When Luke Jeton ’17 was growing up in rural Maine, he was a little kid in love with a big fat book. As a fourth- or fifth-grader Jeton devoured the 1975 novel Shogun by James Clavell, which topped 1,000 pages in the paperback edition. The story is set in 1600 feudal Japan, and it inspired Jeton’s interest in Japanese history.
Actually, Jeton is interested in all kinds of history and evangelizes about the strength of Hamilton’s history faculty. History is, of course, his major, and as of fall semester senior year he’d consumed maybe 13 history courses, a good number of which covered Asia. He took his first Asian history course two semesters into his time at Hamilton – Silk Road with Professor of History Shosana Keller.
“I really enjoyed it. I wrote the final paper on Buddhism and the difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism,” says Jeton, who has amazing recall when it comes to his history coursework.
Oddly enough, he has yet taken a Japanese history course. The Asian studies course he’s in now is Ming-Qing China with Thomas Wilson, the Elizabeth J. McCormack Professor of History. As always in his history courses, Jeton is impressed by the professor.
“Every day I go into that class, I know it’s going to be a great 75-minute discussion, and if it’s a lecture I’m going to learn a ton about something that I’ve never really known. And to me, by the time you are a junior, at least in my opinion, every class you go to you should be excited to be learning, especially at Hamilton, because there are no requirements. And this class exemplifies that,” Jeton says.
Hamilton has an open curriculum that frees students from distribution requirements.