As a college undergraduate I was enamored of Existentialism, that most romantic and nihilistic of French philosophies. I wore black turtleneck sweaters, smoked Lucky Strikes, and channeled Albert Camus, but my senior thesis, a derivative sophomoric critique of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, drew a disappointing response from Louise Gould, my tiny, intense, chain-smoking, comparative literature advisor.
Professor Gould was absolutely right, and I still blush when I think of it. She was simply pointing out that quoting established critics is not the same as rigorous analysis based on personal research. My thesis did not reflect the critical thinking skills required and expected of a college senior.