Archives for August 2013

American Cancer Society Honors Thomas Keating ’78

Thomas Keating '78. Image courtesy: American Cancer Society.

Thomas Keating ’78. Image courtesy: American Cancer Society.


The American Cancer Society turned 100 in May 2013, and as part of the commemoration, is featuring stories of 100 people who have either impacted — or been touched by — ACS programs. Oncologist Thomas Keating, a member of the Class of 1978, is among the “ACS 100 Stories of Hope.”

Keating shares the story of receiving a phone call from his parents while at Bowdoin. News that his younger brother had been diagnosed with leukemia set Keating on a course that has made him an important part of the cancer community in Maine. Also doing important work in the effort is Judy Fortin ’83, who works as the American Cancer Society’s national media relations director.

‘Humanities Help Us Better Enjoy, Endure Life’ (New Yorker)

Bookshelf libraryAdam Gopnik, a writer for The New Yorker, laments the ebbing allure of the English major: “The English major is vanishing from our colleges as the Latin prerequisite vanished before it, we’re told, a dying choice bound to a dead subject.”

Even worse are some common defenses for studying English, which come in two varieties: one insisting that English majors make better people, the other that they make for better societies. Neither claim stands up against the historical evidence, Gopnik argues. “Victorian factory owners read Dickens, but it didn’t make Victorian factories nicer.”

Instead, Gopnik says the best reason to offer an English major is because many people like books, and “English departments democratize the practice of reading. When they do, they make the books of the past available to all.”

Gopnik goes on to say that an “entirely utilitarian, production-oriented view of human purpose” is more or less insane. “We cannot merely produce goods and services as efficiently as we can, sell them to each other as cheaply as possible, and die. Some idea of symbolic purpose, of pleasure-seeking rather than rent seeking, of Doing Something Else, is essential to human existence. …We need the humanities not because they will produce shrewder entrepreneurs or kinder C.E.O.s but because…they help us enjoy life more and endure it better. The reason we need the humanities is because we’re human. That’s enough.”