Nicholas Wildman Isaacs
Undergraduate Major in Comparative Literature
I came to Stanford thinking I would major in history and/or physics. Four years later I find myself with a major in comparative literature and the beginning of a master’s degree in computer science. I stumbled into this major quite by accident: it was winter of sophomore year and high time to pick something (or so the emails from the registrar informed me). I was enrolled at the time in Roland Greene’s TransAtlantic Renaissance seminar, as well as the introductory computer science class (CS106A), and loving them both, I decided on the major I could feasibly complete in time—comparative literature.
The lazy pragmatism of my sophomoric self aside (bad puns being the chief avenue of demonstrating the vocabu- lary endowed by any literary major), I am ever so glad I made the choice I did. In talking to my professors and fellow students, attending colloquia, and taking classes, I have been continuously surprised by new perspectives, new habits of thinking, and topics that I did not even know could be thought about. A second delight of my time studying comparative literature has been the ridiculous breadth of classes available: from close reading 16th century Renais- sance literature and poetry to examining the representation of consciousness and reality in science fiction, I have loved studying so many disparate areas.
On that note, I would like to thank the many professors who have supported my very not-conventionally-comparative-literature thesis: investigating narrative in computer games. Thanks first to my parents for pushing me to write an honors thesis, to Margaret Cohen for initially encouraging my topic, to David Palumbo-Liu for approving this crazy idea, and to Amir Eshel for letting me inflict a small video game curriculum on our Narrative and Ethics senior seminar. Finally, I must thank my major advisor Roland Greene for taking on yet another last minute thesis advisee in a field awfully far from his own, and for being a generally awesome advisor and inspirational mentor.
Stanford has been so wonderful that I’m not leaving yet. I’ll be staying at least four more quarters to finish a computer science degree.