By Brandi Wylie ’24

The name of the class was “Classic Reads,” and Will Hammontree ’23 and Kriti Baral ’25 took the title to heart.

Hammontree, a biology major from Greer, South Carolina, took on “War and Peace” and Crime and Punishment.” Baral, an undeclared major from Spartanburg, South Carolina, went after “Wuthering Heights,” “Anna Karenina” and “Jude the Obscure.”

They finished them off during the four-week Interim.

“I read ‘War and Peace’ simply because I wanted a challenge and thought it would be cool to say I had read ‘War and Peace,’” Hammontree says. “I also figured this was the perfect time to tackle such a long book given the time I had.”

Hammontree says that the biggest accomplishment that he takes away from the Interim is having an increased ability to focus for long periods of time. He hopes that will help him to be successful in other areas of his life as well.

Baral says the class shaped her view of different genres. She says that, before this class, modern fiction was the only genre that interested her. She says her take on a classic novel is one in which a message, mainly about struggling to conform to society’s expectations, is present and resonates with its readers.

“I’m a big reader, but I’ve never really read classics much in my free time. Most of the time I was worried I might not be able to understand it. I felt like the stories might not be as interesting,” Baral says. “This class really made me want to read classics more. I enjoyed the ones I read and got some recommendations of books that other people read.”

Dr. Sally Hitchmough, associate professor of English, started teaching this Interim in 2012. She brought it back in 2019.

Hitchmough says the only traditional instructional components in the course are journal entries, daily conversations with her about the readings and a presentation at the end of the course. Other than that, students spent the entire period engrossed in a variety of classic works.

“I sat and read when I wasn’t walking around talking to them,” Hitchmough says. “It’s very important to me not to be doing something else but to be actually reading, too.”