Love and the humanities

Nicole Yeager, News Editor

On Feb. 13, the Humanities Center presented an event titled “Love and the Humanities,” featuring speakers from three different humanities disciplines to talk about the role of love in their teachings. The event took place from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the Great Room of Hildreth-Mirza Hall — home to the Humanities Center. 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this specialized talk was organized by Zoe Wilson ’23. A Humanities Presidential Fellow, Wilson spoke to the importance of holding events that reach across not only all the humanities disciplines, but also the different colleges. “We organize events like this to bring students from all departments together and get them involved with important topics. It’s also really cool to meet new people and hear their perspectives,” Wilson said.

The audience consisted of a handful of students, professors and other faculty members. Before the speakers began their prepared talks, people could be seen mingling with others and getting to know those sitting next to them. Between each speaker, there was quiet discussion and commentary on the topics they had presented. Many of those who attended the event stuck around after to engage in a discussion with the presenters. Additionally, free pizza, heart-shaped cookies and a chocolate fondue fountain were provided at the event. 

The first speaker was Associate Professor Kevin Daly from the Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. His talk revolved around the four types of Greek love: storge, philios, eros and agape. There was also a reference to Socrates, C.S. Lewis’s “four loves” and A.E. Housman’s play, “Invention of Love.” He shared that those studying the classics are beginning to think about things differently, and to maintain their stance on such topics, Daly ended by confirming that “Greek love is… complicated.”

Following this, Professor of Art History Roger Rothman spoke about the role of love from his perspective in the art history department. He showcased older works of art that depicted romance in juxtaposition to more modern pieces that featured love as the main theme. “We came from an idealistic image of love to a more jaundiced, cynical conception of love,” Rothman said. His main point was to illustrate how many artists attempt to distill romantic relationships in their work.

From the English–Literary Studies department, Professor Ghislaine McDayter noted, “It is particularly important for students to understand intellectual work beyond the classroom, to think about what they’re learning and apply it to their everyday lives.”

This “Love and the Humanities” talk provided students, professors and other members of the community the opportunity to convene while fostering a discussion among individuals within different disciplines and knowledge sets. As the University promotes a liberal arts education, this cross-disciplinary conversation and thinking is, no doubt, meaningful to the campus community.

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