What’s Happening in the Humanities at Belmont?

  • The Humanities—English, Foreign Languages, and Philosophy—are at the heart of the teaching mission of Belmont; we offer over 100 sections of general education courses every semester
  • The vast majority of our graduates enter the working world after 4 years—most working in non-profits, government, education, international businesses, and marketing. Many of our students also go to professional and graduate schools
  • Our students and faculty present their work at local, regional, national, and international conferences
  • We host an annual Symposium every fall featuring 30+ events and speakers and that has brought to campus authors like Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood—thousands of students, faculty, and community members attend each year (see numbers below
  • We have active academic, creative, and service clubs – Philologoi, the Philosophy club, for example, has weekly meetings to engage in profound philosophical debates; most of our foreign language programs have informal discussion groups that meet weekly; and the English Club, among other things, helps with Nashville’s Family Literacy Day event every year
  • The Writing Center and the Language Learning Center, both on the second floor of Wheeler, offer FREE professional tutoring for anyone on campus
  • Humanities faculty and students are heavily involved with service learning (see back) and with study abroad, which is a requirement for Foreign Language students
  • We publish student work in an annual Literary Journal and students help produce the English and Humanities blogs—and we’re on Facebook

Humanities by the Numbers

Majors and Minors, as of Nov. 3

  • English:  Majors – 150  (Minors – 30)
  • Philosophy: Majors – 26 (Minors – 18)
  • Foreign Languages: Majors – 56 (Minors – 104)
  • We offer 7 majors and 15 minors, including majors and/or minors in 8 languages

Humanities Symposium Total Attendance

  • 2010 – 4,136
  • 2011 – 7,108
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Tenth Annual Belmont Humanities Symposium Kicks Off Today

Today’s events include the Monteverde Lecture, delivered by Dr. Andrea Stover at 11:00 and a talk by Tasha French, Director of The Contributor, Nashville’s homeless newspaper. Details on these and the rest of the day’s and week’s events can be found here. All events are free and open to the public, so y’all come!

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Maya Angelou interviewed in the Belmont Vision


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Tenth Annual Belmont Humanities Symposium to feature Maya Angelou

This year’s Humanities Symposium, “Liberating Voices,” will be held September 14-21 at Belmont University. The featured speaker this year is Maya Angelou. All events are free and open to the public, but details about acquiring tickets  to Maya Angelou’s talk will be announced August 24. See the full program, including convocation credits for Belmont students, at http://www.belmont.edu/cas/humanities_symposium/index.html –click on the “Liberating Voices” icon.

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Christian Wiman holds Q & A with the English Club

By Gia Vangieri

WimanWednesday Christian Wiman, editor of the oldest and most prestigious American magazine of verse, Poetry, was hosted on Belmont’s campus by the the College of Arts and Sciences & the English Department. In addition to his position as editor, he released his third collection of poetry, Every Riven Thing, in 2010, but his award-winning books of prose and poetry include The Long Home, Ambition, and Survival: Becoming a Poet. In the fall he will be headed to Yale to teach Theology in Poetry in the fall. In the morning he spoke with the entire student body in the Neely Dining Room in a talk titled “Poetry and God.” In the afternoon he took the time to speak with English majors and minors . This is where I found myself at 2 p.m. yesterday. He answered questions from the students about the process of writing poetry and translations, publishing, style, what publishers look for and everything in between. His insight was far reaching. As a senior English student, here are some of the things I took away:

• Publishers look for elasticity of language in poetry. He explained: “There has got to be some evidence that the person doesn’t just have feeling that they want to express, but they are interested in language.”

• He talked of his early days writing when he would spend half of the day reading, and half of a day writing. His literary diet consisted of: Robert Frost, master of conversation, translations of The Iliad, and blank verse poets William Wordsworth and John Milton. Students noticeably jotted down this list as he quickly rattled it off.

• “The poem has to show you something you didn’t know.” If you write down exactly what you have already in your head, your poem is just a work through of your thoughts. Real dedication can lead to liberation and possibly the discovery of truth.”

 • “Beware of style. The tell tale sign of a novice free verse writer is falling into meter. It’s hard to avoid, but good writers do.”

 • “The state of contemporary poetry is a bigger phenomenon that people think because of the varying types of writers writing. The movement is massive and exciting. ”

• “The internet might actually be expanding the field of poetry because now more people are encountering poetry across more media such as blogs, forums, podcasts, radio shows, etc. It has moved the focus from the book to the poem.” The real take away for me was something he said right after he finished reading the title poem from Every Riven Thing. Poetry is a gift. After spending four years on a poem Wiman deems to be a failure, he started writing better better poems shortly after he felt called to go back to church. He explained the poem is bigger than yourself: “What gets burned away is my personality. It become a pure distillation…”English Club

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French Major Chosen for Internship in Caen

By Cheryl BrownCamille Adams

Camille Adams, a junior French and Religious Studies major from Greeneville, TN, has been chosen by Sister Cities of Nashville to work this July as an intern in the Mayor’s office in Caen, France (Nashville’s Sister City).   Camille has been studying French since her sophomore year in high school and has always dreamed of Caen, Francetravelling to France.  She will receive free lodging and a salary for her month of internship.  Belmont’s Center for International Business recently became an official sponsor of Sister Cities of Nashville.  Camille is the first Belmont student chosen for this internship.

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BU Humanities Calendar, April 4-9

Though April may or may not be the cruelest month, as T.S. Eliot claimed, it certainly is one of the busiest. Here are the BU Humanities Happenings for the week of April 4-9 (follow the links for event details):

Monday, April 4

  • The English Club will be holding a bake sale from 9 to 3 in the lobby of Beaman to raise money for Family Literacy Day
  • Children’s author Faye Gibbons will speak at 10:00 in Inman 210 about inspiring readers and writers with children’s literature
  • Faye Gibbons will read some of her work and talk about reading to children at 2:00 in the Vince Gill Room

Tuesday, April 5

  • The English Club will be holding a bake sale from 9 to 3 in the lobby of Massey to raise money for Family Literacy Day
  • María Caridad Cumaná Gonzalez will be speaking on Cuban film from 1:30-2:45 in the Language Learning Center

Wednesday, April 6

  • Dr. Cynthia Cox, in the final installment of the English Club’s Spring Speaker Series, will be speaking at 10:00 in the Bunch Multimedia Room on “Oral Histories and Life Stories: Fieldworking at Pine Ridge”
  • At 2:00 in Wheeler 209, the Nashville Public Library Foundation presents “Bringing Books to Life!”, a workshop on reading aloud to children for students preparing to participate in Family Literacy Day.
  • Spanish Conversation Hour happens every Wednesday from 3 to 4 in the Language Learning Center (Wheeler 212)
  • At 7:30 in Massey 210  B the Word perform Spoken Word Poetry as they prepare for an upcoming slam event

Thursday, April 7

Friday, April 8

Saturday, April 9

Here’s hoping you can make it to some of these great events!

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Cuban Film Scholar to Speak in LLC April 5

GonzalezOn Tuesday, April 5, from 1:30-2:45 in the Language Learning Center, María Caridad Cumaná Gonzalez will discuss current films in Cuba and Latin America and connect them to Caribbean Cultural Studies (the topic of Dr. Natalia Pelaz’s SPA 3600 course this Fall).   Gonzalez is Professor of Cinema and Program Coordinator at the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema in Havana and Adjunct Professor of Art History at the University of Havana. She has also written a series of documentaries on syncretic cults in Cuba and, most recently, she produced and directed a documentary for the National Film Board in Canada. She is co-author of the book Mirada al cine cubano (1999), and her work has appeared in various journals including Ecos and Espacios. In 2005, she published Pletóricas latitudes del margen: El cine cubano ante el tercer milenio, co-written with Cuban essayist and journalist Joel del Río. She has also authored various entries for the Diccionario de cine iberoamericano. She is the general coordinator of http://www.cinelatinoamericano.org/, a website dedicated to Latin American and Caribbean film and related media. Winner of the 2008 award for investigative journalism on the internet from the AVINA and DAROS Foundation, she has contributed the essay “Cine Cubano de 1930 a 1958” for the forthcoming encyclopedia Cuba, Pueblo, Cultura, Historia edited by Alan West-Duran and Lou Pérez, Jr. Presently, she is completing a bilingual CD-ROM on Latin American and Caribbean Cinema that includes information on twenty-four countries.

 (Material for this article provided by David Julseth.)

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BU Philosophy Major Publishes Article

BU Philosophy major Brian York has had a paper accepted for publication by the undergraduate philosophy journal Episteme, published by Denison University. The paper is entitled “Three Criticisms of Schopenhauer and a Response from the Advaita Vedantins.”

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BU Service Learning Students Build Relationships

By Gia Vangieri

Kaley Rutledge is a freshman student from Orlando, Florida. She is an entrepreneurship major. MacKenzie (“Keni”) Gilley is a freshman from Cleveland, Ohio studying social entrepreneurship. Both are students of Dr. Linda Holt’s first-year writing, service learning class. Individually they met with me to share what their experience has been at their service site: the Easley Youth Life Center. 

 The Easley Youth Life Center is an after school program for high-risk for 5th-8th graders that provides students with a safe space to work on homework. It also has a spiritual component. Every afternoon, the program starts by engaging students in a Bible devotional and a life lesson. Then the students are free to complete homework or participate in academic games.

Kaley“The spiritual component is what drew me in,” confessed Kaley. She explained that she felt called to an environment where she could act as a spiritual mentor and really get to know the hearts of the students. Even in her short time there, she feels she has been able to get to know some of the students and these growing relationships adds to the responsibility she feels toward them.

The subjects of the lessons made an impression upon Keni. Simple subjects such as attention–covered by explaining you should look each other in the eyes when you talk and make yourself present in conversation—revealed some of what these students experienced Keniin the home. Keni had grown up with parents who looked her in the eyes when she talked, so she was conditioned to do the same; this was not necessarily true for these young students.

Kaley and Keni found it hard to confront the reality of the tough family life and the hard background of these kids, each student citing this as a catalyst for recognizing the privilege in their own upbringing. Both women told me separately a single story that they found the most disturbing. One afternoon, an eleven-year old girl was recounting a story of a fight she had seen at school that day. She thinks someone recorded video footage of it and she wanted to find it on YouTube. She was asked if this was something she was used to seeing, to which she responded: “Fighting, drugs and sexual harassment are things I dealt with every day.” Hearing these words had made an impact on both Kaley and Keni. “It’s shocking dealing with issues that we’ve heard about, but hearing it out of the mouth of a twelve year old girl…” Keni trails off, saying more with her silence than her words.

While such stories can be troubling, both of these young women told me that the positives far outweighed the negatives in their time spent at the Easley Youth Center.  “I love when the kids let their guard down, when they get lost in a moment, and you can get to know their hearts, getting to hear big dreams and goals they set. It makes you want to come back and root them on,” Kaley explains. “I like getting to know the girls. I’m building bonds and getting to see where they’re coming from—it’s really nice to see what they like so I can relate,” Keni says.

The project has tied together elements of what they’ve been studying in the classroom and armed them with direct observations, making them better authorities on the subject of their final paper. This type of authority is new to both students. Kaley expands: “It gives me a drive to perform in my normal English assignments, and I think the reason it does that is because I can see a real tangible purpose.”

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