2014-2015 Calendar

Illuminating and expanding the power and relevance of the humanities, the Center’s events feature university faculty, as well as scholars, writers, filmmakers, and artists from around the world. 

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Upcoming Events


Edmund White

Humanities Without Boundaries Monday, September 22, 2014 @ 7:30pm



Saidiya Hartman

Nellie Y. McKay Thursday, October 9, 2014 @ 7:30pm


Jordan Ellenberg

Special Events Thursday, October 16, 2014 @ 5:30pm



William P. Jones I Have a Dream: The Forgotten History of Civil Rights

Special Events Saturday, November 8, 2014 @ 10:30am


Elizabeth Kolbert The Sixth Extinction: The Legacy of the Anthropocene

Humanities Without Boundaries Saturday, November 8, 2014 @ 7:30pm


Anthony Grafton A Life in the Margins

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 7:30pm



Craig Werner For What It's Worth: Towards a New History of the Sixties

Focus on Humanities Wednesday, December 3, 2014 @ 5:30pm


Alain Badiou

Humanities Without Boundaries Wednesday, December 10, 2014 @ 7:30pm



Tejumola Olaniyan

Focus on Humanities Wednesday, February 18, 2015 @ 5:30pm



Thierry Cruvellier No Condition Is Permanent: Living in the Extreme in Sierra Leone

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, April 30, 2015 @ 7:30pm


Past Events


Catherine Porter Teaching World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures: Evolving Structures and Curricula

Special Events Wednesday, May 7, 2014 @ 5:30pm 254 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive

This lecture will discuss current pressures to transform governance structures and curriculum design in world language departments in U.S. colleges and universities, with examples of changes in progress at selected institutions. More

Humanities Hackathon with the Yahara Music Library Lending, Owning, and Describing Digital Media

Special Events Thursday, May 1, 2014 @ 3:00pm Researchers' Link, Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street

Madison Public Library and tech startup, Murfie, are working together to create the Yahara Music Library, a licensing and content delivery platform for local music. Participants will be introduced to the objectives and the mechanics of the project, and work together to imagine and sketch out ways to use, extend, and connect to this collection and its underlying platform. More


Teaching Great World Texts in Wisconsin A Collaborative Colloquium with Keynote Doris Sommer

Special Events Monday, April 28, 2014 @ 8:30am Varsity Hall at Union South

An all-day conference for high school, middle school, home school, and college teachers in any discipline; and members of the community to discuss and strategize practices and possibilities in teaching world literature.  More

The Public Good Public Humanities Conference

Special Events Friday, April 25, 2014 @ 9:00am Varsity Hall at Union South and the Madison Central Public Library

The 7th Annual Public Humanities Conference examines the role of the humanities as a force for public good. Presentations and workshops will address the value, orientation, and possibility of humanities programming on the air, on the web, and out in the community. More

Anne Anlin Cheng Sushi, Otters, and Mermaids: Race at the Intersection of Food and Animal

Nellie Y. McKay Thursday, April 24, 2014 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem L160

What do sushi, food, race, and anthropology have to do with each other? Taking a scene of sushi eating in David Wong Louie's short story "Bottles of Beaujolais" as a spring board into a larger meditation on the "nature" of human eating, this paper traces the often unspoken racial logic that subtends and connects the question of who is human and what is it that we eat.  More

Humanities Hackathon with Hoyt Long Global Literary Networks: Exploring Modernist Style and Influence at the Macro-Scale

Special Events Thursday, April 10, 2014 @ 3:00pm Researchers' Link, Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St.


Kim Stanley Robinson Imagining Possible Worlds

Special Events Wednesday, April 9, 2014 @ 7:30pm Town Center, Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St.

A conversation about literature, science and the future with award-winning 'hard' science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, David Krakauer, and English Professor Monique Allewaert. More

Canceled: Khalil Gibran Muhammad The Mismeasure of Crime: How Numbers Lie About Race

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, April 3, 2014 @ 7:30pm Madison Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street

Dr. Muhammad's talk, "The Mismeasure of Crime: How Numbers Lie About Race," for April 3 at the Madison Public Library has been canceled. Dr. Muhammad's visit will be rescheduled to a fall 2014 date. More


Alice Waters An Evening with Alice Waters

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, March 27, 2014 @ 7:30pm Varsity Hall at Union South

A pioneer of the movement towards local and sustainable eating, cooking, shopping, and farming, Alice Waters has been transforming the way Americans think about food since opening Chez Panisse Restaurant in 1971.  More

Humanities Hackathon with WID’s Games+Learning+Society Group Trails Forward: Designing Games for Learning & Learning from Games

Special Events Thursday, March 13, 2014 @ 3:00pm Researchers' Link, Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St.

Games+Learning+Society is a group of researchers, game developers, and government/industry leaders who investigate how games operate, transform learning, and affect society. More

Incarceration and Inequality A Conversation with Rhodessa Jones and Pamela Oliver; Moderated by Jean Feraca

Humanities NOW Monday, March 10, 2014 @ 5:30pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch

Sociologist Pam Oliver who is investigating the causes and consequences of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and Rhodessa Jones, Director of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, speak with Jean Feraca about incarceration and inequality in Wisconsin and across the US.  More

Queer and Now: Rethinking Queer Theory in the Humanities A Symposium by the The Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective

Special Events Friday, March 7, 2014 @ 1:30pm College Library 2252 A-B (Media Labs)

Queer and Now brings members of the Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective to Madison to explore the cutting edge of work in contemporary queer theory alongside members of the UW Faculty working in the fields of LGBT studies, gender and women's studies, and literary and cultural studies. More

André Wink Re-emerging Superpowers: Turkey, Iran, India, and China in the 21st Century

Focus on Humanities Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

Turkey, Iran, India, and China are historical superpowers. Today, in the early years of the 21st century, they are on the rise again. And they have been making attempts to reconnect with their imperial past. More

Brenda Bufalino Tap Dance: Made in America

Special Events Tuesday, March 4, 2014 @ 7:00pm Great Hall, Memorial Union

Tap Dance legend Brenda Bufalino presents a lecture demonstration on the rhythm and history of an indigenous American art form. More

3 Minute Futures A Flash Science Fiction Contest

Special Events Saturday, March 1, 2014 @ 11:59pm Wisconsin Public Radio

A national flash science fiction writing contest hosted co-hosted by The Center for the Humanities, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and To the Best of Our Knowledge More


On Music, Philosophy, and Media A Roundtable with Philosopher and Musicologist Peter Szendy and UW Faculty

Special Events Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:30am Room 313 University Club Building (432 E. Campus Mall)

How do even the most groan-inducing "earworms" shape our everyday experience? Join philosopher and musicologist Peter Szendy and a panel of UW-Madison faculty for an informal roundtable on the theory, production, dissemination, and global dominance of the hit song. More

Peter Szendy On Cosmetics and Cosmopolitics

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160

Reading Kant and Carl Schmitt, we will endeavour to rethink for today the old and devalued concept of cosmopolitanism. And we will try to understand how, when politics extends to outer space, "the sensible" (to borrow Jacques Rancière's term) is distributed or redistributed on a global scale, becoming the object of a new nomos of the earth. When cosmopolitics thus have a direct effect on what we can see or hear, we are confronted with what could be called cosmetopolitics.​ More

Hillary Chute Words, Images, and War: Joe Sacco and the Work of Comics Journalism

Special Events Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:00pm Howard Auditorium, Fluno Center, 601 University Ave.

This lecture focuses on Joe Sacco's work to examine how graphic narrative is a prominent form for reporting on violence, investigating two related questions. First, what work does the visual articulation of violence do in texts about war? Second, why has drawing re-emerged as a form for reporting on war - after the age of the camera and of film - and what does this tell us about the exigencies and ethics of representation and contemporary literary and journalistic practice.  More

Humanities Hackathon with Paul Hansen Campus Debate: Building a Social Media Platform for Student Debates

Special Events Thursday, February 13, 2014 @ 3:00pm Researchers' Link, Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street

Campus Debate, a start-up company founded by a UW-Madison graduate student, is building a participatory, web-based platform to host a series of competitive student debates between different universities. More


KidShare Screening: Digital Storytelling from Truax

Special Events Tuesday, December 17, 2013 @ 4:00pm Madison Children's Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St.

Join us for the debut of student filmmakers from the East Madison and Meadowood Community Centers. More

Self-Publishing Basics: A Wisconsin Book Festival/Public Humanities Event

Special Events Saturday, December 14, 2013 @ 1:00pm Room 302, Madison Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St.

Join a team of librarians and published authors for a workshop that will introduce you to the basics of self publishing online. Learn about free tools that you can use to turn your work into an eBook. More

Zine Workshop

Special Events Saturday, December 7, 2013 @ 9:30am Bubbler Room, Madison Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St.

Malcolm Shabazz High School students who have been participating in a semester-long zine workshop will facilitate a workshop at the Madison Public Library.  More

Humanities Hackathon with Eddie Lee and Jim Brown Sound Arguments with Sonic Eloquence

Special Events Thursday, December 5, 2013 @ 3:00pm 3rd Floor Teaching Lab, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street

How can we measure, represent, analyze, and compare instances of sonic eloquence? Eddie Lee at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery's Center for Complexity and Collective Computation and Jim Brown, faculty in the Composition & Rhetoric department offer one possibility. With a tool called Sound Arguments we can represent audio clips in multiple ways in an attempt to understand the persuasive dimensions of sound. More

Orhan Pamuk Identifying With Others: Novels and Politics Today

Humanities Without Boundaries Monday, December 2, 2013 @ 7:30pm Varsity Hall at Union South

Winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, Orhan Pamuk writes fiction and nonfiction that invite dialogue and reflection on history and modernity, on national and global identities, and on gender and its politics. More

Snow in Wisconsin Student Conference Great World Text Student Conference with Orhan Pamuk

Special Events Monday, December 2, 2013 @ 8:30am Union South

During the 2013-2014 academic year, high school and college classes from across the state will participate in reading Orhan Pamuk's novel, Snow. More


Publishing in the Humanities: Projects, Proposals, Pragmatics Panel Discussion

Special Events Thursday, November 14, 2013 @ 4:00pm Banquet Room, University Club

Working on your first book? Second book? Submitting essays to referred journals? Have questions about the publishing process and/or the state of academic publishing?Join editors from Fordham University Press and the University of Wisconsin Press along with members of UW-Madison faculty to discuss publishing issues. More

Humanities Hackathon with David Mimno Text Mining with the MALLET Toolkit

Special Events Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 3:00pm 3rd Floor Teaching Lab, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street

This workshop will include both an explanation of how to use text as data, as well as a practical hands-on session using the Mallet text mining toolkit. David Mimno will discuss his work building reliable topic-mining methodologies for humanists. More

Facing Egypt’s Challenges

Humanities NOW Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 5:30pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch

JENNIFER DERR (History, UC Santa Cruz), NÉVINE EL NOSSERY (French & Italian, UW Madison), and AMANDA ROGERS (Art History Fellow, UW Madison) discuss the scale and significance of the Egyptian crisis, from the historical conditions to the contemporary myths of Egypt's new political realities. Moderated by JEAN FERACA. More

John Hawks Are We the Last Neanderthals?

Special Events Saturday, November 2, 2013 @ 2:00pm Chicago History Museum

Neanderthals fascinate us: so much like us, yet not quite us. We have long known that they overlapped with modern humans in prehistoric Europe, but recent genetic evidence suggests widespread interbreeding of the two groups. Hawks presents the latest findings from the lab and field and discusses what may or may not make us uniquely human. More


Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being

Special Events Monday, October 28, 2013 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall at Union South

This year's Go Big Read selection, A Tale for the Time Being, is a powerful story about the ways in which reading and writing connect two people who will never meet. More

Robert Storr Mr. & Ms. Inside/Outside: Institutional Critique from Within Institutions

Humanities Without Boundaries Friday, October 25, 2013 @ 7:30pm Lecture Hall, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State Street

Robert Storr is Professor of painting/printmaking and Dean of the School of Art at Yale University. He was Curator and then Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1990 to 2002, where he organized monographic exhibitions on Chuck Close, Elizabeth Murray, Gerhard Richter, Max Beckmann, Tony Smith, and Robert Ryman. More

Public History/Public Criticism A Conversation with Jill Lepore and Robert Storr

Special Events Friday, October 25, 2013 @ 10:00am 4th Floor Multipurpose Room, UW Hillel Foundation Building

Join New Yorker essayist Jill Lepore and curator and critic Robert Storr for an informal conversation about writing beyond academia.  More

Jill Lepore Jane Franklin's Spectacles: Or, the Education of Benjamin Franklin's Sister

Humanities Without Boundaries Thursday, October 24, 2013 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote the story of his life, the story of a printer's apprentice who runs away to become a statesman and a scientist. In this lecture, Lepore tells the story of Franklin's long-forgotten sister, Jane.  More

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen & Steven Nadler Philosophical Portraits: Descartes and Nietzsche

Special Events Thursday, October 17, 2013 @ 5:30pm Central Branch, Madison Public Library (201 West Mifflin Street)

A historian and philosopher reflect on the lives and afterlives of two thinkers who mark the beginning and end of modern philosophy. More

UW Faculty A Tale for the Time Being: A Panel Discussion

Special Events Tuesday, October 15, 2013 @ 2:42pm Room 460 Memorial Library (Note: a photo ID is required for entry to the library.)

Join UW Faculty in a conversation about Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being More


John Hawks Booting Up Humanity

Special Events Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 3:30pm Marquee Theater, Union South

The origin of our species was surprisingly complex. We have within us the genes of ancient Africans, Neandertals, and a mysterious population known as the Denisovans. Only a relative handful of genetic changes mark humans today as different from these ancient people. So how did the characteristics of modern humans, including complex social systems, symbolic thought, and language, evolve? More

Mary Louise Roberts Five Ways to Look at a Corpse: The Dead in Normandy, 1944

Focus on Humanities Wednesday, September 25, 2013 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

We prefer to think of war as producing heroes, not corpses. Perhaps for this reason, military historians have rarely focused on the dead. Roberts argues that much can be learned about WWII's meaning for its combatants by exploring how corpses were perceived by U.S. and German soldiers, as well as military officials, French civilians, and the American public. More

Humanities Hackathon with Martin Foys Small Data in a Big Way: Customizing Linked Data in Medieval Maps and Manuscripts

Special Events Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 3:30pm 3rd Floor Teaching Lab, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street

Investigating computational techniques from the sciences with humanities scholars, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Center for the Humanities seek to uncover unexpected connections and intriguing patterns in music, visual art, literature and historical works. More