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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 1, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 5
New Colloquium Spreads Word About Humanities to Undergrads

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

The humanities are alive and well at Johns Hopkins, and a new series wants to spread the word.

On Wednesday, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences will kick off its new Humanities Colloquium, a series of hourlong directed conversations designed to encourage undergraduate student interest in the humanities.

Chris Celenza, academic director of the series, will be its first speaker. He will give a talk titled "What Does It Mean to be Human? The Classical Tradition and the Problem of Humanity" at 5 p.m. on Oct. 3 in 223 Gilman Hall.

In the colloquium's first year, Celeza said, organizers will solicit the participation of freshman students, hoping they choose to pursue humanities majors. The series, however, is open to all Homewood campus students.

The presentations will be held every two weeks during the semester. Each conversation will consist of an informal 20- to 30-minute talk on a broad topic relating to issues relevant in current humanities scholarship but accessible to an undergraduate audience. Participants can use the remaining time to ask questions and for general discussion. Refreshments will be served.

Celenza, a professor in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, said that he wants to help the humanities "shine as brightly as they deserve to at Johns Hopkins."

"There is a lot of interesting and captivating humanities-related research that goes on here, and we want to make sure that undergraduates are exposed to the vitality and interest of that research," Celenza said. "This is also a chance for students to get to know faculty outside the classroom and to mingle. It's a way for them to make connections and hopefully generate some interest in humanities topics."

The program is sponsored by the Dean's Office of the Krieger School and was championed by Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education.

Burger said that she hopes the colloquium will expose students to different scholarly fields and engender in them a passion for the humanities.

Celenza said that the series is currently looking for faculty members to fill out the fall semester schedule. To participate, contact Erin Cowling at


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