Big Thinking

On Nov. 1, the campus was treated to another installment of the Williams Thinking lecture series. Questions explored by faculty this time around were:

What was the Greatest Revolution?

The Iranian revolution “brought back religion as an entity, as a force to be reckoned with in politics and in government. … It changed how we fight wars. … [It] really brought religion into the battlefield and convinced people to fight differently than people had essentially fought before.” —Magnus Bernhardsson, history professor and chair of international studies, speaking about “The Greatest Revolution”

How does language influence art?

“These images are beautiful and powerful, however the language of the time refers to these … as savage, as primitive, as barbaric. … As an artist who is falling in love with the beauty of these images, I am struggling … to find a place in my heart to allow them to live and … instruct me as to why [Herman Rosse] was attracted to the same … depiction of the black body in motion and space and time that, as a dancer, I am perpetually in love with and inspired by.” —Sandra Burton, Lipp Family Director of Dance, referring to materials in Chapin Library’s Rosse archive, in her talk “Quarreling with Herman Rosse”

Why does math still matter?

“Find the surprises. Find the fallible flags. Identify underlying relations causing these senses of surprise. … Then you’re starting to really take seriously that mathematics might be the structure of the universe, which I secretly believe, even though I don’t know what those words mean.” —Thomas Garrity, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Mathematics, speaking about “Truth = Math = Beauty”

Watch video of the series at