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Don Quixote and Experimental Fiction

Erica Graff

This semester, my classes are actually fun. I know, it seems strange, but they really are! Now that I have fulfilled the majority of my graduation requirements, I can take classes that interest me. One of my favorites, is an honors seminar called “Don Quixote and Experimental Fiction.” As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am taking this class in order to graduate with honors from the College of Arts and Science.

The College Scholars Program has been one of the best parts of my Vanderbilt career. Dean McIntire, who runs the program, is so dedicating to creating well-rounded students. He has empowered us to take classes across all disciplines with the most decorated faculty at the university. I have taken multiple seminars, and they generally rank among my favorite classes each semester.

In Don Quixote, we actually just finished reading the entire novel. After 940 pages, I feel like I have run a marathon. I am not going to lie, it was tough and, at times, unenjoyable, but the sense of accomplishment I now feel is unparalleled. Don Quixote has always been on my book list, but I knew that I needed the guidance and motivation of an awesome professor (thanks, Professor Friedman) to get through it. Over the past six weeks, we have analyzed the novel in depth and I feel confident that I could have a pretty intelligent discussion with somebody about it. If nothing else, it sounds impressive that I have read it, albeit in English.

Now that we are done with Don Quixote, we have to tackle the ‘experimental fiction’ portion of the course. Basically, as the first modern novel, Don Quixote inspired an entire genre of literature. Thus, my class will be reading novels and plays and watching a Woody Allen film that have set trends in their respective fields. All of the additional texts that we will read resemble Don Quixote in one form or another. Some will have an unreliable narrator and others will be based in metafiction. I never realized the great impact of this novel, but I know that I will never read a modern novel the same way again.

Class outside on a beautiful day

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