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Humanities Symposium to feature multiple speakers

In year’s past, the Humanities Symposium has featured one major speaker but for the 2013 symposium the committee has taken a different approach.

With seven featured speakers ranging from a Native American scholar to a poet who writes in both English in Spanish, it is impossible to give an adequate introduction to all this event, beginning Sept. 23, has to offer.

Some students may remember some rather big name authors from previous years, like Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood, but lately, the symposium has been gravitating more towards its roots that lie in the academic world.

“We have gone back to, in the last two years, having our featured speakers be academic stars rather than ones known to the general public,” said Cox. “This is the model the symposium began with when we began this twelve years ago.”

This year’s theme of “Encountering Otherness” will cover everything from literature representing the topic to lectures from scholars who have unique views on the concept.

“We’re looking at how encounters with people who are different from ourselves shape our understanding of how people who are different from us and looking at the places we see differences between ourselves and people from other cultures, other races and other backgrounds and what we learn about ourselves,” said Dr. Cynthia Cox, associate professor of English and a member of the planning committee for the symposium.

The symposium itself takes a great deal of planning and funding and having speakers with schedules like these authors tend to have, and, according to Cox, it makes coordinating “much more complicated.”

However, there will be plenty to attract students outside the humanities department other than a name they may recognize from the cover of a book.

This year, scholars from Vanderbilt as well as writers from various cultures all through America will take part in lectures and panels.

“We want to represent, in a conversation about ‘others,’ people who have been ‘othered’ as well as people who are very conscious of what happens when they are perceived as others,” said Cox.

The symposium starts off with a day of literary lectures from many professors familiar on Belmont’s campus as well as a special art exhibition.

The Leu Gallery will be featuring the art of Tam Mai, a staff member that works primarily in Wheeler, and will have a reception where students can view artwork and talk to Mai about his painting and inspiration.

Tuesday brings a myriad of convocations highlighting different cultures, philosophy discussions take over on Wednesday and later days feature everything from history to psychology.

Writing workshops and community service convocation will be available over the weekend before the wrap-up panel on Sept. 30.

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