Public Lectures and Colloquia

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr at the 10th Annual Humanities Colloquium
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr at the 10th Annual Humanities Colloquium

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

10th Annual Colloquium explores “Citizenship and the Humanities.”

10th Annual Colloquium explores “Citizenship and the Humanities.”

The Council of the Humanities kicks off each academic year with a colloquium featuring our humanities faculty. The 10th annual Humanities Colloquium took place on September 12, 2016, at Aaron Burr Hall.

Speakers included 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.

Past Colloquia

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


Gauss Seminars in Criticism

Indigenous shooting at the Presidential Palace, Brasíia 2014. LM-IndiosPlanalto. Fotografo: Lula Marques

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 be on the electronic distribution list for Gauss Seminars in Criticism, please email Barbara L. Leavey, Program Manager.

This year’s Gauss Seminars in Criticism “Misanthropology: varieties and variations” by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Professor of Anthropology, National Museum of the Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be Tuesday, March 28, 5:00 pm, McCormick 101. This lecture will be telecast before a live audience. Recent actions by the U.S. government at entry points into our country, including airports, have made it prohibitive for our Gauss lecturer to travel here. Please attend this lecture in solidarity with those who cannot enter the U.S. without interrogation or fear of harassment.

Previous Gauss Seminars in Criticism Series


Professor Michael Lesy, Professor of Literary Journalism, Hampshire College

The Photography of History


Belknap Visitors in the Humanities Council

American novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus Toni Morrison was a Belknap Visitor

American novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus Toni Morrison was a Belknap Visitor

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.

2015-16 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


Belknap Global Conversations

Italian writer Dacia Maraini will be on campus in February 2017

Italian writer Dacia Maraini will be on campus in February 2017

The Council is pleased to announce a new Belknap Visitor program to bring 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 both creative (e.g., a reading, performance, or master class) and critical (e.g., a conversation, lecture, or visit to a graduate seminar). This program is intended to encourage new cross-departmental collaborations and to serve as primary support for a multi-department project.

For information on how to nominate a visitor for a Belknap Global Conversation, please email Dr. Kathleen Crown, Executive Director.

Maylis De Kerangal, September 19, 2016

French author of The Heart, Maylis De Kerangal, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen read from and discuss their work, a Belknap Global Conversation, 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.

Dacia Maraini, February 22, 2017

Italian author
Full event details. Presented in co-sponsorship with Princeton’s Creative Writing Program and the Department of French and Italian. 


Eberhard L. Faber IV Memorial Lectures

In Spring 2015, John D. Lyons, chair of the French Department at UVA, gave a lecture on “Montaigne, Experience, and History”

In Spring 2015, John D. Lyons, chair of the French Department at UVA, gave a lecture on “Montaigne, Experience, and History”

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
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • East Asian Studies
  • English
  • 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
Spring 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
Fall 2016 Lecturers
  • 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
Spring 2017 Lecturers
  • John Matthews, Yale University: Lost Monuments of Fourth-Century Constantinople
  • Barry McCrea, University of Notre Dame: Literature and Minor Languages
  • Francesco Erspamer, Harvard University: On Chivalric Science, Honor and duels
  • Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the Polish daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, Europe in Today’s World
  • Valerio Ruiz, filmmaker/screenwriter, Behind the White Glasses
  • Philippe Descola, Collège de France, Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, Making Ontologies Visible: An Anthropological Perspective on Images
Nomination Forms

To be completed by Department Chairs and Humanities Council Program Directors:

Proposal Form

Budget Request


Looking at an Object

A section of Romare Bearden's The Block II

A section of Romare Bearden’s The Block II

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.

Spring 2015

Romare Bearden’s The Block II with Rachael DeLue (Art and Archaeology), Mariana Mogilevich (Architecture), and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (African American Studies).