On the first day of class, Paula Trepman is skeptical. Before her is Thomas E. Hill’s 1878 painting Palo Alto Spring, depicting a get-together of the affluent Stanford family on its farm, the future site of the university bearing the family’s name.
First, Trepman and other students in the class silently observe the painting.
Then, while encouraged not to jump to conclusions about the painting’s meaning, they’re led in a discussion. How many figures are in the work? What is the relationship of the figures to each other? What is surprising?
Surely this exercise would be fine for an arts course, but the reason for Trepman’s skepticism: She’s a first-year med student at Stanford.
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