Student Reflects on a Unique First-Year Seminar

Like all incoming Trinity students, Taurian Taylor ’21 registered for a first-year seminar the summer before arriving on campus. Taylor chose the seminar Knights, Saints, Witches, and You, taught by Professor Elliot Levesque. Taylor began the class knowing that he would learn about medieval history, however, he was surprised to end the semester with a new appreciation for Europe in the Middle Ages.
Outside of the classroom, students in the seminar were asked to read several folk tales from the Medieval world. Taylor recalled the story Gawain and the Green Knight. In the tale, Gawain the knight is recognized as the most fearless. Because of this claim, the Green Knight decided to challenge him for the title. The tale, thus, showed the importance of proving one’s “man-hood” during this time. Along with these interesting readings, Professor Levesque made every class just as intriguing. “Professor Levessque was never hesitant to involve everyone in the class in discussion about the readings and was able to test if students did the readings by asking questions, making jokes, and bringing his fun personality into the discussion,” explained Taylor “He would make fun out of history just by being himself.” The seminar was mostly centered around King Arthur, an area of expertise for Levesque. He assigned interesting essay prompts, including one where Taylor argued that King Arthur would be considered superhuman due to all of his accomplishments.
The students in this seminar not only learned about medieval history, but they also were also able to learn life lessons. One of the class discussions discussed Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave. In the story, three humans are tied up in a cave, where they have been their entire lives, when one of them escapes and experiences life for the first time. When he goes back to the cave to describe life to the other two, they are unable to believe him and refuse to leave the cave. Here, Plato demonstrates the reality of most human beings- they are too afraid to leave their comfort zone and try something new. By discussing Plato’s cave, one can become inspired to make sure they get what they want out of life rather than staying comfortable and sticking to what everyone else wants for them. Taylor said he would recommend this class to any incoming first-year. Taylor thinks that others should be able to experience a class with Levesque and explained that they will have to work hard, but will also have fun while learning. “Professor Levesque makes sure the class is truly worth going to,” said Taylor.

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