A Real Freshman Reading Assignment

We’ve documented the foolishness of most “Freshmen Reading” assigments in the past. Looking through the dreck, Charlotte Allen discovered a ray of hope in Cornell’s assignment this year of Gary Wills’ Lincoln At Gettysburg.

Now that the assignent is completed, what did Cornell students think? The Cornell Daily Sun reports:

“I thought it was awful and the book was torture,” said one freshman. “The book was like a history textbook and was dry and hard to understand.”

“Everyone realized in 5 pages or 30 that the book is full of shit and we just stopped reading it,” added Edward Kim ’12.

This is what matriculating Ivy League students think of a work by a popular and well-respected historian? If they thought that was boring, what do they possibly think lies ahead of them?
Some responses were more encouraging:

“I especially enjoyed the first part of the book, which gave the background of the Gettsyburg Address,” Christina Conway ’12 told the University. “Garry Wills talks about what the times were like, and how transcendentalism played a part in affecting Lincoln’s way of thinking. There are parts of the Gettsyburg Address that are similar to classical speeches, and the author shows what each part of the speech accomplishes.”

However dim-witted some of the Cornell recruits seem to be, it’s enheartening that one school still sees fit to challenge their students from the start, and that some students welcome this. Bravo Cornell.


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