Senior Karen attends highly competitive writing symposium at Princeton University
It was her love of the arts and humanities that sent Karen on a plane to Princeton. “The arts have always been a major interest,” she said.
The Creative Arts and Humanities Symposium is held every year at Princeton University, and this year, Karen was selected as one of the 80 participants from across the nation. From Nov. 11 to 13, she attended lectures and precepts (small, discussion based seminars) taught by Princeton professors on humanities and the arts.
Hockaday may only nominate one senior each year to attend the symposium, and she must then submit a short essay on what she wants to get out of the experience.
“We look for high quality writing, the thought process [and] for somebody who really understands the way that humanities and arts can be interrelated,” college counselor Carol Wasden said.
Princeton then chooses 80 students among the pool of high school nominees based on recommendations given by their college counselor.
Karen applied for the symposium not only because she had “always been very interested in literature and English and the analysis of art itself,” but also because of her interest in Princeton. A pianist as well, Lee lives and breathes her belief that the “discussion of art is really important.”
And her passion for the arts shows itself in her work. “[Karen] thinks like an artist thinks, with that kind of imaginative energy,” English Department Chair Dr. Deborah Moreland, Chair said about Lee’s writing. It was this passion that brought Lee to the symposium.
“The best part [of the symposium] was interacting with Princeton professors and being able to discuss interesting topics with a group of very talented high school seniors,” Karen said.
And amongst the other students at the symposium, Karen found intellectual companionship. “The [other] students are similar … they are interested in the same things I am interested in, and they have a lot to say about art.”
Lee attended a poetry workshop as well as two precepts on the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke and their ethical implications and the theme of the real versus the imaginary in Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Bouquet.”
An additional lecture was given on the first night of the symposium by Princeton Professor Gideon Rosen titled “How Bad can Bad Art Be.”
The lecture consisted of a discussion on the “technical ineptitudes of art, art that is just plain bad, and art that has morally reprehensible messages and how the audience handles it,” Karen said.
This lecture as well as other precepts and workshops helped provide Lee with a unique perspective on analyzing art.
“Since usually people discuss the beneficial aspects of art, [Dr. Gideon] wanted to discuss why art can be bad,” Karen explained.
Beyond the intellectual conversations of art and humanities, the symposium helped Karen “realize that [Princeton] is somewhere I really want to be.”
Ultimately for Karen, the Princeton symposium made her “realize that Hockaday really prepares you for college—we are so used to being able to express our ideas, to analyze literature and to give our opinions. It was just a very great experience,” said Karen. One that spoke not only to her intellect but to her passion as well.