On the first day of ARTH 289: The Dichotomy of Juxtaposition in Decorative Arts, Professor Louise Linda raised several questions to the class. She started by sitting the class down and taking a deep breath in.
“Before we properly begin our studies together,” explained Linda, “we need to address several questions. We cannot truly engage in our academic duties until we define what this course truly is. I would be remiss if I neglected to ask: what is a dichotomy?” As she introduced this question, students nodded and mumbled in agreement. They, too, wanted to truly understand the meaning of “dichotomy.”
“She even started to question what a juxtaposition could mean in the context of our class,” shared Brooke Babble ’27. “In my first year here at Williams, I feel like I’m starting to learn how to think! Professor Linda has changed my life for the better.” She met with Linda for office hours and the two of them engaged in intense discussion. “She just kept asking me questions. Like for a whole hour. After each answer I gave, she said, ‘no. Be more specific.’ She’s pushing me to be better.”
The class gathered at WCMA last week, where Linda shared that the group would not actually be looking at any art. “Until we know what this class is about, we can’t truly analyze any works,” she explained.
“I mean, she’s a genius,” said Seth Bourbon ’25. “We learn so much more from nothingness than from complex and chaotic tangible objects. As students—or rather, uncoverers—of Art History, we must be consistently reassessing and inquiring about the concepts by which we define our lives.” Bourbon, who spoke with Haybale reporters earlier today, was amazed by Linda’s commitment to her discipline. He expressed his amazement that, even today, she asked the class, “what… are the decorative arts even?”
We spoke with Linda today, and she expressed different sentiments. “Okay, I can’t keep this up anymore. I just put words in the title that would make me sound smart and then I was like oh wait I’m teaching a class. I’ve been asking the students SO MANY TIMES and they just won’t tell me.”
Wow, what a brilliant woman willing to redefine terms and understand the ambiguity of the English language. We all can learn so much from her.