Today's issue of Columns includes three stories about some terrific recent events that highlight engagement with the humanities on campus, including the visit by acclaimed American novelist Alice Walker:
Walker, who came to UGA as the Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding, spoke to capacity crowds Oct. 14 at the Chapel and Oct. 15 at the Morton Theatre in downtown Athens.
Her message, which Walker delivered with her thoughtful, Zen-like tone, resonated with UGA students like Mansur Buffins, a second-year social studies education and African-American studies major. Buffins got to meet with Walker for an intimate conversation with several other students at the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts Oct. 14.
"I love how she lives freely," Buffins said. "My takeaway is that I should stop worrying about what other people think of my ideas and goals and get rid of that fear of other people's criticism and learn along the way."
Walker is the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
And NYU professor Marhta Hodes discussed the reactions to Lincoln's death in the Gregory Lecture:
[Hodes] always had a few lines about Abraham Lincoln's assassination in her lectures. After 9/11, however, she began to look at that historical event in a new light.
"9/11 made me think about how people responded to transformative events in everyday life," said Hodes, who gave the 2015 Gregory Distinguished Lecture in the Chapel Oct. 15.
Hodes said in her lecture, "Mourning Lincoln: The Assassination and the Aftermath of the Civil War," that she wanted to understand a catastrophic event on a human scale, which prompted her to begin reading through letters and diaries written by Northerners and Confederates in the "hours and days after Lincoln's assassination."
Similar to how the world was grieving and in shock after 9/11, many of the public records after Lincoln's death presented a nation in mourning, Hodes said, but individual feelings and reactions varied.
And religion professor Derrick Lemons recently hosted the mini-conference "Theologically-Engaged Anthropology:"
Along with Lemons, the scholars met Sept. 20-22 in Atlanta to discuss what theology could contribute to cultural anthropology and ethnography. Everyone wrote a paper addressing the topic, and each paper was discussed at length. These papers, along with the works from the second conference in February in England, will be combined and published in an edited book.
Engagement with who we are that reaches into the community and brings in the world. The humanities are the bedrock of our civilization. As we cultivate them, we cultivate ourselves. Congratulations and thanks to the people and units who sponsor, organize and produce these events - they enrich our campus community and strengthen our culture.
Image: Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, poses for a photo during her visit to UGA. Walker. Photo by Peter Frey