The Art of Happiness series enlightens the Lewis community

Noah Slowik, Reporter

Photo by Julia Mach.
Quotes defining happiness can be found all over campus to honor the series.


The theme for this semester’s Arts & Ideas series of faculty lectures is happiness. Presenters will explore possible answers to questions such as what is happiness, what makes us happy or how can we acquire it? According to a flyer for these happiness events, “Lewis faculty from a wide range of disciplines will tell us what scholarship in their fields has uncovered about happiness.”

History department Professor, Dr. Mark Schultz, organized the events and was in charge of inviting presenters to give their lectures. This is his first year organizing a series of presentations after having to fill the shoes of former Lewis history Professor, Dr. Ewa Bacon. Dr. Schultz says that he is very satisfied with the excellent participation from a diverse range of disciplines. “This is the most diverse set of faculty for an Arts & Ideas topic ever,” he said.

The presentations for this semester are already up and running. The first lecture in the series was given by Dr. Mardy Philippian from the English department titled “Happiness in the English Renaissance Theater.” Dr. Philippian analyzed the ways that happiness was represented and define through William Shakespeare’s and Ben Johnson’s plays in the Early Modern English theater.

“A university education affords us a unique opportunity to listen, dialogue and form judgments that will inform the rest of our lives,” said Dr. Philippian. This is just one example of the many insightful presentations that Lewis students can attend this semester about happiness.

The Art & Ideas presentations this semester will have nuanced ways of thinking about a universal topic. There will be discussions from faculty representatives in the fields of psychology, music, business, the sciences and more. Happiness is a concept that comes up in discussion through almost every area of study offered at Lewis.

“In our own time, we tend to define happiness as either an uninterrupted state of well-being, often perpetuated by material comfort and a general lack of concern for needs that exist outside of our own, or as fleeting affective experience that can be generated but not sustained,” said Dr. Philippian. “In early modern England, Shakespeare represents happiness as a mixture affective state and ethical ideal. His plays occupy the conceptual space between the tradition of ancient ethics and the Judeo-Christian religious framework, representing happiness in what Shakespeare scholar Kevin Laam calls ‘a messy variety of forms.’”

For more information about the Arts & Ideas presentations this semester or for a calendar of events, visit

The next presentation will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 2-3 p.m. by Dr. Mike McFerron from the Lewis music department titled “Optimism and Happiness in the Creative Process,” which will discuss the dramatic changes in creative process that led to his first digital sound sculpture.