Humanities Salon debuts at First Thursdays Festival with some special animal guests

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The Humanities Salon debuted at the First Thursdays Festival on the Arts Plaza at IU Bloomington on a beautiful September evening. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

Students, faculty and community members filled the stands and tents set up around a corner of Showalter Fountain for Indiana University's first Humanities Salon. Some lined up to receive philosophical clarity at the Department of Philosophy stand, while others waited to pet the adorable chinchilla at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies tent. Representatives from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese salsa-danced in front of their tent as the sun set around the busy festival.

The Humanities Salon was a new addition to the monthly First Thursdays Festival organized by the Arts and Humanities Council.

The salon included stands and tents lined with signs from seven humanities departments and units that had information, activities and conversation intended to generate buzz among guests.

"It's a good way to come and ask yourself what the humanities truly mean," said Anna Groover, an IU student intern for the Arts and Humanities Council.

Clockwise from left: A student holds Ollie, a chinchilla from Zoo'Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo; representatives from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese dance in front of their tent; people listen to a representative from the Department of Religious Studies for an activity at the Humanities Salon. James Brosher, Indiana University

The departments and units involved offered a variety of experiences for festival attendees to participate in. Faculty members manned each of the seven stands, which represented the Department of Comparative Literature, the Dhar India Studies Program, the Department of Religious Studies, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Department of French and Italian.

The Humanities Salon was a lively part of the festival, with guests filling the area and stopping at each stand. At the Department of French and Italian stand, attendees could try their hand at medieval calligraphy; when visiting the Dhar India Studies Program, they could have their name written in different Indian scripts.

Many participants were new to the festival. IU freshman Ali Kumfer expressed her excitement to learn about what IU arts and humanities offer.

"The Humanities Salon gives good exposure to different humanities topics," Kumfer said. "It forces you to go to a booth and learn about a department you wouldn't normally think about."

For Jinju Kim, a first-year master's student, the salon presented a chance to learn about studies apart from her own, especially the language department stands.

"It's a good idea to help you gain knowledge of countries other than your own," Kim said.

The salon also had a passport activity that connected the stands -- participants could receive a stamp from each stand after completing its activity. The first 100 guests to turn in a completed passport received a coupon for free coffee and a doughnut, courtesy of Hopscotch Coffee and Rainbow Bakery.

The Humanities Salon will return for the October and November festivals, with new activities from even more departments and faculty members in the humanities.

The First Thursdays Festival, which began in 2016, is intended to showcase the arts and humanities on campus as well as in the community, while also offering an environment for students, community members, faculty and others to connect with one another. Each festival has its own unique set of music, art and activities on display.