David Swickard, a history teacher at East Hampton High School, has been awarded his sixth National Endowment for the Humanities summer research grant. A teacher of advanced placement European and world history and an elective on history through film, Dr. Swickard will take part in a four-week seminar on existentialist philosophers at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
The seminar will be led by Professor Thomas Wartenberg, who teaches courses in modern Western philosophy and has written widely on the philosophy of film as well as existentialist thought.
The purpose of the grant program is to support seminars and institutes at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions, so that teachers can study with experts. These opportunities for high school teachers to pursue scholarly interests are aimed at enriching their classroom teaching and reinforcing the commitment to learning that motivated them to become teachers in the first place.
Dr. Swickard’s interest in the seminar was motivated by a demand from his students to develop another film course not limited to history. In his grant application, he said that the seminar might allow him to develop a new course, philosophy and film, focusing not just on the philosophy of film but on how students might use the tools of philosophy to analyze the choices made by the characters in films.
This might prove to be a comfortable way for students to discuss real-life applications of what otherwise might seem to be abstract theoretical principles, Dr. Swickard said.
Dr. Swickard won grants to study the ideas of Adam Smith and Karl Marx at the University of Southern California in 1993, ancient Greek religion and art at the University of California Los Angeles and the Getty Museum in 1995, biographies of Saint Francis in Assisi and Siena, Italy, in 2001, Mozart’s operas in Vienna, Austria in 2003, and Bach’s musical theology in Eisenach and Leipzig, Germany last year.
Dr. Swickard received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Before his 20-year tenure at East Hampton High School, he was the executive director of the East Hampton Historical Society for five years. From 1984 to 2004 he
was a classical music critic for The East Hampton Star.