Tamar Gendler gives keynote address to incoming class

September 10, 2013

Professor Tamar Gendler spoke to the incoming Class of 2017 in Woolsey Hall. Greeting the freshmen as 1360 of “the most amazing and engaging and exciting young people on the planet,” hailing from 49 countries, Gendler went on to tell the history of Woolsey Hall. “You may feel comfortable, even uplifted by the grand, towering, symbol-laden formality of these rooms and halls,” she said; or you may “find it overwhelming, even intimidating: You may feel the exclusionary weight of Yale’s massive wooden doors and its heavy iron gates; you may feel discomfort navigating an unfamiliar place imbued with the markers of traditional privilege.” Invoking a Jewish saying, Gendler urged the students to be comfortable in vacillating between those feelings. Every human being, she said, “should carry in their pockets two pieces of paper: on one of them you should write the words ‘For my sake was the world created’. On the other you should write: ‘I am but dust and ashes’.” YaleNews has published a transcript of Professor Gendler’s speech here.