The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. […] Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
-C.S. Lewis, “An Experiment in Criticism”
Mars Hill provides an incredible opportunity for speakers to explore art and media in a critical and empathetic way, a skill seemingly on the way out in popular culture. The shape of popular discussion, blighted by shameless advertisement and immersed in social media attention-seeking, favors the “hot take” of angry didacticism over mature discussion. Mars Hill can be a small, potent antidote, challenging speakers to seek out the shared humanity (or the neglect of it) at the root of their assigned topic.
To that end, I’m offering a one-week discussion intensive on 30 different Mars Hill topics, where we will look at not just what the various authors said, but how they said it. By looking at both form and content (and by rejecting the false dichotomy between the two) we can better try to truly understand others, ourselves, and the world. Through these discussions, students will not just learn about 30 pieces of media, they’ll also learn how to approach the process of thinking about media in general.