Upcoming Events

The Caine Prize for African Writing is a literature prize awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English. The prize was launched in 2000 to encourage and highlight the richness and diversity of African writing by bringing it to a wider audience internationally. The focus on the short story reflects the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition. Columbia University will host the 2018 Caine Prize winner, Makena Onjerika, for her short story ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ published in Wasafiri (2017).

Transnational Feminist Futures

Monday, March 25, 2019

On March 25, 2018 from 4:15-6:16 pm,  IRWGS will bring together scholars and activists for our annual Transnational Feminist Futures roundtable conversation on transnational feminist theorizing and activism. This roundtable will feature Professors Laura Briggs (UMASS-Amherst), Paige West(Columbia/ Barnard College), Amina Mama (UC-Davis), among others.  Participants will explore the ways that transnational feminist theorizing and practices transform and reimagine contestations over issues such as human rights, constructions of patriarchies, and inclusionary/exclusionary practices of race, sexuality, and class.  

Founded in 1919 in the name of academic freedom, the New School for Social Research quickly became a pioneer in adult education—what its first president, Alvin Johnson, called “the continuing education of the educated." During the 1920s, the New School became the place to go to hear famous people lecture on politics, the arts, and recent developments in new fields of inquiry such as anthropology and psychoanalysis. In 1933 Johnson opened the University in Exile within the New School, providing visas and jobs for nearly two hundred refugees fleeing Hitler. And through these exiled scholars, he re-created in miniature the great intellectual traditions of Europe's imperiled universities.

The Committee on Equity and Diversity (CED) in Arts & Sciences will celebrate the life and work of Professor Marcellus Blount in Agents of Change: A Symposium in Honor of Marcellus Blount, on Low Library, Rotunda and Faculty Room, Tuesday, March 26, 1:00-4:30 pm. Speakers will include George Aumoithe, Sarah Cole, Zinga Fraser, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Jack Halberstam, Ellie Hisama, Jean Howard, Dennis Mitchell, Robert O’Meally, Rebecca Pawel, Richard Sacks, James Shapiro, Joseph Slaughter, Alan Stewart, Kendall Thomas, and Maya Tolstoy. This afternoon symposium will recognize Professor Blount's research, teaching, mentoring, and activism, and will feature a panel and a roundtable. Lloyd Knight, Principal Dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company, will perform at the event.  

13/13 Seminar Series
11/13 | ASSEMBLIES

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

This year’s 13/13 seminar series will take this problem as its task: to buck centuries of contemplative complacency and return praxis to its proper place in the order of things. In doing so, the seminar will strive to address the most critical question today: What is to be done? And what exactly is critical praxis today?

Lipstick Lobotomy imagines the playwright’s great aunt Ginny and JFK’s little sister Rosemary Kennedy meeting at an exclusive high-end sanitarium for women in the fall of 1941. Ginny is desperate to be friends with the charismatic and stylish Rosemary and is not satisfied with the talk therapy at the Institute and pressures her doctors for more aggressive treatment. Meanwhile, Rosemary, forced into the institute by her famous family because of her intellectual disability, keeps trying to escape. Their friendship blossoms as Ginny tirelessly pursues increasingly aggressive medical intervention.  

This program is sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality With support from the Office of the EVP for Arts & Sciences, Columbia University School of the Arts, The Society of  Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Classics at Columbia University

The boundary between the humanities and quantitative social sciences has become permeable lately. But principled doubts about the humanistic significance of numbers can’t be dispelled by terms like “big data” that seem to point at the sheer speed and scale of computers. This talk will instead explore the interpretive assumptions that underpin statistical models, using examples drawn from the history of fantasy and science fiction to show how machine learning can be used to model specific historical vantage points and measure the parallax between perspectives. It is getting easier to move between qualitative and quantitative disciplines, I will argue, not because data is big, but because practices of statistical modeling have quietly drifted toward humanistic theories of interpretation.

Ovidius Philosophus

Friday, March 29, 2019 - Saturday, March 30, 2019

An international conference on philosophy in Ovid and Ovid as a philosopher.

As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine has offered a set of methodological approaches to address these challenges. Conceptualizing a field of medical humanities provides a broad umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society.  Whether by incorporating material culture such as medical artefacts, performing symptomatic readings of poems and novels, or excavating the implicit medical assumptions underlying auditory cultures, the approaches that emerge from a historiographical or interpretive framework are different from those coming from the physician’s black bag. This two-day workshop will continue the work of the Explorations in the Medical Humanities lecture series from 2017-2018, with a new emphasis on creating an interdisciplinary conversation between scholars from a variety of institutions. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Claudio Lomnitz

New Books in the Society of Fellows: Celebrating Recent Work by Murad Idris, Jordanna Bailkin and Ilana Feldman

The New Humanities Faculty Salons

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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 twelve new faculty members joining Columbia during the 2018-19 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.

Empire By Its Other Names

Friday, April 5, 2019 - Saturday, April 6, 2019

"Empire By Its Other Names" aims to map the political formations of violence that organize and govern contemporary political life. Following Trump’s election, questions emerged about how to best typify this regime: Is it fascism, authoritarianism, or populism? A new or old form of white supremacy? The truth of American democracy, or its betrayal? The essence of neo-liberalism, or a backlash against it? On the other hand, do these questions presuppose a form of American exceptionalism, accounting for it by discounting its global contexts? And is the perplexity and urgency surrounding Trump not itself symptomatic of American exceptionalism? By thinking through some primary orders of violence, this conference will systematically place these questions and themes within a wider global history.

Religion and the Future

Friday, April 5, 2019

The graduate students of Columbia University’s Department of Religion's conference this year will explore religion and the future for the department’s annual graduate student conference. We are interested in the points of intersection, contested and shifting boundaries, symbiotic relationships, and antagonisms of “religion” and the “future” (broadly conceived),  examinations of which represent a space of enormous potential for our discipline.

The 2019 Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture will be given by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 

This event will take place April 9 at CSER in 420 Hamilton Hall from 7-9pm. All the authors will be doing a reading of their work.

Politics of the Present
Border People

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Based on conversations and interviews from the South Bronx housing projects, Refugee Safe Houses on the Northern Border with Canada, and travels along the Southwestern Border and into Mexico, Dan Hoyle's newest piece of "journalistic theater" is his freshest and most urgent. Ten monologues of people who live on or across borders both literal and metaphorical, an intimate, raw, poignant, funny look at the borders we all negotiate in our everyday lives.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Beth Berkowitz

This one-day conference at Columbia is part of a series of talks and events that also include panels at Reid Hall in Paris and Trinity College Dublin. Panelists at Columbia will discuss issues affecting democracy across the globe, including "The Populist Appeal of Strongmen," "Weaponizing the Classics," and "Journalists at Risk." 

Proust 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

Speakers: Anne Carson, Nicholas Dames, Sara Danius, Lydia Davis, Saskia Hamilton, Andrew Holleran, Elisabeth Ladenson, Michael Lucey, Colm Toibin, Caroline Weber, Edmund White, Michael Wood.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Maria Victoria Murillo and Ernesto Calvo

13/13 Seminar Series
12/13 | HUMAN WEAPONS

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

This year’s 13/13 seminar series will take this problem as its task: to buck centuries of contemplative complacency and return praxis to its proper place in the order of things. In doing so, the seminar will strive to address the most critical question today: What is to be done? And what exactly is critical praxis today?

Translating Ovid’s Sexual Violence

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Translating Ovid’s Sexual Violence with Stephanie McCarter and Jia Tolentino

Mythologized as the era of the “good war” and the “Greatest Generation,” the 1940s are frequently understood as a more heroic, uncomplicated time in American history. Yet just below the surface, a sense of dread, alienation, and the haunting specter of radical evil permeated American art and literature. Writers returned home from World War II and gave form to their disorienting experiences of violence and cruelty. They probed the darkness that the war opened up and confronted bigotry, existential guilt, ecological concerns, and fear about the nature and survival of the human race. In Facing the Abyss, George Hutchinson offers readings of individual works and the larger intellectual and cultural scene to reveal the 1940s as a period of profound and influential accomplishment.

with Michele Moody-Adams (Philosophy - Columbia University), Akeel Bilgrami (Philosophy - Columbia University), and Jane Anderson (Anthropology and Museum Studies - NYU)

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by James Zetzel

The Caribbean is often described as a region in crisis. In the aftermath of recent natural disasters in the region, the Caribbean is understood to be uniquely imperiled by climate change and is subjected to various forms of political and fiscal intervention. In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the region and elevated questions surrounding climate change and its impacts on the Caribbean to the forefront of political discourse. The hurricanes of 2017 marked the latest in a series of environmental crises in the region, which include the volcanic disasters of 1995 and 1997 in Montserrat, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and an increasing quantity and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms. Meanwhile, Caribbean states and territories are afflicted by crises in governing legitimacy, as sovereign debt, multinational disinvestment, and heightened rates of violent crime threaten political order. The aims of this conference are both empirical and theoretical. First, this conference features ethnographic research on the impacts of natural disaster and political crisis throughout the Caribbean. Secondly, this conference considers how empirical perspectives from the Caribbean inform approaches to political anthropology in an epoch of anthropogenic climate change.

This year’s 13/13 seminar series will take this problem as its task: to buck centuries of contemplative complacency and return praxis to its proper place in the order of things. In doing so, the seminar will strive to address the most critical question today: What is to be done? And what exactly is critical praxis today?

Crises of Democracy at Reid Hall

Friday, May 17, 2019 - Saturday, May 18, 2019

This conference at Reid Hall is part of a series of talks and events in Paris, Columbia's Morningside Heights campus, and Trinity College Dublin, in which participants will discuss issues affecting democracy across the globe. At our current moment, democracy itself seems to be in crisis, as a practice, a set of institutions, and an ideal. The rhythm of everyday life does not help, in tune with the tempo of news cycles, deflection, and legalized zones of lawlessness. Scholarship has however long provided for an alternative pace, and a distinct space for the analysis of and speculations about democracy, its crises and absences, its various histories, social dynamics, and cultural manifestations. Drawing from the academic community built by the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University over its forty year existence, and as its inaugural Alumni Conference, this conference aims to map the relationship between democracy and crisis. Former fellows from across fields are invited to present their work on the ways in which ideals and practices of democracy have been debated in theory, probed historically, and produced culturally: Is the contemporary moment exceptional, in its double sense that democracy has been thrown into crisis and that crises have upended democratic life, or has this become the new normal? Was it previously or ever a norm? Is it possible—or right—to conceptualize democracy without reference to crisis? Where is democracy put into crises, and what does it look like? Is democracy’s crisis a problem with the demos, with the enemies of democracy, or with the operations of democracy itself? If democratic states have also tended to be aggressive and expansionist, is democracy another name for empire? Is crisis peculiar to democracy, and are democracy’s crises distinctive? The panels of this conference will seek to use the ideas of crisis and democracy as windows into each other, focusing on “crisis” and on “democracy,” and then, taken together, as a canvas onto which the contemporaneity of historical crises and the historicity of contemporary anxieties have been inscribed.

CHCI Medical Humanities Summer Institute: “Health Beyond Borders”

Friday, June 14, 2019 - Saturday, June 15, 2019

This conference explores the interdisciplinary facets of the border, from the metaphorical to the political: What counts as a border in an embodied, geographical, legal, or artistic context? What are the debates around borders in medical practice, from hospitalist medicine to epidemiology? How and why do health practitioners refer to the border for its rhetorical power, and how does the border work productively as a figure in narrative medicine, medical memoirs, and creative literature? What are the processes and structures that define well-being across borders, from nationalist immigration policies to environmental protections? How do we understand efforts to confront, dismantle, or transcend borders in healthcare? What role do borders play in the formation of state-sanctioned health policies, and how might these enable or obstruct initiatives in global health? And how might the concept of the boundary reshape our visions of a future health beyond borders? 

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