2016 was the twentieth anniversary of MIT’s “Pleasures of Poetry,” a month-long course that runs through the MIT Independent Activities Period. Literature professor David Thorburn kicked off the program in 1996. In an MIT web announcement, Thornburn said:
The idea is to convene a diverse community to discuss poetry. Regardless of one’s formal background in literature, poetry should be available to everybody.
MIT is a world-renowned teaching and research institute for technologists, but few know that the institution has also been cited for its work in the humanities. The same announcement reminded readers that
. . . Writing and studying poetry is frequently a path for increasing self-knowledge, discernment, and perseverance — all fine qualities to bring to creative, problem-solving endeavors. In 2015, when MIT was named one of the top three universities in the world for humanities and the arts, MIT President L. Rafael Reif reflected on why the Institute values the arts and humanities traditions, noting that “Humanities and arts teaching is central to guiding MIT students in their growth as human beings who…are prepared to be bold, thoughtful leaders of constructive change.