Not A Single Story

Sarah Zhang, Explorations in Humanities: Connections and Conflicts

About and Directions

The Humanities: Connections and Conflicts course at Davidson college offers an interdisciplinary approach to liberal education that combine artifacts across various genres, art, literature, philosophy, history. The course is guided by the two basic questions: What is the humanities? What is the revolution? This website is my portfolio that summarizes my works through the Humanities course and offers a reflection on my experience.

The portfolio includes a collection of works from my year of studying Humanities. It includes my working definitions of the Humanities and the humanities, as well as the Revolution. Here are the things that you will find in my portfolio:

  1. Working Definition: Revolution
  2. Working Definition: Humanities and humanities
  3. Selected past posts and reflections
  4. Commentary: Reflection on Drawing on Butcher Paper by Jagath Weerasinghe
  5. Paper 2: The Change in Conversation — Scholarly Debates Around Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann on Jerusalem and “Banality of Evil” Between 1963 and 1964
  6. Something New
  7. Final Research Paper

My Theme

The theme of my portfolio is very straight forward. Not a single story. This is one of my biggest take away from the course. Bearing this idea in mind when discussing about humanities allows me to seek more perspectives. The most intriguing topic for me throughout the course is the opposition between the One and the Other that Simone de Beauvoir discussed in her book The Second Sex. The idea of oneself as “the One” and all others as “The Other” is the most fundamental building block of our cognition in the world. We always approach subjects from the perspective of “the One” and form understanding from our experience. Yes experiences are always subjective, but that doesn’t mean the only experience I have access to is my own experience. I can be a listener, I can see what other’s are experiencing. This for me is what the course is trying to achieve, to let us know that there is more than one single story, and above that, there is not just the One and the Other. Moreover, the One and the Other is not incommensurable. In the course we have explored histories, psychologies, art, philosophies, dances, and so on from different places. Eventually when we tie everything together, we need to first acknowledge that there is more than a single story, but at the same time we are trying to find some common ground, something that can help us be in a different story.

I want to thank the professors that guided me through my exploration in the Humanities discipline—President Carol Quillen, Dave Robb (philosophy), Yurika Tamura (gender and sexuality studies), Anne Wills (religious studies)—and professor Scott Denham (German studies) and Rebecca Fernandez (rhetoric and writing) with their assistance in the revision of paper two. I would also like to thank Mikaila Rummage ’22 and Louisa Bartkovich ’22 for her support during AT sessions and out of class.