Founded in 1805, the Peucinian Society is one of the nation’s foremost literary societies and the oldest student organization at Bowdoin College, hosting weekly disputations concerning statesmanship, culture, and political thought.
The Peucinian Society holds disputations on the third floor of Massachusetts Hall on Thursday nights. Disputations start at 7:45 P.M. and usually last until 11 P.M.
What is a Disputation?
Most disputations focus on a “resolved” statement (such as, Resolved: Capital Punishment is Justified in a Democratic Society). The disputation begins with an introduction from the President followed by a poem chosen by the Poet Laureate. Two speakers (the disputants) then present arguments in the spirit of the resolved statement, one taking the affirmative position, the other the negative. After they are finished speaking, the President will allow attendees to ask clarifying questions and, following that, open up the table for discussion. The discussion takes up the majority of the evening, with a break halfway through. During the break, or peripatos, attendees are asked to pair up with someone they do not know, or someone they disagree with, and take a walk together around the quad. At the end of the disputation, each attendee votes in the “affirmative” or the “negative” regarding the resolved statement and asks a reflective question.