Faculty Lecture Series at Williams College Continues with Bernie Rhie

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 23, 2018—The Faculty Lecture series will continue on Thursday, March 1, with Bernie Rhie, associate professor of English, who will present “Zen and the Art of American Literature.” The talk will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, Thompson Chemistry, and will be followed by a reception in Schow Atrium. It is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Rhie will discuss the surprisingly deep (and growing) influence that Buddhism has had on American literature and culture. After beginning with an overview of the history of that influence (from the American Transcendentalists’ interest in Buddhist texts to meditation apps that can be downloaded to our smartphones), Rhie will focus on a few different cultural domains in which Buddhist practices and ideas have been especially transformative: Western psychotherapeutic ways of thinking about the “self”; environmentalism and deep ecology; and Western attitudes towards death and dying. He will also touch on the promising role that Buddhism has begun to play in the fight against racism and racial injustice.

After arriving at Williams in 2005, Rhie received tenure in 2011. He teaches courses on modern literature and culture and on the connections between philosophy and literature. His courses range from traditional genre surveys to interdisciplinary seminars that investigate a particular topic (like time or the human face) by integrating the study of literature, philosophy, art, religion, and even developmental and cognitive psychology. Courses he has taught at Williams include: Introduction to the Novel, What is a Self?, The Ethics of Fiction, Time-Consciousness in Modern Literature and Philosophy, Asian American Literature, Wittgenstein and Literary Studies, and The Human Face in the Modern Imagination. Next year, he will teach a class called Zen and the Art of American Literature, which will explore writers and issues discussed in his faculty lecture.

Rhie received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. He began formal Zen practice at the age of 18, when he moved in 1989 to the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center (SMZC), a Soto Zen temple in Santa Rosa, Calif. He lived and studied at SMZC for three years before beginning his college education. He now practices Zen under the guidance of Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton at the Zen Center of San Diego.

The Faculty Lecture Series will continue on March 8 with Bernhard Klingenberg, professor of statistics, who will present “How to (Not) Lie With Statistics.”


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map