Sometimes a person dashes your hopes and expectations. Sometimes a person crushes your expectations by being so awesome, you feel sad that you held such low hopes in the first place. Sandra Gilbert decimated my expectations and I couldn’t be more happy.
She was inspiring, and interesting, and wonderful. It is not everyday that I have the chance to hear a world renown scholar speak, and it is rarer yet that such a scholar will speak about a topic I feel passionate about. Her lecture about finding the lost content of Atlantis, in this case women’s literary tradition, was inspiring. And it was also important. I, and expect many of my generation, take the advances of feminism for granted. Who really believes that women should not be allowed to vote? to take part in higher education? (Goshen for one would be about 65% poorer…) or to pursue a vocation in whatever area interests them? These things seem as natural as breathing to me, and so it is important to step back and remember that this was not always the case.
Gilbert reminded us that only 35 years ago Women’s literature was not studied in any intentional way. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar literally wrote edited the book on women’s literature in english.
I sit here trying to type out exactly what it was that made her visit so incredible and words, traitorously enough, fail me. These are the moments, the times, that make me glad and proud to be an english major. English provides connection, continuity and creativity for the substance of our existence. I live in the legacy of giants, one of whom I just had the privilege to meet.