The Goucher community loves to read,
and I want to keep talking about it.
1. Who are you and what are you interested in?
My name is Kathryn Dehler and I’m a junior American Studies major. I’m interested primarily in people—so I’m interested in history, philosophy, art, politics, language, literature, sociology, psychology, food, and most other things. Right now, I’m organizing my academic interests specifically around the criminal justice system, race, and capitalism. I work as an office assistant at the library and as a tutor at the Writing Center. I’m also interested in trees and the ocean and being around both as much as possible.
I’m currently reading various texts for various classes and research: assorted essays by Martin Heidegger, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison by Jeffrey Reiman, The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order by Bernard E. Harcourt.
I’m taking a seminar on Heidegger right now, so reading his works throughout the class has been intellectually invigorating, and I recommend him to anyone grappling with the question of what it means to be (which is everyone, I would say, on some level).
Reiman’s book is fascinating. He argues that the criminal justice system functions better today as a vehicle for perpetuating crime rather than for stopping it, and that it does this largely by creating an image of crime as the work of the poor. Very compelling, and very well-articulated.
Harcourt’s book, which I’m about half-way through, discusses relationships between the economy, punishment and government intervention; he basically argues that “free markets” don’t really exist, and that free market ideology, in trying to be independent of government involvement, assigns the sphere of punishment as the legitimate place for exercising government power. It opens with this cool and fairly detailed history of market regulation in early France, which he then compares to current views of US market regulation, which is pretty interesting, especially if you’re interested in French history as I am.
Probably David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Not only does it set an incredibly high standard for challenging fiction, but I think it gets to the core of modern living in the US—and his style of writing is just phenomenal. If you haven’t read it, I recommend reading first his commencement speech to Kenyon College, and then some of his essays— particularly in Consider the Lobster— in order to sort of grasp what he’s all about before embarking on the journey that is Infinite Jest. When I read DFW, I just feel like he’s reaching into my brain – or probably, more accurately, my spirit – and pulling out everything that I sort of have always known on some level but just could never articulate.
Also, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. To be read daily.
Picking one is so difficult! I’d have to say All the Pretty Horsesby Cormac McCarthy (anything by him, really, but this is one of my favorites). It’s poignant and beautiful and wrenching and poetic and perceptive and wonderfully human.
I also strongly recommend McCarthy’s The Road—but do not watch the movie because it strips the book of every ounce of poetic magic and replaces that with empty and relentlessly morbid imagery. The book is a masterpiece, though, and can be read in one day.