Class of 2015
West Sussex, United Kingdom
Contributing to 13 theater productions, two of which he directed and one of which he wrote, Jamie Sutherland was his school's most prolific actor. As a poet, he was awarded Winchester College's prestigious Queen's Gold Medal for English Poetry and was commended in the national Christopher Tower Poetry Competition. When not honing his own crafts, Jamie devoted his time to the creative work of others by editing three magazines, one of which was literary, and curating two exhibitions of student artwork.
"I aspire to be happy and to make others happy. Every time I feel content or make someone laugh, I realize there's nothing else I need to achieve," Jamie says. To make this aspiration a reality, Jamie performed in eldercare homes as part of a troupe called The Entertainers. The troupe put on a variety show that included 1940s wartime songs, jokes, and music. "Our show played to the audience's nostalgia, and I always enjoyed talking to the residents afterwards. Their generation is so different from my own," he says.
Writing and directing a sketch comedy for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jamie made his professional debut. "It was my first experience in the real world," he says, adding that "joking amongst friends is a far more serious affair in front of a paying audience." The show, All's Well That Ends, was a success, selling out the theater for three nights. Now Jamie looks back on the yearlong process as a formative experience, saying, "You never feel younger than when you throw yourself out of your comfort zone and into a world of professionals."
Jamie has also excelled as a literary scholar. Writing on representations of marriage in 20th-century literature as well as the concept of Utopia in the works of artists John Latham and Joseph Beuys, he earned distinctions for investigations submitted as part of his Cambridge pre-university exams.
During his studies at NYU Abu Dhabi, Jamie plans to continue research into the way advances in communication technology create new literary forms, which is an area of great passion for him. "Today's chats, posts, and Internet searches are tomorrow's letters between Robert Frost and Edward Thomas, epigraphs inscribed by F. Scott Fitzgerald in lovers' books, and corrections Alexander Pope made in friends' copies of his poems," he says.
Jamie is also interested in the globalization and democratization of literature. He cites Mario Vargas Llosa's dictum that "fiction is an art of societies in which faith is undergoing some sort of crisis." According to Jamie, "We live today in a global society with myriad belief systems and cultures, and the possibility of crisis has become a norm."
As a critic and writer, Jamie sees it as his role to understand our globalized era through the broad range of texts being produced. "This is a world of constant literary communication. Literature today is at once global and specific, unique and yet inevitably derivative, fictional and factual."
Jamie notes that in such a climate, however, it can be difficult to determine the value of a work of literature. "Becoming a successful writer means winning a popularity contest. Not only does everyone have an opinion on literature, but now they can disseminate it across the globe at the push of a button," he observes.
As befits someone hoping to impact the field of letters on a global scale, Jamie took a year off before college to travel to Japan, where he interned at the Tokyo Weekender. He then journeyed throughout South America, ending in Cuba. He says, "You can't appreciate the literature of a place without understanding its language and culture, and that's why I look forward to studying Arabic as soon as I get to Abu Dhabi."