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Isaac Louis Bleaman
Isaac Louis Bleaman
Undergraduate Major in Comparative Literature
I’m thankful for this opportunity to step off the “academic treadmill” for a moment, take a deep breath, and reflect on my four years at Stanford. I’m astounded by how much I’ve developed, both intellectually and personally as a student of Comparative Literature: I am now multilingual. I am no longer intimidated by literary theory. I am confident that I can always find something new to say about even the oldest of texts.
I credit these achievements to the comprehensive education I’ve received in the DLCL. The average class size for courses that have counted towards my major in CompLit—including seminars in History, Jewish Studies, English, Slavic, and modern languages—was only six students. The mode was just one stu- dent (I took a lot of Yiddish...). Needless to say, this meant that the pressure to keep up with lengthy reading lists was often immense. At the same time, after speaking with my roommates about their experience as undergraduates outside the humanities, I feel spoiled by the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate with faculty and classmates in more intimate seminars.
As I look ahead to graduate school and hopefully a career in academia, I will think back on my professors at Stanford as role models of scholarship and collegiality (yes, undergraduates pay attention to these things!). Special thanks to Héctor Hoyos for teaching me about academic empathy, paragraphing, and the power of approaching research as an opportunity for “mesearch.” For making me feel part of a warm and supportive intellectual community, I would like to thank all of the Stenforder yidishistn: Jon “Reb Yankel” Levitow, Zachary Baker, Steven Zipperstein, and the folks at the Yiddish Reading Circle. Finally, for encouraging me to incorporate rigorous statistical methods in dissecting a text we both love— Sholem Aleichem’s Monologn—and for making me feel at home for holidays and shabosim with her family, I would like to thank my advisor and mentor, Gabriella Safran. I’ll be lucky if I can find another advisor even ten percent as dedicated and insightful as she has been in overseeing my thesis and Yiddish programming on campus.
After graduation, I will travel to Vermont to study at the immersive Middlebury Russian School, and in the fall I’ll begin “reading for” a Master’s in Yiddish Studies at Oxford. I would have neither the courage nor the preparation neces- sary to embark on these journeys if it weren’t for the training I received in CompLit. As they say: naye fraynd bakum, alte nit farges. Make new friends, but never forget the old ones. I’m not sure where I’ll be five or ten years from now, but I will sustain the relationships I’ve developed with my friends and teachers in the DLCL, and visit whenever I can!
Finally, thank you to my parents, sister, and grandmother for supporting me and putting up with all of my eccentrici- ties over the last twenty-two years
B.A. in Linguistics and Comparative Literature with Honors and Distinction
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