Summer Quarter: Letter from the Director
One of the most enjoyable parts of planning each quarter’s catalogue is deciding on the cover design, which this Summer introduces Stanford professor Fabio Barry’s course exploring the studio spaces that artists, writers, and philosophers have created for themselves as a means of connecting with their work, their identity, and their mental landscapes.
The image you see on our cover, Léon Pallière (1787–1820) in His Room at the Villa Medici, Rome, depicts a young Brazilian painter—one of a group of artists-in-residence sponsored by the French Academy that year—taking a break in the day to play his instrument. It is a darker, more interior picture than we would typically choose for Summer, but it resonated with us and felt right for the times. The light through the open window and the hint of the outdoors feel bright and optimistic, but also more distant. We identify more closely with the artist, captured in a solitary and re ective moment, appreciating the way in which he has surrounded himself with books, papers, and drawings tacked on the walls.
One of the bright spots for us at Continuing Studies over this challenging past year was seeing so many students being drawn back to artistic and creative pursuits—and to the liberal arts and sciences—as a way to nd solace and inspiration throughout the pandemic. We saw our poetry, memoir, and ction writing workshop courses lling almost immediately upon opening, and many of our literature, history, and philosophy courses enrolling at two or three times their usual rate. Looking at the Léon Pallière painting brings to mind for me all of our students who have been studying and creating quietly in their homes, waiting out the pandemic and nding support and camaraderie among their fellow students along the way.
With the vaccine rollout taking hold, many of you have begun to ask what things will be like for Continuing Studies six months or even a year from now. The exciting, if somewhat unsettling, answer is that we don’t quite know yet; much of it will depend on listening to our students and instructors to nd out which direction they would like to see us take. This past year, we’ve received many kind messages from students telling us how much they have enjoyed both types of virtual courses we now offer—the “live online” courses with weekly lectures and the “ ex online” courses that help students and instructors engage with one another asynchro- nously. Our plan is to make a large range of courses in both formats part of our permanent catalogue. We are also of course still eager to bring back on-campus courses, but know that some patience will be required as it most likely won’t be possible for us until 2022.
In the meantime, we are happy to see both our instructors and students experimenting with new ways to learn and connect. This Summer, our creative writing instructor Rachel Smith is launching a new course called “Writing in Community: Awakening the Creative Spirit,” which offers students a chance to meet together each week for a guided writing session. And Stanford professor Michael Shanks and archaeologist Gary Devore have created a new course, styled after a book club, in which readers can explore modern works of historical ction that draw their narratives from the classics of ancient Greece and Rome. The Reading Antiquity series will be ongoing throughout the year with students having the option to join in for any number of quarters they wish. Finally, we’re excited to offer courses by two of our longtime lm instructors, Elliot Lavine and Mick LaSalle, taking a closer look at the New Hollywood and California in the movies. We hope you will join us this Summer!
Director & Associate Dean