Spring 2015

  • Wayne Koestenbaum, Poet, Novelist, and Cultural Critic,

The Writing Program at Columbia School of the Arts and the Heyman Center for the Humanities present a talk with poet, novelist, and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum. The talk is part of the Nonfiction Dialogue Series organized by the School of the Arts and The Writing Lives Series organized by the Heyman Center.

  • Emily Coates, Faculty Director of Dance Studies, Yale University
  • Sarah Demers, Associate Professor of Physics, Yale University
  • Michael Tuts, Professor of Physics, Columbia University
  • Carrie Noland, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

The intersection between kinesthetic imagination and scientific ideas are explored in this presentation by Yale University professors Emily Coates (Dance) and Sarah Demers (Physics). The presentation will include several outcomes of their collaborative venture, including excerpts of “Incarnations: Sketches for a Longer Work,” which Coates is currently developing for Danspace Project’s Platform 2015, and a screening of their co-created short science-art film, “Three Views of the Higgs and Dance.” This event is at capacity. We thank you for your interest and hope to see you at other events this spring. Please note, an RSVP does not guarantee a seat.

  • Michael Cunningham, Author,

Author Michael Cunningham delivers a talk on his work and the art of writing, as part of The Writiting Program of the School of the Arts' Creative Writing Lecture Series and the Heyman Center for the Humanities' Writing Lives Series.   

Music for Words: Bob Dylan

Thursday, February 5, 2015
  • Christopher Ricks, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities, Boston University
  • Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History , Princeton University

Christopher Ricks, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, and Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University, will discuss The Lyrics: Since 1962, the recently publshed comprehensive collected lyrics of Bob Dylan. Ricks collaborated with Dylan to complete the publication of the massive 960 page tome. 

The Congress of Vienna 1814-1815: Making Peace after Global War

Thursday, February 5, 2015 - Saturday, February 7, 2015

Organized to mark the bicentenary of the Congress of Vienna, this conference brings together scholars in history, international relations, and political science to explore this  remarkable occasion—the calling of a general peace conference—to re-establish world order in the wake of revolutions, the rise of new leading powers, and wars with reverberations in every part of the globe.

  • James K.  Galbraith, Professor of Government, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas
  • Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia University

James Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government, converses with Prahbat Patnaik, one of India's most prominent economists and Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning School of Social Sciences. Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor, will chair the talk.

  • Nima Bassiri, Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities, University of Chicago
  • Andrew Gerber, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University

This workshop event examines the historical relationship between psychoanalysis and brain science. Rather than considering that relationship as a narrative of Freud’s transition from neurology to metapsychology — a historical approach that can often be oriented towards fulfilling the demands of contemporary research — the paper instead situates Freud’s neuropathology and metapsychology within a broader set of anxieties and problems faced by both neurologists and psychiatrists in nineteenth-century brain and behavioral medicine. Register for the Workshop at Eventbrite.

Heyman Center Workshops
On Method: On Philology

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
  • Nadia Altschul, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Johns Hopkins University

Philology and the reconstruction of texts has been a main humanistic method since the purported end of the middle ages. Today’s exchange will delve into the history of philology and its basic methodological assumptions, bringing to the fore some of its colonial underpinnings, and asking digital humanists, as part of the conversation, about connections between DH and this core method in humanities research.

Ghosts of the Past: Nazi-Looted Art and Its Legacies

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - Saturday, February 21, 2015
  • Olaf Peters, University Professor, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

An International Conference co-organized by Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology & Deutsches Haus in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New York, and the Jewish Museum, New York. Cosponsored with Columbia University's Middle East Institute, the History Department, and the University Seminar on Cultural Memory. Funding provided by Columbia University’s Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and New German Critique. “Ghosts of the Past: Nazi-Looted Art and Its Legacies” convenes an international group of art historians, historians, curators, and scholars in provenance research and the history of German art dealership to explore an unexamined chapter of the legacies of the Third Reich.

  • Claudia Rankine, Poet,
  • Dawn Lundy Martin, Essayist and Poet,
  • Messiah Ramkissoon, Poet, Emcee, and Youth Activist,
  • Timothy Donnelly, Author, Chair of the Writing Program, Columbia University School of the Arts
  • Monica Miller, Associate Professor of English, Barnard College

An evening of justice poetry featuring Claudia Rankine, award-winning poet and author of Citizen, finalist for the 2014 National Book Award; along with Dawn Lundy Martin, award-winning poet and activist, and Messiah Ramkissoon, poet, emcee, youth activist, and three-time winner at The Apollo. Joining the dialogue is Columbia School of the Arts Professor Timothy Donnelly, award-winning poet and Poetry Editor of Boston Review.

  • Claudia Rankine, Poet,
  • Robert Hass, Poet,

Barnard College and The Heyman Center for the Humanities present Poets at Barnard Winter Reading with Claudia Rankine and Robert Hass, reading and in discussion.

  • John Lucas, Filmmaker,
  • Jamal Joseph, Professor of Professional Practice, School of the Arts, Columbia University
  • Jason Pollard, Film Editor,
  • Sam Pollard, Producer, Director and Film Editor,

The Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Center for Justice at Columbia present a film screening and discussion of the documentary film "The Cooler Bandits."  Over twenty years ago, four men committed a series of restaurant robberies during which they locked the restaurant employees in the walk-in coolers, gaining them the moniker "the Cooler Bandits." Although no one was physically injured, the group received collective prison sentences of up to 500 years. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the Director, John Lucas, along with two of “the Cooler Bandits,” Donovan Harris and Richard Roderick. Joining them will be the film’s producer and editor, Sam and Jason Pollard, respectively. The discussion will be moderated by Columbia School of the Arts Professor Jamal Joseph.

John Berryman at 100: A Celebration

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Poetry Society of America, along with Columbia School of the Arts, Barnard Women Poets, and Heyman Center for the Humanities, host an evening of poetry in honor of John Berryman, 1914–1972.

  • Mary Grace Albanese, PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

What is the stuff of history? Who writes it, who is allowed to speak in it - and in what language? Heyman Center Public Humanities Fellow Mary Grace Albanese will speak on a nascent oral history project that aims to gather, publish, and translate Haitian and Haitian-American narratives. The talk will focus particularly on the role of oral history in a Kreyol-French-English linguistic context and, more broadly, on the challenge of translation to the historian.

  • Alexander Skidan, Poet and Translator,
  • Alexandra Petrova, Poet and Translator,
  • Shamshad Abdullaev, Poet and Translator,
  • Keti Chukhrov, Art Theorist, Editor and Translator,

A bilingual reading in Russian and English of poetry, with discussion to follow, by four leading Russian poets from points across the geography of the Russian-Speaking world, including Shamshad Abdullaev (Fergana, Uzbekistan), Keti Chukhrov (Moscow), Alexandra Petrova (Rome), and Alexander Skidan (St. Petersburg).

Political Concepts

Friday, March 6, 2015 - Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Editorial Board of Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon, a joint project of The New School for Social Research, New York University, Columbia University, and Brown University, welcomes you to our fifth annual Spring Conference, which is returning to Columbia University in March 2015. The project is guided by one formal principle--the posing of a Socratic question "what is x?"--and by one theoretical principle--the concepts defined should be relevant to political thought and, more broadly, to thinking about the political. 

  • Glenn E. Martin, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate,
  • Thenjiwe McHarris, Human Rights at Home Campaign Director, US Human Rights Network
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Executive Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Director, Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind
  • Alondra Nelson, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University

The Center for Justice at Columbia presents Race and Justice: Past, Present and Future. This roundtable examines the history of race-based injustices in America, how those practices have informed the criminal justice system today, and what implications they have for the future. The roundtable features Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad; historian, author and media commentator who is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Glenn E. Martin, a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate and founder of JustLeadershipUSA. They are joined by Columbia Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, and Human Rights at Home Campaign Director, Thenjiwe McHarris. The roundtable is moderated by Columbia Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Alondra Nelson.

  • Art Spiegelman, Artist and Writer,
  • Phillip Johnston, Composer,

In his Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece, Maus—a moving father-son memoir about the Holocaust drawn with cats and mice—Art Spiegelman changed the definition of comics forever. In "Wordless!" --  a new and stimulating hybrid of slides, talk, and musical performance -- he probes further into the nature and possibilities of his medium. Spiegelman, noted as a historian and theorist of comics as well as an artist, collaborates with Phillip Johnston, the critically acclaimed jazz composer who wrote all-new scores performed live with his sextet.   

  • Joseph Dumit, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
  • Kevin Ochsner, Professor of Psychology, Columbia University

In this talk, the early brain-computer analogy is investigated for how strange and surprising it started out being, challenging researchers to imagine what it might be like to be running programs. Register for the Workshop at Eventbrite.

  • Ron Suskind, journalist and author,

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind tells stories that bind his first bestseller, A Hope in the Unseen, to his latest one, Life, Animated, a startling portrait of his son's 20-year battle with autism. The two books, fifteen years apart, are tough-minded, densely-reported works that accord dignity to society's outcasts, showing how they can rise to meet their fullest promise. Mr. Suskind will describe how both books harnessed narrative to drive social change.

Genocidal Regimes and Their Perpetrators

Thursday, March 26, 2015
  • Abram de Swaan, Emeritus University Professor of Social Science, University of Amsterdam
  • Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

Abram de Swaan, Emeritus Professor of Social Science at University of Amsterdam, will discuss his latest book, The Killing Compartments, published by Yale University Press in 2015.

Stalking the Essay

Saturday, March 28, 2015 - Sunday, March 29, 2015
  • Phillip Lopate, Professor and Nonfiction Director, Columbia University

Stalking the Essay is a two-day conference devoted to all aspects of the form. This event, organized by Phillip Lopate, represents a unique collaboration between members of the Writing Program, the Film Department, the Visual Arts Department and the Department of English and Comparative Literature. PLEASE NOTE: REGISTRATION FOR THIS CONFERENCE IS CLOSED.

  • Marilynne Robinson, Author,
  • Robert Hardies, Unitarian Minister, All Souls Church
  • Alexander Chee, Author,

The Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Writing Program of the School of the Arts, Public Books, and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life present an evening with Pulitzer-prize winning author Marilynne Robinson, who will read from her work and be in discussion with Unitarian Minister, Robert Hardies.

Fascisms Across Borders

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - Thursday, April 2, 2015

This conference looks at the constellation of concepts that fascism concocts historically – populism, nationalism, Nazism—and their renewal in neo-fascist movements and ideologies, both in their specificity and their historical actualizations across the globe-- specifically in Europe and Latin America. The Conference will be held at Columbia on 3 April and The New School on 4 April.

The Society of Fellows in the Humanities Presents “Managing Borders”

Friday, April 3, 2015 - Saturday, April 4, 2015
  • Hidetaka Hirota, Visiting Assistant Professor, The City College of New York

In October 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act. Abolishing the national origins quota system, which had heavily restricted immigration from Asia and southern and eastern Europe for decades, the act introduced new systems that placed preference on immigrants’ occupational qualifications and family ties with the United States. Coming from a wide range of academic disciplines, including history, literature, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, political science, and law, participants in this interdisciplinary conference collectively seek to achieve a better understanding of issues and problems associated to American immigration today under the theme of “Managing Borders.”

In the second workshop of this series on The Future of French and Francophone Studies, participants will explore with audience participants some of the constitutive questions of the field of Francophone Studies, in relation both to teaching and to research.

This panel brings together experts on historical and current border and conflict zones in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The aim is to bring processes of bordering, the areas in which borders come to be, and the agencies, practices, and populations involved in such developments to the center of discussion.

  • Rens Bod, Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Amsterdam

Rens Bod, professor at University of Amsterdam, sketches the longue durée of the pattern-seeking tradition in the humanities and compares it to the interpretative tradition. Bod argues that interpretations were not always in opposition to pattern-seeking, but were often constructed on the patterns found. The common wisdom that the humanities are moving towards science when they search for patterns is mistaken. Instead, the search for patterns has been a continuous line in the humanities from Antiquity onwards.

  • Ghassan Hage, Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne

Ghassan Hage, Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at University of Melbourne, will deliver a talk entitled, "On Exterminability: The Affective Culture of Settler-Colonialism Today.”

  • Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, Hertford College, Oxford University
  • Colm Tóibín, Author,
  • Fintan O’Toole, Author and Literary Editor, The Irish Times

Renowned author Colm Tóibín will be in conversation with Roy Foster, Professor of Irish History, about subjects addressed in their upcoming works, both set in Ireland.

This all-day workshop will consist of three papers, each of which will take up the question of settler colonialism and/or indigeneity from a different regional perspective:  Palestine, North America, and the Pacific Islands. The workshop is by invitation only. Please RSVP to [email protected].

"Adapting to Modernity or Taming It? Catholicism’s Laborious Relationship with Liberalism" is a seminar examining the ideological and political trajectory of Catholicism in contemporary Europe.

history of data / data in history

Friday, April 17, 2015 - Saturday, April 18, 2015

The workshop will bring together two communities: 1) historians of science and technology dealing with Big Data and its many history predecessors, and 2) scholars drawing upon many of the techniques of text mining, social network analysis, and other analytical tools associated with Big Data. It will be one of the inaugural events of Columbia's new Center for Science and Society.

  • Maxine Hong Kingston, Author,
  • Dorothy Ko, Professor of History, Barnard College
  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Author,

Author Maxine Hong Kingston will read from her work and discuss her writing as part of the Heyman Center for the Humanities Writing Lives Series and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race's Artist at the Center Series.

  • Kate Southwood, Author,
  • Rosalind Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

As part of the Writing Lives Series at the Heyman Center for the Humanities, author Kate Southwood will discuss her writing and her debut novel Falling to Earth.

Description Across the Disciplines

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - Friday, April 24, 2015

Participants in "Description Across the Disciplines" will consider the relation between description and other modes of engaging with objects of analysis, such as interpretation, evaluation, argument, and critique. For the full list of speaker paper titles and abstracts click here.

  • Brian Goldstone, Post-doctoral Fellow, Columbia University

While recent years have seen an opening up within anthropology of the limits and potentialities of ethnographic description, with increasing use being made of photographic and filmic images in particular, considerably less attention has been paid to the question of whether images, broadly conceived, might present not just a supplementary means of conveying ethnographic insights, but a radically different way of imagining and arriving at them.  What would an imagistic – as opposed to a more conventionally discursive or didactic – anthropological mode of knowing necessitate?

  • Pierre Collin, Professor, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II)
  • Martin Collet, Professor of Law, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II)
  • François Ewald, Professor Emeritus, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

The digital revolution has taken place. It has given rise to a digital economy that challenges our concept of value creation. Increasingly, start-ups and global companies serving millions of users are changing the rules and bringing radical transformation to all sectors of the economy: through their innovative business models; though the abundant financing accessible to them; through the special relationships that they forge with the users of these applications; and through the use that they make of the data derived from the users’ activities.

  • Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Braxton Craven Professor of Comparative Literature and English Emerita, Duke University

Since the 1940s, invocations of "close reading" (however understood) have figured centrally in controversies over new methodological developments in literary studies: e.g., the New Criticism, structuralism, New Historicism, deconstruction, ideology critique, and, notably now, the Digital Humanities.

  • Emily Hainze, PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature , Columbia University

How do we teach the history of imprisonment in the United States when mass incarceration continues to shape our current social landscape?  Heyman Center Public Humanities Fellow Emily Hainze will speak about a curriculum project she is developing in partnership with the Prison Public Memory Project, a non-profit dedicated to recovering, preserving and interpreting the historical artifacts and cultural memory of prisons, and the communities with which they are entwined.  The talk will focus on the process of bringing archival material from the Hudson Training School for Girls (a juvenile prison facility that existed in Hudson, NY from 1904-1975) into a classroom setting.

  • Christine Desan, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard University
  • Nigel Dodd, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Rebecca Spang, Associate Professor of History, Indiana University, Bloomington

Money is a notoriously difficult phenomenon to grasp. Why it works, how it works, and where it works are elusive questions that scholars have wrestled with for ages. In this event, we bring together the authors of three recent books on money and a set of respondents to stage a conversation about the social, legal, and political role and implications of money.

  • Andreas Killen, Professor of History, The City College of New York
  • Yuval Neria, Professor of Medical Psychology, Columbia University

When the Dadaist Georg Grosz referred in his autobiography to the “real or fake” Kriegszitterer (literally, “war-tremblers”) that could be encountered on every street corner in post-World War I Berlin, he alluded to the problem of knowledge that these figures posed for contemporaries. This talk examines the efforts of German psychiatrists and neurologists to address this problem through the medium of cinematography. Register for the Workshop at Eventbrite.


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