Spring 2005

In the talk “Wagner, Israel, and Palestine,” Barenboim argues that the Zionist impulse that leads Israel to defend itself against cultural as well as military foes wil not result in progress. Rather, he states that peace will come only when Israel drops its defenses against both.

The Columbia University Heyman Center for the Humanities is sponsoring a seminar on global justice featuring Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen and prominent moral philosopher Thomas Nagel. Moderated by Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia, the forum will take a fresh look at globalization and economic disparity among nations. Are the economic and political policies of wealthy countries contributing to increased poverty and inequality worldwide? What efforts are being made to level the playing field? How do national goals and sovereignty hinder the quest for fair bilateral relations, just debt reconstructing and adequate financial aid to resource-poor nations? What are the moral responsibilities of governments today?

David Bromwich, Luke Gibbon, Uday Mehta, and Tom Paulin on Edmund Burke

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - Friday, February 11, 2005

In a conference co-sponsored by the Heyman Center for the Humanities and the University Seminar on Political and Social Thought, esteemed writers and scholars, Tom Paulin, David Bromwich, Uday Mehta, and Luke Gibbons, among others, come together at the Heyman Center on February 10th and 11th to discuss a figure of extraordinary centrality, Edmund Burke, who was a great philosopher, a great social theorist, and a great political figure wholly unafraid of public participation in the controversies of his time. Burke was of unique and paradoxical importance because with the very same argument he generated a political position that is regarded as highly conservative in European politics (by his critique of the French Revolution) and highly progressive in colonial politics (by his critique of British imperialism). He considered both the French Revolution and the British Empire as forms of massive impertinence against deep existing traditions and communities. Thus, in an age of Empire and of Revolution, he was a figure of paradox that simply had to be addressed. And in our own time, when Empire is emerging in new and revised forms and where corporate intrusion into distant lands once again undermines traditions and communities, his voice emerges as central once again. This conference brings together writers and scholars from Britain and America to consider his importance in the past and to speak to his relevance for the large issues of our own time.

The Radical Enlightenment

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

What are the prospects for radical thought in our own times? Some of the most eminent and interesting historians in the world come to the Heyman Center for the Humanities on March 1 for a daylong conference, to focus on some of the radical and dissenting voices of the Enlightenment in both Europe and America. At this conference, Joyce Appleby, Eric Foner, Jonathan Israel, Margaret Jacob, Phyllis Mack, and Deborah Valenze discuss subjects ranging from the relation between science, religion and politics to Jefferson's radicalism, and lessons will also be drawn for the prospect of radical thought and politics for our own times by tracing the roots of the radical tradition in the western world. That the range of ideas and innovations that emerged in Europe and in America over this period, which we have come to label the "Enlightenment," was far more varied than either that single label or the standard scholarship on the subject might suggest is made vibrantly clear.

Carson and Nehamas discuss the principled limitations of translation, what it omits and what it distorts. They also look at the political effects of these limitations, examining, as an example, the skewed translation of Joan of Arc's testimony and how it was used in her own trial, ultimately condemning her to death.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bob Dylan is the most iconic popular musician of our time, with an influence that reaches far beyond music. He is a poet, a bard, a thinker, a cultural critic, and most recently a writer of amazing talent and deep honesty. This event intends to celebrate the abiding influence and relevance of Bob Dylan to music, culture, and politics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

With the decline of religion and the waning of metaphysics, humanists are left with little more than "history" as a field for inquiry into "human nature." Many of the debates over the cognitive status of historical discourse turn upon problems caused by the displacement of religious and metaphysical concerns into the field of history. Yet, in its desire to be objective--in a modestly scientific sense--history has given up its traditional resources for making sense of both the past and the relation between the past and the present. In his lecture, White addresses the question, what exists as a solution?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On April 13, the Heyman Center for the Humanities sponsors an evening of reading and talk on Robert Frost. Three distinguished poets and critics, David Bromwich, Rosanna Warren, and Richard Howard, read a single book of poems by Robert Frost and then talk briefly about it. They have chosen "Mountain Interval", one of his most well loved works. This will be the first in a series of such readings, which, by focusing on a single volume by a major poet, tries to present the conceptual and thematic and emotional unity of a poetic work. No tickets or reservations are needed.

Ian Hacking, College de France

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Focault's THE ORDER OF THINGS Forty years later.


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