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Submit now to the first Festival of the Humanities

By Linnea Hurst

Those interested in the humanities should mark their calendars for early March. The Center for Humanities is throwing a Festival of the Humanities, March 5-9. Director of the Center, Associate Professor Shuchi Kapila, English, has been planning this event since the summer.

“The Center started up again in July, we’ve had to bring it up to speed,” Kapila said. “One of the ideas that came up was to have a celebration of the humanities.”
The festival will include many different activities such as speakers, workshops, and student presentations of essays, creative writing and artwork. The Center has already received essay submissions, but Kapila encourages more.

“The paper can be connected to a class, or it could be a product of a MAP [Mentored Advanced Project]. It has to be of excellent quality and we need eight pages,” Kapila said. “… We would like to spread the word so that students will send in their submissions.”

The Center has yet to decide whether or not students’ work will be formally judged, but students will receive positive criticism from professors.
“The idea is that this gives the students an opportunity to give a formal oral presentation. You write a paper and a faculty member that is not your teacher will say, ‘These are the strong points,’” Kapila said.

Professor Lee Emma Running, Associate Professor of Art, is also involved in planning the Festival of Humanities.

“I am really excited that the Center has been so explicit about including creative work in the symposium,” Running said, “because I think that’s an area of inquiry people don’t often think about in tandem with humanities work.”

Students can have their work up for exhibition, or participate in panels.

“A symposium like this will professionalize and give a bigger voice to student research,” Running said. “… We would love to hear from students in theater and dance and music. There is a lot of amazing student work going on in these disciplines.”

Besides presentations of student work, the festival will also include two speakers. Professor Richard Handler from the University of Virginia will be coming to talk about the idea that Global Development Studies needs to include more studies of the humanities. Visiting Professor and artist Harrell Fletcher from Portland State University is also coming to campus to give a talk and a workshop as well as public art. Kapila is excited that the Center for Humanities is receiving more of a focus at Grinnell.

“Our mission is to create programs for the college community that showcase excellent scholarship, research [and] teaching in the humanities,” she said.

Although the Center for Humanities has existed since 2001, Kapila sees it going in a new and exciting direction.

“We feel this is a good moment—many academic institutions across the country and globally are talking about what humanities is in higher education,” she said. “[The Festival of Humanities] is a good moment to actually showcase this … and include [students] in the symposium.”

Speakers and a concert kick off the weekend before the Festival officially starts, March 3 and 4. The Center for Humanities, in conjunction with the Cultural Films Committee, the Faulconer Gallery, and more, are bringing filmmaker Omar Majeed, author Michael Muhammad Knight and band The Kominas to campus. All are connected to the Islamic Punk scene that has developed in the last few years. The Center is also planning humanities events for the future.

“We are already on to next year’s programs,” Kapila said. “The idea of really taking a week to celebrate the fine arts, languages and other disciplines in the humanities sounds really wonderful to us at this time.”

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