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Exploring the origins of self-expression

March 4, 2019 by Renee Fischer

Shane Butler is exploring the long past of a very familiar idea

Butler, who is the Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor in the Humanities at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, explains:

“Part of what I work on is self-expression, which is neither a modern idea nor an ancient idea, but something in between. It was actually in the Renaissance that, as far as we know, the very first person wrote the words, ‘I express myself.’”

In his work with Latin texts, Butler is examining the human experience from antiquity through the Renaissance. His exploration of the past is enabling a deeper understanding of the ancient world, as well as our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with our environment.

“When you open yourself up to the ways in which people in other times and places framed a problem, you may find yourself re-conceptualizing what the problem itself is and how you might go about solving it.”

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