University Community Invited to 14th Annual Humanities Colloquium

August 10, 2020
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On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, the Humanities Council kicks off the academic year with the 14th Annual Humanities Colloquium. In the panel discussion entitled “Things as They Should be? A Question for the Humanities,” distinguished faculty will join Council Chair Eric S. Gregory in a wide-ranging conversation about central issues in our research, teaching, and intellectual life.

Aristotle claims that poetry is more philosophical than history because it depicts not ‘what happens’ but ‘the kind of thing that might happen’; not just ‘things as they are or seem’, but ‘things as they should be’ (Poetics 1451a-b and 1460b).

The colloquium seeks to investigate the disciplinary divisions these claims suggest: in what ways does poetry depict what might or should be? Can literature define expectations and hence become an instrument for social and political change and ethical transformation? Does history not also organize its narratives according to what seems probable or necessary? What are the philosophical stakes of asking how different disciplines depict “things as they should be”?

The following scholars, whose work represents different approaches and historical periods, examine these questions.

The speakers are:

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies; Chair, African American Studies
Title: “As Much Truth as We Can Bear”

Barbara Graziosi
Professor of Classics
Title: “Philosophy, Fiction, Forgery: Insights from a Neapolitan Prison”

Jhumpa Lahiri
Professor of Creative Writing; Director, Program in Creative Writing
Title: “Not should but might: notes of a would-be translator”

Melissa Lane
Class of 1943 Professor of Politics; Director, University Center for Human Values
Title: “Normative Theory and the Perils of Normalization”

Moderated by Eric S. Gregory
Professor of Religion; Chair, Humanities Council

Registration is required for this event. To register and receive webinar link, go to:

Read more about the Humanities Colloquium and past events here.

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