Page one: you are here go to page two go to page three go to page 4 Link to Reed Mag  Home next page

The classroom clock says four minutes past the hour, and the students are restless. Professor Pancho Savery appears in the doorway and strolls to the back of the room, where he pulls up a chair. He removes his dark sunglasses. He greets the class in a gentle growl and throws out a couple of questions.

Is the Iliad an anti-war poem? Is Achilles a big baby?

A student raises his hand and declares that Homer is neutral about war, citing the poet’s use of nature similes to describe battle. “He’s saying war is what it is, not good or bad.” A student sitting across the table disagrees: Homer wants to glorify war. Another insists the Iliad is an anti-war satire: “Like M*A*S*H.”

Pancho Savery
Savery mostly sits back and listens, occasionally lobbing a provocative question or topic into the discussion like a hunk of raw meat to hungry young tigers. “Why would Priam sacrifice his entire kingdom on behalf of his sleazy son who stole somebody’s wife?” “What if the whole war is just a big misunderstanding?”

Does the discussion sound vaguely familiar? It should. Savery’s conference class is carrying on one of Reed’s oldest and most venerated traditions: Humanities 110.

A required course for every first-year student for six decades, Hum (pronounced hyoom, of course) is the glue that bonds Reedies not only across campus but also across generations. Hum is a shared intellectual experience for all students, whether they major in physics or classics. The course bookends the four years along with the senior thesis. But if the thesis is a solitary endeavor that culminates a student’s education, Hum is an exercise in community building that sets the foundation for everything that follows

next page

Page one: you are here go to page two go to page three go to page 4 Link to Reed Mag  Home