Liberal Arts

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I can’t stop thinking about Liberal Arts [2012], a film by actor and director Josh Radnor that I watched last Thursday night. It’s a really simple but perfectly pitched comedy-drama.

Jesse Fischer [Radnor] is a 35-year-old college admissions officer from New York City who loves literature and language. His deep nostalgia for his own student life in Ohio – the dining halls and dorm rooms, the parties and poetry seminars – makes him wonder if his best days are behind him.

So when his favorite professor [Richard Jenkins] invites him back to campus to speak at his retirement dinner, Jesse jumps at the chance. Meeting Zibby [Elizabeth Olsen] – a precocious classical music-loving sophomore – awakens in Jesse long-dormant feelings of possibility and connection. The film unpretentiously confronts important questions about growing up, growing old, of learning and turning knowledge into experience.

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Whilst researching this post I began exploring the idea of Liberal Arts Colleges and was surprised that I actually didn’t know what one was. Despite having European origins Liberal Arts Colleges are most established in the United States.

They are generally prestigious colleges that offer wide-ranging, interdisciplinary university education geared towards the arts, music, literature and debate – and designed to shape inquiring minds and send students out into the world with something more than a narrow vocational training – to “produce a virtuous, knowledgeable and articulate person”. Sounds like the perfect education.

With that rich premise in mind, my main reason for this post was of course the interiors and design elements of this lovely film.

I fell in love with the film’s location set on a quintessential American University campus with green and sprawling lawns dotted with historic buildings designed to inspire learning. The characters exist within light and airy dorm-rooms painted in pastel hues and decked out with bright accessories from the likes of Urban Outfitters. Charming coffee houses with tartan seats, sparkling bookshops and clean student bars all populate this nostalgic world. We also get a look inside the on-campus homes of professors piled with books and art and have a mid-century, arts and crafts vibe.

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Author: Rohini Wahi

Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.

She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at mail@rohiniwahi.com

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  1. […] Most recently I fell in love with the film’s location set on a quintessential American University campus with green and sprawling lawns dotted with historic buildings designed to inspire learning. The characters exist within light and airy dorm-rooms painted in pastel hues and decked out with bright accessories from the likes of Urban Outfitters. Charming coffee houses with tartan seats, sparkling bookshops and clean student bars all populate this nostalgic world. We also get a look inside the on-campus homes of professors piled with books and art and have a mid-century, arts and crafts vibe. Read More Here. […]

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