Random Thoughts in Lecture Hall 029

So, I’m sitting in Lecture Hall 029, in one of my classes called “Constructing Reality: Photography as Fact or Fiction.” It’s part of the school’s “core” curriculum, in which every undergraduate student has to take seven “core” classes which are supposed to ensure that every student graduates with a general background in the liberal arts.  As a molecular biology major and economics minor, this class is quite different from anything I’ve taken so far in college.

The professor, a charismatic lecturer, is talking about the function of signs– how they both represent themselves (e.g. a clock can simply represent…a clock) as well as other associated concepts (e.g. a clock can represent the passage of time).  I’m sleepily staring back at him, wishing my weekend had been less busy and more restful.

But as the professor continues, I begin to feel quietly reassured. I volunteer under the symbol of the red cross, a sign which represents hope. I am one of millions of Red Cross volunteers around the world, united by a common commitment to humanity. Even though I am not an art history-type of person, and have had a hard time thus far following the professor’s long expositions on the difference between modernity and modernism, for today’s lecture I actually know exactly what the professor means when he speaks about the power of signs to motivate and inspire.

I’m fully awake now. And maybe I’ll actually pass this class!

Chris Chen ’10, Cambridge, MA

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