Philosophically Speaking: My journey as a writer at Wellesley

By Ruoxi Zhu, 2018 Pre-College Immersive Student

I have always been fascinated by philosophy. Since Western philosophy isn’t part
of our high school’s curriculum, I had been looking forward to an opportunity to study
this subject at a liberal arts college during the summer. Wellesley College provided me
with the perfect opportunity through the pre-college immersive program to study
Western philosophy for four weeks! In the course Philosophy of Art, I studied along
fellow philosophy enthusiasts from all over the world, taught by an outstanding
professor while experiencing college life on a gorgeous campus.

Our instructor, Professor Matthes, combined rigor and creativity in his teaching.
Sometimes we had our lessons in the Davis museum and enjoyed artworks while
pondering over the institutional theory of art, offensive artworks, etc. Other times we sat
in a circle and shared our ideas about the assigned reading materials. The class also
featured many intimate and productive discussions. Although generally I am a bit
introverted, I found enough encouragement and support in the Philosophy of Art class to
constantly share my thoughts on anything from the Neo-representational theory to street
art. The class has greatly stimulated my curiosity and pushed me to read beyond the
reading assignments. For the first time of my life, I pulled an all-nighter to find out
everything I can about cultural appropriation through Stanford Encyclopedia of


At Wellesley, I wrote my first philosophy paper about the definition of art.
Throughout the process, I have received a great amount of valuable advice and warm
encouragement from both our writing tutors and Professor Matthes. Our Writing tutor
Rachel not only helped me change the structure of my essay, but also encouraged me
to push further in reasoning and critical thinking. Professor Matthes pointed out the
weakness in my stance, and patiently guided me through the construction of alternative
arguments. When I turned in my first paper, I could feel my hands trembling with
excitement. It was by no means a perfect essay, but the idea of achieving something
academically made me feel empowered and confident.

Throughout the summer program, I fell in love with the nurturing and supportive
Wellesley community. Many beautiful memories have stayed with me: the day we had
our philosophy discussions at the picnic table in front of the Green Hall; the moment I
saw the amazing collections of artist books at the Clipp Library; the night my friend and I
walked around Waban Lake talking about David Hume’s On the Standard of Taste. Like
Professor Matthes had promised, after taking one course I am left with many more
questions-- in a good way. Thanks to One Wellesley Summer, I feel more ready than
ever to ask questions and to challenge previous beliefs, and I wholeheartedly
recommend this experience to any curious minds interested in a summer of exploration.

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