University celebrates the humanities

Events include Global Film Festival, On Being Human panel

Celebration of the humanities is in full force at the University with Humanities Week 2014. Events began last Saturday and will run until Friday night.

Humanities Week is a staple in the University community — a joyous, student-led festivity, according to English Prof. Michael Levenson, director of the Institute of Humanities and Global Culture at the University. Events include Emergency Poetry, the On Being Human student speaker series, a Global Film Festival and many philosophical, literary, historical and photographic discussions.

“It’s both a carnival and a sign of our conviction,” Levenson said. “That’s the slogan I’m running around with. And that means that we’re totally earnest and serious about the humanities, but we also know that we can pursue that earnestness with both pleasure and joy.”

The week is not just for English majors, philosophy majors and others whose studies at the University center around departments in the humanities, Levenson said, noting the benefits venturing into the world of humanities can extend to those earning Commerce, Engineering and other vocational training degrees.

“I would say that every student — be it Medicine, Commerce, Law — does need what we have to offer just as we need what they have to offer,” he said. “No one should go out there into the world of commerce without feeling that they can come back with a sense of the past so they don’t repeat it and [having the ability] to interpret so that they don’t become passive in the face of a complex world.”

Levenson said the skills obtained from studying the humanities, such as critical thinking and discussion, are not only effective, but also are of the utmost importance in whatever professional field one pursues. He notes that many schools in China are now insisting students take on liberal arts studies, fearing vocational training itself is too limited.

“I always find that students who come to us from engineering, commerce or any science and technical field, they see how much can be gained from gathering together and exchanging opinions openly without retreating to orthodox opinion or received views,” he said.

While many events of last year’s Humanities Week have been removed or rebooted as different enterprises, one of the events which has remained unmodified is the Global Film Festival, Levenson said. The Festival runs until Thursday evening.

“This week there are films from around the world … that just enlarge what we see and how we feel,” he said. “They give us new scenes to witness and new styles and forms of feeling.”

Published April 10, 2014 in FP test, News

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