Discussing Hitchcock

First-Year Seminar: A Day in the Life

Can one’s life really change unalterably in one day? That’s the question English Prof. Christopher D’Addario’s students in his First-Year Seminar: A Day in the Life: 24 Hours in Literature and Film, spent a semester answering by viewing films and reading novels that take place over the course of 24 hours.

“How do we represent one day in our lives? Whether that day is normal or extraordinary?” D’Addario asked. The course was inspired by D’Addario’s fascination with how we express our day-to-day existence and his research on daily life during the Renaissance era of London.

Watching Hitchcock

“I loved that we were able to connect what we studied to real life experiences happening in our society today.”
–Bridget Ashton '18

It seems our culture is fascinated, too – from hit films like Superbad and DieHard to classic literary works like Mrs. Dalloway, popular culture has been intrigued with how little or how much can change in a day. D’Addario’s course covers multiple literary genres and time periods; students spent time discussing and deconstructing the repeating themes in both literature and film.

“With social media, the relevancy of what happens in one day in our life is even more pronounced,” said D’Addario. “What do you choose to share? What do you leave out?” One of the first assignments involved each student creating a narrative of their day and discussing what they decided to highlight in that day.

Discussing Hitchcock
D'Addario and students discuss Rope, a film by Alfred Hitchcock.

“I chose this seminar because I liked the interdisciplinary nature of it, with the focus on both literature and film,” said Bridget Ashton ’18 from Acton, Massachusetts. “I loved that we were able to connect what we studied to real life experiences happening in our society today.”

View course description

What is class like?

“It was nice to be in a class with all first-years,” said Julia Rodbell ’18 from Mamaroneck, New York. “The class was very discussion-based and it was great to have the opportunity to discuss films and literature that we liked.”

Bridget Ashton '18“At first it was challenging to compare and connect a film from Alfred Hitchcock in the 1940s to a modern work by Japanese author Haruki Murakami,” said Ashton. “However, the themes were all there – we just had to look deeper.”

Ashton felt connections were made outside of the classroom, “I have strong friendships with many of the people in the class, since we live in the same building as part of the FYS program.”

How it changed me:

“I learned how to research in the library and how to read and think more critically when watching a film or enjoying a book,” said Rodbell.

“It made me wonder what agency we have in our own lives? What are the insignificant moments that are going to change my path? Every decision I make potentially has more significance than I ever thought before,” Ashton said.


Learn about more first-year seminars, including how protest music changed history, why public health matters and how the past shapes our present.

View the Fall 2015 First-Year Seminars.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Shawna Sherrell, senior assistant director of creative services, 717.337.6812

Posted: Mon, 13 Apr 2015

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