Dumbarton Oaks: Home of the humanities

Medieval coinDumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard’s hidden gem in Washington, offers a Wintersession course in historic Georgetown.

By Gigi Kisela '17

Dumbarton OaksAs a junior, I receive enough emails about exploring finance opportunities to, if printed, wallpaper half of the upperclassmen houses inside and out. The overwhelming number of opportunities in these fields dwarfs the number of those in humanities, which often results in them slipping through the cracks.

Today at 3 p.m. in the OCS Seminar Room, students can learn more an opportunity that really shouldn’t slip through: the fully-funded seven-day Wintersession course called Culture and Power: Art, Philanthropy and Diplomacy in America. The exploratory, experiential course takes place at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Where better to unpack culture and power? The course is led by Jan Ziolkowski, director of Dumbarton Oaks and a professor of medieval Latin at Harvard. The course also features expert guest speakers and illustrated with a variety of museum and institution visits.

Dumbarton Oaks was created by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. It has hosted the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations and a Stravinsky premiere conducted by Nadia Boulanger. Today, the institute has upheld the Bliss' wish to be the “Home of the Humanities” with a focus in byzantine, garden and landscape, and pre-Columbian studies. I spent the summer at Dumbarton Oaks as an outreach media intern for the director’s office under Jessica Salley ’14, a post-graduate fellow in communications and outreach. It was in this historically and aesthetically rich context, making outreach videos and taking photographs for the institute, that I settled firmly into my decision to change my concentration to Visual and Environmental Studies.

"Last year, we had a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen from all concentrations," said Salley. "We really encourage both students who are early on in their careers, and trying to make decisions about what they want to study, as well as those who are seeking jobs or who just have interest in expanding their horizons. Cultural institutions and art have impact on the lives of everyone, even those who don't concentrate in the humanities.”

For more information about the Dumbarton Oaks Wintersession program and the course syllabus, join an exploratory discussion 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 in the OCS Seminar Room, or visit the website. Please register through Crimson Careers. Applicants should send in a resume, a one-page statement of interest and arrange for a letter of recommendation to be sent to wintersession@doaks.org by October 31.