“Make art that recovers our fragmented, misrepresented and distorted pasts through ordinary people's stories.” Actor, playwright and performance scholar Lisa Biggs ’93 reflects on her time at Amherst and the importance of making theater, then and now.
“Why may we not add Geology to the list of poetical sciences?” Geologist Edward Hitchcock, Amherst’s third president. Amherst’s Beneski Museum of Natural History houses Hitchcock’s collection of fossil dinosaur tracks</a>, which continue to be among the largest and most studied in the world.
“When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” President John F. Kennedy, speaking at Amherst on Oct. 26, 1963. The College will honor the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth at an Oct. 28 symposium. U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III will give the keynote address.
“Outside the open window/The morning air is all awash with angels.” Richard Wilbur ’42 in his poem “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World.”Wilbur, an elder statesman of American poetry, died on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at age 96.
“People not only shared vocabulary with us, but emotions, sensations and stories.” Ha Ram Hwang ’17. For a culminating project in English 490, she teamed up with a fellow student to collect hard-to-translate phrases from people around campus.
“What does it mean to be a child and have to be separated from your parents and your family, your home country, and to never be able to go back?” Destry Sibley ’09, a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, is launching a podcast series devoted child refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War.
“If parents favored the sons over the daughters, what happens to the families with only a daughter? This is a burning question, and could change everything about what we know about gender in China.” Vanessa Fong ’96, associate professor of anthropology at the College, on why she began her longitudinal study of China’s one-child policy.
“Reading is a mighty engine, beside which steam and electricity sink into insignificance.” Melvil Dewey, Class of 1874, Dewey was an Amherst student when he devised the decimal classification system that bears his name.
NOTE: In 2014, a turn-of-the-century building on the Amherst College campus that once provided power to the campus was repurposed to provide space on campus for student activities including live performances, rehearsals, pub nights, panel discussions, art exhibits, food truck nights, cookouts and more. Photo by David Lamb Photography, courtesy of Bruner/Cott.
“The brain is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickison, poet. The fifth annual Amherst Poetry Festival and Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon takes place Sept. 14-17. On Friday, poets will read in Bassett Planetarium as the starscapes of the evening of Emily Dickinson’s birth and death are projected. On Saturday, fans will read all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems at the Emily Dickinson Museum.
“Bad news is bad news, but it was like I didn’t even feel it, because I heard how hard it was for him to tell me.” Gavin Grimm, speaking about his lawyer Josh Block ‘01, in an Amherst magazine interview.
“If you sit down and talk to someone you thought you have nothing in common with, in two minutes you’ll find a similarity.” Christopher Lewis ’19, one of the students featured in #AmherstIBelong, an exhibit sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. All are invited to the opening reception on Sept. 5 from 4-6 p.m. in the Keefe Campus Center atrium.
The class of 2021 is known as the bicentennial class, because it will graduate in the College’s bicentennial year. Its 473 members were chosen from a record 9,285 applicants.
Read more about the incoming class: Welcome, New Students
“Nothing I can say/A total eclipse of the heart.” Jim Steinman ’69 Steinman wrote and produced the 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Find it on the playlist that NASA interns put together for today’s total solar eclipse.
Note: Read about David Peck Todd, class of 1875, in the latest issue of Amherst magazine: “The Star-Crossed Astronomer” by Julie Dobrow.
“If a stranger said in sport / ‘I see you're prepared for snow,’/ Our shovel might retort / ‘Out here, you never know.’ ” Richard Wilbur ’42, in a poem about a snow shovel still leaning against a house in July.
NOTE: Wilbur is the subject of a new biography by Robert Bagg ‘57 and Mary Bagg that is this month’s Amherst Reads featured book.
“There will always be people who are stronger, faster and smarter, but in college I learned that you can excel by learning how to think well, make good decisions and understand your limitations. ” Surgeon James E. Bates ‘86 in the newest Amherst magazine.
“I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens.” President John F. Kennedy, speaking at Amherst on Oct. 26, 1963. He would have been 100 on May 29, 1917.
Each new graduate receives a Conway Cane. This 19th-century Amherst tradition was revived and reshaped by the class of 2003 to celebrate class unity and spirit. Sunday, May 21: Amherst’s 196th Commencement.
NOTE: Learn more about how the tradition of the Conway Canes during Commencement returned to Amherst College in 2003.
“A book, a good book, a book worth dusting off, is a challenge. It’s a full workout for your mind and soul.” Dylan Driscoll ’14, pro baseball player in Sweden and Belgium, and startup marketing director, on the value of having a little dust on your bookshelf.
“In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth.” Steven Chu, former secretary of energy and one of six people who will receive an honorary doctorate at Amherst’s Commencement.
“My comfort with the gnarly wreckage of life, my comfort with discomfort, is the most important ingredient in my work and in the work of people I admire.” Screenwriter and Producer Susannah Grant ’84, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, recently described her journey from Amherst to Hollywood, and the real job of any artist.
“Public art is shown in the context of complete democracy. There is full access, and that can be very liberating.” Brooke Kamin Rapaport ’84 oversees the selection, production and realization of installations in New York’s Madison Square Park.
“The first question asked by the human mind, and which also marks the mind’s progress in all its stages, is the question, ‘Why.’” Julius Hawley Seelye, Amherst President, 1876-1890.
“I am a political scientist who, in effect, ends up doing history in the form of biography.” William Taubman, the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, Emeritus. Taubman’s highly anticipated biography of Mikhail Gorbachev will be published this year.
NOTE 1: Taubman won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Nikita Khrushchev.
NOTE 2: 10 books on leadership to read in 2017 —The Washington Post.
“There's no such thing as a conflict that cannot be ended. Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings.” George Mitchell, former U.S. Senate majority leader will discuss “Trump’s First 100 Days—Challenges and Opportunities” on Monday, April 3.
“To those who simply want to tweet the revolution, we appreciate that, but we are challenging people to go beyond that.” Cornell William Brooks. Speaking in Johnson Chapel, NAACP president Cornell William Brooks urged students to choose causes that will resonate in the long-term, not just in the moment.
“There are still some places that have escaped the direct touch of man, and those are the areas that are of interest to people like me.” Kelvin Chen ’16 traveled to remote Kasatochi Island to study biogeography.
“Rejecting notions of speech as politics, and ideals as action, Martin Luther King Jr. argued that all Americans—both white and black—were required to do much more than declare our values.” Mary Hicks, assistant professor of black studies and history, on Martin Luther King Jr.
“And how shall one name that movement which is in accord with the most beautiful human form? ... I would name it the Dance.” Isadora Duncan, dancer. Sarah Olsen, visiting assistant professor of classics, will discuss dance in ancient Greek tragedies and the work of Isadora Duncan as part of “Reimagining the Greeks,” a Theater & Dance conference March 23-25.
“Knowledge of Islam and, more broadly, knowledge of other cultural and religious traditions, is of paramount importance.” Tariq Jaffer, associate professor of religion, on his course Asian Languages and Civilizations 285, Religion 285: “The Quran and Its Controversies.”
NOTE: “The Quran and Its Controversies” is one of 126 courses available to Amherst students for the first time this year.
“We are called to listen to the music, to listen to each other, to listen from the other’s perspective.” George Mathew is determined that his concerts be not simply of our time but an influence for good within it. Photo credit: Chris Lee.
“Even though I didn’t know it, the idea for The Common started when I was a student at Amherst.” Jennifer Acker ’00. Acker founded The Common and its literary internship program, which mentors Amherst students in all aspects of publishing, from the first reads to the printed volume and related public programming.
“Now more than ever we need the voices of artists, in fiction and nonfiction, poetry on the page and in spoken word, and other expressive forms.” Martha Umphrey, professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought and director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Professor Martha Umphrey during opening remarks of Amherst’s second annual literary festival.