humanities

Humanities & Ethics Center presents #humgoespop this fall

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 19, 2014 — Drury University’s Humanities & Ethics Center has announced its fall calendar of events, including a book series, a film series in conjunction with the Moxie Cinema, and a speaker series. All activities are open to the public.

The theme for the upcoming year is #humgoespop or “Humanities Goes Pop,” which seeks to highlight how popular culture explores the study of human culture.

Now in its second year, the Humanities & Ethics Center hopes to engage students and local residents by promoting open discussions about various humanistic ideas and values. The Center’s innovative outreach efforts are in part a response to misperceptions about the field in light of a national focus on science, technology and business education during tough economic times. Discussions about values and ethics in many ways become even more essential during such times, say faculty.

“The Humanities are not mere ‘ivory tower’ issues, but the central questions of morality, memory, existence and character that ordinary people grapple with every day,” says Dr. Richard Schur, professor of English at Drury. “Attending the Center’s events makes humanities inquiry come alive and helps us understand how historical, religious, philosophical, and literary debates affect us in our everyday lives.”

“Humanities Goes Pop” Fall 2014 event calendar

Sept. 23, noon – Book Discussion Series – Harwood Reading Room, Olin Library

“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” by Burt Royal

Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. – Humanities Night at the Theatre – Wilhoit Theater

“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”

Discussion of the play led by Dr. Peter Meidlinger (English) and Madison Spencer (Theater)

Oct. 25, 1 p.m. – Moxie Film Series – Moxie Cinema

“On The Waterfront”

Dr. Kevin Henderson (English) will lead a discussion following the film

Oct. 28, noon – Book Discussion Series – Harwood Reading Room, Olin Library

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

Nov. 6, 11 a.m. – Thinking Aloud Series – Olin Room, Olin Library

Dr. Patrick Moser, “Research in the Classroom”

Nov. 8, 1 p.m. – Moxie Film Series – Moxie Cinema

“The Spirit of the Beehive”

Dr. Heidi Backes (Spanish) will lead a discussion following the film.

Nov. 15, 1 p.m. – Moxie Film Series – Moxie Cinema

“Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”

Dr. Peter Meidlinger (English) and Jess Heugel will lead a discussion following the film

Academic programs under Drury’s humanities division include communication, English, history, languages, library science and philosophy & religion. For more information about the Humanities at Drury or upcoming events, visit the division’s web page, read the “Human, All Too Human” blog, or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

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Drury’s Humanities Film Series at the Moxie Resumes on Saturday

The Moxie Film Series presented by the Drury University Humanities & Ethics Center will resume Saturday afternoon with a showing of Vittorio De Sica’s influential and thought-provoking “Bicycle Thieves.” The series is made possible with the help of a grant from the Missouri Arts Council. The screens are open to the public. The cost is $7, the regular matinee ticket price.

The partnership between Drury and the nonprofit Moxie Cinema put films that ask enduring questions about the human condition in the spotlight – and adds an open, facilitated discussion to the mix. Before and after each showing, a Drury professor leads a group discussion about the movie’s themes. The pre- and post-film discussions are about 30 minutes each.

“Bicycle Thieves,” released in 1948, is regarded by critics as one of the most influential films of all time, and has won praise from sources as diverse as Entertainment Weekly and the Vatican. Sight & Sound magazine rates it as one of the top ten films ever made, and it is near the top of the British Film Institute’s list of movies young people should see by age 14.

The pre-show discussion for “Bicycle Thieves” begins at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 29, at the Moxie Cinema, 305 S. Campbell Ave. The film is about 90 minutes long. Dr. Kevin Henderson, assistant professor of English, will lead the discussions.

The 1 p.m. start time remains the same for the final two movies in the series as well:

Saturday, April 5 – “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring” (2003), directed by Ki-Duk Kim. Dr. Hue-Ping Chin, professor of history, will lead the discussions.

Saturday, April 12 – “Good Hair” (2009), produced by Chris Rock. Dr. Elizabeth Nichols, professor of Spanish, will lead the discussions.

For more information about the series and featured films, visit the series web page.

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Ramping up humanities education at Drury

Springfield, Mo., September 9, 2013 — Recently, Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed charging more tuition dollars at Florida public universities for classes like English that, he said, were less likely to lead to jobs. This past summer, Congress released a report called “The Heart of the Matter” that sounded the alarm about a decline in humanities majors in U.S. colleges due mainly, according to the report, to a bad perception about job prospects.

Nationally, there is an ongoing conversation about the value of the humanities, but Drury University is ramping up its humanities education and co-curricular activities. This effort not only takes into account Drury’s history as a liberal arts institution, but is also in response to the humanities as a pathway into careers and graduate school. For instance, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 1998, 37 percent of applicants across all majors were accepted into medical school. However, English, history and philosophy majors were accepted at a rate of around 50 percent, outperforming their peers from technical backgrounds.

“Natural and social sciences study what is the case, in most circumstances teaching students how to understand how a thing works. In the humanities, we study how those things ought to be used in humane, ethical, and empathetic ways,” said Dr. Chris Panza, chair of the Humanities division at Drury. “Medical school teaches a student how to use a scalpel, but the humanities teaches how to use that scalpel humanely.”

English Professor Richard Schur works with a student in his office

At Drury, the humanities departments are: communication, English, foreign languages, history, and philosophy/religion. To promote these fields of study and create new opportunities for students, Drury has adopted new activities and programs this year. The Humanities House, on the north end of campus, is home to four passionate humanities students who live in the co-ed housing. The home is also the hub of humanities activities on campus. Every two weeks, it hosts the Drury Society for the Humanities’ “Thinking Aloud” series. At the first meeting in August, the gathering of 17 people was split evenly between faculty and students.

“It was an ideal college experience,” said Dr. Rich Schur, professor of English. “Just talking about ideas. It was more casual than a classroom. Students don’t normally sit with professors and discuss the most effective way to teach.”

“The reading group helped me understand that professors do have lives and concerns outside of their own particular field of study,” said Burton Guion, a junior studying philosophy at Drury.  “I guess the best way I can put it is that the informal setting helped me to humanize my professors.”

Besides the reading group, the Drury Society for the Humanities will also discuss the “big” questions in humanities scholarship.

The goals of the humanities also reach beyond the university into the community, Panza says, and the division is currently working on a humanities speakers series that will bring prominent people in the field to the campus. Panza also hopes to continue the Moxie Theatre Speaker Series, in which he and other Drury professors conducted talks following classic movies. The Moxie series is funded through a grant from the Missouri Arts Council. Last spring, Panza led a discussion following the move Ikiru, directed by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

“We were only supposed to talk for 30 minutes and we went nearly an hour and could have gone longer,” Panza said. “The audience just wanted to sit and talk about death, the meaning of life, finding your purpose and Kurosawa fifties cinema. When people engage with the humanities, they get excited.”

While countless statistics about employment rates and salaries make an economic case for the humanities as a field of study, it is a student’s enthusiasm that sums up why people study the humanities.

“I don’t study the humanities because I think it will land me a high-paying job (although it can, billionaire investor George Soros majored in philosophy) or because I think it will make me famous (although it can, countless writers and actors from Vin Diesel to Stephen King majored in English),” Guion said. “I study the humanities because I want to nourish my soul. I want to feel and think and write and read and, most importantly, listen to what other people have to say. I want to become more fully human.”

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury