Passion drives us. Passionate learners dive head first into their studies. It was passion for learning that drove senior Jonathan Wright to continue his studies in cinema even when he needed to go outside of Wheaton College’s curriculum to do it.
Wright’s innovative yet isolated way of learning sparked an idea for the creation of a new series of lectures on the humanities this fall.
When Wright came to Wheaton, he quickly moved through a list of different majors before discovering his true calling in cinema. However, Wheaton didn’t have a curriculum for cinema majors. Wright instead created his own curriculum in order to study what he is truly passionate about. Since his sophomore year, all but one of Wright’s semesters have alternated with semesters of fully independent study in film history and theory. In other words, he takes a semester of classes at Wheaton and then a semester away from Wheaton on his independent studies. Yet the isolation Wright experienced in those semesters inspired him to continually search for opportunities to present and talk to others about his research or projects.
That is exactly what Wright hopes to do in his new lecture series. It will launch this fall for students like Wright who want an opportunity to present and communicate their work in the humanities in front of their peers, professors and mentors. “Humanities” refers primarily to literature, art, philosophy, history and religion, but Wright notes, “they can sometimes extend into politics, social justice, communications and other related areas. The main distinction is between the humanities and the hard sciences, the latter being based on empirical and experimental research.”
Sponsored by “The Pub” and the Philosophy Club, the lecture series provides an outlet for Wheaton students to talk with their fellow peers about their work outside of class curriculums. Wright’s hope is that these lectures will spark conversation around campus which will then spark change and passion in a community bigger than a circle of friends.
With any presentation — just like any book — there is an idea for students to learn. These lectures represent a new way for Wheaton students to circulate greater thought on campus by “igniting discussion and encouraging the development of ideas.” Moreover, students who participate in the lectures also have a chance to move into a leadership role among fellow students.
The lecture topics might range from an analysis of musical pieces to the history of intellectual giants like C.S. Lewis. The series will consist of three different lecture nights with two presenters at each event.
The first lecture will be held on Sept. 15 in Blanchard Lecture Hall, room 339, with senior Kate Fredrikson and senior Nathaniel Perrin presenting. Fredrikson will examine “William Blake, George MacDonald and Lewis Carroll and how they interacted with the Scriptural idea of childlike faith in some of their seminal works.” Perrin’s paper, entitled “Wrestling the Mechanistic Monsters of Modernity: Lewis’s Refutation of Dogmatic Scientism,” synthesizes Lewis’s arguments against Enlightenment technocracy, arguing that scientific modernity is logically inconsistent, reductionist and makes unwarranted claims of epistemological and political domination. There will be a time for questions and answers after the lectures.
For students who are interested in getting involved, Wright told The Record that there will be an opportunity to submit papers this fall to present next semester.