Major Spotlight Article: Tess Steele (C’18)


Photo courtesy of Tess Steele’s Facebook

By Katherine LeClair

Contributing Writer


What is the nature of reality? What is more important than finding out how or why we exist? These are fundamental questions Tess Steele (C’18) explores in depth during her studies at Sewanee.


As an Art History and Philosophy double major and a French minor, Steele is an eager student inspired by the enthusiasm of her professors. Her introduction to both of these subjects began with the  completion of her general education requirements and her passion only grew from there.


Without a liberal arts education, her approach to learning would be entirely different. Steele regards her years at Sewanee as ones rooted in the cultivation of a genuine interest towards learning.


“Studying art theory is truly a marriage of my academic passions. French philosophical figures contribute significantly to art theory scholarship, and my french studies allow me to contextualize these movements as part of larger sociopolitical issues, while philosophy has equipped me with a critical eye towards such literature.”


Upon reflecting on her time at Sewanee, Steele said inspiring her love of learning “is one of the things I’m most grateful for this school for doing.”


During the Advent semester of her junior year, Steele studied abroad in France as a way to complete her French minor while studying art history. “It’s so interdisciplinary,” she said. While in Paris, Steele frequently studied artwork in the Louvre alongside her classmates. In regards to this opportunity she remarked, “I never got used to it.”


The intricate intertwinement of logic and the abstract has kept Steele fascinated with philosophy. She ponders philosophical questions outside of class and believes that her dedication to this subject has made her a more intentional speaker and writer.


“Philosophy asks questions that are fundamental to the human experience,” Steele noted, “such as the notion of the self, the existence of God, and the nature of consciousness and perception. These questions resonated with me outside the classroom, and it was this pure curiosity that drew me to the major, much to my surprise.”


She added, “The importance of philosophical issues reach all realms of experience and makes students more critical, a skill that is only proving more important for our generation in the wake of fake news and the epidemic of social media and technology.”


Steele plans to attend graduate school to further her studies in art history, and intends to continue seeking answers to fundamental questions. “I don’t even know what I don’t know,” she said, “but I’m starting to learn.”