Video / Audio

A case study in the textual architecture of the venerable legal and ethical tradition at the center of the Islamic experience, Sharīʿa Scripts is a work of historical anthropology focused on Yemen in the early twentieth century. There—while colonial regimes, late Ottoman reformers, and early nationalists wrought decisive changes to the legal status of the sharīʿa, significantly narrowing its sphere of relevance—the Zaydī school of jurisprudence, rooted in highland Yemen for a millennium, still held sway.

In the first episode of "The Trilling Tapes," the scholar Lauren Berlant talks live about her new project: an analysis about the affect of humorlessness in politics. Featuring the scholar Bruce Robbins as a guest interlocutor and host Olivia Rutigliano. The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University is home to the Lionel Trilling Seminars, established in 1976 to honor one of the most prominent cultural critics of the twentieth century and his decades-long career at Columbia. Trilling's legacy represents a broad-ranging critical engagement with literature and culture. Speakers in the series include such formidable public intellectuals as Noam Chomsky, Martha Nussbaum, and Amartya Sen, among many others. In this podcast series, Olivia Rutigliano mines the recorded archives--the Trilling Tapes--to uncover and contextualize more than forty years of exceptional critical thought.

Edward W. Said remained, for over forty years, concerned with Conrad. A fascinating conversation emerges between the two men’s work, one concerned with aesthetics, displacement and empire, and sheds an interesting light on the present moment. Performance by Ibrahim Alshaikh (14 years old), clarinet, studying at Barenboim-Said Foundation Ramallah Opening Remarks by David Freedberg and Gauri Viswanathan Introduction by Safwan Masri The Fall 2018 Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture was given by Hisham Matar. Matar is the author of two novels and a memoir. The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (2016) won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography, the PEN America Book of the Year Award, and the Rathbones Folio Prize. The Return was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and shortlisted for the Costa Awards, and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the Financial Times. The memoir tells of his father’s kidnapping when Matar was 19 and studying in London: one of the Qaddafi regime’s most prominent opponents in exile, his father was held in a secret prison in Libya and Hisham would never see him again. And yet The Return is an uplifting memoir; Matar recounts his journey home to Libya in search of the truth behind his father’s disappearance; he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. “Hope,” as he writes, “is cunning and persistent.”

This discussion comes in the wake of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and statements by the current administration characterizing the press as "the enemy of the people." This panel will address attacks on individual journalists, as well as the fourth estate in general, in order to better understand the contemporary context and also to put recent incidents in historical perspective Panelists: Kerry Paterson (Committee to Protect Journalists), “Press Freedom Under Fire” Bruce Shapiro (Columbia), "Journalists, Authoritarians and Democratic Repair" Chair: Rachel Nolan (Columbia)

The ancient world has always been used as supporting evidence for modern arguments - pro and anti democracy, pro and anti slavery, pro and anti various stances on colour, gender, labour, government etc. What has changed recently is the extreme polarisation of opinion in many places in the world, particularly in the US, and the manifestly unacceptable assumption that if the Greeks or Romans did or said something, it is by definition fine for us. So, instead of supporting evidence for a point of view, the ancient world becomes a weapon. This panel will explore the misuse of the Classics as well as identifying models from the ancient world that really might be helpful in addressing modern problems.

The panel will address the role of “strongmen” in escalating or, indeed, provoking democratic crises. There will be an emphasis on the relationship between the representations of modern leaders and the political actions such figures advocate and implement. How can we interpret Putin’s umbrella scene during the world cup final or the praises during Trump’s first cabinet meeting in the context of rituals of power? What does Viktor Orbán’s stadium-building obsession in Hungary or Erdogan’s monumental presidential palace tell us about the nature of those regimes? How do academic disciplines—history, political science, art history, cultural anthropology, cultural studies or psychology—help us understand and explain the complex relationship between representations and the exercise of power? Curiously enough, the relationship between political action and the (self-) representations of leadership has generally escaped the attention of journalists and analysts thus far. The panel aims to bring that relationship to the limelight and to show that the myths and rituals supporting the imagery of the “strong leader” are often indicative of the emergence of authoritarian political practices in a democratic environment. Panelists: Balazs Apor (Trinity College Dublin), "The Return of the King? The Crisis of Democracy and the Rebirth of the Leader Cult" Ruth Ben Ghiat (NYU), "Strongman Body Politics" Ido de Haan (Utrecht University), “Bonapartist leaders and the imaginary people” Chair: María González Pendás (Columbia)

Sasha Turner (Quinnipiac U), Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing and Slavery in Jamaica (2017) Deirdre Cooper Owens (CUNY, Queens College), Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology (2017) Respondents: Christopher Florio (SoF/Heyman) & Cristobal Silva (English and Comparative Literature) Chair: Arden Hegele (SoF/Heyman)​

Rob Boddice (Freie Universität Berlin / McGill University), “Representing Experiment: Medical Science and the Art of Public Relations, 1908-14” Respondent: Thomas Dodman (French) Chair: Warren Kluber (SoF/Heyman Graduate Fellow)