As the academic year comes to a close, here is a look back at some of the highlights from 2022-23 at the Humanities Council.
The Council welcomed faculty, scholars, and visitors, who supported the Council’s mission to nurture the humanities locally and globally, engage diverse perspectives past and present, and enrich public dialogue with humanistic approaches. Tera W. Hunter (History and African American Studies) was named Acting Chair of the Humanities Council for the 2022-23 academic year.
The Council’s 16th Annual Colloquium, “Humanities and/as Choice,” took place Thursday, September 8, 2022. Humanities Council Acting Chair Tera Hunter (History and African American Studies) welcomed the large crowd to the first in-person Colloquium since 2019. Catherine Clune-Taylor (Gender and Sexuality Studies), William Chester Jordan (History), Rob Nixon (English and High Meadows Environmental Institute), and Stephen F. Teiser (Religion) spoke on their fields of study in relation to the theme, framing the interdisciplinary dialogue.
A Belknap Global Conversation
On September 23, 2022, the Humanities Council hosted a Belknap Global Conversation with award-winning director and screenwriter Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, and Princeton faculty Anne Cheng (English), Steven Chung (East Asian Studies), Thomas Hare (Comparative Literature), and Gavin Steingo (Music). The event was co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Program in East Asian Studies, the Committee for Film Studies, and the Princeton Public Library.
The public conversation was part of a weeklong residency featuring class visits, a mini retrospective of Hamaguchi’s more recent films, and a series of workshops with Princeton students, who developed and produced short films.
Gauss Seminars in Criticism
The Council’s Gauss Seminars in Criticism presented two distinguished scholars this year, who each held a public lecture and a lunch seminar open to the University community.
Renowned Black feminist scholar Hortense Spillers (Vanderbilt University, emerita) presented the Fall 2022 Gauss Seminars. On October 25, 2022, she delivered a lecture entitled “Ethics and the Everyday,” which examined the role of ethics in today’s world. She also presented a seminar on October 26, 2022, titled “Women and the Laws,” where she explored Le Code Noir, an infamous edict by King Louis XIV, that established the terms of enslavement in the French colonies.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Columbia University) presented the Gauss Seminars in Spring 2023. The globally renowned literary theorist and activist delivered a lecture on April 4, 2023 titled “My Brother Burghardt,” where she examined the relationship between W.E.B. Du Bois’ final autobiography and his final fiction. On April 5, 2023, Spivak led the seminar “The Long Shadow of Du Bois” which focused on the transactional nature of reading and how that has affected her scholarly work.
Old Dominion Lectures
The Humanities Council hosted a lecture series featuring the 2022-23 Old Dominion Research Professors, a yearlong program designed for senior faculty, which provides additional research time and opportunities to enhance the humanities community more broadly.
Events (pictured below) included “The Less Selfish Gene: Forest Altruism, Neoliberalism, and the Tree of Life” from Rob Nixon (English and High Meadows Environmental Institute) on November 16, 2022; “‘The Harvest Indeed is Great, but the Labourers are Few’: Strangers in the Medieval Countryside” with William Jordan (History) on February 8, 2023; and “The Buddhist Wheel of Rebirth: Painting and Performance, Then and Now,” presented by Stephen F. Teiser (Religion) on February 28, 2023.
Acting Chair of the Humanities Council Tera Hunter (History and African American Studies) and Rachael DeLue (Effron Center and Art & Archaeology), represented the University in Washington, D.C. for Humanities Advocacy Day on March 20, 2023. Along with colleagues from other local universities, Hunter and DeLue met with New Jersey congress members to advocate for federal funding for the humanities.
Courses and Break Trips
The Humanities Council offered a range of courses in the 2022-23 academic year. With a strong grounding in interdisciplinary study, these innovative courses offered hands-on experience of material culture and artifacts, often taking students outside the traditional classroom setting.
During fall and spring breaks, Princeton students were able to enrich and internationalize their coursework as they traveled abroad with University faculty and administrators on Council-sponsored trips. Seven unique interdisciplinary trips—to Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain—provided undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of their studies, see course materials up close and in person, and strengthen the ties between the humanities and the present moment.
Grants for Innovation and Collaboration
The Humanities Council awarded grants supporting innovation and collaboration to 28 projects led by more than 50 Princeton faculty and scholars from across 33 academic departments and programs in the academic year 2022-23.
This year’s grants (pictured below) included course enhancements for the undergraduate course “Siegecraft: Architecture, Warfare, and Media,” taught by Carolyn Yerkes (Art & Archaeology); a three-day landmark symposium exploring the work of Toni Morrison, from Autumn Womack (African American Studies and English) and Kinohi Nishikawa (English and African American Studies); and support for the ongoing project, Art Hx: The Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism, which welcomed New York City-based artist Nate Lewis as Artist-in-Residence for 2022-23.
Council Program Special Events and Co-Sponsorships
The Council’s academic programs held several special events during the year, and the Council provided co-sponsorship for a host of humanities-related programming, including conferences, workshops, lectures, performances and reading groups.
Events (pictured below) included a Faber Lecture featuring author Edouard Louis presented by the Program in European Cultural Studies; a Program in Medieval Studies welcome lecture with David Nirenberg (Institute for Advanced Study); a lunch talk with Shahzad Bashir (Brown University) sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities; a panel discussion from the Program in Journalism on immersion reporting with Nadja Drost (Journalism), Kathryn Edin (Sociology and SPIA), Andrea Elliott (Journalism), and Rena Lederman (Anthropology); and a Tlingit art symposium co-sponsored by the Princeton University Art Museum, the Fund for Canadian Studies, and the Council’s Land, Language, and Art Global Initiative.
During the 2022-23 academic year, the Council awarded 24 Flash Grants to 41 faculty members, staff, and students. The projects supported researchers in developing innovative forms of collaboration and advancing interdisciplinary ideas beyond the University.
Flash Grants (pictured below) included a collaboration between Hanna Garth (Anthropology) and Marisol Gómez-Mouakad (filmmaker) who created the first chapter of a documentary film on Puerto Rican fisherpeople; a project that devised algorithms to prototype the design and fabrication of felted architecture, led by V. Mitch McEwen (Architecture); and a digitization project conceived by Maria Alessia Rossi (Art & Archaeology) and Pamela Patton (Art & Archaeology) which supported a Ukrainian scholar whose work was disrupted by the war.
Congratulations, Class of 2023!
The Humanities Council awarded 71 undergraduate certificates and 7 independent concentrations to seniors across five Council programs—the Program in European Cultural Studies, the Program in Humanistic Studies, the Program in Journalism, the Program in Linguistics, and the Program in Medieval Studies.
Congratulations to all our students and thank you to our faculty!
Lisa Kraege contributed to this story.