Reading and Discussion Groups

The Council supports a range of discussion groups and workshops. Past initiatives have included the “Classical Literature Workshop” and the “Avant-Garde Workshop.” The Interdisciplinary PhD Program in the Humanities hosts a number of graduate-initiated reading groups.

Current groups are forming in Comparative Antiquity, Textuality and Reading Practices, and Medical Humanities.

Faculty and graduate students who wish to constitute such groups are invited to contact Kathleen Crown,, executive director of the Council of the Humanities, with a proposal.

For more information on funding and logistical support for reading and discussion groups, please get in touch with Council staff.

Interdisciplinary Working Groups

Translating Antiquity

“The news in the Odyssey is still news,” the American poet Ezra Pound famously wrote—but how does the news reach us? The history of translation of classical texts is intertwined with the history not just of the text being translated, but also of the languages and cultures it is translated into. How do theories and practices of translation, past and present, impinge on our contemporary engagement with Greek and Roman texts, whether we read them in translation or in the original? How indebted are we to ancient theories and cultures of translation? What, if any, unique problems do ancient texts present for the translator, and what forms may the translation of antiquity take beyond the strictly textual? How does the “classical” become “postclassical”?

Over the course of the year, we will be thinking critically about a variety of issues surrounding the translation, broadly conceived, of ancient works, including: ancient practices of translation; the generative or stunting participation of translation in discourses of nationhood, gender, and race; the trope of the “untranslatable”; the adaptability or transformation of a single work for different audiences (students, scholars, theatergoers); and the pedagogical role of translation.

“Translating Antiquity” is structured as a reading group with once-a-semester visits from authors who will lead discussion of work that is in progress or recently completed. Readings will be pre-circulated. Please come prepared for intensive discussion of the texts. Though we hope for participants’ regular attendance, we encourage everyone in the Princeton community who is interested in a given session’s topic to attend.

All sessions meet 12:00 PM – 1:20 PM in East Pyne. For further information, visit:

Organized by Yelena Baraz and Katerina Stergiopoulou

Academic Year 2018-19

September 26
What do we do when do we translate
Karen Emmerich (Comparative Literature)
Readings from her Literary Translation and the Making of Originals

October 17
Ancient translation practices
Readings from Denis Feeney & S. Rebecca Martin

November 14
Homer in English
Readings from: George Steiner, ed., Homer in English

December 5
Ladies’ Greek
Readings from Yopie Prins, Ladies’ Greek

February 20
Translation nation
Readings from Gonda van Steen & Josephine Quinn

March 13
Translation in performance
Peter Burian (Duke University)

April 10
Translation and pedagogy
Readings from Lawrence Venuti

May 1
Translating philosophy
Michael Wood (English and Comparative Literature, Emeritus)
Readings from Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon

Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by email to Eileen Robinson at

Bodies of Knowledge Working Group

The Humanities Council sponsors the Bodies of Knowledge Working Group whose purpose is to engage faculty, staff, and graduate students in questions around embodiment from a wide range of viewpoints including the medical humanities, disability studies, art history and aesthetics, and environmental studies in the Anthropocene. In particular, the group hopes to foster intellectual partnerships with those within and beyond the humanities who share a critical interest in exploring and expanding the multidisciplinary conversations surrounding bodies, their environs, and their representations. Meetings will be held on select Thursdays from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM, and lunch will be served. Please RSVP to Mara Muslea (

Academic Year 2018-19

October 11
Julia Vaingurt (University of Illinois at Chicago)
‘Enjoy your Symptom!’: An Artist’s Guide to Psychosis in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools.

December 13
Natalie Prizel (English, Society of Fellows)
Crip Heroes of the British Empire

February 7
Ryo Morimoto (Anthropology)
Radioactive Phantoms and the Politics of Exposure in Coastal Fukushima

February 28
David Bond (Bennington College)
Talk TBD

March 28
Zoë Wool (Rice University)
Talk TBD

April 4
Henrietta Mondry (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Zoopsychology and Pavlovian Models in Child Upbringing and Service Dog Training in Soviet culture, 1930s

April 11
Nikolai Krementsov (University of Toronto)
Telepathy and Mind Control in Bolshevik Science and Fiction, 1917-1930.

May 2
Irina Sirotkina (Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow Higher School of Economics)
Art as Bodily Knowledge: Practice and Theory

If you would like to be included in the list of participants, are interested in presenting your work-in-progress, or have any programming inquiries, please contact Elena Fratto (Slavic) at or Natalie Prizel (ENG/SOF) at

Postcolonial Humanities Working Group

Faculty, staff, and graduate students are invited to participate in a new Postcolonial Humanities Working Group, sponsored by the Humanities Council. Aligned with Princeton’s commitment to service, the purpose of this new working group is to generate a space for Princeton faculty, staff, and graduate students to analyze recent research from Postcolonial Studies and to collectively brainstorm possibilities for scholars of the humanities in terms of engagement with service, activism, and interdisciplinary research on the repercussions of imperial history.

Read about the 2017-18 meetings here.

Academic Year 2018-19

September 27, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff (Harvard University)
Location: Chancellor Green 103

October 18,  12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Lunch Conversation on Postcolonial Collaborative Research
Location: Chancellor Green 103

November 15, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Reena N. Goldthree (African American Studies)
Location: Chancellor Green 103

February 18, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Ann Laura Stoler (The New School for Social Research)
Location: Chancellor Green 103

March 7, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Gyan Prakash (History)
Location: Chancellor Green 103

April 11, 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM
“Innovative Pedagogical Approaches to Postcolonial Humanities” Faculty Roundtable Discussion
Location: Chancellor Green 103

Faculty members, staff, or graduate students interested in joining the Postcolonial Humanities Working Group should email  Dannelle Gutarra Cordero at

Historical Poetics Reading Group

Historical poetics is a way of working through various ideas about poetry: what it is, how to read it, and how these ideas have changed over time. These are theoretical as well as historical questions, especially in the nineteenth century, a period of rapid development of historicisms, prosodic systems, and the global spread of English. The Historical Poetics reading group considers how nineteenth-century Anglophone poetry borrows from, appropriates, or imitates non-English poetry at the same time that such translation and assimilation formed the basis of the academic discipline of English. The 2019-20 year will focus on “Poetry and its Others” as a broad theme. For more information on the reading group, see

In 2019, the group will meet on October 18 and 23. The group will also attend a Historical Poetics conference at the University of Texas at Austin on November 7 to 10.  For those interested in joining the group, please contact Meredith Martin at

Past Reading, Discussion, Working Groups

Graduate-Initiated Reading Groups

American Higher Education: Its History, Culture, and Challenges

This monthly Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Workshop series will take a long view of American higher education, framing its problems and prospects in historical terms. The workshop is offered to 15 graduate students from across thirteen humanities departments.

Inventory: Literary Translation Project

The group seeks to examine the art and practice of literary translation through collaborative workshops and through the publication of an annual journal.

Theory Reading Group

In this workshop, theoretical texts will be chosen based on their interdisciplinary content and their immediate relevance to the present, within but also beyond the academy.

Contemporary Poetry Colloquium

The Graduate Colloquium on Contemporary Poetry brings together practicing poets and scholars from Princeton and beyond in a series of events aimed at exploring poetry in the present moment.

Intersections Working Group

Intersections is a working group committed to promoting the interdisciplinary study of race, gender, class and sexuality in literature and cultural studies.

Psychoanalysis Reading Group

This is a forum where graduate students and faculty can gather to discuss recent research in the context of the history of analysis, as theory and practice.

Readings in Capitalism and History

At RICH seminars, graduate students have begun to define a global, interdisciplinary vision of the ‘History of Capitalism.’

Reception of Ancient Philosophy

We welcome the participation of philosophers, classicists, historians, Syriacists, Arabists, Hebraists, medievalists, early modernists, and anyone interested in the history of thought—students and faculty.

Decoloniality Graduate Reading Group

This discussion group reads hermeneutically along contemporary ethnographical, anthropological, and theological traditions.

Reading Group of Biographical Writing in Early China

This interdisciplinary project focuses on fundamental questions related to life writing in antiquity (ca. 1000 BCE-220 AD).

Behrman Faculty Fellows

Wendy Belcher is an associate professor of African literature

Wendy Belcher is an associate professor of African literature

Princeton faculty promoted to tenure in the humanities are invited to spend two years as Behrman Fellows. The program is designed to recognize exceptional humanists as they enter the ranks of the senior faculty and to provide a forum for conversation and collaboration across disciplines. Fellows receive summer support and come together monthly for lunch-time seminars.

Behrman Fellows for 2018-19
  • Lucia Allais, Architecture
  • Nathan Arrington, Art and Archaeology
  • Emmanuel Bourbouhakis, Classics
  • Marshall Brown, Architecture
  • Donnacha Dennehy, Music
  • Karen Emmerich, Comparative Literature
  • Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Brian Herrera, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Paize Keulemans, East Asian Studies
  • Joshua Kotin, English
  • Federico Marcon, East Asian Studies
  • Michael Meredith, Architecture
  • Yair Mintzker, History
  • Moulie Vidas, Religion
  • Wendy Warren, History
Behrman Fellows for 2017-18
  • Nathan Arrington, Art and Archaeology
  • Elizabeth Davis, Anthropology
  • Donnacha Dennehy, Music
  • Katja Guenther, History
  • Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
  • Federico Marcon, East Asian Studies
  • Sarah McGrath, Philosophy
  • Michael Meredith, Architecture
  • Teresa Shawcross, History
  • Moulie Vidas, Religion
  • Christy Wampole, French and Italian
Behrman Fellows for 2016-17

Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows

Juniors and seniors who are committed to the study of humanistic inquiry meet formally once a month during term to discuss and debate matters of common interest in the company of a few members of the faculty and distinguished guests. Additional events are scheduled throughout the year.

2018-19 Director: Jeff Dolven, Behrman Professor in the Humanities Council; Professor of English; Acting Chair, Department of English

Associate Director: Kimberly Bain, English

Meet the 2018-19 members

Guests have included:

  • President Shirley Tilghman
  • Professor Bill Bialek (Physics)
  • Professor Michael Cook (Near Eastern Studies)
  • Professor Rubén Gallo (Spanish & Portuguese Languages and Cultures)
  • Professor Bill Gleason (English)
  • Professor Constanze Güthenke (Classics and Hellenic Studies)
  • Professor Maria DiBattista (English and Comparative Literature)
  • Professor Ann Blair (History, Harvard University)
  • Professor Thomas Laqueur (History, University of California at Berkeley)


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