The Public Honors College

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What Is the True Value of a Liberal Arts Education?

Sept. 13, 2011
Press Release #11-135


What is the value of a liberal arts education? More specifically, where does the creative writing class fit within such an education? St. Mary's College of Maryland Professor of English Jeffrey Hammond will tackle these questions during the annual Reeves Lecture at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in Cole Cinema in the Campus Center.

“Owing to budgetary and other pressures, colleges and universities everywhere are increasingly being asked to justify their curricula,” said Hammond. “Courses in the arts are often the most vulnerable to this kind of scrutiny. For example, Sir Philip Sidney, in the first sonnet of “Astrophel and Stella,” advised writers to ‘look in thy heart and write.’ This suggests the capacity for self-expression nurtured by creative writing classes, but do they offer anything else? These courses do give students a taste of what it’s like to be a creative writer, but training them to become creative writers is not a defensible outcome because very few people can make a living doing that.”

Hammond, a St. Mary’s professor since 1990, teaches English and American literature, biblical and classical literature, and nonfiction writing. He has won two Pushcart Prizes, Shenandoah's Carter Prize for Essay, and the Missouri Review Editors' Prize for Essay, and has been cited several times in the Pushcart annual and Best American Essays.

The George B. and Willma Reeves Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts is one of several faculty positions set up by an endowment fund. Appointment to a named professorship is the highest honor a faculty member can receive. George B. Reeves, who grew up in Chaptico, and his wife, Willma, were longtime friends of the college.