Symposium offered as honors class option

The honors program is initiating a new option for its second-year students to gain honors elective hours, the program’s assistant director said.

Ronald Pitcock, assistant director of the honors program and assistant professor of English, said The Contemporary Reading Symposium will meet on three different nights throughout the semester, and participants will meet with an honors professor and discuss the professor’s chosen text.

Second-year students can receive the equivalent of three hours of honors elective credit toward their lower-division honors requirements, Pitcock said. These hours do not count toward graduation, but help fulfill the lower division requirements, he said.

The first symposium meeting in February will be led by Linda Hughes, who holds the Addie Levy professor of literature endowed professorship. Hughes chose Tom Stoppard’s “Rock N’ Roll” to discuss.

Hughes said the symposium is a great opportunity for students to engage, share and discover new points in every text chosen. Everybody will learn something from one another at the symposium, she said.

Pitcock said the symposium was initially brought to his attention by a group of upper-level students who expressed interest in studying contemporary texts.

“The (symposium) is an opportunity for honors program students to explore recent textbooks, plays and films that are well regarded and award winners,” Pitcock said. “The (symposium) can also help students who have joined the honors program late or need help fulfilling their 15 hours of lower division hours.”

Drew Atkins, a sophomore finance and accounting major and honors student, said he is looking forward to interacting with intelligent people and discussing contemporary literature and film.

“The fact that it takes so little time out of my schedule but still provides me the opportunity to take something away from the class is what I find most intriguing,” Atkins said.

Pitcock said many older students are going to participate in the symposium just for the sake of learning and not just for honors elective hours. Symposium participants aren’t just getting off the hook easy, he said.

“Students will be doing the essay and attending the meetings on top of their full school load,” Pitcock said. “There will be nothing easy about the symposium, but it will be a great learning experience.”

Kaushal Amatya, a junior psychology major and honors student, said he is not jealous of the younger students but questions if students would be able to capture the essence of an honors class by meeting only three times a semester.

“I don’t know if the participants will be able to get out of it what we did,” Amatya said. “By not being in a class you lose the social aspect of being and learning with other students.”

Pitcock said in the future, alumni honors students and faculty will collaborate together to choose the texts covered at symposium meetings. For second-year students taking the symposium for credit, a critical essay about the covered text will be due finals week. Today is the deadline to sign up for the symposium.