Conan O'Brien '85: Magna Cum Laude | Summary and Q&A

142.9K views
June 25, 2013
by
Harvard University
YouTube video player
Conan O'Brien '85: Magna Cum Laude

Install to Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Transcripts

Summary

Conan O'Brien shares a surreal experience from his senior year in college, where he wrote a thesis called "Literary Progeria in the Works of Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner." He explains the concept of literary progeria as the idea that the South, being part of a young nation that experienced defeat, was prematurely old. He relates this to the condition of children with progeria, who appear prematurely old. Conan discusses the mixed reception his thesis received from professors and his subsequent journey in comedy. Two years ago, a fan handed him a copy of his long-forgotten thesis, evoking intense emotions and memories.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the concept of literary progeria that Conan explored in his thesis?

Conan defines literary progeria as the idea that the South, being part of a young undefeated nation that eventually experienced defeat, was prematurely old. He draws a parallel between this concept and children with progeria, who appear to age prematurely.

Q: How did Conan's thesis perform when he submitted it?

Conan's thesis received mixed feedback from his professors. One professor considered it genius and awarded it a summa, while another deemed him an idiot and awarded it laude. A third professor described Conan as a genius who is also an idiot and ultimately awarded it magna.

Q: What happened when a fan handed Conan a copy of his thesis years later?

About two years ago, while on tour, a fan surprised Conan by handing him a copy of his thesis. The fan had gone to the library and photocopied it. Conan hadn't seen his thesis since 1985, and the sudden encounter brought back intense memories and emotions, reminiscent of a Vietnam vet returning to the jungle unprepared.

Q: How did Conan feel when he held his thesis after so many years?

Conan describes feeling tremors and being overwhelmed when he held his thesis. He recalls memories of keeping hamburgers under his bed, eating them while working on his thesis, and losing his mind. The experience of holding the thesis again was like a full circle moment for him.

Q: How would you describe Conan's academic journey after graduating from Harvard?

After graduating magna from Harvard, Conan embarked on a wild career in comedy, filled with ups and downs. He experienced various successes and setbacks throughout his journey, leading to an eventful and unpredictable trajectory.

Q: Can you explain more about children with progeria and their premature aging?

Children with progeria have a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid aging. They appear to age significantly faster than normal, experiencing symptoms such as hair loss, joint stiffness, and skin tightening. The condition typically shortens their lifespan to around 14 years.

Q: How did Conan's professors evaluate his thesis in terms of his intelligence?

While Conan's thesis received mixed reviews, all three professors acknowledged his intelligence in some capacity. Despite considering him both a genius and an idiot, they still awarded him high honors, indicating that they recognized his unique thinking and abilities.

Q: How did Conan feel about his thesis after the initial reception and throughout his career?

The reception of Conan's thesis was a blend of praise and criticism from his professors. However, his subsequent career in comedy and the passage of time seemed to have influenced Conan's perspective. The thesis became a distant memory until the fan's surprising encounter reignited the emotions and memories associated with it.

Q: What impact did holding the thesis again have on Conan?

Holding his thesis again after so many years evoked intense emotions and memories for Conan. It brought back memories of the challenging time he spent working on it, including the bizarre habit of keeping hamburgers under his bed. The experience felt overwhelming and marked a symbolic full-circle moment for him.

Q: Did Conan express any desire to revisit his thesis after rediscovering it?

Conan doesn't mention any specific desire to revisit his thesis after the surprising encounter. However, the intense emotions and memories it stirred indicate its significance and the impact it had on his life.

Takeaways

Conan O'Brien's surreal experience of encountering his long-forgotten thesis years later offers a glimpse into the journey of self-reflection and nostalgia. Holding the thesis revived memories and emotions tied to his intense academic period, demonstrating the lasting impact of his work. It serves as a reminder that our past accomplishments and experiences can unexpectedly resurface, prompting reflection on our personal growth and journeys.

Share This Summary 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on:

Explore More Summaries from Harvard University 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on: