A large book collection sitting on a shelf in the Hillsdale College library.

Big Win for Literature Fans

Written by Bailey Bergmann

While the rest of the world and Simpson Residence followed March Madness, many students kept tabs on a different bracket game—Mossey Madness. The library spinoff pitted the Nicomachean Ethics against Plato’s Republic, Moby Dick against Portrait of a Lady, and many other literature pairings in a nail-biting popularity contest.

Over 70 students filled out brackets and then voted via survey software. “You voted for what you wanted to win, what you thought would win, or what you thought was great piece of literature,” says student librarian Hannah Wolff. “Some people were in it for the literature. I was in it for the prizes.”

Second-place winner Victoria Barry followed a simple route to victory: “I voted for what I liked—and what I’d read in class that semester.”

Hannah used a different strategy: “For each bracket pairing, I randomly chose one, and things just happened. It had a life of its own. I was doing so well up until the final four. That’s when I stopped voting. It was too stressful.”

The stakes were as high as the opinions were strong. A philosophy professor complained about the Catch-22 of choosing between Augustine’s Confessions and the Summa Theologiae in the first round. An English professor allegedly suggested that students should vote for The Wind in the Willows to meet the Communist Manifesto in the final faceoff. And one round set students’ economic loyalties against their literary notions: the Communist Manifesto or the Capitalist Manifesto?

“That was hard,” says Victoria. “I just couldn’t support Communism.”

“Fortunately, some pairings weren’t that difficult to choose between,” says Hannah. “Like the Federalist Papers versus the Anti-Federalist Papers. Who even reads the Anti-Federalist Papers?”

After 30 rounds of voting, Dante’s Divine Comedy met Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov in a heated battle for dominance—and the Divine Comedy won. Public services librarian Brenna Wade, mastermind behind the Mossy Madness competition, has a simple explanation of the victory: “It wasn’t unexpected. This is Hillsdale, after all.”

Senior Christian Studies major Bailey Bergmann is a digital media intern and web content writer for the marketing department.