As I sit at my new desk in Miller 200, looking out at a campus already humming with signs of energy and life again, it feels like a moment of auspicious beginnings and endings—the beginnings of another semester, yes, but also that of the shared experience of leaping into a Fall with the nerves and excitement of what may come. I know that this feeling is shared by many on campus. At the beginning of the semester, I had the privilege of attending the opening night dinner with the students of the First-Generation and Low-Income program. As I chatted with my table and shared my own experiences of being a first-generation-to-college student, I was thrilled to think of so many students beginning their academic journey at Colby. I begin my directorship at the Center for the Arts and Humanities hoping to capture that energy and to continue the great work that the CAH carried out under former Director Kerill O’Neill. I remain indebted to the example he led, and am humbled to think of the many creative and innovative programs he launched during his term.
Even beginning with such hope and optimism, I am keenly aware that it has been difficult to imagine new life these past few weeks, with the devastating news of limitations on reproductive rights in Texas, storms and floods signaling further climactic change, and the constant fears of COVID looming over everything. Many of us have had deeply personal and life-shattering losses this past year, even as the world continues on and we return to our desks and our work.
Through the work of the arts and humanities, the Center has long sought to channel these at-times oppositional feelings and ideas, the push-pull of forces that weigh upon us and lift us up. As we continue to explore the annual humanities theme of Freedom and Captivity, help launch the new Public Humanistic Inquiry Lab with the Humanities Division, and renew our work with the Race and Identity Matters working group, the Digital Humanities Roundtable, and the Environmental Humanities initiative, we feel this dynamic more strongly than ever. It is not always easy to have discussions and disagreements on abolition and freedom, or to track the uneasy inflections of race in medicine and medical practices, but these conversations are of imminent importance to us as we move forward. I begin this role with the strong conviction that our pursuit of artistic and humanistic inquiry can have a meaningful place in these campus-wide conversations, helping to both lead and to move us forward together.
"We look to redefine what’s possible,
even when possibility seems scarce."
Since the start of the semester, I have been meeting with our constituent departments and programs, and I look forward to hearing how the Center can play an even more dynamic and vital role in the growth of our students and faculty moving forward. Even now, when we are exhausted or increasingly harried in the face of turbulent social and climactic times, I have found energy in hearing your stories and your hopes for the future. I look forward to sharing more with you, and beginning our work together to help promote an inclusive and dynamic vision of the arts and humanities at Colby.
Director, Center for the Arts and Humanities | Associate Professor of Spanish