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Failing Better

In its first year, Pomona’s Humanities Studio will take as its inaugural theme a line from Samuel Beckett, “Fail Better,” according to its founding director, Kevin Dettmar, the W.M. Keck Professor of English.

Each year the program will bring together a select group of faculty, postdoctoral and student fellows in the humanities for a year of engaged intellectual discussion and research on interdisciplinary topics of scholarly and public interest. Programming will also include visiting speakers, professional development workshops and other community events.

Dettmar said the theme honors the late Arden Reed, professor of English, who spoke on the topic last year. Reed’s career, Dettmar notes, “was anything but a failure. But we will honor his memory by applying ourselves to the twin concepts of failure and its kissing cousin, error—seeking better to understand the uses of failure and the importance of error in the ecosystem of scholarly discovery. Together with the studio director, faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and a group of visiting speakers, writers and thinkers, Humanities Studio undergraduate fellows will take a deep dive into failure, to bring back the treasures only it has to offer.”

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