to all Washington Irving Society-related email on Wednesdays, and I also do my best to update the WIS page on Washington Irving Wednesdays.

Published in: on April 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

    Like


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