Recently I was invited to give the Holloway Lecture at McDaniel College. Held once a year on a literary topic of wide interest, this lecture is a big event on campus. Students in a communications class have a competition to design the poster. English majors read work published by the speaker, and acquaint themselves with the materials their guest researches. A formal dinner precedes the lecture. A number of undergraduates are invited, and have the chance to engage the speaker in informal conversation. The Holloway Lecture is in short central to the intellectual life of the college.
Two recent events on the GW campus have made me realize how hungry our own students are for such moments of community. Last Friday the English Department sponsored our Futures of the Field panel, in which six faculty members conversed with about 35 students on what the major might mean in the years ahead. The event stretched to its full two allotted hours, filled with energetic dialogue. Yesterday, as part of Steven Knapp’s inauguration festivities, Renaissance scholar Stephen Greenblatt spoke about reinventing a lost play of Shakespeare. As I looked out across the audience, I was pleased to see how many of our English majors were seated in rapt attention.
Now in its twentieth year, the Holloway Lecture is the lasting gift of a generous McDaniel alumnus. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such an annual event at GW?