Author to Address 'Deep Structure of the Arts'

Ellen Dissanayake, an independent scholar who explores the idea that the arts are inherent features of human nature, will deliver the Hogue-Sponenburgh Lecture at 8 p.m. Oct. 9 in Cone Chapel at Willamette University. The event is free and open to the public.

Dissanayake, affiliate professor in the School of Music at the University of Washington, will address "The Deep Structure of the Arts." Linguists and music theorists describe the "deep structure" of language and music, referring to the innate rules followed by speakers of all languages or music's underlying structure of chords and rhythmic patterns. Dissanayake says a similar idea applies to the arts, where the underlying principles of our nature as humans influence the making of our own arts and our responses to the works of others.

Dissanayake's original "adaptationist" or Darwinian approach draws upon the years she lived and worked in non-Western countries, including Sri Lanka, Nigeria, India, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea. She has published three books: What is Art For? (1988), Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why (1992) and Art & Intimacy: How the Arts Began (2000). She has addressed audiences nationally and internationally on biomusicology, human ecology and comparative literature, developmental psychology and other topics.

The Hogue-Sponenburgh art lectureship, established and endowed by the late Janeth Hogue-Sponenburgh and Mark Sponenburgh, enables the Willamette University Department of Art and Art History to bring a noted scholar, artist, critic, curator or art leader to campus each year to deliver a lecture and to meet informally with students and faculty. For more information, contact Andries Fourie at (503) 370-6258 or