Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tim Quinn, '11: Studying French literature, student gains appreciation for the liberal arts

Tim Quinn leading the
2009 Atlantic 10 Conference
Cross Country Championships.

Below is an article on senior Cross Country, Indoor Track & Field and Outdoor Track & Field team member Tim Quinn…written by the University of Richmond Communications Office and reposted here...

Quinn will graduate next spring with a double major in Political Science and French...He is also a team captain for the Cross Country, Indoor Track & Field and Outdoor Track & Field teams...Quinn has earned 1st team A-10 All-Conference honors for Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field and Cross Country...He has also earned A-10 All-Academic Team honors several times and has helped lead the men's Track & Field and Cross Country teams to NCAA All-Academic Honors, extending the tradition to 8 consecutive years.

Tim Quinn

Tim Quinn, '11

Studying French literature, student gains appreciation for the liberal arts

October 21, 2010

Tim Quinn, ’11, enrolled in an introductory course in French literature with Professor Lidia Radi, he had no clue that he would find fiction so interesting. Though the French major had taken language courses before, he found the course's literature component particularly fascinating.

Quinn enjoyed the class so much that when Dr. Radi asked him if he would like to spend the summer conducting research alongside her, he found it impossible to refuse.

Quinn applied for and received a summer research fellowship from the School of Arts & Sciences to fund his project, “Education in Rabelais’ ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’”. He researched educational themes in Renaissance-era French literature, spending most of his summer on campus but taking a short trip to Paris before the fall semester began.

While Quinn primarily focused on Franois Rabelais’ “Gargantua and Pantagruel,” a series of five novels written in the 16th century, he also analyzed the works of Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato as well as Rabelais’ contemporaries Montaigne, Marguerite de Navarre and Pico della Mirandola.

He examined how Rabelais used the failed educational experiences of his protagonists, Gargantua and Pantagruel, to contrast the backwards and overspecialized learning of the middle ages with the new, liberal arts education of the Renaissance. Through this, Quinn gained a better understanding of the evolving idea of education during the Renaissance.

“When we focus only on one specialty, we become blind to the diversity of life around us,” Quinn said. “When we study languages, natural sciences, business, governance, literature, art, religion and just about everything in between, as Rabelais suggests, we understand human experience in a crucial way. We become better people through our understandings of others.”

A double major in political science and French, Quinn says his research has lead him to believe the humanities and social sciences are more related than he initially thought. Literature and politics can be connected in terms of human experience; concepts from fictional literature can develop into real-world policies.

Quinn plans to study public affairs, communication or language studies at the graduate level in order to pursue a career in public policy, and hopes to one day work for an international organization.

He believes that his liberal arts education will help him achieve his goals, and says that his study of Rabelais’ teachings made him better appreciate a liberal course of study.

“After three years of study, only now do I fully realize that a liberal arts education is not here to endow us with skills that will make us ‘employable,’ but rather its main purpose is to allow us to mold ourselves into better people, which in turn makes us better employees and citizens.”

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