The Gordan B. Hinckley building chapel pews were filled, a buzz of whispering filled the room as students waited for the Big Read Chat to begin. Students and teachers alike held their notebooks and laptops ready to take notes. People had to sit in the overflow in order to fit in the room.
Kayla Probeyahn, an adjunct faculty member in the English department, spoke about this semester’s Big Read pick, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Students listened to her speak about the feminist imagination in Brontë’s novel.
Her focus was on imagination and what it meant to Brontë in her time. Probeyahn explained that imagination was more of a moral power to imagine a better world. She looked at what this meant for Jane’s journey of self-discovery.
As she spoke, some students stopped writing notes completely in order to watch Probeyahn as she talked. She was inspired by William Woodsworth, an English poet in the romantic era, who said, “Imagination is reason in its most exalted mood.”
She went on to explain how imagination is good when used well. Citing a study about the power of imagining accomplishing your goals, she stated that those who imagine themselves accomplishing their goals and the steps necessary for an hour are more likely to do it.
Both Chase Bryan, a senior studying English, and Ky Trupp, a senior studying theatre education, said they enjoyed their first Big Read Chat.
“My first thought is that I was blown away by the professionalism,” said Bryan. “It felt like we were seeing someone famous come to speak to us. It felt like it was at a higher level.”
Both thought that the topic was interesting and were impressed with how it went. They are both looking forward to going to more of the Big Reads in the future.
“I thought the imagination aspect was interesting,” Trupp said. “It was cool to look at imagination in a novel that is not fantasy and how it described the world around her.”
Probeyahn explained that the topic was also very relatable to students specifically at BYU-Idaho due to its religious nature. Probeyahn cited instances when imagination helps Jane explore deep moral questions and make hard decisions.
“Jane faces moral tests and temptations, but does what she feels is right and I think that the book wants you to know that it works out in the end,” Probeyahn said.
Probeyahn ended by encouraging the audience to use their imaginations to control reality rather than escape from it.
The next Big Read Chat will be held on March 12, and the speaker will be Jaqueline Harris, a faculty member in the English department.