Archer hosts annual Humanities Honors Symposium, celebrates ‘hard work and passion’


Photo credit: Nelly Rouzroch

Hannah Greenwald ’17 presents her original work at this year’s Humanities Honors Symposium. Her presentation was entitled “Sanguine Oppression: The Color Red as a Symbol of Patriarchy.”

Androgyny, consumerism, “Cabaret” and reality television were just a few of the various topics presented by Archer students at this year’s Humanities Honors Symposium. The conference was held on campus on Tuesday, May 16, which marked the Class of 2017’s last day of classes before senior week and graduation.

This year’s event was primarily organized by English teacher and Department Chair Brian Wogensen, who has now overseen the event for three years.

“Arranging the symposium is definitely a collaborative effort with the other English and history faculty,” Wogensen said. “We have the two different honors history courses and four very unique honors English courses taking part in the event, and there are also students pursuing independent studies.”

The academic classes represented at the conference were Honors Literature of Fairy Tale and Fantasy, Fear in Fiction and Film, Gender Studies, Beauty and Taste: Aesthetics and Postmodern Los Angeles. This year, there were 32 presentations in total.

Senior Eloise Rollins-Fife, who presented twice at the event, emphasized that the highlight of her experience at the symposium was seeing all of her peers present their original work.

“It was amazing to see what everyone had accomplished,” she said. “It was really cool to see such a wide array of projects from my classmates.”

This event is a celebration of the high-quality work that these girls can produce, as well as their hard work and passion.

— Brian Wogensen, English teacher and Department Chair

Media Arts/Film and Video Teaching fellow Steven Jacobson, who served as an honors advisor for the Fear in Fiction and Film Class, commented on being involved with the Humanities Honors Symposium for the first time this year.

“My experience was tremendous. I was so inspired and in awe by the level of complex thinking the students came up with,” Jacobson said. “I found the experience of working with [the students] very inspiring; it was great.”

Wogensen emphasized the uniqueness of the Humanities Honors Symposium, as it provides students with an authentic audience and an opportunity to explore their individual interests and pose challenging questions.

“You could just see the students’ genuine excitement in their presentations. These were topics, texts and ideas that really sparked interest in the students,” Wogensen said. “One of the aims of the symposium is for the girls to practice their presentation skills, and even more importantly, they’re working on taking a 10-page paper and crystallizing it into a concise presentation.”

Isabella Simanowitz ’18, who attended the symposium on Tuesday, echoed Wogensen’s sentiments.

“I was so impressed by the seniors’ creativity and the topics that they chose, especially since I’m sure ‘senioritis’ is hitting them right now,” she said. “All of them were really well-prepared.”

Wogensen also expressed his admiration for the seniors who shared their original work.

“As a teacher, my favorite thing is being able to witness the process of scholarship that begins with sometimes nascent questions and ideas. Then, being able to watch the symposium and listen to such articulate, sophisticated presentations is really satisfying,” he said. “This event is really a capstone demonstration of learning in the humanities.”