• Hendrix College

    Wednesday Afternoon Discussions

  • What are they about?

    Conversations in the Liberal Arts happen Wednesday Afternoons (4:10pm-5:10pm) in Ellis Hall. Informal discussions include a variety of topics such as politics, literature, social issues, scientific questions, as well as religion and philosophy.  

    Spring 2024 Schedule

    April 24th

    False Equivalencies and Political Arguments ft. Nathan Duford


    False equivalencies are involved in some of the most classic political thought, e.g. conceptions of justice, in The Republic. They permeate nearly every aspect of political argument today. We will ask, how can or should we respond to them? - Dr.Duford

    False Equivalencies and Political Arguments Wednesday Afternoon Discussion Flyer

    April 16th

    "What Is Islam?" ft. Imam Mohammad Nawaz


    Join us for a discussion with Imam Mohammad Nawaz, currently a full-time Imam and  teacher at the Madina Institute Center for Nonviolence & Peace in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a discussion about Islam. In the context of rampant Islamophobia that has flourished during the conflict, education and awareness are our greatest tools. What is Islam? What does that mean? Knowing the answers to these questions can help us combat misinformation, stereotypes, and biases.

    What is Islam? Wednesday Afternoon Discussion Flyer

    April 10th 

    Is a democratic foreign policy possible? ft. Dr. Thomas Briggs, PHD


    Is foreign policy the realm of elites and experts? To what extent should it be and why? Can foreign policy decision-makers, and their advisors, be held democratically accountable? Can their actions be influenced and informed by public opinion and debate? If so, how would this affect a state’s foreign policy? What would be the wider impact on the international order and world peace? These are “big questions” of international relations, however in this talk I will introduce them through the specific lens of the history of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), an American think-tank founded in the aftermath of World War I to generate public support for the US joining the League of Nations. I shall provide an overview of the rise-and-fall of the FPA (Allen 2023) and discuss my own research into the fascinating life and career of Vera Micheles Dean, the FPA’s Director of Research from 1936-1962, and her vision of building a democratic foreign policy. Using the FPA as an illustrative mid-twentieth century historical case study, I aim to open-up discussion about the ongoing potential and desirability of a democratic foreign policy. Would foreign policy be different (better?) if it was more democratic? What are the new twenty-first century challenges and opportunities to consider? Moreover, is ‘global citizenship’ possible in a world of nation-states or does democracy stop at a state’s borders? 

    April 3rd

    Defining the Liberal Arts: Content, Context, and Purpose


    "As we prepare for the next 150 years at Hendrix, how do we develop a shared understanding of our future as the premier residential liberal arts college in Arkansas? How does our definition of the liberal arts shape that understanding?" - Dr. Karen Petersen, President of Hendrix College

    Petersen Discussion

    March 27th

    Post-Metal Heaviness


    What makes heavy metal heavy? It has been argued (Miller 2022) that the concept of ‘heaviness’ is inarticulable, irreducible, and impossible to define. In this paper, I will argue for an account of the aesthetics of heaviness that is more optimistic. First, I will take as my focus the instrumental post-metal music of bands such as Red Sparowes, Russian Circles, Pelican, and Caspian and will argue that focusing on the progressive variations of the timbral style of bands like these helps us to clarify the phenomena of heaviness. Second, I will argue that we can make progress in developing an account of the aesthetics of heaviness even if we cannot provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the concept of heaviness. Instead, we can conceive of timbral concepts as proxytypes of deformations of the sources of the sound. Third, I will argue that not enough consideration has been given in the aesthetics of heaviness to the following: loudness of amps in live performances; differences between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz guitar timbres; downtuning and low-end resonance of guitars; power and constancy in kick drum pattern; and low end equalizing of kick drum, floor toms, and bass layers. In closing, I suggest ways that an aesthetics of heaviness can be further developed for both sensibility theorists like Sibley (1959) and category theorists like Walton (1970), thereby providing a more optimistic path for the aesthetics of heaviness.

    WAD 0327

    March 13th

    Introducing Philosophy & Religious Studies in the American Public High School featuring Tony Shepherd from Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School (Little Rock, AR)


    As an AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, and Bible as Literature teacher in a public American high school, assisting the move from basically myopic discussions to universally complex ones is taxing but rewarding. As we progress from August to May, we move incrementally through in AP program with additions along the way. Philosophical and religious discussions are typically our focus along with class, race, gender, and language.

    WAD 0313

    March 6th

    Ramadan Discussion, led by Yousef Zonfuly ('24) & Feross Al-Hindi ('24)


    As the month of Ramadan is approaching, engage in a discussion about this holy month with the Hendrix MSA (Muslim Student Association) and other members of the community. Learn about their experiences, share your own, and ask questions!

    Ramadan 2

    February 28th

    "Own Your Power", Rustin Afternoon Discussion, led by Religious Studies professor Dr. Justin Barringer. 


    "We all know Dr. King, but did you know there wouldn't be an MLK as we know him today, no March on Washington, no "Dream Speech" if it weren't for his mentor and friend Bayard Rustin. Recently, Barak and Michelle Obama proudced a film about Rustin and some of his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Join us for a discussion about how Rustin's friendships shaped the Civil Rights Movement and ultimately led to significant Civil Rights legislation, and let us ask how our friendships might likewise change the world." - Dr. Barringer.

    WAD Rustin Barringer

    February 14th

    What is Love?


    Join us for an informal discussion about all things Love led by the Steel Center faculty and ambassadors! Everyone is welcome and refreshment will be provided. 

    What is Love WAD

    February 7th

    A Hermeneutic Approach to Plato's Cave, featuring Nathan "Eric" Dickman, Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Ozarks.


    "I want to show that a close reading of the cave passage reveals it's not about escaping the cave. Instead, it's about returning to the cave and participating in the cave competition with the knowledge that it is the Sun and not the shadows that is the ultimate source of the experience. I use a hermeneutic scaffold of questions concerning what is on the lines of the text, between the lines, behind the lines, and beyond the lines. This scaffold helps us be open to appropriating meanings of the passage in contrast with what I call the "bootstrap and rescue readings" of the cave." - Dr. Nathan "Eric" Dickman

    WAD 0207

    January 31st

    Sodality of Harmless Drudges, featuring The Hendrix Philosophical Society


    Join us for a throwback discussion style that shaped what later became the Steel Center Wednesday Afternoon Discussions. The "Sodality of Harmless Drudges" initiated in 1979, were informal discussions led by Religious Studies and Philosophy Faculty based on grabbing a dictionary and choosing a word. Delighting in the joys of language and discussion they later transformed in to the Wednesday Afternoon Discussions we know today.

    WAD 0131

    January 24th

    Hello Kitty, Kawaii Culture, & Experiences from Japan, featuring Bergen Franklin, HDX '24


    A discussion on life in Japan as a study abroad student through the lens of Hello Kitty and Kawaii culture. 


    Fall 2023 Schedule

    November 29th - CANCELED

    Defining the Liberal Arts: Content, Context, and Purpose, featuring Dr. Karen Petersen, President of Hendrix College


    As we prepare for the next 150 years at Hendrix, how do we develop a shared understanding of our future as the premier residential liberal arts college in Arkansas? How does our definition of the liberal arts shape that understanding?

    November 15th

    Fake News and the Regulation of Speech on Social Media


    In the last few years, many have worried about online misinformation. What moral problems does online misinformation raise? Is "critical thinking" education a solution? What are the ethical costs and benefits of regulating "fake news" on social media?

    Fake News Poster

    November 8th

    The Overlooked Injustices of Adoption


    Examining the intersections among adoption, foster care and the child welfare system more generally, along with the broader connections between these forms of "family policing" and the carceral logic endemic to all of them, I argue that adoption is far from the "win-win" it is often touted to be. 

    Merrit Poster

    November 1st

    Connecting to Nature: Why its Good for You,  Your Community,  and the Planet, featuring Dr. Jennifer Penner, Professor of Psychology  & Dr. Carmen Merrick, Assistant Professor of Psychology 


    Research suggests that connecting to nature can improve individual well-being, community connections, and conservation attitudes and behavior. We’ll review some of this research and then discuss tangible steps that students can take to enhance their connection to nature and engage with their community to promote conservation and sustainability.

     October 25th

    The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians: Steel Center Afternoon Discussion featuring Visiting Scholar, Dr. Esther Mombo


    Kenyan theologian Dr. Esther Mombo discusses her work with the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. This group interrogates how religious traditions, texts, and interpretations impact women while promoting perspectives that empower all genders and justice-loving communities.

    October 18th

    Navratri and Dashain: Celebrating the goodness, featuring Siya Pokharel (’27)


    Navratri, also known as Dashain in Nepal, is the celebration of goodness over evil in Hindu culture. In this discussion, we will learn about the ways in which this victory of goodness is celebrated, as well as the significance behind it. We will also discuss the difference between the celebration in India and Nepal.

     Navratri and Dashain Poster

    October  4th

    Taylor Swift and the Philosophy of Re-recording, featuring Brandon Polite, Assoc. Professor & Chair of Philosophy


    In 2019, Taylor Swift began producing near-duplicate re-recordings of her first six studio albums. One question these so-called “Taylor’s Versions” raise is whether they count as mere instances of the original albums, similar to how my copy of Jane Austen's Emma and yours are instances of the same novel; or whether they are instead distinct from the originals, similar to how the many film and television adaptations of Emma are distinct (though derivative) works of art based on the same story. Polite will argue that Taylor’s Versions are distinct from the original albums. In doing so, he will explore what Swift's  re-recording project tells us about the nature of recorded music.

    September 27th

    The Barbie Movie: Baby’s First Feminism led by Aiyla East and Logan Ingram


    Join us to discuss the newly released Barbie Movie! We will meet to discuss the themes, references, strengths, and weaknesses of the movie as it relates to feminism and reflects the actions of the modern feminism movement. All thoughts and opinions are welcome as we gather to discuss how the movie of the year has influenced and disrupted society. Pink is not mandatory, but highly encouraged! Refreshments will be served.

    Barbie Movie Poster

    September 22nd *FRIDAY DISCUSSION*

    Sam King “Useful Friction” Ellis Hall Exhibitions Opening and Discussion hosted by the Steel Center - This event is free and open to the campus community and the public. Family Weekend Guests Welcome!

    Artist Description

    Useful Friction refers to the tension between intuitive and grid-based visual structures which drives the composition of my paintings, as well as the tension a viewer might feel when engaging paintings that do not represent familiar imagery. We tend to apply our perception for essential purposes: seeking food, shelter, safety, or pleasure, for example. With this habit as a default setting, perception for its own sake (or for some elusive end), might seem indulgent or unnecessary. I recognize metaphor in this contrast. Is a person’s value merely a reflection of their utility within a system, or can it be internally generated?  

    When I paint, I am pursuing meaningful relationships of color, line, shape, and material. My paintings are embodiments of experience: the passage of time, chance, change, and the formation and abandonment of habits. They are the results of a sustained program of improvisation. Paintings might be broken down and recombined over several years, with long intervals of time separating periods of focused work. There is metaphor in this, for me, as well. The self, in my view, is realized in negotiation with its context over time. It is a hub within a wider matrix of constantly changing connections.  

    The concept of useful friction applies as well to my guitar-based audio project, called Untight, in which I overlay harmonies produced using just intonation with the harmonies of standard, twelve tone equal temperament. Sometimes, notes using the two systems are similar enough that the listener would not notice any difference; other times, the notes beat against each other, creating a shimmering, sometimes disorienting sensation that is for many listeners not quite music, but not merely sound, either.

    Sam King Exhibit

    September 13th

    Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, How Jews Have a Sweet New Year, featuring Hendrix Hillel President, Josh Thomeczek


    Hendrix Hillel President Josh Thomeczek is giving a casual introduction to the Jewish New Year and the two holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which give structure for Jews around the world  to have a meaningful and prosperous year. 

    September 6th

    Pluralism about the Liberal Arts


  •  Click here for previous discussions.