Allison Jarboe, Arts Editor
Civ students crowded into the Mabee Auditorium of the library at 7:30 every night during the week of October 2, and they listened for over an hour and a half to Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.”
The epic is a primary part of literature component of the course. Even after its completion, the concepts addressed in “The Divine Comedy” will echo throughout the remainder of western history and literature; applications of its contemporary influence even reaching into postmodern culture. Often civ-ivors and civ-veterans in their junior and senior years will concur that Dante ties back into everything in the course, and much more.
The text was read aloud by civ professors, and students followed along with their books, coffee and homemade peanut butter fudge in hand.
Caroline Abbe, sophomore finance major and current civvie, expressed her appreciation of the public readings.
“I thought it was really cool that the professors were willing to take time to give us the experience,” she said. “They allowed us to hear it, rather than just read it. Some of the professors became creative with the text, using different vocal inflections, which made it more fun.”
Dia Delso, sophomore nursing major and civver, echoed Abbe’s statements on the entertainment of the evenings.
“Getting to spend time with different professors was awesome,” Delso shared. “I especially remember how I enjoyed getting to hear from Dr. Callis. It was fun to sit in his reading.”
Delso continued, commenting on how the reading nights helped her comprehension of the text.
“It definitely made reading less mind-numbing,” she said. “Some of those words are huge, and it was nice to just sit there for a little bit and have someone tell me the story.”
“The professors also provided explanations for quotes we may not have picked up on,” Abbe added. “And they helped improve the process of understanding. Being able to hear it again, it became more ingrained into your memory.”
Emily Wilkerson, sophomore education major and civ student, commented on the environment of community that the civ experience produces.
“I like how the class and readings make it so easy to relate to and branch out to my peers,” Wilkerson said.
Abbe shared similar sentiments with Wilkerson.
“I think it was almost like a civ community study party,” Abbe said. “We were all trying to get through a thousand pages of reading together. They provided snacks, and tea and coffee. It was definitely more fun than just reading it alone.”
For some students, “momento mori,” translating to, “remember you will die,” is a central reality in the class, serving as a reminder of logbooks, quizzes, papers and exams. At other times, the formidable quote from Dante, “abandon all hope ye who enters here,” is representative of the heavy reading load the class requires. However, just as Dante journeyed through each level of hell, purgatory and eventually paradise in order to obtain divine knowledge and faith, the civ learning experience is an epic journey. Made aware of the consequences of the human condition, purged of former historical and literary ignorance and enlightened to higher levels of test-taking skills, civ is the pilgrimage to becoming fully human.
For the skillfully-civiving civvie or scarcely-civiving civvie, a sense of unity is developed. If we die, we die together, and if we civive, we civive together.
Delso offered an example of how the readings helped provide something she has learned on her communal passage through the first semester of civ.
“If I learned anything it’s how much I enjoy the Divine comedy,” she said. “It has shaped up to be one of my favorite stories of all time, and it was made seventy times better by the fact I didn’t have to read it myself.”
Abbe’s statements were in agreement with Delso’s.
“Because of the readings, I feel like I obtained more knowledge from the story than I would have if I had done it alone.”
And so, for all the future civvies—which, by the way, refers to every current freshman—the readings are a helpful, unifying and tasty experience. If not for the intellectual environment surrounding vibrant readings and analysis, then attend for the popcorn and earl grey tea, Abbe said.
“Yes, definitely go,” Abbe advised. “I went at least three or four nights, and I wish I would have gone every night.”
“You can make sure you get the reading done, while you’re enjoying being in community with the other civvies.”