Light Inspires the College of Humanities

PROVO, Utah (February 6, 2014)—Quoting Doctrine and Covenants 93:36, John Rosenberg, Dean of the College of Humanities, said, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light.” Light was the inspiration behind everything in the construction of the College, Rosenberg told students and faculty at the English Department’s Identity Wall Celebration.

Rosenberg was referring to the construction of the Joseph Fielding Smith Building (JFSB) – the building that houses the College of Humanities. He wanted to create a building that would allow faculty to work by the light of heaven. And that’s just what happened. Using models of ancient European universities and cathedrals, the building was constructed to give every faculty member’s office a large window, creating an atmosphere illuminated by natural light.

The design went beyond just large windows. Influenced by a Tokyo publishing house, large glass sheaves were given to each department to showcase important texts for their particular field.

For the English department, picking just a few quotes for the glass mural was no easy task. Sirpa Grierson, an associate professor of English, said they received many submissions from faculty members but they eventually pared it down to 28 quotations, even though the recommendation was to select less than a dozen. But the quotations show a rich legacy of light within literature.

After the English department’s Identity Wall was finalized, Phil Snyder, English Department Chair, wanted something to recognize the beauty and intelligence behind each of the chosen quotes. He went to Grierson and the English Society for help.

The result of that help is Etched in Glass, Illuminated by Light. The booklet is 28 essays written by English students, reviewed by professors in the College, and published to recognize the inspiration behind the English Department’s Identity Wall.

Grierson said, “The process of working with students and faculty to create Etched in Glass, Illuminated by Light highlights the fruits of collaboration between students and faculty. It also extends a metaphorical web of light to future generations who share our passion for words.”

For English Society President, Tara Piña, the project had significant meaning. “It was an honor to not only work so closely with faculty, but to help memorialize the project in this booklet. Suddenly the JFSB transformed from just a building where I spend my time to a building with rich history and meaning.”

Snyder called the effort a “beautiful, collaborative project,” and told the students that Etched in Glass, Illuminated by Light was a legacy to share with others.

For more information about the English Department’s Identity Wall and Etched in Glass, Illuminated by Light, visit the department’s website at english.byu.edu.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley BA’ English ’14

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