Seminars and Working Groups

The Humanities Council hosts a variety of seminars and conversations, which are announced on this site and on the Humanities Council Calendar. The Council also provides support to groups of faculty who wish to convene for ongoing discussion around a common theme or topic.

Grants are designed to help defray the costs involved in such sessions, including refreshments and clerical assistance. Colleagues who wish to constitute such groups are invited to contact Kathleen Crown, executive director of the Council of the Humanities.

Faculty “Works in Progress” and Book Talks

The Humanities Council will host a new series of faculty lunch talks for the fall—either “works in progress” or published “book talks”—which offer an opportunity for humanities faculty to hear about the work of their colleagues in other disciplines. All events will be held at the Joseph Henry House from 12–1:20 p.m.  Lunch will be provided. Open to faculty, fellows and doctoral students. Space is limited. RSVP to Jeannine Pitarresi.

Fall 2016 Seminars

Work in Progress
Marni Sandweiss, History
The Princeton and Slavery Project: Bulletins from the Front

Book Talk
Tim Leonard, Economics and Humanities Council
Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era

Work in Progress
Clair Wills, English and Irish Studies
‘White Strangers’: Writing an Immigrant History of Post-War Britain

Past Faculty Seminars

Historical Linguistics | Timothy Barnes and Joshua Katz (Classics)

This series of seminars convened faculty for an introduction to historical and comparative linguistics, with an emphasis on the older languages and cultures of the family to which English belongs: Indo-European. The first meeting gave an overview of historical/comparative linguistics and Indo-European studies, explaining how the fields developed and how they are practiced now; the second and third meetings presented a few in-depth case studies.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Legal Cases | Hosted by Peter Brooks, Professor of Comparative Literature

Faculty seminars with Kim Lane Scheppele, Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, in a discussion of the 2005 Aircraft Security Case from Germany; Charles Fried of Harvard Law School, U.S. Solicitor General under President Reagan, 1985-89; and Dirk Hartog, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty and Director of the American Studies Program, on slavery and arson in Long Branch, New Jersey.


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 2017-18
  • Nathan Arrington, Art and Archaeology
  • Elizabeth Davis, Anthropology
  • Donnecha 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.

2016-2018 Director: Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor in Philosophy
Associate Director: Elaine Ayers (History of Science)

Meet the 2016-17 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)
How to Apply

Students apply in the spring of their sophomore or junior years for membership in the following year. (Applications for 2016-17 are now closed.)



Interdisciplinary Reading 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.

Reading, Discussion, and Working Groups

Digital Humanities Reading Group

This year, The Center for Digital Humanities will convene a reading group to explore what the public digital humanities can be. The group is open to all levels of expertise and particularly welcomes those who might be new to the center.

Each week an article or a set of brief readings will be paired with a notable public project or two. Among others, our topics will include: engaging communities, #BlkTwitterstorians, open access, monuments, crowdsourcing, and achieving social justice through memory work.

Meetings will be held on select Wednesdays, 12:00pm to 1:20pm in the CDH (Firestone, Floor B). The first meeting will be on September 27, 2017.  Full list of dates.

Lunch provided. Please contact Jim Casey

Bodies of Knowledge Working Group

The Humanities Council sponsors the new Bodies of Knowledge Working Group whose purpose is to engage faculty, staff, and graduate students in questions around illness, health, and the body from a wide range of viewpoints. 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 intersections of medicine, as broadly defined, and the human. This working group is part of a David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project Grants initiative, which includes a new team-taught course entitled “Medical Story-Worlds.” Meetings will be held from 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Spring 2018
February 15
The Voice of the Patient in Communicative Biocapitalism: Olivia Banner (University of Texas), 16 Joseph Henry House

March 1
Black Gay Men’s Sexual Health, and the Means of Pleasure in the Age of AIDS: Marlon M. Bailey (Arizona State), 16 Joseph Henry House

March 15
Mental Disability and the Works of Rémy Perliot: Jose Alaniz (University of Washington), 15 Joseph Henry House

April 12
Living ‘At Risk’ in the Genomic Age: Ann Jurecic (Rutgers University), 16 Joseph Henry House

April 26
Co-Curating: The Intersection of Art and Medicine: Regina Robbins (University of Nebraska), 16 Joseph Henry House

Fall 2017: Speakers include Princeton faculty and Catherine Belling (Northwestern University), Thomas Couser (Hofstra University), Sandra Harvey (U Memphis)

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 Tala Khanmalek (AMS/GSS) 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.

Schedule for Academic Year 2017-2018

October 5
Speaker: Dr. Serguei A. Oushakine, Professor of Anthropology and Slavic Languages & Literatures, Princeton University
Location: Chancellor Green 103

November 9
Speaker: Dr. F. Nick Nesbitt, Professor of French & Italian, Princeton University
Location: East Pyne 111

November 30
Speaker: Dr. Christina León, Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University
Location: Chancellor Green 103

December 14
Speaker: Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, Professor of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University
Location: East Pyne 111

February 22
Speaker: Dr. Nicole D. Legnani, Assistant Professor of Spanish & Portuguese, Princeton University
Location: East Pyne 111

March 15
Invited Speaker: Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, Columbia University
Location: Chancellor Green 103

April 12
Roundtable Discussion: “Colonialism in the 21st Century: A Humanistic Inquiry”
Location: Chancellor Green 103

May 3
Speaker: Dr. Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
Location: Chancellor Green 103

Read about the 2017-2018 meetings here.

Academic Year 2018-2019

The list of Invited Speakers for the 2018-2019 academic year tentatively includes Dr. Jean Comaroff (Harvard University), Dr. John Comaroff (Harvard University), Dr. Reena N. Goldthree (African American Studies), Dr. Gyan Prakash (History), and Dr. Ann Laura Stoler (The New School for Social Research).

The working group will also hold a lunch conversation for the development of collaborative research projects and a second graduate roundtable discussion.

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

“The Place of Greece” Reading Group

Greece is both a physical location and an imagined space. The gap or continuity between the two has been a pressing question since antiquity, and addressing it an urgent political, theoretical, and aesthetic issue. Over the course of the year, “The Place of Greece” considers the place(s) of Greece, its physical and imaginary landscapes, its generative and confounding potential, the experiences it seems to promise for those who travel there, and the claims it has made and makes on different communities. Why has Greece proven to have such a powerful conceptual geography? How have those who identify as Greek understood their own location in time and space, and how have they in turn been understood by others in relationship to the past and to place? What is the present and future of Hellenism, and where is its place?

“The Place of Greece” is structured as a reading group with regular visits from authors who will lead discussion of their work.  Readings will be pre-circulated.  Please come prepared for intensive discussion of the texts.  Readings will include selections from work by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Stathis Gourgouris, Yannis Hamilakis, Johanna Hanink, Michael Herzfeld, and Allyson Vieira; additional readings will be chosen for the spring by the group.

We will meet from 12:00-1:20 (locations will be announced via email and on the website, Lunch will be served.  Please RSVP to Eileen Robinson (, who may also be contacted with questions.

September 27: Session One. Guest: Johanna Hanink (Associate Professor of Classics, Brown University)
October 19: Session Two.
November 16. Session Three. Guest: Stathis Gourgouris (Professor of Comparative Literature, Columbia University),
December 7. Session Four.
February 22. Session Five. Guest: Yannis Hamilakis (Joukowsky Family Professor of Archaeology and Professor of Modern Greek Studies, Brown University)
March 13. Session Six.
April 4. Session Seven. Guest: Allyson Vieira (Independent Artist and Visiting Lecturer, New York University)
May 2: Session Eight.


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).