College president waxes poetic
By: Jessica Cortese
College President R. Barbara Gitenstein met with students and colleagues last Wednesday night to discuss and analyze Anthony Hecht's poem "Rites and Ceremonies" as part of the "Religion, Culture and Identity" program.
Gitenstein, who has a doctorate in English and is the author of the book "Apocalyptic Messianism and Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry," explained how the poem emphasizes the dark side of human beings and their capability to do evil to one another. Each of Hecht's "Rites and Ceremonies's" four sections alludes to a particular moment in Jewish history. Hecht plays games with language and pulls Jewish history and tradition together to illustrate what lessons should have been learned from each moment.
Gitenstein said Hecht, who died in 2004, wanted to make his audience aware that "Rites and Ceremonies" is a poem that spans across human history and makes it as present and vivid as current events.
She also discussed his idea that survival alone does not prove anything, and it is up to the survivors of the Holocaust to bring the world back together.
"('Rites and Ceremonies') is a great poem that responds to the Jewish experience of history and particularly the experience of the Holocaust," Michael Robertson, professor of English, said.
The president proceeded to analyze the four sections of Hecht's sprawling poem....continued
Here is a lecture we wish we had attended.