Insight Seminars foster relationship between University and community

Steven Shankman@@[email protected]@, director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue@@ conducted a seminar on the poems of Rembrandt on the Hebrew Bible@@[email protected]@ in the Knight Library Monday evening.

Shankman was the guest speaker of the Knight Library-sponsored Insight Seminars, seminars that occur approximately every two weeks that seek to foster the connection between the University and the Eugene community.@@[email protected]@

“These are continuing education for the whole community to bring out the work of all the amazing scholars we have here,” Shankman said.

Shankman began his talk by describing the style of poetry that he specialized in, ekphrastic poetry@@[email protected]@, which he explained as a tradition of “describing a work of art with the art of words.”

Shankman presented seven of his poems throughout the night, which followed this tradition and related to the paintings of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, a 17th-century Dutch painter@@

The large majority of his poems had a biblical theme. Shankman focused on events that Rembrandt had depicted from the Old Testament, including Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac and Moses with the tablets of the law.

Prior to the reading of each poem, Shankman read the biblical passage that Rembrandt used as inspiration for each of his paintings or drawings.

The seminar ended with a Q-and-A session where Shankman fielded an array of questions, ranging from his interpretations of the Rembrandt paintings, the historical relevance of the pieces and the steps he takes prior to composing a poem.

Lechao Tang, a University Judaic studies major,@@[email protected]@ has been familiar with Shankman’s work for several years and has a deep appreciation for his insight and interpretations of classical works.

“Steve is very deeply into the Hebrew Bible,” Tang said. “His interpretations of the paintings are very eye-opening to me. A lot of the paintings are very famous, but there are many details we have neglected before … his readings helped me to pick up on them.”

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