On Monday, October 20 at 5 p.m., Kwame Anthony Appiah, a renowned philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist, will present the Humanities Forum, “The Honor Code.” The event is the Daphne Harrison Lecture and will take place in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building Theatre.
Philosophers spend a lot of time thinking about what is right and wrong, and some time thinking about how to get people to see what is right and wrong—but almost no time thinking about how to get them to do what they know is right. Anthony Appiah has spent the last decade thinking about what it takes to turn moral understanding into moral behavior. In this talk, he will explore one of the keys to real moral revolution: mobilizing the social power of honor and shame to change the world for the better.
Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at New York University. He previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Ghana. He is the President of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization and is second vice-president of the Modern Languages Association. In 2012, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by The White House.
The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the Philosophy Department; the Africana Studies Department; and the Global Studies Program. For more information, click here.
On Monday, October 13 at 4 p.m., Arvind Krishna Mehrotra will present the Humanities Forum, “Translating the Indian Past: The Poets’ Experience.” The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.
Mehrotra, one of India’s most celebrated contemporary poets and an acclaimed translator of Indian literature, will talk about how three important Indian poets (Toru Dutt, AK Ramanujan, and Arun Kolatkar) translated the Indian classics. Translation is never simple, but these Indian translators added to their translations many strands, giving their work the feel of a multicolored rope. Toru’s translation of a Purana story would be unthinkable without her Christianity; Ramanujan’s translations of Sangam poetry, Nammanlvar, and the Virasaiva poets without Modernism; and Kolatkar’s of the Marathi bhakti poets without the American idiom, which he sometimes employed in his own poems as well. While these translations bring past and present together in the ongoing construction of India’s literary heritage, they also lead us to ask broader questions: Are the Indian poet-translators exemplars of ‘world lit.’ or do they bring a particularly ‘Indian’ perspective to translation; or is it both?
The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the Asian Studies Program; the English Department; the Global Studies Program; and the Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication Department. For more information, click here.
On Thursday, October 2 at 4 p.m., Faith Hillis, an assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago, will present the Humanities Forum and Webb Lecture, “Children of Rus': Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation. The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.
During the recent crisis in Ukraine, Russian national interests in Ukraine became front-page news. In this talk, Prof. Hillis places the struggle for control of Ukraine in a broader historical context. The nineteenth century saw a powerful and transformative Russian nationalist movement sweep across what is today central Ukraine. Claiming to restore the ancient customs of the East Slavs, the region’s Russian nationalists sought to empower local Orthodox residents and to diminish the influence of non-Orthodox minorities. By about 1910, Russian nationalism had become the preeminent political force in central Ukraine, dwarfing the influence of rival national movements; indeed, the region boasted the most politically successful Russian nationalist movement in the entire tsarist empire.
Reconstructing how and why Russian nationalism took hold on the empire’s southwestern periphery, Prof. Hillis puts forth a bold new interpretation of the relationship between state and society and between center and periphery under tsarism. By examining how intellectual developments in the nineteenth century created the architecture for the horrific violence of the twentieth, this discussion reflects on the causes of and offers potential solutions for the current crisis in Ukraine.
The event is sponsored by the History Department and by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. For more information, click here.
Samuel Kerstein presents, “Dignity and Disability,” on Wednesday, April 9 at 4:00 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.
Samuel Kerstein (Ph.D., Columbia University) is professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research focuses on Kant’s moral philosophy, normative ethics and bioethics. Several of his current projects stem from his book, How to Treat Persons (Oxford, 2013). He is developing a Kantian conception of the dignity of persons and is exploring its implications for issues in bioethics, including the fair distribution of scarce, life-saving resources and moral constraints on medical research.
Admission to this event is free. The annual Barker Lecture is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and co-sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. For more information, click here.
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures
On Tuesday, April 1, writer, photographer and artist Michael Benson presents, “The Aesthetics of Astronomy: A Subjective Look at Cosmographical Depictions Through Time,” at 5:30 p.m. in the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture.
Benson presents a retrospective look at the visual legacy of space exploration, covering fifty years of space travel, from the American Mariner probe fly-by of Venus in December 1962 to the latest images from the Mars Rover. His images are not so much otherworldly as abstract, modernist creations of lush imagination.
Benson works at the intersection of art and science. A photographer, writer, filmmaker, book-maker and exhibitions producer, in the last decade he has staged a series of increasingly large-scale shows of planetary landscape photography internationally. Benson takes raw data from NASA and European Space Agency archives and processes it, creating large-format landscapes. He edits, composites, frequently mosaics and then finally optimizes these images, producing seamless digital C prints of landscapes beyond direct human experience. He is also an award-winning filmmaker, with work that straddles the boundary between fiction and documentary practice.
Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and is co-sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts and the Department of History. For more information, click here.
On Tuesday, March 25, author Lawrence Weschler presents, “The Fraught Crossroads: Where Class, Race, Sex and Violence Converge across American History,” at 4:30 p.m. on the 7th floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
Using assemblage artist Edward Kienholz’s harrowing 1970 lynching tableau Five Car Stud as a point of departure, Lawrence Weschler explores the ways in which race has served as the radioactive core of American history, continually warping the potential for ordinary class-based politics and accounting for all manner of perverse American exceptionalisms (the subject of Weschler’s current work-in-progress).
Lawrence Weschler was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Literary Award (1998).
Admission to this event is free and it is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. It is co-sponsored by the American studies department and the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.
Additional information can be found here.
“The Loving Story” is a moving documentary film that tells the story of the Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in the 1967 landmark Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. The film was directed by Nancy Buirski and produced by Nancy Buirski and Elisabeth Haviland James.
The “Loving Story” will be screened Monday, February 10 from 12-1:30 p.m. in the Gallery in Special Collections at Albin O. Kuhn Library. It is free and open to the public.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion the next day with historian Claudrena Harold. Harold is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia. She recently co-directed a short film titled “Sugarcoated Arsenic,” which explores African American social, political, and intellectual life at the University of Virginia during the 1970s.
The panel discussion takes place Tuesday, February 11 at 4:30 p.m. in the Gallery in Special Collections at Albin O. Kuhn Library. It is free and open to the public.
The screening and panel discussion are part of the Created Equal Project of the National Endowment for the Humanities public programming initiative. The program encourages public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America.
The event is sponsored by the Africana Studies department, Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, Dresher Center for the Humanities, Gender and Women’s Studies department, Office of Student Life’s Mosaic: Center for Culture and Diversity, and the Department of Visual Arts. For more information, click here.