The Humanities Council hosts and sponsors a range of public lectures to further scholarship across the Humanities disciplines. Below is a listing of our key programs.
For specific upcoming lectures, please see our Calendar of Events.
Annual Humanities Colloquium
The Humanities Council kicks off each academic year with a colloquium featuring our humanities faculty.
12th Annual Humanities Colloquium 2018: “Capturing the Human”
On Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 4:30 PM, the 2018-19 Old Dominion Professors, Michael Flower, Simon Gikandi, Kim Lane Scheppele, and Sean Wilentz, will participate in a panel discussion on the topic of “Capturing the Human.” The colloquium will be moderated by the Chair of the Humanities Council, Eric Gregory. Event details here.
11th Annual Humanities Colloquium 2017
“Is There Progress in the Humanities?” Featuring Jeremy Adelman who gave the keynote titled “Engaged Humanities and Global History”; Anthony Grafton; Thomas Kelly; Marina Rustow; and Eric Gregory (moderator). Read the story here.
10th Annual Humanities Colloquium 2016
Featuring Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies who spoke on “Democratic Virtue and #BlackLivesMatter”; Lital Levy, associate professor of comparative literature; and Tracy K. Smith, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts; among other faculty from across the humanities. Read the story here.
Ninth Annual Humanities Colloquium 2015
Featuring Rachael DeLue (lecture), Denis Feeney, Bernard Haykel, Alison Isenberg, AnneMarie Luijendijk
Eighth Annual Humanities Colloquium 2014
Featuring David Bell, David Bellos, Miguel Centeno, Imani Perry, Denis Feeney, Susan Stewart (lecture)
Seventh Annual Humanities Colloquium 2013
Featuring Jeff Stout (lecture), Rachel Bowlby, Irena Grudzinska Gross, Melissa Lane, Jonathan Levy, Gideon Rosen
Named in honor of Dean Christian Gauss, The Gauss Seminars in Criticism were instituted in 1949 to provide a focus for discussion, study, and the exchange of ideas in the humanities.
Several seminars are held annually. The seminars may take different forms, but traditionally they have been conducted by guests invited to present material upon which they are working. Past seminar leaders have included Erich Auerbach, Hannah Arendt, W. H. Auden, Noam Chomsky, Roman Jakobson, Elaine Scarry, Joan Scott, and Raymond Bellour. Faculty and graduate students from Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the community at large participate in each seminar.
If you would like to receive news and announcements about the Gauss Seminars in Criticism, please email Barbara L. Leavey, Program Manager.
2018-2019 Gauss Seminars in Criticism
Previous Gauss Seminars in Criticism
Catherine Malabou: Epigenetic Philosophy
Catherine Malabou, Professor of Philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, as well as Professor in Comparative Literature and European Languages and Studies at the University of California—Irvine, and fellow at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee.
Werner Hamacher: In Memoriam
Participants: Giorgio Agamben, Ian Balfour, Susan Bernstein, Yve-Alain Bois, Peter Fenves, Aris Fioretos, Christopher Fynsk, Rodolphe Gasché, Eva Geulen, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Neil Hertz, Carol Jacobs, Tom Keenan, Jean-Luc Nancy, Avital Ronell, and Hent de Vries.
A Symposium on Hegel and Humanities
Participant speakers: Andrew Cole (Princeton University), Molly Farneth (Haverford College), Kristin Gjesdal (Temple University), Jeremy M. Glick (Hunter College), Anjuli Raza Kolb (Williams College), Robyn Marasco (Hunter College), Katrin Pahl (Johns Hopkins University), Russell Sbriglia (Seton Hall University), Chad Wellmon (University of Virginia). Organized by Andrew Cole and Joshua Billings.
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Professor of Anthropology, National Museum of the Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Michael Lesy, Professor of Literary Journalism, Hampshire College
The program of Belknap Visitors was created to recognize distinguished individuals in the arts and letters. Belknap Visitors spend an intensive day on campus. Past visitors have been Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nadine Gordimer, Roy Lichtenstein, Athol Fugard, Doris Lessing, John Updike, Edward Albee, Czeslaw Milosz, Carlos Fuentes, Frank Stella, Robertson Davies, Peter Sellars, Arthur Miller, Merce Cunningham, Harold Pinter, Adrienne Rich, Maurice Sendak, Wim Wenders, Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Twyla Tharp, Ricky Jay, Toshiko Takaezu, Meryl Streep, Roz Chast, Alice Waters, David Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Rich, and Maya Lin.
For information on how to nominate a Belknap Visitor, please email Dr. Kathleen Crown, Executive Director.
2015-2016 Belknap Visitors
Marcel Ophuls, Academy-award-winning filmmaker, Spring 2016
William Kentridge, multimedia artist, Fall 2015
2014 Belknap Visitor
Andrew Solomon, writer and lecturer on psychology, politics, and the arts, Fall 2014
This Belknap Visitor program brings distinguished writers, artists, and scholars to campus for events that bridge “arts and ideas” in a global context. The program aims to provoke dialogue on a theme of broad interest in the realm of arts and letters and that will cut across disciplinary boundaries and world regions.
Visitors whose work has global reach will engage a cross-disciplinary audience from approaches that are practice-based or creative (e.g., a reading, performance, or master class) as well as critical (e.g., a conversation, lecture, or visit to a graduate seminar). This program is intended to encourage new cross-departmental collaborations and to encourage interdisciplinary conversation and disciplinary innovation.
For information on how to nominate a visitor for a Belknap Global Conversation, please email Dr. Kathleen Crown, Executive Director.
2018-2019 Global Conversation
Humanitarian Photojournalism: A History of the Present: A public conversation and work shop on October 18 & 19, 2018, focusing on the history of photojournalism and its relationship to humanitarianism.
A panel of distinguished photojournalists including Peter van Agtmael, Sim Chi Yin, and Susan Meiselas, Visiting Belknap Fellow in the Humanities Council and Department of English, discussed the history of photographic reportage, especially reporting of war and atrocity moderated by Katherine Bussard, the Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography at the Princeton University Art Museum.
The following day, historians, art historians, critics, and photojournalists addressed questions such as: What were the connections between the rising importance of photo-reportage and the rise of global humanitarianism? Were they allies, enemies, or simply coincidences? Can the relationship have had a history, connected to European decolonization, to development, and to shifting practices of visual production and circulation in the global media?
The workshop was be moderated by Jeremy Adelman, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Global History Lab.
2017-2018 Global Conversations
The Moral Economy: A work shop and conversation on April 6 & 7, 2018 led by Jeremy Adelman(History) and Samuel Moyn (Yale) to discuss the idea of moral economy from the eighteenth century to the present. The keynote will be given by Michael Sandel (Harvard).
Jenny Erpenbeck and Deborah Amos: A reading by German author Jenny Erpenbeck from her book, Go, Went, Gone was followed by a conversation with Deborah Amos, Humanities Council’s Ferris Professor of Journalism.
2016-2017 Global Conversations
Dacia Maraini, Jhumpa Lahiri and Alessandro Giammei : A reading by award-winning writer and activist Dacia Maraini in Italian followed by a conversation with faculty members Alessandro Giammei and Jhumpa Lahiri. Co-sponsored with Princeton’s Creative Writing Program and the Department of French and Italian.
Maylis De Kerangal: French author of The Heart, Maylis De Kerangal, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen read from and discussed their work. Presented in co-sponsorship with Princeton’s Creative Writing Program, with additional support from the Program in American Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, and the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication.
Since 1963, eminent writers, critics and scholars have come to campus through this program endowed by the Faber family and members of the Class of 1915. Each literature department and program may propose one visitor each year.
The gift of Eberhard L. Faber IV is intended to support lectures, colloquia, workshops and discussions in the field of literature. We define “literature” broadly to include such topics as criticism, history, theory, and the relation of literature to society, technology, and the other arts. The Humanities Council especially welcomes proposals for innovative formats and events that might not readily be accommodated as regular departmental lectures.
Departments and programs eligible for Faber Lecture support are:
- American Studies
- Center for Digital Humanities
- Comparative Literature
- East Asian Studies
- European Cultural Studies
- Film Studies
- French and Italian
- Germanic Languages and Literatures
- Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities
- Italian Studies
- Judaic Studies
- Medieval Studies
- Near Eastern Studies
- Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
- Slavic Languages and Literatures
- Spanish and Portuguese
- Study of Late Antiquity
Requests for Faber Lectures should be submitted before formal invitations are extended. It is particularly important to check possible dates against the Humanities Council calendar or by calling (8-3690) or emailing. The Council does not typically fund proposals that conflict with other related events.
The total contribution for an individual event may amount to $3,500, although not all events will require the full amount. An invitation to a younger scholar and/or a nearby guest would normally entail fewer expenses. Departments may supplement Faber grants with their own funds. Here are the expenses to be covered:
- Economy fare transportation from home campus (or the last campus visited) to Princeton. Departments are encouraged to share these expenses with other institutions.
- Honoraria (typically $500 for younger scholars; $1,000/$1,500 for senior visitors)
- Meals and lodging
- Posters and advertisements
- Verena Lepper, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: The Neues Museum of the Berlin Museum Island – Highlights and recent discoveries from the Egyptian Papyrus Collection
- David Peterson, language creator: The Art of Language Invention
- Amy Richlin, UCLA: Blackface and Drag in Early Roman Comedy
- John Matthews, Yale University: Lost Monuments of Fourth-Century Constantinople
- Barry McCrea, University of Notre Dame: Language Change and Social Class in the Novel – Proust, Ó Cadhain, Ferrante
- Francesco Erspamer, Harvard University: On Chivalric Science, Honor and duels
- Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the Polish daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza: The Glory and Poverty of the ’68 Generation
- Valerio Ruiz, filmmaker/screenwriter: Behind the White Glasses
- Philippe Descola, Collège de France: Making Ontologies Visible: An Anthropological Perspective on Images
- Murray Smith, University of Kent: Putting Transparency in its Place
- Emily Greenwood, Yale University: Seeing Citizens: re-reading the ring of Gyges’ ancestor in Plato’s Republic
- Mary Favret, Johns Hopkins University: Coefficients of Disaster
2015- 2016 Lecturers
- Jon Whitman, Hebrew University: Encountering Scripture in Overlapping Cultures: Early Jewish, Christian and Muslim Strategies of Reading and Their Contemporary Implications
- Clare A. Lees, King’s College London: Life Classes From Anglo-Saxon England: Three Studies in the Self
- Alexander Zholkovsky, University of Southern California: “Who Organized the Standing Ovation?”: Stalin, Akhmatova, and Shakespeare
To be completed by Department Chairs and Humanities Council Program Directors:
The Council’s “Looking at an Object” series creates interdisciplinary panel discussions with faculty from across the University, who bring a variety of approaches to a single object of study.
Romare Bearden’s The Block II with Rachael DeLue (Art and Archaeology), Mariana Mogilevich (Architecture), and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (African American Studies).