Humanities club celebrates the arts

Humanities Club stemmed from a simple coincidence. Sophomore Lila Alvarado was reading “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and the author Margaret Atwood was visiting Lawrence in early February.

Interested in attending Atwood’s talk, Alvarado met with English teacher Kylee Wright. The discussion became a book club, and the book club became a broader discussion of humanities.

The shift to a club focused on the humanities encouraged a varied, interdisciplinary discussion at the meetings.

Each time we’ll have someone talk about some music or art connection.”

— Lila Alvarado

“The humanities kind of encompass everything, even soft sciences like anatomy,” sophomore Claire Yackley said. “Fine arts are basically all humanities.”

Like a book club, the members read, view or study a material, then attend meetings to discuss it.

“We would meet and bring discussion questions about the book we’re reading,” Alvarado said “Each time we’ll have someone talk about some music or art connection.”

Music and art are essential to the study of humanities, and members of the group bring and play pieces of music for group discussion. Club member sophomore Addie Wendel, for example, shared music.

“Addie had us listen to The Planets Suite of music by [Gustav Holst], and it was really interesting, and then she talked to us about what it was inspired by and analyzed it,” Alvarado said.

While members lead discussion, Wright acts as an advisor, prompting students with discussion questions if the conversation lags and ensuring the group stays on topic.

“Usually one person thinks up something they want to present or show, and then they’re kind of in charge of that meeting,” Yackley said.

The group also participates in events outside of weekly meetings, such as Read Across Lawrence, and plans to take field trips to experience art, music and literature, as they did recently on a trip to the Spencer Museum of Art.

Read Across Lawrence is a city-wide effort to encourage community members to read similar books in the pursuit of knowledge. Humanities Club plans to participate again next year.

The club hopes to recruit more members for next year and expand on current practices.

“I’m hoping we can get some more people to join … then we can cover a lot of topics,” sophomore Lily Kenn said. “I like going, I think everyone in the group has well-voiced and well-informed opinions.”