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If you have been reading this blog from the beginning (hi mom!), you might remember a post I wrote with the unnecessarily long title “Pectinatella Magnifica, or Why the Faculty Lecture Series is Worth Your Time.”  I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you haven’t read the entry, that absurd string of words will link you back to it.
I wrote that after attending the first and second of four faculty lectures put on by the Honors College in the fall semester, and I was basically trying to convince everyone to be as enthusiastic about blobs as I was.  Wait, was that it?  Okay, maybe a little, but mostly I was encouraging my fellow students to take an hour or so from our oh-so-busy schedules (more words on that here) to attend the final two Honors Faculty Lectures, and while we’re at it, any other extra learning experiences we might stumble across on the way.
In a prime example of walking the walk, I made it to both of the final lectures last semester, and I am here to tell you that they did not disappoint.  Communications Professor Sut Jhally explained that advertisers are in the business of promising that happiness and satisfaction can only be obtained through their products (don’t believe me?  Next time you watch tv, think about what the commercials are really selling.  Usually, it’s sexy fun or loving family life, facilitated by body spray or cream of mushroom soup).  Professor of Journalism Nicholas McBride reintroduced some of the big names in art and athletics in the past century in the context of intellectual power.  
Wait, you’re saying, I’m a biology major, and this has nothing to do with helping me pass my lab.  I know, just hang in there with me for a second.  

"believe it or not, i can actually draw" -basquiat

Another thing that won’t help you pass your lab, but which I am sure many of you love and make time for (and if you don’t, let’s be honest, you should) is the NBC comedy 30 Rock featuring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.  Over winter break, I decided to rewatch the Christmas special from the third season with a couple of friends.  No spoilers, but at one point in the episode Tracy suggests that a child’s drawing may have been done by Jean-Michel Basquiat.  The first time I watched this episode, the joke went right past me.  This time, though, I was thoroughly amused, because thanks to Professor McBride’s lecture I was aware of Basquiat as a revolutionary artist whose pieces did, yes, sometimes resemble children’s drawings.  
Should you go to the faculty lectures because they will help you understand the jokes in 30 Rock?  Maybe that’s not the primary reason.  But, I mean, it seems like a pretty good reason to me.
P.S. The lecture series is starting again for this semester.  The first one will feature former UMass Chancellor David K. Scott on February 14 at 6:30pm in the Campus Center Auditorium. You should definitely go.


Awesome blog, the Lectures are fascinating! Hope to see you on the 14th in the CC Auditorium!
Thanks for this post, it's great to see you take advantage of all that the University has to offer. Your love of learning will continue to enrich your life long after your academic career is over.
We need more people like you...who really derive a sense of love from learning. We need some sort of college which brings together like-minded students. Maybe we should name it the Commonwealth Honors College. Wait? I think I've found one. This is the reason why I came to UMass. The honors college students I interact with share this same love for learning.
Michelle, Nice post - thanks for taking the time to encourage interest in the lectures. I like the connections you make between private and academic life, and how learning happens when you pay attention.


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