Student-Led Humanities Discussion Group Creates Community Amidst Uncertainty

Macy Pope, English & Philosophy

By: Macy Pope

How could I accomplish this goal of creating community around the humanities when we were supposed to be distancing ourselves from one another?

At the beginning of 2020, I was incredibly optimistic about the projects I had planned for the year.  It was the start of a new semester, a chance for me to continue my involvement in my academic school.  When I approached the head of the English department, Dr. Tonya Howe, concerning the visibility of the humanities at Marymount, we immediately began to formulate plans for a discussion group.  My vision was for faculty, students, staff, and any other interested parties to come join in conversation with one another about different areas of the humanities.  However, we only managed to have one introduction meeting before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us away from Marymount, for all of us to literally socially distance from one another.  How could I accomplish this goal of creating community around the humanities when we were supposed to be distancing ourselves from one another?  This is when I resolved that I would continue this program regardless of the circumstances that had been thrown at us, and I’m grateful that I got support from my department on continuing the group.  As the fall semester of 2020 came upon us, we prepared to work through the tumultuous circumstances that threatened the continuation of our group.

Humanities Discussion Group

My main goal for the semester was to make the Marymount community feel less distanced, for everyone to simply chat about interesting topics in the humanities that could distract us from the academic and the abysmal state of the world.  Over the course of the semester, we had four different meetings, each of which had a different theme of the humanities together with another interesting field and different participants, but the sense of togetherness still remained throughout them all.  Our first meeting in September was called “Science Fiction and Science Fact,” where we discussed the intersections of the science fiction genre and the rapidly changing technological world.  Our second meeting in October was titled “Frightful Fairy Tales and Feminism,” which allowed us to have an incredibly diverse conversation that added to the spooky feeling of the Halloween season.  The third meeting we had was titled “Literary and Visual Art,” where the participants who made it did commiserate with one another on the contentious events of early November.  Our final meeting of the fall semester in December was focused around the topic of “Classics and History,” where we discussed the importance of literature and our perceptions of historical events and time periods.  There was a wide variety of topics and conversations that were sparked because of the wonderful people who offered their time to be with us.

While most of us are likely dreading the idea of yet another semester online, I know that the humanities discussion group that I have worked on will hopefully continue to spark conversation and create community during a time of uncertainty and isolation for so many that are a part of the Marymount University community.

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