The new weekly student lecture series “Food for Thought” is quickly becoming popular with students looking for more lighthearted academic perspectives.

Every week, “Food for Thought” features two students who each speak for 20 minutes about whatever he or she would like. The first six speeches have focused on a range of topics that lie outside the Bowdoin academic curriculum. The first series on February 8 featured senior Daisy Alioto’s description of growing up as a Christian Scientist and senior Carl Spielvogel’s musings about President Barry Mills’ plot to create diabetic squirrels. 

Forums are organized by Bowdoin Student Government’s Academic Affairs Committee and held in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. However, it has been so popular that the event has moved from the first floor Chandler Room to the larger third floor Nixon Lounge. 

Vice President of the Academic Affairs Committee Leah Greenberg is pleased about the progress of the series. 

“We’ve had incredible attendance at every single one, and every time people keep coming up saying they want to give a lecture,” said Greenberg. 

During the third event on Monday, Alex Tougas ’14 gave a lecture titled “Growing up as a Greek-American,” and Joe Sise ’14 spoke on “The Evolution of Comic Books.”

Sise’s lecture covered the progression of comic books in American history, which he said was mostly “off the top of my head.” The presentation was accompanied by a slideshow with pictures of comic book covers and characters.

Sise explained that there are ages that comic book aficionados and scholars use to classify the progression of comic books—the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Dark Age and the Modern Age—though the exact times that each age begins and ends are debated within the comic book community. 

Alex Tougas’s lecture on growing up as a Greek American was both funny and informative. 

“I definitely wanted to make it humorous, you know, because this is in many ways a study break and a fun thing.  But I have, I think, some points to be made about Greek culture and Greek values and the lasting importance and influence of Greece on America today,” said Tougas. 

Tougas devoted much of his lecture to the “tightness of the Greek community,” explaining that his family includes “the nuclear family, the extended family and everyone who’s Greek who’s ever existed.” 

In addition to his speech, Tougas showed pictures of his family and of Greece, and excerpts from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  

Tougas explained several Greek customs that might not make sense to students, such as the custom of spitting.

“When I spit on you, consider it good luck,” explained Tougas.

Coincidentally, Monday was Greek Independence Day. The day, Tougas remarks, when Greeks, “in skirts and slippers—don’t ask me how—threw off the yoke of the Ottoman Empire.”
Both Tougas and Sise recommended that others should sign up to give a lecture at the student series. 

“This is awesome. It’s accessible,” said Sise. “Everybody here is really supportive. If you have something that you love, just get up and talk about it. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.” 

Alioto’s speech was based on her investigation into her Christian Science faith after her P.E. teacher insinuated she was part of a cult.

Alioto found that “There are a lot of aspects of being a Christian Scientist that have really benefitted me as a person and as an intellectual and as a Bowdoin student,” she said.

Alioto said that the low-key environment was very appropriate for giving a personal lecture on campus. 

“This was a really precious, self-contained thing,” said Alioto.