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14th Annual Humanities Colloquium

September 9, 2020 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · Webinar


“Things As They Should Be? A Question for the Humanities”

The Humanities Council kicks off each academic year with an interdisciplinary Colloquium featuring humanities faculty.

Open to the University community. Advance registration required; space limited.

Zoom registrationClick here

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.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (African American Studies)
“As Much Truth as We Can Bear”

Barbara Graziosi (Classics)
“Philosophy, Fiction, Forgery: Insights from a Neapolitan Prison”

Jhumpa Lahiri (Creative Writing)
“Not should but might: notes of a would-be translator”

Melissa Lane (Politics)
“Normative Theory and the Perils of Normalization”

Moderator: Eric S. Gregory (Religion; Chair, Humanities Council)

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