Upcoming Events

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Marianne Hirsch

Daniel Weiss’s In That Time tells the story of the American experience in Vietnam through the life of Michael O’Donnell, a bright young musician and poet who served as a soldier and helicopter pilot. O’Donnell wrote with great sensitivity and poetic force, and his best-known poem is among the most beloved of the war. In 1970, during an attempt to rescue fellow soldiers stranded under heavy fire, O’Donnell’s helicopter was shot down in the jungles of Cambodia. He remained missing in action for almost three decades. Weiss will talk about O’Donnell life and legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death and the war in Vietnam more generally.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Complex Issues: The Assistant

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Assistant follows one day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, who has recently landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant's—making coffee, changing the paper in the copy machine, ordering lunch, arranging travel, taking phone messages, onboarding a new hire. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she, and we, grow increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her work day, an accumulation of degradations against which Jane decides to take a stand, only to discover the true depth of the system into which she has entered.

Xiaolu Guo presents her work in words and film, and draws connections to her own life, in conversation with Carol Gluck. Xiaolu Guo is a British Chinese novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her memoir, Nine Continents, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography in 2017.

Popular Kinematics: Book History Colloquium

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Media historian Lisa Gitelman considers the history and organization of knowledge through the biography of Henry T. Brown’s 1868 book 507 Mechanical Movements

Book launch and panel discussion for Martha Graham’s Cold War: the Dance of American Diplomacy by Victoria Phillips

Join our invited writers for a discussion of Shange’s place in this and other collectives. Where does literary organizing fit into histories of Black feminist activism? What lessons can these earlier groups offer young women today about organizing and cultivating artistic communities? And how can they claim space for radical voices?

Staceyann Chin and Alexis Pauline Gumbs will be joined in conversation with Kaiama L. Glover (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French and Africana Studies, Barnard College). 

The Amônia River runs near the border of Brazil and Peru, where both indigenous Ashaninka people and white settlers live in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo. Produced by the Vídeo nas Aldeias collective, Antonio and Piti explores the love between a Peruvian-born indigenous man and the daughter of Chico Coló, a white rubber tapper soldier. The film tells the story of their community-led reforestation project and the pressures of a predatory and extractive economy

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Mariusz Kozak

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Stephanie McCurry

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Wenzel

A conversation with author Petina Gappah

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Petina Gappah is a widely translated Zimbabwean writer. She is the author of two novels, Out of Darkness, Shining Light; The Book of Memory; and two short story collections, Rotten Row and An Elegy for Easterly. Her work has been short-listed for the Orwell Prize, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN/Open Book Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and the Prix Femina (etranger), among other honors. She is the recipient of the Guardian First Book Award and the McKitterick Prize from the Society of Authors. A lawyer specializing in international trade and investment as well as a writer, Petina currently lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Extinction Thresholds Symposium

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

As both a conceptual category with purchase across academic discourses and a material reality at once hyperpresent and historically entrenched, “extinction” is a rich site for timely interdisciplinary interventions. This event brings together a group of writers and scholars whose work explores extinction—both human and nonhuman—at its critical intersections with gender, sexuality, and race. Our speakers will take up questions related to the literary, political, ethical and ontological dimensions of extinctions past, present and future. Among other topics, we will discuss the centrality of extinction to the making of colonial America; the entanglement of environmental imperialism and indigenous oppression; the representation of Black precarity in post-apocalyptic speculative fiction; and the prospect of mothering at the end of the world.

The “colonial turn” considerably transformed the field of French history and led to the publication in the last 30 years of a large number of scholarly contributions concerned with the cultural, political, legal, and social aspects of French colonialism. Meanwhile, the political economy of the French colonial empire has received far less attention. The 2008 financial crisis triggered renewed interest in the history of capitalism and economic history more generally, and we are now witnessing the effects of these changes in the field of French colonial history. This conference thus seeks to bring together a new generation of historians and economists who have recently published, or are about to publish, important contributions to the economic history of the French formal and informal empires. The conference does not seek to celebrate the “return” of concerns that were central in the 1970s but rather to better delineate the contours of a new momentum.

The New Humanities Faculty Salons

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Please join Division of Humanities Dean Sarah Cole in welcoming our newest colleagues from across the division.  Hosted by the Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences and co-sponsored by the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, the New Humanities Faculty Salons are an opportunity to meet the six new faculty members joining Columbia during the 2019-20 school year.  They will share their new research over drinks and snacks, opening conversations across the wider Humanities community.  All interested faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend. 

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Book Launch for Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis, with responses by Vanessa Agard-Jones and Thomas Page McBee

Bernardine Evaristo and Marlon James, two celebrated authors who have recently won the Man Booker Prize, join Kaiama Glover in conversation. 

Palestine Writes Literature Festival

Friday, March 27, 2020 - Sunday, March 29, 2020

Palestine Writes will be the first major festival dedicated to the celebration of Palestinian literature in the United States. In New York City, from March 27-29th, 2020, Palestine Writes will bring together writers, artists, publishers, booksellers, and scholars to hold conversations about art, literature, and the intersections between culture, struggle, and politics.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Claudia Breger

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Justin Clarke-Doane

Marina Warner is a writer of fiction, cultural history, and criticism.  Her study of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic (2011) won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and a Sheikh Zayed Book Award. In 2015, she received the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, Professorial Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Distinguished Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and  President of the Royal Society of Literature. Recent books include Once Upon a Time: A short history of fairy tale and Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists. She has just finished Inventory of a Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir, about her childhood in Cairo, and is writing a study of the concept of Sanctuary.  She has been working, in Sicily and the UK, with the project www.storiesintransit.org, since 2016.

Award-winning director Kurt Orderson and co-producer Najma Nuriddin will participate in a panel discussion following a screening of “Not in Our Neighborhood” (2018), an award-winning documentary on the intergenerational stories of how ordinary citizens respond to the policies, process, and institutions driving contemporary forms of spatial violence and gentrification in São Paulo, Cape Town, and New York. In telling these contemporary urban stories through the activist voices that are emerging to reclaim the right to shelter, the film offers a global critique on the current politics of space and casts the so-called Global South as particularly radical in offering modes of resistance to the social injustices afforded by the built environment.

New Irish Fiction

Friday, April 3, 2020

Irish writers have long been at the forefront of formal experimentation in English-language fiction. Now, almost a hundred years after James Joyce and Samuel Beckett shattered expectations of the conventional novel, Irish writers are asking new questions about what fiction is capable of doing. Their works represent remarkable innovations in the representation of subjectivity, identity, and time in fiction. They are also deeply attuned to politics, writing in the wake of the global economic downturn, the collapse of the moral authority of the Catholic church, the Good Friday Agreement, and the creation of new forms of identity in Ireland. This panel brings together some of the most widely acclaimed and adventurous Irish writers of the twenty-first century to discuss the way forward for Irish fiction in a time of migration, right-wing populism, and increasing demands for gender, racial, economic, and climate justice. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Kevin Fellezs

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Eliza Zingesser

This panel uses examples drawn from early modern and modern European history to explore new directions for using sexuality as an analytic category in intellectual history. Drawing on current research in the histories of the book, of scholarship, and of educational institutions, Paul Babinski, Benjamin Bernard, and Emily Rutherford—collaborators in the ongoing project Histories of Sexuality and Erudition—survey the roles of sexuality in the conditions of knowledge-making in three historical moments: among German Orientalists in early modern Istanbul; in the collèges of Enlightenment Paris, and in modern British universities. As an introduction, Alan Stewart will reflect on this field of inquiry since the publication of his Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (Princeton UP, 1997). Camille Robcis will provide comment, placing these efforts in the context of the field of intellectual history today.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Lena

This Public Humanities environmental walk will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by exploring the history of the Harlem River as it manifests itself on-site. The Harlem River has been shaped by tide patterns and climate change, and like the Hudson River, it contains a legacy of toxic pollution. Despite the fact that the Harlem River is a man-made river—New York City engineers rerouted its channel—most people who live along the river have no access to the waterfront. This walk, free and open to the public, will spatially explore the ways people have been disconnected from the river and the role river history, and a public humanities approach to the site, can play in rebuilding the connections between people and their river.  By engaging the river’s wide public and staging an interdisciplinary conversation about the river’s histories of disconnection—with walkers experienced in urban planning, climate change, photography, and community activism—we will come away with an inclusive and compelling history of the Harlem River that may begin to draw new connecting threads to its publics.

Beethoven’s Literary Afterlife

Monday, April 20, 2020

How did Beethoven influence the other arts? And how did literature shape the composer’s reputation? In an exploration of Beethoven’s literary afterlife through the lens of chamber performance, this event will examine the formation of a musical legacy. The event will feature faculty lectures by professors Nicholas Dames (Columbia), Arden Hegele (Columbia), and Nicholas Chong (Rutgers), as well as a performance of Beethoven’s violin sonata no. 7 (Op. 30, no. 2) by Chad Hoopes and Anne-Marie McDermott.

M. R. James: The Demon in the Library

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Widely recognized during his own lifetime as the pre-eminent Anglophone codicologist, M. R. James spent much of his life in libraries.  His scholarly output, over a period of some forty years, was prodigious, and at the heart of it is the series of descriptive catalogues he produced of the manuscript holdings of various libraries and collections.  He also wrote ghost stories, as a kind of imaginative surplus or byproduct of the formal scholarship, to which they are intimately connected.  This talk will discuss James’s many libraries, and the horrible things he found lurking in them.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Deborah Paredez

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Urban environments and infrastructures play crucial roles in defining and mediating health. From the effects of metropolitan experience on mental health to the medical apartheids construed through urban segregation, from the healing or toxic powers of high-rise building to the invisible networks of care or contagion afforded by high density living, health is as much a problem of the polis as the city is a category of modern medical history. The contemporary crises of public health and urban inequality, moreover, only put further pressure on the ways in which architectural and urban design inform the economics, sciences, politics, and public experiences of health. Hosted under the joint auspices of the Explorations in the Medical Humanities and a new Public Humanities Initiative at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, this conference brings scholars from across the humanities, social sciences, and medicine to share their research on the intersections of health, policy, and the built environment.

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