Davidson Fellows - 2012 Fellow Ian McKeachie


Ian McKeachie

$10,000 Scholarship Recipient

Age: 16
Reno, NV
Category: Literature
Project Title: “Attitudes of Existence.” ______ ________ ________ __ _____ ___________ ____ _____


Ian’s portfolio, Attitudes of Existence, tries to revive the tragic form in literature, but in a different way than previously seen. While earlier tragic authors used the death of the hero to elevate his existence—to give his life meaning and purpose—Ian presents the idea that death instead devalues the hero’s life. A hero’s death, he argues, cannot make him anything more than he was. This knowledge—and how the author forces us to cope with it—is what makes literature truly worthwhile. Attitudes of Existence seeks to redefine death in the context of literature. Ian’s goal with this portfolio was to return literature to a personal, introspective experience, as opposed to simple escapism. More than anything, Ian wants his work to force people to confront their own relationship with death, and reconsider their lives in the context of what they’ve read.

Ian writes, “Literature makes us uncomfortable. To a great extent, he thinks it needs to; otherwise, it’s nothing more than escapism. Good writing deals with the most basic, universal aspects of the human experience. It establishes a connection between the author and the reader, based on a shared emotion, a common understanding of what it is to be happy or angry or in pain. It takes these emotions, the fragments of a human psyche, and glues them together to create an image of who—and what—we are. It creates a story, and puts the readers in the place of the characters. Makes us feel, think and act as the they do. And the whole time, the author is whispering in the back of our minds, asking why we do what we do, why our existence is so trivial, why anything matters at all. These are uncomfortable questions that they force us to ask, but they’re also the questions that have driven humanity for thousands of years. A good author provides us with his versions of the answers, but also asks us to interpret them for ourselves. He gives us madness, death and suffering and asks us how we plan to come to terms with what he’s shown us. And that’s what makes writing memorable.”

Ian has published a novel, Idols of Dust, and is currently working on another. He is a student at The Davidson Academy of Nevada and hopes to major in international relations and communications with a career in foreign policy.

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Click here to view the full listing of the 2012 Davidson Fellows. 
Click here to view Ian's press release.

For all media inquiries, please contact DavidsonFellowsMedia@davidsongifted.org

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