Graduating Class: '20

Ivy Li

Physics (8) & Literature (21L)

1. Existentialism and Literature was the reason why I majored in 21L. The existential problem of contending with external systems and ethics became personal and critical for me. Prof. Brinkema, thank you for getting me here.

2. Traveling abroad gave me a wider perspective on the world: London taught me history and the layers upon which a city rests; Madrid taught me language and the ideas lost in translation; Sao Paulo taught me race and the politics on which an identity is founded. Thank you Prof. Kelley, Prof. Henderson, Prof. Terrones, and Prof. Resnick, for making literature exist in context because nothing is without context and everything has history.

3. I got to study dramatic wit with Prof. Henderson and Prof. Kelley, drew comics on Spenserian cantos with Prof. Fuller, read Old English poetry about wealth and power and beauty with Prof. Bahr, and contemplated cannibalism and the panopticon with Prof. Raman. Thank you for teaching me that aesthetics and form matter, and that this is what our work is.

4. My thesis work taught me to research, to write more coherently, and to contend with the problem of not knowing and never knowing enough. Thank you Prof. Buzard, Prof. Jackson, and Prof. Henderson for teaching me to become a better scholar, but especially Prof. Buzard, for your patience, your profound insight, and for putting up with my ineptitude.

5. Literature prepared me to be a better human, because despite physics, words are my work. They are the stuff of life, and that matters too.

Ivy received the 2020 Fulbright Fellowships
Ivy’s artwork was featured in MIT News: Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” as a modern visual comic