I drop in on the Williams website fairly regularly, especially when inspired to seek out the bio of a professor my son has mentioned or to better acquaint myself with a course he may be taking.

About a week ago, I noticed this interesting post, “What Questions are Williams Faculty Asking Themselves?“. It was inspired by the Edge Foundation, a group of thinkers who hold regular meetings, some of  which involve discussion of questions that the participants are asking of themselves. With this in mind, “On Campus” took a random sampling of Williams professors, and asked them to share queries of a similar nature.

In reading through the range of submissions, it occurred to me that many would make wonderful topics for an EB discussion. In fact, one or two of them, we have already touched on. And to be perfectly honest, there are several which would be much more adequately framed by someone other than myself. With that in mind, if any of you are particularly inspired to launch a discussion based on one of these topics, please feel free to lay claim.

 For now, I’d like to start with the question posed by Christopher Bolton.

Professor Bolton asks:

If I had read different novels in my twenties, would I be a markedly different person today?

I think of this whenever I assign reading to my students.

Most of us, at one time or another have thought about, and can list, our favorite books. But the magic of Bolton’s question, is how it takes the consideration of a favorite book to a deeper level, that of understanding its impact on who we are, and how we view and understand, the world.

I’d also like to expand on the question by encouraging you to consider any book that has had this kind of influence, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, whether you read it long ago, or more recently, and regardless of your current age.

I realize there may be many shared choices, after all, there are a plethora of great books that are widely read.  But as well, I look forward to hearing about those which may not be so broadly recognized, that may then have a chance to expand the breadth of their readership merely because you chose to mention them here.

[Some strange charencodings & formatting removed –93kwt as Ed.]

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