Center Lecture Series

Festivals and Special Events

In addition to our main lecture series, we host and co-sponsor several special events year, including annual presentations as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's common read program, Go Big Read, as well as at the Wisconsin Book Festival, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and the Chicago Humanities Festival. Browse our past events for a full listing of past special events and festival presentations.

Upcoming Events

Nathan Englander Wisconsin Book Festival

Dinner at the Center of the Earth

Nathan Englander

Monday, October 9, 2017 @ 7:00pm Madison Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street

A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel's most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner's existence. From these vastly different lives Nathan Englander has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined--a political thriller of the highest order that interrogates the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizes the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. Who is right, who is wrong--who is the guard, who is truly the prisoner? 

Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Nathan Englander is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases, and the story collections For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His short fiction has been widely anthologized, most recently in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. Englander's play The Twenty-Seventh Man premiered at The Public Theater in 2012. He also translated the New American Haggadah and co-translated Etgar Keret's Suddenly a Knock on the Door. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.

Jane Collins Wisconsin Book Festival

The Politics of Value

Jane Collins
Professor of Community & Environmental Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, November 2, 2017 @ 7:00pm A Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W Gorham Street

The Great Recession not only shook Americans’ economic faith but also prompted powerful critiques of economic institutions. This timely book explores three movements that gathered force after 2008: the rise of the benefit corporation, which requires social responsibility and eschews share price as the best metric for success; the emergence of a new group, Slow Money, that fosters peer-to-peer investing; and the 2011 Wisconsin protests against a bill restricting the union rights of state workers.

Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Jane L. Collins is professor of community and environmental sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Collins has made significant contributions in the sociology of labor, where her research focuses on how globalization is changing work relationships; and the economic sociology of value determination, where she studies how society draws boundaries between market and non-market transactions.

Yves Citton Hilldale Lecture

The Humanities as Arts of Attention in the Age of Computational Mediarchy

Yves Citton
Professor of French Literature, the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis

Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 4:00pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L150

The Humanities call us to pay attention to what conditions our attention. By doing so, they help us take distance towards the lures of “communication”, and reframe issues of “information.” Media perform agential cuts which condition what matters to us collectively and individually. Consequently they structure our political constitutions as “mediarchy,” rather than as “democracy.” This reframing may not be irrelevant at the times of populist leaders who gain political momentum lately throughout the world. In such a context, we need to devise the Humanities as cultivating arts of collective embodied attention, which is necessary to orient, steer and reconfigure the techniques of automated attention currently mobilized through computational assemblages.

The following day, Friday April 20, 2018, a panel discussion The Future of the Humanities in Posthuman Times in room 313, University Club.

Presented in partnership with the Department of French and Italian.

Yves Citton is professor of French Literature at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis. He previously taught at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, at the Université Grenoble Alpes, France, and has been invited Professor at New York University, Harvard and Sciences-Po Paris. He is co-editor of the journal Multitudes. He recently published Médiarchie (Paris, Seuil, 2017), The Ecology of Attention (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2016, translation of Pour une écologie de l’attention, Paris, Seuil, 2014), Gestes d’humanités. Anthropologie sauvage de nos expériences esthétiques (Paris, Armand Colin, 2012), Renverser l’insoutenable (Paris, Seuil, 2012), Zazirocratie (Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2011), L’Avenir des Humanités. Économie de la connaissance ou cultures de l’interprétation? (Paris, Éditions de la Découverte, 2010), Mythocratie (Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2010), Lire, interpréter, actualiser. Pourquoi les études littéraires? (Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2007) and L’Envers de la liberté. L’invention d’un imaginaire spinoziste dans la France des Lumières (Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2006).

Past Events


Imprisonment, Encampment, Incarceration: Prison Studies in a Global Frame


Thursday, May 11, 2017
9:00am - 4:30pm
Banquet Room, University Club

Free and open to the public.

Full program here.

Never before in history have as many people around the world been confined in carceral sites — penitentiaries, prisons, interrogation centers, supermax facilities, military detention camps, labor camps, and more — as they are today. This exponential increase in prisons and imprisoned populations over the last several decades reveals a seeming paradox of modernity — that is, the modern era, in all its global diversity, has nonetheless been the era of the prison. The global history of the prison reveals a troubling alternative genealogy of political modernity, insofar as modern conceptions of citizenship, rights, and political emancipation have often been produced through their multiple entanglements with modern regimes of surveillance, policing, and incarceration. Yet too often studies of penal regimes or punishment practices remain limited in their regional or theoretical scope, seeking to answer questions about particular carceral, policing, or legal realities without making links between the global economies or interlinked histories or logics of punishment. This conference seeks to address this issue by encouraging a comparative and transnational investigation of carceral and policing practices across borders, eras, and academic disciplines by bringing together several leading scholars working in the emerging and interdisciplinary field of global prison studies.

Keynote by A. NAOMI PAIKUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

Talks by

J. DANIEL ELAMUniversity of Toronto

MICHAEL FARQUHARKing’s College London





Screening of ATTICA
The landmark documentary directed by CINDA FIRESTONE
Screened for the first time in Madison
USA | 1974 | 80 min.
7:00PM | 4070 Vilas Hall

Made possible by the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science; the Institute for Research in the Humanities; the Center for the Humanities; the Middle East Studies Program; the Legal Studies Program; and The History and Politics Research Seminar. Organized and convened by Golnar Nikpour, A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

James Hamblin Wisconsin Book Festival

If Our Bodies Could Talk

James Hamblin
M.D. and Senior Editor at The Atlantic

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 7:00pm Madison Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street

In 2014, James Hamblin launched a series of videos for The Atlantic called "If Our Bodies Could Talk."  With it, the doctor-turned-journalist established himself as a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Now, in illuminating and genuinely funny prose, Hamblin explores the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media.  He covers topics such as sleep, aging, diet, and much more: 
• Can I “boost” my immune system?
• Does caffeine make me live longer?
• Do we still not know if cell phones cause cancer?
• How much sleep do I actually need?
• Is there any harm in taking a multivitamin?
• Is life long enough?
In considering these questions, Hamblin draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners.  He translates the (traditionally boring) textbook of human anatomy and physiology into accessible, engaging, socially contextualized, up-to-the-moment answers. They offer clarity, examine the limits of our certainty, and ultimately help readers worry less about things that don’t really matter.

If Our Bodies Could Talk is a comprehensive, illustrated guide that entertains and educates in equal doses.

James Hamblin is a writer and senior editor at The Atlantic magazine. He was a 2015 Yale University Poynter Fellow in journalism, and his work has been featured by the New York TimesPoliticoNPRBBCMSNBCNew York, and The Awl. He was a finalist for the 2015 Webby award for Best Web Personality, and Time has named him among the 140 people to follow on Twitter. He’s based in Brooklyn, New York.

Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Joshua Clover Social Justice Visiting Scholar

Poetics of Riot: 1967–68

Joshua Clover
Professor of English, University of California, Davis

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 @ 4:00pm 6191 Helen C. White, 600 N. Park St.

Joshua Clover is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. He specializes in 20th/21st century poetry and poetics, Marxism, political economy, world-systems analysis, crisis theory and cultures of finance, with an interest in environment, feminism, and political struggle in literature. A widely published and translated essayist, poet, and cultural theorist, his most recent books are Red Epic and Riot.Strike.Riot: The New Era of Uprisings, a theorization of riot as historical phenomenon which opens onto a revised history of capital accumulation (forthcoming from Verso in 2016).

Presented in partnership with the Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice.

Joshua Clover Social Justice Visiting Scholar

Political Economy of Riot: 1347–2015

Joshua Clover
Professor of English, University of California, Davis

Monday, November 7, 2016 @ 4:00pm 6191 Helen C. White, 600 N. Park St.

Joshua Clover is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. He specializes in 20th/21st century poetry and poetics, Marxism, political economy, world-systems analysis, crisis theory and cultures of finance, with an interest in environment, feminism, and political struggle in literature. A widely published and translated essayist, poet, and cultural theorist, his most recent books are Red Epic and Riot.Strike.Riot: The New Era of Uprisings, a theorization of riot as historical phenomenon which opens onto a revised history of capital accumulation (forthcoming from Verso in 2016).

Presented in partnership with the Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice.

Mark Greif Wisconsin Book Festival

Against Everything

Mark Greif
Writer and Editor

Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 4:30pm Madison Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street

From n+1 founding editor Mark Greif, a young writer who is already a star in the intellectual firmament, comes Against Everything, a brilliant collection of critical essays—a book of scope and acuity worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation and Joan Didion'sSlouching Towards Bethlehem.
Over the course of 11 years, Mark Greif has been publishing superstar essays in n+1, the high-profile little magazine that he co-founded with some Harvard classmates. These essays address such key topics in the cultural and intellectual life of our time as the tyranny of exercise, the tyranny of nutrition and food snobbery, the sexualization of childhood (and everything else), the philosophical meaning of Radiohead, the rise and fall of the hipster, the impact of the Occupy movement, and the crisis of policing. Each essay is learned, original, highly entertaining, and, from start to finish, dead serious. They are the work of a young intellectual who, with his peers, is reinventing and reinvigorating what intellectuals can be and say and do. An important contribution to the higher mental life of our vexed time.

Mark Greif received a BA summa cum laude from Harvard in history and literature; an M.Phil. from Oxford in English as a British Marshall Scholar; and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. In 2004, he co-founded n+1, and has been a principal at the magazine since. In 2005 and 2007 his essays were chosen for The Best American Essays. His scholarly book, The Age of the Crisis of Man, was published in 2015 by Princeton University Press. In 2013-2014, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, in its School of Social Science. In 2015, he was awarded the Charles Ryskamp Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. He is an associate professor at the New School in New York.
Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.
Shamus Khan Public Humanities Scholar

Who Attended Classical Music Concerts in the Gilded Age? Class Formation, Culture, and “Big Data” Using the New York Philharmonic Archive

Shamus Khan
Associate Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Thursday, October 20, 2016 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

The Gilded Age was the key period of class formation in the United States. Cultural institutions played a central role in this process. Historians, cultural critics, and social scientists have argued that such institutions, like orchestras, helped consecrate “high culture” through the exclusion of non-elite audiences. Drawing upon a unique database of subscribers to the New York Philharmonic, this talk challenges this story, showing how during the Gilded Age the Philharmonic opened up to new members. Through a combination of historical analysis and “big data” we see a complex relations between social closure, social openness, and the dynamics of inequality in the Gilded Age. 

In addition to this lecture, Shamus Khan will also lead a series of informal lunchtime conversations on writing for different audiences. On Wednesday, October 19, he will discuss writing for and submitting to academic journals; on Friday, October 21, how to write and pitch pieces for broader publics.

Shamus Khan is associate professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he is the director of the graduate program. He writes on culture, inequality, and elites. He is the author of, Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (Princeton), The Practice of Research (Oxford, with Dana Fisher), the forthcoming Exceptional: The Astors, the New York Elite, and the story of American Inequality  (Princeton) and Approaches to Ethnography: Modes of Representation and Analysis in Participant Observation (Oxford). He directs the working group on the political influence of economic elites at the Russell Sage Foundation, is the series editor of “The Middle Range” at Columbia University Press, and the editor of the journal Public Culture. He writes regularly for the popular press such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, and serving as a columnist for Time Magazine. He is on the Governing Board of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University and a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities. 

Bree Newsome MSC Social Justice Speaker Series

Tearing Hate from the Sky

Bree Newsome
Filmmaker, Musician, and Activist

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 @ 7:00pm Gordon Commons, 770 W. Dayton Street

Bree Newsome is the community organizer and activist who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House. The iconic picture of her on the pole, flag in hand, has become a touchstone of empowerment for disenfranchised people around the world. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Bree is also an award-winning filmmaker, writer, composer, and singer who believes in art as activism. Currently, she works as a western field organizer for IgniteNC, a project of the Southern Vision Alliance and she is a founding member of Tribe, a grassroots organizing collective dedicated to empowering underserved communities in Charlotte, NC.

Presented in partnership with UW-Madison's Multicultural Student Center and Chadbourne Residential College.

Ken Wissoker

Book Publishing in the Humanities of Today

Ken Wissoker
Editorial Director, Duke University Press

Monday, October 10, 2016 @ 12:00pm Banquet Room, University Club Building

Please note: this workshop is open to graduate students, faculty, and academic staff. Registration is required:

Join us for a discussion of the state of academic publishing in the humanities and the process of working with a university press—from project to proposal to publication. The workshop will include a presentation from Ken Wissoker (Duke University Press and CUNY), who will talk about writing first and subsequent scholarly books at a time of significant changes in the academy, in publishing, and in the ways ideas circulate. Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman.

Ken Wissoker is the Editorial Director of Duke University Press, acquiring books in anthropology, cultural studies and social theory; globalization and post-colonial theory; Asian, African, and American studies; music, film and television; race, gender and sexuality; science studies; and other areas in the humanities, social sciences, media, and the arts. He joined the Press as an Acquisitions Editor in 1991; became Editor-in-Chief in 1997; and was named Editorial Director in 2005. In 2014, in addition to his duties at the Press, he became Director of Intellectual Publics at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. He has published more than 900 books which have won over 100 prizes, and has contributed to the Cinema JournalChronicle of Higher Education, and Prof. Hacker.

Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman, Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Hilldale Professor in the Humanities, and Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at UW-Madison. Her most recent book is Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time from Columbia University Press in August 2015.

Sponsored by the UW-Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities and Center for the Humanities. Space is limited. Registration is required. RSVP to

Ciraj Rassool Public Humanities Scholar

Rehumanising the Dead of Anthropology

Ciraj Rassool
Professor of History and Director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies, University of the Western Cape

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 @ 5:30pm 126 Memorial Library, 728 State Street

Ciraj Rassool considers the history of the illegal export of dead bodies and skeletons from the northern Cape in southern Africa to Vienna in 1908 as well as the events surrounding the return of the remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar from the Natural History Museum and their eventual reburial at Kuruman, South Africa in 2012. In thinking about these events, he asks questions about the cultural politics of this process of return and how it might be possible to think about this and other returns of the dead of anthropology as enabling a process of rehumanisation.  

Ciraj Rassool, Ph.D is professor of history and director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He was the chairperson of the District Six Museum and council chairperson of Iziko Museums of South Africa, and was also on the councils of the National Heritage Council and the South African Heritage Resources Agency. He is a board member of the South African History Archive, and is also a member of the Human Remains Advisory Committee of the Minister of Arts and Culture, South Africa. He is co-author or co-editor of several books about museums and public culture including Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917 (2000; republished 2015), Recalling Community in Cape Town: Creating and Curating the District Six Museum (2001), Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations (2006) and The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures (2015). He was recently a fellow at Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Cologne.

Convened by Elaine Fisher and André Wink

Global Reformations: Religion and the Making of the Modern World

Convened by Elaine Fisher and André Wink

Friday, May 6 through Saturday, May 7 Banquet Room, University Club

A two-day international and interdisciplinary conference aiming to rethink global transformations in religion during the early modern centuries by raising the following questions in global perspective: Did religions across regions of the globe experience a synchronic series of reformations integral to their entry into the modern age? Do we witness any changes in the concept of religion or its place in society across continents as a result of these reformations?

Program and other details here.


Ali Humayun Akhtar [Bates College]

Wendy Laura Belcher [Princeton]

Alexander Bevilacqua [Harvard]

Shmuel Feiner [Bar Ilan]

Elaine Fisher [UW-Madison]

Pablo F. Gómez [UW-Madison]

Janet Gyatso [Harvard]

John Stratton Hawley [Columbia]

J. Michelle Molina [Northwestern]

William Noseworthy [UW-Madison]

Babak Rahimi [UC-San Diego]

Daniel Sheffield [U. of Washington]

Darryl Wilkinson [UW-Madison]

André Wink [UW-Madison]

Jiang Wu [University of Arizona]

Ali Yaycioglu [Stanford]

All conference presentations will be free and open to the public. Made possible by the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, the Center for the Humanities, and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.

Anne Curzan

Going Grammando: A Linguist's Look at Grammar Pet Peeves

Anne Curzan
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan

Thursday, March 10, 2016 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

From her perspective as a historian of the English language, linguist Anne Curzan will examine some of the most common grammar pet peeves, including “between you and I,” the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively," the new(ish) verb “to impact,” the pronoun “they” as a singular, the use of “that” for “who” in reference to people, dangling modifiers, and the use of “less” for “fewer.” How long have speakers been doing this? Should we accept it in speech? In formal writing? When does a “grammatical error” stop being an error? Curzan will explain how she handles these usage questions as a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage panel and as an academic writer and copy editor.

Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English and Associate Dean for Humanities at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education. Professor Curzan currently serves as Co-Director of the Joint Ph.D. Program in English and Education and as the Faculty Athletics Representative for the University of Michigan. She received the University's Henry Russel Award for 2007, as well as the Faculty Achievement Award in 2009 and the 2012 John Dewey Award. Professor Curzan's research interests include the history of English, language and gender, corpus linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, pedagogy, and lexicography.

Presented in partnership with the English Department.

Christophe Bonneuil

The Geological Turn: The Anthropocene and Its Narratives

Christophe Bonneuil
Historian, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

Scientists tell us the Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. What we face is not only an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. How did we get to this point? Should we buy Anthropocene scientists' convenient story of an undifferentiated “human species” that upset the Earth system, unaware of what it was doing?

Stories matter for the Earth. The stories that the elites of industrial modernity have told themselves have been cultural drivers of the new geological regime we now live in. Similarly the kinds of stories we today tell ourselves about the Anthropocene can shape the kind of geo-historical future we will inhabit. This talk will cross-examine four grand narratives of the Anthropocene: 1) the naturalist narrative, currently the mainstream one; 2) the post-nature narrative; 3) the eco-catastrophist narrative; and 4) the eco-Marxist narrative.

Bonneuil will also participate in a roundtable discussion with Frédéric Neyrat and Paul Robbins on Thursday, March 3.

Christophe Bonneuil is a senior researcher in history of science, science studies, and environmental history at the Centre Alexandre Koyré  (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. His research explores the co-evolution of ways of knowing and ways of governing nature and the Earth. He has recently published a global environmental history of the Anthropocene (The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us, Verso, 2016 [2013 in french], with J-B. Fressoz) and edited The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis: Rethinking Modernity in a New Epoch, (Routledge, 2015, with C. Hamilton and F. Gemenne).

Jeannie Suk Public Humanities Scholar

Will Democracy Survive the Sex Bureaucracy?

Jeannie Suk
Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

We are living in a new sex bureaucracy. The past several decades have witnessed a sea change in the way sex is legally regulated in the United States. We’ve seen a bureaucratic turn: institutions are mandated by the federal government to use bureaucratic tools to formulate and enforce sex policy within the overlapping rubrics of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual and gender violence. To what end is the federal bureaucracy in the business of sex regulation? What are the rationalities, procedures, and structures of the sex bureaucracy? What effects does the sex bureaucracy have on education, universities, the humanities—and on democracy?

Jeannie Suk is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where she has taught criminal law, family law, and the law of art and fashion. Prior to her J.D. at Harvard, she completed a doctorate in French Literature at Oxford, and published her first book, Postcolonial Paradoxes in French Caribbean Literature (OUP). She served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court of the United States, and as a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Her book, At Home in the Law: How the Domestic Violence Revolution, is Transforming Privacy (YUP), won the Law and Society Association's prize for best book of the year. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and serves on the Board of Directors of the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence.

Jeanette Walls Chadbourne Common Read

The Glass Castle

Jeanette Walls
Writer and Journalist

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 @ 7:00pm Shannon Hall, Wisconsin Union Theater

Jeanette Walls is a writer and journalist. Her memoir The Glass Castle details her unconventional, poverty-stricken childhood, and is the subject of this year's Chadbourne Common Read.

Mary Louise Roberts Chicago Humanities Festival

The Day After D-Day

Mary Louise Roberts
WARF Distinguished Lucie Aubrac Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 2:30pm Poetry Foundation, 61 W Superior Street, Chicago, IL

The story of D-day is well known, but less frequently told is the French side of the story. In her award– winning book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France, Mary Louise Roberts provides a rich, nuanced picture of the interaction among Allied soldiers and French civilians in World War II and its aftermath. Hear this historian elucidate a story you thought you already knew, and learn about the sometimes surprising responses to her findings.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Institute for Research in the Humanities

Bryan Stevenson Go Big Read

Go Big Read Keynote Presentation for Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson
Founder and Executive Director, The Equal Justice Initiative; Professor of Law, NYU Law School

Monday, October 26, 2015 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall at Union South

Bryan Stevenson is one of the leading voices in America for reforming a justice system that produces strikingly different results depending on a defendant’s race and economic means. Readers across the UW–Madison campus and around the Madison community, including law enforcement, will join that discussion this fall as they confront the contradictions between that system and our nation’s founding principles of equality, freedom and justice.

Azar Nafisi Wisconsin Book Festival

The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books

Azar Nafisi
Writer and Professor of English, Johns Hopkins University

Sunday, October 25, 2015 @ 11:00am Madison Public Library, Central Branch

Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. Azar Nafisi is a Visiting Professor and the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics.

Richard Keller, Caroline Levine, Scott Straus Wisconsin Book Festival

What We're Writing Now: New Books from UW Faculty

Richard Keller, Caroline Levine, Scott Straus
Professors of Medical History and Bioethics, English, Political Science

Thursday, October 22, 2015 @ 5:30pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch

UW-Madison faculty in the fields of Medical History and Bioethics, Political Science, and Literary Studies convene to talk about their recently released, field-shaping publications. Richard Keller, Scott Straus, and Caroline Levine will discuss their work on the Paris heat wave of 2003, nation-making in postcolonial Africa, and the patterns and arrangements that shape both art and political life.

Presented in Partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Madison Public Library.

Debjani Ganguly

Real Virtualities and the Undead Genre: The Novel in Our Time

Debjani Ganguly
Head of Humanities Research Centre at Australia National University

Monday, April 13, 2015 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

The death knell of the novel has been sounded often enough in our hypervisual era. In this talk, Debjani Ganguly argues that far from being dead, the contemporary novel abstracts the phenomenology of the spectatorship and the visual in our time in fascinating ways. With a focus on novels dealing with war, violence and conflict zones in our contemporary era - Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, 9/11 -  Ganguly traces a mode of novelistic intermediality derived from the trope of ekphrasis - the verbal description of a visual object - and demonstrates, through a reading of excerpts from the work of Ian McEwan and Martin Amis, the ways in which they manifest a new structure of address and a new infrastructure of responsibility to an ever-expanding realm of virtual publics. She also undertakes a reading that complicates the relationship between the widespread mediatization of war-induced humanitarian crises and the visualization of such crises in in contemporary novels, such as works by Joe Sacco, Nadeem Aslam, and Kevin Powers. The melancholic mode these novels adopt, she argues, operates with a dissensual force that destabilizes the visual economy of media representations of war and humanitarian suffering.

Debjani Ganguly is director of the Humanities Research Centre and associate professor of literature at the Australian National University. Her areas of research include the contemporary Anglophone novel, literary forms in the new media age, postcolonial approaches to caste and dalit studies, Indian literatures in Hindi, Marathi and Bengali, language worlds in colonial/postcolonial South Asia, and Indian Ocean literary worlds from 1750-1950. She is the author of This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Duke University Press, 2015 in press) and Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity: Notes on a Postcolonial Hermeneutics of Caste (Routledge 2005). She is currently working on a monograph on new visual media and the twenty-first century novel. Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Michigan. Debjani is a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and Member on the international advisory boards of the Harvard Institute for World Literature and the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), Duke University. She is a member of the PMLA Advisory Committee and co-edits (with Ato Quayson and Neil Ten Kortenaar) the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.

Rousseau’s Confessions in Wisconsin Student Conference

Great World Texts Student Conference

Rousseau’s Confessions in Wisconsin Student Conference
Keynote by Danielle S. Allen

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
8:30am - 3:30pm
Varsity Hall at Union South

This year, teachers and students throughout the state of Wisconsin will read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions. At the annual Great World Texts in Wisconsin Student Conference, students will present their work on Confessions and engage in a conversation about the autobiography, its contexts and impacts. Members of the broader UW-Madison academic community will join in this intellectual and celebratory discussion of Rousseau's text and the work of our student participants. All are welcome to join for the keynote lecture by Danielle S. Allen at 11:00 AM.

Danielle S. Allen is a MacArthur Award-winning classicist and political theorist who examines issues of contemporary citizenship and argues for the importance of connecting people across racial, socioeconomic, educational and religious divides.

Conference Schedule:
For a complete program, click here.

8:30am Welcome with Mayor Paul Soglin and Sara Guyer (Varsity Hall 1/2)

8:45am Plenary Presentations I (Varsity Hall 1/2)

9:30am Student Project Display & Parisian Salon discussion forum (Varsity Hall 3; various locations)

10:10-10:25 Press time with Danielle S. Allen

11:00am Keynote Address: Danielle S. Allen, author, Our Declaration (Varsity Hall 1/ 2)

12:00pm Lunch

1:00pm Plenary Presentations II (Varsity Hall 1/2)

2:00pm - Theatre Workshop with Jen Plants, Carl Djerassi Playwrighting Fellow at UW-Madison

3:00pm - Closing Remarks

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Union South.

Randall Davidson, Michele Hilmes, Bill C. Malone, Henry Sapoznik, James P. Leary, Anna Andrzejewski Global Midwest

World Records and Vernaculars of the Global Midwest

Randall Davidson, Michele Hilmes, Bill C. Malone, Henry Sapoznik, James P. Leary, Anna Andrzejewski

Thursday, March 19 through Friday, March 20

The 2015 World Records Symposium will delve into the ways diverse Midwestern communities used early broadcasting technology to support local and traditional languages, cultures, and music. The 2015 Symposium (March 19, 2015) will meet in conjunction with the Vernaculars of the Global Midwest (March 19-20, 2015). 

World Records Symposium:
Broadcasting the Global Midwest

Thursday, March 19 at 1:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall

  • Join Randall Davidson (UW-Oshkosh), Michele Hilmes (UW-Madison), Bill C. Malone (Madison, WI), and Henry Sapoznik (Mayrent Institute) for a discussion on Wisconsin's central role in early radio broadcasting history.

Global Sounds and Jack Pine Savages: World Music Wisconsin-style
Thursday, March 19 at 7:30pm
Banquet Room, University Club, 432 East Campus Mall

  • Join James P. Leary (UW-Madison), Anna Andrzejewski (UW-Madison), Susan C. Cook (UW-Madison), and Henry Sapoznik for a lively discussion regarding the vernacular practices of Wisconsin's diverse immigrant and indigenous communities. 

Friday, March 20, at 7:30pm
University Club, 432 East Campus Mall

  • Join Bill and Bobbie Malone, Brian Miller (St. Paul, MN), Todd Cambio (Madison, WI), Tom Carter (University of Utah), Henry Sapoznik, and Tes Slominski (Beloit College) for a concert of American vernacular musics, from Delta and Piedmont blues to Irish lumber camp songs to klezmer.

More information here.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture and the Center for the Humanities, with support from the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

All events are free and open to the public.

Curated by Guillermina de Ferrari. Lecture by Nelson Ramírez de Arellano Conde.

Opening Celebration for Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today

Curated by Guillermina de Ferrari. Lecture by Nelson Ramírez de Arellano Conde.

Thursday, March 5, 2015
5:30pm - 8:00pm
Chazen Museum of Art

5:30-6:30 pm, Chazen Auditorium 
No More Boundaries for Cuban Photography
Lecture by Nelson Ramírez de Arellano Conde, participating artist and director of the National Photography Museum in Havana.

6:30-8 pm, Mead Witter Lobby
Preview reception for Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today.
With live music, refreshments, and cash bar.

Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today will run from March 6-June 21, 2015 at the Chazen Museum of Art. The exhibition explores photography in Cuba in times of transition, including photography-based installations, digital photomontage and "intervened photography" by eight contemporary Cuban artists. Funding for the opening celebration is provided by the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science, the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, and the US Department of Education's Title VI Grant Program.

William P. Jones Chicago Humanities Festival

I Have a Dream: The Forgotten History of Civil Rights

William P. Jones
Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Saturday, November 8, 2014 @ 10:30am UIC Forum, 725 W Roosevelt Rd. (MC 126) Chicago‚ IL 60608

Historian William P. Jones restores the March on Washington to its full significance by hilighting the leadership of A. Philip Randolf and Bayard Rustin and uncovering the inextricable links between the civil rights movement and the cause of economic justice.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Institute for Research in the Humanities

B. Venkat Mani Chicago Humanities Festival

The Global Book

B. Venkat Mani
Associate Professor of German and Co-Director, World Literature/s Research Workshop, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sunday, November 2, 2014 @ 4:00pm The Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL

German scholar B. Venkat Mani makes a case for world literature as a politically charged construct, and proposes the notion of Bibliomigrancy to describe the ever-wider global circulation of texts, from the age of enlightenment to the Amazon Kindle.

Presented in Partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Institute for Research in the Humanities

Holland Cotter

Found in Translation

Holland Cotter
Art Critic for The New York Times

Thursday, October 30, 2014 @ 6:00pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160

Co-chief Art Critic for The New York Times, Holland Cotter was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009.  He has been particularly influential in introducing contemporary art from India and China to American audiences.  In this lecture he addresses the challenges of broadening the American perspective, arguing that contemporary art in the United States is in an isolationist phase despite the large amount of interesting work being produced in new “languages” all over the world.

An Arts and Humanities Hilldale Lecture sponsored by the Department of Art History, the Watrous Fund in Art History, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Chazen Museum of Art, the Art Department and the Arts Institute.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.
Shiza Shahid Go Big Read

Go Big Read Keynote Presentation for I Am Malala

Shiza Shahid
CEO and Co-Founder of The Malala Fund

Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall at Union South

Named one of Time Magazine's 30 under 30 World Changers in 2013, Shiza Shahid is mentor to Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, and visionary co-creator and CEO of the Malala Fund, a non-profit dedicated to advocacy, storytelling, and the funding of local entrepreneurs in areas where girls don't have access to education. One of her first tasks was getting Malala's story told in I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Presented by the UW-Madison Libraries and Sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Union South.
Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry Wisconsin Book Festival

Feminism Unfinished

Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry
University Professor of the Humanities and History at NYU; Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies, Grinnell College

Saturday, October 18, 2014 @ 3:00pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch; Community Room (Third Floor)

Providing an important corrective to simplistic, de-politicized narratives of feminist history, Gordon and Henry present a rich account of collective action and feminist activism across divides of class, race, and difference from the 1920's to the present day.

Presented in Partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Madison Public Library.

Jordan Ellenberg Wisconsin Book Festival; Wisconsin Science Festival

How Not to Be Wrong

Jordan Ellenberg
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, October 16, 2014 @ 5:30pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch; Community Room (Third Floor)

Theoretical mathematician Jordan Ellenberg’s writing on math for general audiences has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wired, The Believer, The Boston Globe, and Slate Magazine. He makes the case that math is inherently connected to the way we think as we go about our daily lives, from politics and theology to language, and beyond. In this lecture he will talk about uncertainty and contradiction, arguing that there is common ground between poets, novelists, philosophers and mathematicians that can be useful for all these groups.

Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival and Wisconsin Science Festival.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Madison Public Library.

Catherine Porter

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

Catherine Porter
2009 President of the Modern Language Association; Visiting Professor, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University; Professor of French, Emerita, State University of New York, Cortland

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. It will address the Preliminary Plan for a School of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and will point to some potentially useful resources available from the Modern Language Association, concluding with some suggestions for next steps in the process launched by the World Languages, Literatures, & Cultures Task Force in the fall of 2013.

Catherine Porter, 2009 President of the Modern Language Association, is Visiting Professor, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University and Professor of French Emerita, State University of New York, Cortland, where she served as chair of the Department of International Communications and Culture from 1985-91 and from 1997-2001. She has published more than three dozen book-length translations in the humanities and the social sciences, most recently Luc Boltanski's The Foetal Condition, and Anne Berger's The Queer Turn in Feminism. Recent articles include "Translation as Scholarship" (ADFL Bulletin, 2009), "The MLA Recommendations: Can We Get There from Here?" (ADFL Bulletin 41.1, 2009), "English Is Not Enough," (PMLA, May 2010), and "Translation in the Curriculum (ADE Bulletin, 2011). She received her doctorate in French literature from Yale University in 1972.

Sponsored by the Language Institute and Center for the Humanities, on behalf of the L&S World Languages, Literatures, & Cultures Task Force.

Teaching Great World Texts in Wisconsin

A Collaborative Colloquium with Keynote Doris Sommer

Teaching Great World Texts in Wisconsin

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.

Click here for the full schedule. 

Keynote Doris Sommer is founder of Cultural Agents and Pre-Texts at Harvard University, and is the Ira Jewell Williams, Jr., Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies, also at Harvard University. Professor Sommer is recognized as one of the world's leading developers of the concept of cultural agency.

Other sessions will be led by UW-Madison faculty and staff, and veteran teachers in the Great World Texts program. 

Free and open to the public.  Lunch is available for pre-registered attendees only.  Limited scholarships may be available for teachers not participating in this year's program who plan to apply for our 2014-2015 program, Rousseau's Confessions in Wisconsin.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Union South.

The Public Good

Public Humanities Conference

The Public Good
Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Christopher Newfield, and Doris Sommer

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.

The morning session in Varsity Hall at Union South will feature UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank and Christopher Newfield, Professor of English at UC-Santa Barbara. 

The afternoon session will take place at Madison Central Public Library and feature concurrent hands-on workshops with UW graduate students as well as special guests from Wisconsin Public Radio, the Madison Public Library, and the Cultural Agents Program at Harvard University, and a roundtable discussion about public engagement in Madison. All will be followed by a reception catered by Underground Catering.

Detailed agenda here.

Directions, accessibility, and parking for Union South and Madison Central Public Library.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Imagining Possible Worlds

Kim Stanley Robinson
American Science Fiction Writer; Author of Mars Trilogy

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

The Center for the Humanities, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and To the Best of Our Knowledge present Imagining Possible Worlds, a conversation about literature, science, and the future.

Renowned science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, WID Director David Krakauer, Literary Scholar Monique Allewaert and TTBOOK producer and WID Distinguished Scholar Steve Paulson will explore how humanists, scientists, and writers bring distinct but overlapping approaches to universal questions about shared global interests, ranging from climate change and geo-engineering to creating more egalitarian and sustainable societies, and how science fiction can help us imagine the future.

At the event, Robinson will announce the winning entries of the Three Minute Futures flash science fiction contest. The winning entries, dramatized for radio, will premiere at the symposium and will air on To The Best Of Our Knowlege the weekend of April 12.

Robinson will be available to sign books after the event. Book sales will be handled by A Room of One's Own Bookstore. The restaurant, Steenbock's on Orchard, located on the first floor of the Discovery Building, will be open for drinks and a late dinner seating after the event as well.

More about the Panelists:

Kim Stanley Robinson

Robinson is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author best-known for his Mars Trilogy. His most recent book Shaman explores the political and cultural dynamics of society during the Ice Age, before the invention of writing.

David Krakauer

Krakauer is the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, co-director for the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation, professor of genetics at UW-Madison, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the evolutionary history of information processing mechanisms in adaptive systems.

Monique Allewaert

Allewaert is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first book Ariel’s Ecology: Plantations, Personhood, and Colonialism in the American Tropics (Minnesota, 2013) shows how the cultural forms of Afro- and Anglo-Americans in the American tropics presume what we might call an ecological mode of personhood. Allewaert serves on the editorial boards of American Literature and Resilience and has co-edited a Special Issue of American Literature focused on Ecocriticism (2012). Currently she is writing a book that integrates empiricist theories, materialisms, and ecocriticism to offer a new account of figure and figuration in 18th- and 19th-century writing.


Steve Paulson

Paulson is the executive producer and an interviewer with To the Best of Our Knowledge. Paulson has written for Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Independent, and other publications. His radio reports have also been broadcast on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” His recent book, Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science, was published by Oxford University Press.

Queer and Now: Rethinking Queer Theory in the Humanities

A Symposium by the The Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective

Queer and Now: Rethinking Queer Theory in the Humanities

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 UW 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.

The symposium will consist of two parts:

Keywords at a Swerve (1:30-3:30), will explore keywords in contemporary queer theory as well as critical responses to those keywords by young scholars whose work takes up, reinvents, or deviates from the central terms of the field.

Temporality: Aida Hussen (keyword)
At a Loss for Time: Erotic Velocities and Queer Desires: Jennifer Row (swerve)

Negativity: Damon Young (keyword)
How to Really Feel Bad: Adding Flesh to Negativity: Amber Musser (swerve)

Aesthetic: Jill Casid (keyword)
Performing Objecthood: Uri McMillan (swerve)

Affect: Jordan Stein (keyword)
Affective Histories Kadji Amin (swerve)

Making a Queer Scene: Conversations in Queer Theory (4:15-5:30) will consist of a series of roundtable discussions co-facilitated by a member of the collective and a UW faculty member. Each discussion will focus on two competing or analogous terms that have animated debates in both queer theory and the humanities more broadly. To participate in one of the following roundtable discussions, please e-mail Ramzi Fawaz (Assistant Professor of English) at

-Race / Performance: Shanté Smalls & Katie Brewer Ball 
-Queer Reading / ”Reading”: Ramzi Fawaz & Roy Pérez
-Disability / The Body: Ellen Samuels & Leslie Bow
-Transgender / Anti-identitarian: A. Finn Enke & Zakiyyah Jackson

Formed in September 2014, the Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective is a national working group of first-year and early career queer theory professors working to transform, and expand, the scope of sexuality studies in the humanities. Queer and Now is their inaugural event.

Members of the Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective: Kadji Amin (Stony Brook University), Katie Brewer Ball (Wesleyan University), Ramzi Fawaz (UW Madison), Zakiyyah Jackson (University of Virginia), Uri McMillan (UCLA), Amber J. Musser (University of Washington, St. Louis), Roy Perez (Willamette University), Jennifer Row (Boston University), Shanté Smalls (University of New Mexico), Jordon Stein (Fordham University), Damon Young (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

Participating UW Faculty: Leslie Bow (English), Jill Casid (Art History), A. Finn Enke (History and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies), Aida Hussen (English), Ellen Samuels (Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and English).  

More information at or contact Ramzi Fawaz:

Brenda Bufalino

Tap Dance: Made in America

Brenda Bufalino

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

A lecture demonstration about the styles, periods, performance, presentation and creation of American jazz tap dance with Madison's own jazz pianist, Dave Stoler.

One of the first and still very few white women to be welcomed into the mostly Black and male world of expert rhythm tappers, Brenda Bufalino made a name for herself by working in interracial dance companies in the 1950s when she was still a teen-ager. She grew up to create tap sequences that dazzled, and to teach more than three generations of tap artists. Gregory Hines has called her "one of the greatest female dancers that ever lived." The founder of the American Tap Dance Foundation, Bufalino has been one of engines that stoked the revival of tap dance and the mainstreaming of 'rhythm tap.' She has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Palladium, she danced with the legendary Charles 'Honi' Coles, and in this rare appearance, she will present a master class and lecture demonstration on the history of tap in motion. 

This project is supported in part, by TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee, the University of Wisconsin Center for Humanities, Edgewood College Educational Programming Board, and the University of Stevens Point COFAC Great Artists, Great Speakers Series. 

3 Minute Futures

A Flash Science Fiction Contest

3 Minute Futures
with Kim Stanley Robinson

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

The Center for the Humanities, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge invite submissions for a national flash fiction contest. Submissions should be based on “real science and set in the near future.” Legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, of Mars Trilogy fame, will judge the contest. Three winning entries will be turned into radio plays, produced by To the Best of Our Knowledge and dramatized by the Ensemble Studio Theatre-Los Angeles under the direction of Gates McFadden, best known as Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The contest begins February 1 and the deadline for submissions is March 1, 2014.

The three partner institutions will review entries for writing quality, plausibility based on grounding in 'hard' science, and their ability to be translated for dramatization on the radio. Kim Stanley Robinson will make the final selections.

Winning entries will be broadcast nationally on nearly 200 public radio stations during To the Best of Our Knowledge.  One grand prize winner will also receive an autographed copy of Robinson’s new novel Shaman and will be showcased at a symposium on Imagining Future Worlds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 9, 2014. 

Guidelines for Entry:

·         Your story must be set in the near future and draw on the tradition of “hard” science fiction - science fiction that is scientifically plausible.
·         Possible story themes include: communication, energy, computing, robotics, biomedicine, drones, spaceflight, nanotechnology, ecological concerns, food production, reproduction, end-of-life, surveillance, but other themes are welcome.
·         500-600 words - short enough to be read aloud in three minutes and suitable for national broadcast on public radio.
·         Only one entry per person – find complete official rules online at:
·         Submit stories at no later than 11:59 p.m. CT, March 1, 2014.

Snow in Wisconsin Student Conference

Great World Text Student Conference with Orhan Pamuk

Snow in Wisconsin Student Conference
Nobel Prize-Winning Author of Snow

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. Educators will attend two colloquia, on September 9 and 10, 2013 and on March 31, 2014 where they will receive an Educator's Guide to Teaching Snow, hear talks from UW-Madison experts on the text and its contexts, and collaborate to plan their curricula.

A student conference will take place on December 2, 2013, where students will present their work, participate in workshop activities, and engage in conversation with students from around the state.  They will also have opportunity to engage directly with the author, Orhan Pamuk, who will present a keynote at 11:00 A.M.

John Hawks Chicago Humanities Festival

Are We the Last Neanderthals?

John Hawks
Professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison

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. Biological anthropologist John Hawks is at the forefront of this species-shaking research. He presents the latest findings from the lab and field and discusses what may or may not make us uniquely human.

John Hawks is an expert on human evolution and genetics, best known for his work demonstrating the recent rapid evolution of humans within the past 10,000 years; and for exploring the contribution of ancient Neandertals to the ancestry of people living today. He has done fieldwork in Africa, Asia and Europe, combining skeletal evidence from fossils with new information from genetics to uncover how humans evolved. His weblog is one of the top international resources on human evolution and genetics.

This program is presented by the Center for the Humanities in partnership with the Institute for Research in the Humanities and the 2013 Chicago Humanities Festival. This is a ticketed event.

About the Chicago History Museum.

Ruth Ozeki Go Big Read

A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki
Novelist, Filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist Priest

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. Spanning the planet from Tokyo’s Electric Town to Desolation Sound, British Columbia, and connected by the great Pacific gyres, A Tale for the Time Being tells the story of a diary, washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and the profound effect it has on the woman who discovers it.

More information at

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen & Steven Nadler Wisconsin Book Festival

Philosophical Portraits: Descartes and Nietzsche

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen & Steven Nadler

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.

Presented in partnership with the 2013 Wisconsin Book Festival. Moderated by Steve Paulson of Wisconsin Public Radio.


Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is Merle Curti Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Her research examines US intellectual and cultural history, with a focus on the transatlantic flow of ideas and cultural movements. She publishes widely, with a number of essays and reviews for The Wilson Quarterly, Daedalus, The American Prospect, and the Guardian blog. She is currently working on a book on the search for wisdom and wonder in 20th-century American life.

Steven Nadler is William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton University Press, 2013). Nadler received his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University in 1986 and has been teaching at UW-Madison since 1988. His other books include Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge, 1999, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award); Rembrandt's Jews (Chicago, 2003, named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Princeton, 2010); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton, 2011). He is also the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. 

More about Nadler's talk: Sometime in 1649, Frans Hals, the great seventeenth-century Dutch artist, painted a small, rough portrait of René Descartes, the great seventeenth-century French philosopher who spent most of his adult life in the Netherlands -- or so it seems. But where is the picture that Hals allegedly painted? And what were the circumstances that may have brought these two giants of the Dutch Golden Age together?

Timothy Yu; Leslie Bow; Morris Young; Jan Miyasaki Go Big Read

A Tale for the Time Being: A Panel Discussion

Timothy Yu; Leslie Bow; Morris Young; Jan Miyasaki
English and Asian-American Studies

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

UW-Madison faculty share perspectives on Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, this year's Go Big Read selection.

Speakers include: Timothy Yu, Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies and Director, Asian American Studies Program; Leslie Bow, Professor of English and Asian American Studies; Morris Young, Professor of English; and Jan Miyasaki, Lecturer in Asian American Studies. Join us for refreshments after the event.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided after the panel. Please note that a photo id is required to enter Memorial Library.

Contact:, 608-262-4308

This event is sponsored by the Asian American Studies Program, the English Department, the Center for the Humanities, Go Big Read, and Memorial Library.

John Hawks Wisconsin Science Festival

Booting Up Humanity

John Hawks
Professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison

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? New discoveries point in a surprising direction: Modern humans used a diversity of genes in a common social environment to bootstrap themselves to humanity. WIth the origin of modern human behavior, cultural evolution began to direct our genetic evolution, with rapid and unprecedented results. 
John Hawks is an expert on human evolution and genetics, best known for his work demonstrating the recent rapid evolution of humans within the past 10,000 years; and for exploring the contribution of ancient Neandertals to the ancestry of people living today. He has done fieldwork in Africa, Asia and Europe, combining skeletal evidence from fossils with new information from genetics to uncover how humans evolved. His weblog is one of the top international resources on human evolution and genetics.
This talk is presented by the Center as part of the 2013 Wisconsin Science Festival.
Directions, accessibility, and parking for Union South.
Martin Foys Humanities Hackathon

Small Data in a Big Way: Customizing Linked Data in Medieval Maps and Manuscripts

Martin Foys
Senior Lecturer, Kings College, London & Associate Professor of English, Drew University; Co-Director of the Digital Mappaemundi Project

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

This workshop will explore the functionality of the DM Project (, a developing on-line environment to allow scholars to collect and annotate digital images and texts collaboratively. In particular, DM emphasizes the continuing need within digital humanities resources for scholars to be able to generate bespoke scholarship - custom and targeted linked data of moments within images and texts - across large collections.  Through the Virtual Mappa Project (VMP) - a partnership between the DM Project and the British Library focussed on medieval maps of the world -  we will look at the DM Project's new multi-up working environment, with innovative methods for managing the display, selection and annotation of several manuscript images and transcribed texts simultaneously.  We'll also review newly completed work for exporting the linked data created by users in Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC) compliant XML and RDF-triple formats, and touch on a few other medieval manuscript projects using DM, ranging from the institutional to the individual in scale. Finally, we'll discuss the next phase of work already in development - establishing customizable collections of such annotated data, drawn from manuscript manifests hosted across multiple institutional repositories. During the presentation and discussion, a sandbox of the Virtual Mappa Project will be publicly available for hands-on experience of DM features.

This event is part of the Humanites Hackathon Series. 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. The Humanities Hackathon bridges the gap between seemingly unrelated disciplines and enriches discussions about transdisciplinary work.

Meetings consist of roughly one hour of presentations and discussion, followed by an hour of lab time, where participants can share projects, trade ideas, run programs, and receive support for software and techniques.

Registration requested, but not required. More information about location and accessing the WID labs here.

Martin K. Foys is a Senior Lecturer in Pre-1300 English at King's College, London and an Associate Professor of English at Drew University.

Major publications include the Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition (2003),  Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print (2007), and Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations (2009). Martin is a founding board member of the Digital Medievalist resource, and has served as a member of the consultative group for the Parker Library on the Web project and a member of the Medieval Academy of America's Committee on Electronic Resources. He also co-directs the DM project (, a digital resource for the open annotation of medieval images and texts funded by the NEH and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Outside the digital humanities, the core of Martin's research concerns pre- and post-Conquest England, with special attention to the intersection of literature and other visual, material and media modes of cultural expression – e.g. maps, tapestries and sculpture, and, most recently, more ephemeral and abstracted aspects of Anglo-Saxon expressive production – auditory culture, technological alteration of bodies, transliteracies and ecologies of media forms, and the process of temporal decay or obsolescence. Recent work includes an essay on "Media" for the Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies (2012), and co-editing a volume of articles on "Becoming Media" for the journal postmedieval (2012),  for which submissions were also vetted through an experimental on-line crowd review. He is currently at work on a book on the nature of Anglo-Saxon media, as well as editing a set of early medieval maps for the Virtual Mappa Project, in partnership with the British Library. Martin is also the Executive Director of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. 
Humanities Hackathon Short Course Humanities Hackathon

Look, Listen, Read, Play

Humanities Hackathon Short Course

Monday, July 15, 2013 @ 9:45am Wisconsin Insitutes for Discovery

A week-long summer course introducing computational techniques and coding from the sciences, and infused with a strong humanities perspective. WID and the Center for the Humanities invite you to join us as we look, listen, read and play to uncover unexpected connections and intriguing patterns in visual art, music, literature and historical works. Applications and further information here.

What Pete Ate

Exhibit opening and artist reception with Maira Kalman

What Pete Ate

Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 9:30am Madison Children's Museum, 100 N. Hamilton Street

Madison Children's Museum, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Humanities, presents What Pete Ate, a collection of original artwork by Maria Kalman from her beloved children's book. Join us for an opening reception Friday, April 12 and join Maira for a reading of What Pete Ate for all ages at 10 a.m. The exhibition runs through August 2013 in the museum’s Community Concourse.

Free admission to art exhibition and artist reception.
Regular museum admission applies to main exhibit galleries.

For more information contact the Madison Children's Museum, 608.256.6445.

Arundhati Roy

An Evening with the Author of The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy
Author and Activist

Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 7:30pm Great Hall, Memorial Union

Arundhati Roy is a novelist and political activist from India most famous for her first book The God of Small Things which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1997. Since then, Roy has focused her efforts on political activism becoming a leading voice in movements against globalization, neoliberal policies, and the use of nuclear weapons. Roy will read selections from her new work and answer questions about writing, reading, living, and advocating for change. A book signing will follow the discussion, with select works available for purchase.

This event is cosponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the UW Madison Distinguished Lecture Series.

Anne Pasternak

Making Arts Public

Anne Pasternak
President and Artistic Director, Creative Time

Friday, March 8, 2013 @ 3:00pm Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street

Anne Pasternak will give the keynote lecture for the 6th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities, Making Public. This year, the conference will be focusing on the relationship between the Arts, Performance, and the Humanities. Panels will address the public orientation, political possibility, and contemporary context in which these disciplines find and redefine themselves.

Anne Pasternak joined Creative Time in the fall of 1994 as the Executive Director. Since that time, the organization, which began commissioning innovative public work in New York City in 1974, has collaborated with hundreds of artists to ignite the public’s imagination, explore ideas that shape society, and bring groundbreaking public art to millions of people around the world. Thanks to Pasternak’s vision, Creative Time recently began presenting national and global projects and initiatives, making it the only public arts organization with programs that have reached from New York to New Orleans, Haiti to Hanoi, and Dubai to Denver.

In addition to her work at Creative Time, Pasternak curates independent exhibitions, consults on urban planning initiatives, and contributes essays to cultural publications. She lectures extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and has served as a guest critic at Yale University.

Making Public

6th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities

Making Public

Friday, March 8, 2013 @ 9:00am Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street

UW-Madison's Center for the Humanities annual Public Humanities Conference demonstrates that the humanities have never been strictly confined to classrooms. The conference gathers scholars, community partners, and students at and around UW-Madison for a day that is dedicated to discussing the importance of literary, visual, and cultural engagement to the practice of public life. Drawing on the principles of the Wisconsin Idea, this conference seeks to promote public engagement as integral to higher education. Each year, we feature a keynote speaker who provides new ways to reconfigure the boundaries of the university and the public. The full agenda for the 2013 Conference, with keynote Anne Pasternak, is available here.

Edwidge Danticat Wisconsin Book Festival

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Edwidge Danticat
Author, Essayist, and Cultural Critic

Saturday, November 10, 2012 @ 5:15pm Overture Center for the Arts

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. She made an auspicious debut with her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, and followed it with the story collection Krik? Krak!, whose National Book Award nomination made Danticat the youngest nominee ever. She is the author of two novels, two collections of stories, two books for young adults, and two nonfiction books, one of which, Brother, I'm Dying, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. In 2009, she received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Parking and directions for the Overture Center for the Arts.

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen Chicago Humanities Festival

American Nietzsche

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
Merle Curti Associate Professor of History, UW-Madison

Saturday, November 10, 2012 @ 1:30pm Chicago, IL: First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple 77 West Washington Street

Friedrich Nietzsche seems an unlikely contender for philosophical prominence in the United States. After all, much of his thought directly counters some of the foundations of modern American life: Christian morality, the Enlightenment faith in reason, and the idea of human equality. And yet, his ideas have had a tremendous impact on American intellectuals, from the time they burst on American shores at the turn of the 20th century to the present. University of Wisconsin historian Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen charts this unlikely love affair, shedding new light on both Nietzsche and the American tradition he inspired.

This program is presented in partnership between the Center for the Humanities and the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the 2012 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Stephen Kantrowitz and David S. Cecelski

Freedom Stories: African Americans and the Civil War

Stephen Kantrowitz and David S. Cecelski

Thursday, November 8, 2012 @ 7:30pm Overture Center for the Arts, Wisconsin Studio

The Civil War did not begin as a war of emancipation. But as it unfolded, African Americans transformed it through two great social movements--the Northern abolition movement, and the collective actions of the slaves themselves. Historians Stephen Kantrowitz and David Cecelski explore the achievements of these movements through the lives of the black activists who shaped them.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Kantrowitz (History, UW-Madison) will discuss his new book, More than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889 with Cecelski, an independent historian and author of The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War.

This talk is part of the Emancipations Lab series.

Parking and directions for the Overture Center for the Arts.

featuring Timothy Morton, Kim Fortun, Becky Mansfield, Juliana Spahr, and Joshua Clover

States of Nature
The John E. Sawyer Seminar on Biopolitics: Life in Past and Present

Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 9:00am 313 University Club


This meeting of the Sawyer Seminar on Biopolitics aims to set up an interdisciplinary conversation about the relationship between ecopolitics and biopolitics. Should we situate ecological thought and environmentalism within or against biopolitics? Are theories of biopolitics useful for analyzing the state management of nature? Does environmentalism participate in what Foucault called the state imperative to "make live," or does ecopolitics instead offer an alternative to biopolitics as mode of decision-making or as a theoretical approach?

More information about the seminar, including a list of visiting participants and the themes of the six seminars from the 2011-2012 academic year can be found here.

Visiting participants are Timothy Morton (English, Rice), Kim Fortun (Science and Technology Studies, Renssalaer), Becky Mansfield (Geography, Ohio State), Juliana Spahr (English, Mills), and Joshua Clover (English, UC-Davis). Two respondents from UW-Madison, Gregg Mitman (History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies) and Sara Guyer (English and Center for the Humanities) will launch the afternoon discussion.

The five visiting participants each pre-circulate a brief selection of work-in-progress (about ten pages) related to the theme. On the day of the seminar meeting, each participant will discuss their work for about twenty minutes, framing their paper for an interdisciplinary conversation. The group - participants, seminar conveners, fellows, and attendees - will discuss the individual papers as well as the issues raised across and among them. Over lunch, the two respondents will share their responses to all the papers and launch a more general discussion.

This event is open to UW-Madison academic staff, faculty, fellows, and graduate students, and requires an RSVP. Please send an email to to RSVP and to get access to the readings.

The precise schedule of the day can be found here.

Lauren Redniss

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout

Lauren Redniss
Author, Illustrator, and Assistant Professor of Illustration, Parsons the New School for Design

Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall, Union South

Lauren Redniss is the author of Century Girl: 100 years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies and Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. Her writing and drawing has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, which nominated her work for the Pulitzer Prize. She was a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library in 2008-2009 and became a New York Institute for the Humanities fellow in 2010. She is the recipient of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship and is currently Artist-in-Residence at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City.

Radioactive is the 2012-2013 selection for UW-Madison's Go Big Read program.

Parking, directions, and accessibility information for Union South.

Creative Time 2012 Summit: Confronting Inequity AND Lunchtime Discussion with Dan Wang and Michael Peterson

Streaming Live from the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NYU

Creative Time 2012 Summit: Confronting Inequity AND Lunchtime Discussion with Dan Wang and Michael Peterson
9:30 AM-6:30 PM

Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 9:30am Memorial Library, Room 126

UW-Madison’s Center for the Humanities and Art Department are collaborating to host our first live streaming of the Creative Time day-long conference, which is devoted to the topics of art and performance as critical forms of engagement with increasing socio-economic inequality and as transformative political response to that problem. Along with a stellar cast of presenters assembled by Creative Time, Madison-based artist Dan Wang, UW-Madison Theatre and Drama Prof. Michael Peterson, and UW-Madison Art Department Prof. Laurie Beth Clark  will lead an afternoon discussion and performance, inviting attendees to engage more directly with the topics and questions that arise during the Summit. This afternoon event will take place at 11:55 AM.

In addition to streaming the Summit for viewers to watch, Spatula&Barcode (the collaborative team of Laurie Beth Clark and Michael Peterson) are collaborating with us to directly engage the audience through an interactive performance event as well. During some of the sessions, they will invite attendees to document their own reactions and responses to the session live as it is taking place by making drawings/mappings or through live blogging/discussion on an online forum. (Drawing materials will be provided on-site.  If you're interested in being part of the online forum, please bring a laptop.)

Every year at the Creative Time Summit, the most innovative artists, activists, critics, writers, and curators come together in New York to engage with one another, and a global audience, about how they are attempting to change our world in unprecedented ways. Participants range from art world luminaries and rural community organizers to international activists—from Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn and hip-hop DJs-turned-prison reform advocates in Appalachia to the notorious custodians of women’s reproductive rights, Women on Waves.

Called “visionary” by the New York Times, the Creative Time Summit is the only conference of its kind, devoted to exploring the intersection of art-making and social justice. It is a forum for the expanding global network of people who believe in the power of artists to make real social change. Since its inception in 2009, the Summit has engaged 4,000 live audience members and a remote Livestream audience of over 30,000.

More information about the Summit, speakers, and the schedule can be located here. If you have questions about attending and participating, please contact Lenora Hanson at:

Dan S Wang is a writer, organizer, and artist who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. His texts about art and politics have appeared in many places, including in catalogs for the Smart Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Documenta 12, and in books such as 3 Years: Arrow Factory, Space (Re)Solutions, and The Essential New Art Examiner. His print media art work circulates as gifts, functional design, mail art, grassroots agitators, and gallery installations. Dan occasionally teaches in the A&D Department at Columbia College and was a co-founder of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural space in Chicago. You can find Dan’s blog here.

Michael Peterson is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Drama. His research and creative interests center on the politics of performance, particularly in the interplay between experimental theatre/performance art and popular performance. He is the author of the book Straight White Male Performance Art Monologues, a study of identity privilege in performance, and is currently writing about new performance in the "New Las Vegas." He completed his PhD at Wisconsin in 1993 and taught for five years at Millikin University in Illinois. A life-long practitioner, he earned a BFA in acting from Ohio University and has directed plays by Aphra Behn, Caryl Churchill, Christopher Durang, William Shakespeare and Naomi Wallace, as well as numerous collaborative original performance events.

Laurie Beth Clark is Professor in the Art Department where she teaches studio courses as well as graduate seminars on topics in Visual Culture Studies. Her creative projects have been shown in theatres, galleries, museums, gardens, forests, and public and private spaces in more than 150 shows in 35 countries on five continents. Extensive documentation of her creative work can be found at Her writing has been published in journals (Performance Paradigm, Performance Research, TDR, Theatre Topics, Tourism and Transnational Studies, Visual Culture) and anthologies (Marketing Memory in Latin America-Duke, The Object Reader-Routledge, Blaze: Discourse on Art-Cambridge, A Performance Cosmology-Routledge, Place and Performance-Palgrave, Macmillan, The Art of Truthtelling After Authoritarian Rule-University of Wisconsin, Guerilla Performance and Multimedia- Continuum). She is currently working on the book manuscript Always Already Again: Trauma Tourism and the Politics of Memory Culture.

Eli Clare

Listening to the Freaks: A History of Circus Tents and Everyday Gawking

Eli Clare
Activist and Writer

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 7:00pm 5120 Grainger, Capitol Conference Room, 5th Floor, 975 University Ave

Eli Clare is author of the award-winning Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation. He will be at UW as a Brittingham Visiting Scholar for the week of Oct. 8-12.

This event is sponsored in part by the Center for the Humanties' Accessing the Intersections: Disability, Race, + Gender Mellon workshop. For more details on this and other events featuring Eli Clare this week, please visit the workshop's event page.

Adam Phillips and Jordan Ellenberg Wisconsin Science Festival

Writing About Difficult Subjects

Adam Phillips and Jordan Ellenberg
A Psychoanalyst and a Mathematician

Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 11:30am UW Hillel Foundation, 611 Langdon Street

Join psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and mathematician Jordan Ellenberg for a discussion about the challenges and pleasures of writing about complex concepts--whether the impassivity of poetics, the perplexities of individual motivation and behavior, or the complexities of pure mathematics. Both thinkers write extensively in the public press about such topics and more, offering unique insight on communicating to--and charming--audiences beyond academia.

Adam Phillips has written many well-known books, including On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored, On Balance, and most recently, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. He writes and interviews widely in publications such as The New York Times and The London Review of Books.

Jordan Ellenberg, beyond being a professor of Mathematics at UW-Madison, has written a novel, The Grasshopper King, and regularly contributes articles on mathematical topics to Slate, Wired, The Washington Post, and others. His forthcoming book with Penguin Press is titled How Not to Be Wrong.

Parking and directions for the UW Hillel Foundation building.

This Center for the Humanities event is part of the 2012 Wisconsin Science Festival.

Peter Meineck

Antigone in Harlem: Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives

Peter Meineck
Founder and Artistic Director of Aquila Theatre; Clinical Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Studies at New York University

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 @ 11:00am Great Hall, Memorial Union

Peter Meineck will reflect on his experience producing the Sophocles classic at Frederick Douglass Academy in New York. Meineck is the founder and Artistic Director of Aquila Theatre and Clinical Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Studies at New York University. He's also the Program Director for Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives, a national public humanities initiative that inspires people to read, see, and think about classical literature and how it continues to influence and invigorat American cultural life. The program brings humanities-based public programming to 100 public libraries, arts centers, theaters, and museums across America.

Meineck will present the keynote lecture for the Great World Texts Student Conference: Antigone in Wisconsin. This year, hundreds of students from sixteen high schools throughout the state will meet in Madison to connect and present their work, and to experience university-level scholarship with a world-class lecture and a workshop with Theatre and Drama professors and graduate students. The students, whose teachers attended two all-day workshops on campus to prepare to teach the text, have been working with Antigone all year as part of the Great World Texts program.

Jody Lewen

The State of Public Humanities: Status Anxiety in Higher Education

Jody Lewen
Director, Prison University Project (San Quentin, CA)

Friday, March 23, 2012 @ 3:15pm Pyle Center, Room 325

Lewen asks us to consider the disparity between the egalitarian principles of higher education and the institutional ambivalence towards scholarly engagement with the public, particularly when it comes to hiring and tenure decisions. Faculty and students are often hesitant to expend time on public engagement when it is viewed as extraneous to their academic advancement. Lewen will confront the role that status anxiety plays in creating that ambiguity and reluctance, particularly in relation to social justice issues. Where does this leave those outside academia who might benefit the most from the resources of the university?

Jody Lewen started volunteering with the San Quentin College Program in 1999. She is the founder and executive director of the Prison University Project and is the extension site director of Patten University at San Quentin. She received her M.A. in Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Freie Universitat, Berlin, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley. She has published and presented extensively in the fields of psychoanalysis, literary theory, and criminal justice. She was the 2006 recipient of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from UC Berkeley.

“Zero Percent” Documentary Film

Q&A with Sean Pica, director of Sing Sing's Hudson Link program

“Zero Percent” Documentary Film
Free screening of the award-winning documentary about Sing Sing's prison education program

Monday, March 19, 2012 @ 7:00pm Marquee Theater, Union South

Following the lives of several of society's 'forgotten men,' Zero Percent reveals the transformational power of education within the prison system.  Sing Sing's college program is called Hudson Link, and statistical evidence of its success shows that opening minds leads to a steep drop in recidivism among former prisoners. 

A Q&A with Sean Pica, director of Hudson Link, follows this free screening.

Sonia Nazario

Go Big Read Public Author Presentation

Sonia Nazario

Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall, Union South

Nazario's book, Enrique's Journey, is the 2011-2012 Go Big Read book selection. Her public presentation is open to all students, staff and community members. Nazario tells the story of Enrique's odyssey to find his mother, after she left him with family in Honduras to go to the U.S. to provide a better life for him. The story recounts Enrique's journey as he heads north, as do thousands of immigrant children, clinging to the tops and sides of freight trains.

Go Big Read is UW-Madison's common-reading program, which generates thousands of people reading, talking, and sharing their reactions and opinions. Copies for classroom use, review copies, and more information can be found at

André Aciman

Exiles and Alibis

André Aciman
Writer & Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York

Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 7:30pm Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center

"Alibi, in Latin, means elsewhere." In this lecture, André Aciman explores time, place and the self. As he explains, "an alibi is not just about an elsewhere or even an erstwhile. An alibi is about a time and or a place that is alleged—i.e., not entirely imagined but not wholly remembered, but that exerts an enduring spell. Alexandria is my Alibi, as are my erstwhile homes in Rome and Paris. Even New York, where I live, has ways of becoming an alibi, especially when it drifts from my present and feels makeshift, provisional, alien. Perhaps, I myself am an alibi, a free-floating stand-in for the real me who is never with me and could be altogether elsewhere, if not altogether different. An Alibi is always almost true. Most of us live there."

André Aciman specializes in seventeenth-century French literature and modern European literature but his writing travels much further. He is the author of the novel Call Me by Your Name, the memoir Out of Egypt, and False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory. He is a professor of Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

Monday, October 25, 2010 @ 7:00pm Kohl Center

This year, UW-Madison students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the general public will read and discuss Rebecca Skloot’s fascinating account of Henrietta Lacks, who was the unwitting donor of the “HeLa cells” which have been vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovering the secrets of cancer; and advancing in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. For more information about how to participate in Go Big Read!, please visit

Rebecca Skloot specializes in narrative science writing. She is the guest editor of "The Best American Science Writing 2011" and a contributing editor at "Popular Science Magazine." Skloot also served on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle.

Joshua Clover

"Poems for a Dying Empire" A Poetry Reading

Joshua Clover
Poet, Professor of English, UC-Davis

Friday, October 1, 2010 @ 7:30pm The Project Lodge, 817 E. Johnson Street

A poetry reading by Joshua Clover.

Joshua Clover

1989 and After: Teenpop and the Pax Americana

Joshua Clover
Poet, Professor of English UC-Davis

Thursday, September 30, 2010 @ 5:30pm Promenade Hall, Overture Center

Acclaimed poet and author of 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About. On Friday, October 1, Joshua Clover will also appear at The Project Lodge, 817 E. Johnson Street, at 7:30 p.m. to read poems from selected works.

Elaine Pagels

Year of Humanities Chancellor's Lecture: The Cultural Impact of the Book of Revelation

Elaine Pagels

Thursday, April 22, 2010 @ 7:00pm Chazen Museum of Art, Elvehjem Building (L160)

Pagels is best known as the author of The Gnostic Gospels; The Origin of Satan; and Adam, Eve and the Serpent. Her most recent books include Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (a New York Times bestseller) and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity.

Chris Abani

Foregrounding Agency in the Melancholy of Alienation

Chris Abani
Author, Poet, and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 11:00am Wisconsin Union Theater

Chris Abani's prose includes Song For Night (Akashic, 2007); The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007); Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006); GraceLand (FSG, 2004); and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985). His poetry collections are Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006); Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004); Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003); and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001). He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, and a Guggenheim Award.

Mark Hansen

"Toward a Technics of the Flesh"

Mark Hansen
Professor of Literature and Arts of the Moving Image, Duke

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 @ 11:00am University Club Building, Room 313

A Brown Bag Conversation with Mark Hansen.

Jim Leach, Don Randel, and Pauline Yu

Humanities in the 21st Century: A Panel Discussion

Jim Leach, Don Randel, and Pauline Yu

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 @ 5:30pm Chazen Museum of Art, Elvehjem Building (L160)

This panel brings together the nation's foremost experts in the humanities to discuss the direction of the Humanities in the 21st century. Moderated by UW-Madison Chancellor Carolyn 'Biddy' Martin, the panel will include comments from Jim Leach, Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Don Randel, President of the Mellon Foundation; and Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies.

James Norton and Becca Dilley

A Celebration of The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin

James Norton and Becca Dilley

Thursday, November 19, 2009 @ 5:30pm Memorial Union

James Norton and Becca Dilley drove 7,600 miles during the winter of 2007-08, interviewing cheesemakers, listening to their stories, tasting their cheeses and exploring the plants where they work. The culmination of their journey is their new book, The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. Norton and Dilley will discuss their work and sign books at the UW-Madison Memorial Union's Main Lounge on November 19. There will be samples of cheese discussed in the book along with a cash bar for wine if desired.

The book showcases 43 of the 44 Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers, who have devoted at least 13 years of their lives to attain the certification, the only one of its kind in the U.S. The Master’s program rivals similar rigorous training in Europe, and includes classes, facility inspections and a written final exam. This event is co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Press and the Wisconsin Union Directorate.

Jonah Lehrer Wisconsin Book Festival

From Marshmallows to Metacognition: What Can Science Teach Us About Decision-Making?

Jonah Lehrer
Author, Contributing Editor at Wired

Friday, October 9, 2009 @ 5:30pm Promenade Hall, Overture Center

Jonah Lehrer is a Contributing Editor at Wired and the author of several acclaimed books.  He graduated from Columbia University and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He has written for The New Yorker, Nature, Seed, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe and also is a Contributing Editor at Scientific American Mind and National Public Radio's Radio Lab. Co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Book Festival, this lecture brings Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust was a Neuroscientist to Madison.

Martín Espada

Poetry of the Political Imagination: A Reading by Martín Espada

Martín Espada
Poet, Essayist, Editor & Translator and Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Thursday, April 30, 2009 @ 7:00pm Pyle Center

See poetry and performance by Martín Espada, winner of the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2007, and a UW-Madison alum. His politics of poetry, rebellion, and laughter will take you on an unforgettable voyage of passion, edge, humor, and social conscience, from Puerto Rico and Chile to New York and Wisconsin. The Americas will never look the same.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities,the Vice-Provost Office, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, the Department of History, LACIS (Latin American, Caribbean, Iberian Studies), The Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of Contemporary History, the Comparative  US Cultures Cluster, and Chican@ & Latin@ Studies Program.

Christoph Menke

The Self-Reflection of Law and the Politics of Rights

Christoph Menke
Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center of Human Rights at the University of Potsdam

Thursday, April 2, 2009 @ 5:00pm Pyle Center

Christoph Menke is Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center of Human Rights at the University of Potsdam. His English books include The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida (1998) and Reflections of Equality (2006). Hosted by Len Kaplan and Sara Guyer. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for European Studies, the Institute for Legal Studies, and the Human Rights Initiative.


Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

The Brothers Karamazov: Laughter and Memory

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 @ 1:00pm Pyle Center

Translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky give the Keynote Lecture for "The Brothers Karamazov in Wisconsin" Student Conference.

Ned Blackhawk, Sara Guyer, Deborah Jenson, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Steve Kantrowitz, John Rowe, Jane Simon, Steve Stern, and Lara Trubowitz

Coping With the Past: A Colloquium on Collective Guilt

Ned Blackhawk, Sara Guyer, Deborah Jenson, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Steve Kantrowitz, John Rowe, Jane Simon, Steve Stern, and Lara Trubowitz

Friday, February 27, 2009 @ 10:00am Pyle Center

A one-day symposium on uncomfortable inheritances, ambivalent feelings, and complex responses to the past. Participants will include: Ned Blackhawk (History, UW-Madison), Sara Guyer (English, UW-Madison), Deborah Jenson (French, Duke), Amaud Jamaul Johnson (English, UW-Madison), Steve Kantrowitz (History, UW-Madison), John Rowe (UW Alum, Exelon Corp), Jane Simon (MMOCA), Steve Stern (History, UW-Madison), Lara Trubowitz (English, University of Iowa).

Franco Moretti

An Evening with Franco Moretti

Franco Moretti
Brittingham Scholar in Residence, Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford Universty

Monday, October 20, 2008 @ 6:00pm

This residency is made possible by a generous grant by the Brittingham Foundation through their Brittingham Visiting Scholars Grant. Franco Moretti has written, most recently, Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998), and Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005). Chief editor of The Novel (Princeton, 2006). He has given the Gauss seminars at Princeton, the Beckman lectures at Berkeley, and the Carpenter lectures at Chicago; he is a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and writes often for New Left Review.

Aleksandar Hemon Wisconsin Book Festival

The Lazarus Project

Aleksandar Hemon

Sunday, October 19, 2008 @ 4:00pm Promenade Hall, Overture Center

As in his earlier works, Aleksandar Hemon continues to mine, in rapturously praised prose, his experiences as a Bosnian-American immigrant. But in his most ambitious, accomplished, and engaging book yet, Hemon has broadened his canvas to encompass the personal and the political, the contemporary and the historical, America and Eastern Europe, in a single unified story.

Born in Sarajevo, Aleksandar Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. His work now appears regularly in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories. He is the author of The Question of Bruno and Nowhere Man, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hemon was awarded a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004. Riverhead will publish Hemon’s next book, Love and Obstacles, in 2009. In partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.

Daniel Levitin Wisconsin Book Festival

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature

Daniel Levitin
James McGill Professor, Department of Psychology, McGill University

Thursday, October 16, 2008 @ 7:00pm Borders Books on University Ave

In The World in Six Songs, Daniel Levitin picks up where his New York Times bestselling This Is Your Brain On Music left off. Blending cutting-edge scientific findings with his own sometimes hilarious experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin takes readers on a journey across human civilization to argue that the brain evolved to play and listen to music in six fundamental forms—for friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion, and love.

For ten years, Levitin worked as a session musician, commercial recording engineer, live sound engineer, and record producer for countless rock groups (including work with Santana, Narada Michael Walden, and The Grateful Dead), and also served as Director of A&R for 415/Columbia Records. A long time pursuer of interesting guitar tones, Levitin's custom modified guitar amplifiers have provided guitar sounds for albums by Blue öyster cult, Joe Satriani, and Chris Isaak. Dan has been awarded 17 gold and platinum records. Throughout his life, Dan has written extensively, both in refereed scientific journals, and in audio magazines and trade journals such as Grammy, Billboard, Audio, and others. He was the person who broke the now-infamous Steely Dan remastering scandal in Billboard, and has interviewed numerous artists including Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, and kd lang. He was an associate editor of the Billboard Encyclopedia of Record Producers, and edited Foundations of Cognitive Psychology: Core Readings (M.I.T. Press, 2002). He is the author of the international bestseller This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (Dutton/Penguin, 2006), published in six languages. This event is co-sponsored by the UW Lectures Committee, the Wisconsin Book Festival, the What is Human? initiative at the Center for the Humanities, the Morgridge Institute for Research, the UW-Madison English Department and the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund. A What is Human? event in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Ross Brann

The Moors: Who Were They and Why Is It a Problem?

Ross Brann
Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies, Cornell University

Saturday, October 20, 2007 @ 12:30pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

In this talk Ross Brann interrogates the figure of "the Moor" in its medieval and modern incarnations. He will discuss the figure's historical evolution and instability and comment on its particular social agency in medieval Iberia. Brann's books include The Compunctious Poet: Cultural Ambiguity and Hebrew Poetry in Muslim Spain (1991), recipient of the 1992 National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies; and Power in the Portrayal: Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain (2002).

The King’s Noyse

Music from Renaissance Spain and its Colonies in the New World

The King’s Noyse
Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Ensemble Musicians

Reading: Legacies of Al Andalus: Islam, Judaism, & the West

Friday, October 19, 2007 @ 11:15pm Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

The King's Noyse, one of the leading North American Renaissance-style violin ensembles will perform at the opening of the Al Andalus Conference at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The program will feature music from Renaissance Spain and its colonies in the New World. These pieces will be chosen from collections of music to be played and sung at celebratory religious festivals and to highlight the joys of secular Spain with dances and songs. King's Noyse performs on replicas of string instruments of the period and is famous for recreated the enthusiastic freedom inherent in the music with free improvisations on dance rhythms. Well known to Madison audiences from its appearances at the Madison Early Music Festival, the group performs at festivals and concert venues throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and has many critically acclaimed recordings to its credit. This performance will give the audience a taste of the flavor of Spain both in its churches and in the streets.

Ella Shohat

Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices: Between Al Andalus, the Middle East, and the Americas

Ella Shohat
Professor of Art & Public Policy and Middle Eastern Studies, New York University

Friday, October 19, 2007 @ 5:00pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

No longer merely a name fixed in a certain time-place, Al-Andalus has become a complex trope invoked to highlight changing perspectives on contemporary national conflicts and cultural clashes. 'Al-Andalus' evokes an exilic nostalgia for return as well as for a kind of multiculturalism avant la lettre, as much as it evokes its traumatic end-- inquisition, expulsion and wandering. How has the imaginary of 'al-andalus' and '1492' traveled from one zone to another? How can we understand the staging of historical memory through contemporary commemorations of the two 1492s, that of the reconquista and of the conquista? In what ways does Al-Andalus, allegorize contemporary belonging within dislocation, for example in the context of Israel/Palestine? In what ways do the utopian/distopian evoked by Al-Andalus and its aftermath remain relevant to the Middle East and the Americas?

Professor Ella Habiba Shohat teaches cultural studies and Middle Eastern studies at New York University. She has lectured and published extensively on issues having to do with race, gender, Eurocentrism, Orientalism, post/colonialism, transnationalism and diaspora, often transcending disciplinary and geographical boundaries. A substantial part of her work has examined these issues in relation to the question of Arab-Jews. Her books include: winner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs Award Unthinking Eurocentrism (co-authored with Robert Stam, Routledge, 1994), Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Duke University Press, 2006), Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (University of Texas Press, 1989), Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (MIT 1998), as well as the co-edited volumes, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and the Postcolonial Perspectives (University of Minnesota Press, 1997), Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media (Rutgers University Press, 2003), and The Cultural Politics of the Middle East in the Americas to be published by the University of Michigan Press. Her writing has been translated into diverse languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, and Turkish. A recipient of Cornell University's The Society for the Humanities fellowship and of Rockefeller Bellagio fellowship, she was awarded this year a senior fellowship at the International Center for Advance Studies at New York University.

Naim Kattan

From Baghdad to Montreal: Crossing Cultures

Naim Kattan
Visiting Professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 @ 4:00pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

Novelist, essayist, short story writer and critic, Naïm Kattan (an inhabitant of Quebec of Iraqi origins and Jewish-Arabic heritage) is the author of forty works, translated in several languages. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal. He has received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College in Vermont and the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, and several major prizes, including the Lauréat Athanase David and the French Légion d'honneur. His books trace his journey from Baghdad to Montreal, a trajectory of identity in evolution, nourished by memories, promises and movement. Condemning the fixity of secure places, rigid borders, and immutable identities, Naïm Kattan has continued to celebrate -for more than a half-century- cultural diversity, multiple affiliations and nomadic identity, making him a universal migrant writer.

Keith Busby, Deborah Jenson, and Névine El Nossery

Roundtable Discussion with UW Faculty

Keith Busby, Deborah Jenson, and Névine El Nossery
UW Faculty in French

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 @ 12:00pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

This roundtable discussion will include presentations by: Keith Busby, Professor of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison, "Rencesvals: The Saracen View," Deborah Jenson, Professor of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison, "The Romantic View of the Moorish Expulsion: Chateaubriand's Le Dernier Abencerage," Névine El Nossery, Professor of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison, "The Quest for Belonging in Amin Maalouf's Léon l'africain: The Fall of Grenada and the Arab Diaspora."

Regina Schwartz

The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism

Regina Schwartz
Professor of English, Northwestern University

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 @ 7:30pm Pyle Center

This event is one of the Legacies of Al-Andalus events.

Regina Schwartz teaches seventeenth-century literature, especially Milton; Hebrew Bible; philosophy and literature, law and literature, and religion and literature. Her publications include Remembering and Repeating: Biblical Creation in Paradise Lost (1988), which won the James Holly Hanford prize for the best book on Milton; The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory (1990); Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature (1994); and The Postmodern Bible (1995). Her most recent book, The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism, a study of monotheism, national identity, and violence in the Hebrew Bible, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and Gary K. Wolfe Wisconsin Book Festival

The Evolution of Horror and Fantasy: Genre Fiction and "The New Wave Fabulists"

Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and Gary K. Wolfe

Sunday, October 22, 2006 @ 4:00pm Orpheum Theater, 216 State Street

Panelists will discuss their work in the broader context of genre writing. They will examine the current state of horror and fantasy writing, the "New Wave Fabulists" movement, and why Wisconsin has inspired such notable horror-both real and in fiction. A moderated discussion with questions from the audience will follow short introductions.

Co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Book Festival, a program of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Visit the Wisconsin Book Festival website for more information:

William Farlow

The Process of Interpretation

William Farlow
Associate Professor of Music and Opera Director, UW-Madison

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 @ 7:00pm Unitarian Meeting House

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

Creativity is transformed and generates new dynamics in group settings such as theatre, dance, ensemble and orchestral music, and opera. William Farlow's discussion will explore several questions that are unique to the operatic art. What are the challenges in harnessing creativity when stage directing opera? What are the inherent problems that occur with music theatre that are absent from spoken drama? How can creativity play a role in interpreting a text that has already been interpreted by a composer? In this complicated setting, how does the director make the whole thing appear extempore?

William Farlow is Associate Professor of Music and Opera Director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has over two hundred productions to his credit as director, and his work has taken him throughout the United States, as well as to Scotland, Mexico, Canada. He has directed productions for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, and the Canadian Opera, and has worked with such artists as Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Carlo Maria Giulini, and David Hockney. As a singer Mr. Farlow has performed major roles in La Cenerentola, La belle Hélène, and Cosi fan tutte, as well as principal roles in nine Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He has choreographed national touring productions of The Merry Widow and Naughty Marietta for the Eastern Opera Company. His credits as director include productions of Tristan und Isolde for the Pittsburgh Opera, Turandot for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Salome for the Los Angeles Opera, the Florentine Opera's Barber of Seville and The Mikado for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, among many others. Mr. Farlow has a Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master of Music in Opera from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ronald L. Numbers

Creation and Creativity, or, How We Got Here in the First Place

Ronald L. Numbers
Hilldale & William Coleman Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, UW-Madison

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 @ 7:00pm Gates of Heaven Synagogue

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

In the context of one of the oldest synagogues in North America, Ron Numbers will discuss the role of creativity in the formation of a science independent of religion. Professor Numbers teaches and writes about the history of science, medicine, and religion in America. He is currently writing a one-volume history of science in America since European settlement, and with colleague David Lindberg, he recently completed editorial work on the eight-volume Cambridge History of Science (Cambridge University Press, 2003). His numerous additional works include The Creationists (Knopf, 1992), Darwinism Comes to America (Harvard University Press, 1998), and Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race, Religion, and Gender (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Nietzchka Keene

An Evening with Nietzchka Keene

Nietzchka Keene
Professor of Communication Arts, UW-Madison

Tuesday, April 13, 2004 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

Nietzchka Keene is Emily Mead Baldwin Bell-Bascom Professor in the Creative Arts at the UW-Madison. She is an independent filmmaker who earned her MFA from the University of California Los Angeles, and is currently editing a digital feature, Barefoot to Jerusalem, based on an original screenplay and shot in Madison and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a Wisconsin State Arts Board Fellowship, a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Individual Artists Grant, and a Creative Arts Award from the UW-Madison Arts Institute.

Stanley Kutler

An Evening with Stanley Kutler

Stanley Kutler
Professor of History Emeritus, UW-Madison

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Sequoya Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

A lecture by Stanley Kutler, Professor of History Emeritus at UW-Madison.

Charles Casey

An Evening with Charles Casey

Charles Casey
Professor of Chemistry, UW-Madison

Tuesday, March 9, 2004 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Alicia Ashman Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

One of the primary goals of the chemical sciences is the creation of molecules and materials that do not exist in nature. By necessity, then, Chemists are called upon to be highly creative. Indeed, chemists spend their lives creating things; designing and synthesizing molecules to test theories, to produce new materials, or to make lifesaving drugs. In studies of how chemical reactions occur, chemists often discover unseen intermediates that never build up to measurable concentrations and have extremely short lifetimes. The creative ability of chemists is challenged to come up with imaginative ways to probe this fleeting and unpredictable molecular world. Examples of the clever design of catalysts to create new materials will be presented. With the need for creativity in chemical science so acute, how do chemistry graduate schools nurture creativity in their students? Can creativity be learned? Can it be taught? Can faculty serve in the role of a "personal creativity trainer"?

Charles Casey is Homer B. Adkins Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He focuses on mechanistic organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis. His research group studies mechanisms of important catalytic processes including hydroformylation, hydrogenation, and alkene polymerization. He teaches a one-semester organic chemistry course for non-specialists and a graduate course in organometallic chemistry (in which the major assignment is a creative research proposal). Casey received a B.S. from St. Louis University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from M.I.T. After postdoctoral work at Harvard University, he joined the faculty at UW-Madison in 1968. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently President of the American Chemical Society.

Henry Turner

An Evening with Henry Turner

Henry Turner
Assistant Professor of English, UW-Madison

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Pinney Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

Henry Turner specializes in Renaissance Drama, theater and print culture; early modern intellectual history, literary theory and early scientific thought; history of sexuality and the family; medieval literary, social, and intellectual history; contemporary critical theory, especially Marxism, Foucault, and Derrida. His teaching has included courses on Dekker, Middleton, Jonson and critical concepts of everyday life, on "imaginary topographies" in early modern literature from More to Shirley, on Shakespeare, and on English literature from Chaucer to Aphra Behn. Turner earned his BA at Wesleyan University and his MA at the University of Sussex. He earned MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees at Columbia University.

Richard Burgess

Creativity in the Sciences: Thinking Outside the Test Tube - Confidence to be a Renegade

Richard Burgess
Professor of Oncology, UW-Madison Medical School

Tuesday, December 9, 2003 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Alicia Ashman Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

Creativity has been defined as the novel juxtaposition of apparently unrelated ideas. Creativity results in new ways of thinking, new ways of doing, new ways of expression. Scientific creativity and artistic creativity are usually considered to be quite different, but I believe that are quite similar. They both require a desire to solve a problem, to clarify confusion, to communicate in a new, powerful way. This requires the willingness and self-confidence to challenge and question the establishment and the current dogma - to be a renegade. You have to believe that you can succeed in accomplishing something that has not been done before. We will discuss examples of creativity in the sciences and how one might stimulate the creative process.

Li Chiao-Ping Conversations on Creativity

Laughing Bodies/Dancing Minds

Li Chiao-Ping
Professor of Dance, UW-Madison

Tuesday, September 23, 2003 @ 7:00pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch

This event is part of the Conversations on Creativity series.

Founded in 1990, Li Chiao-Ping Dance has made Madison, Wisconsin its home since 1993. The company is dedicated to the creation and presentation of athletic works of movement, with striking visual design and the music of contemporary composers. The company has performed at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the Jacob's Pillow and Bates Dance Festivals, Movable Beast Experimental Dance Festival, Cleveland Experimental Dance Festival, Danspace Project, Dance Now Festival, Highways in Santa Monica, CA, and many other national and international festivals and venues. Detailed information can be found at

As a choreographer/director, Li Chiao-Ping has created, produced and performed over 60 works for the stage and screen, including several evening-length solos, such as the critically acclaimed Yellow River and Entombed Warrior. Her company has received grants from the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, the Madison Civic Center Foundation, Madison CitiArts, and the Kennedy Center Artists As Educators program. Li's collaborative work with other artists is equally respected, especially her long-time creative work with visual artist Douglas Rosenberg. Their evening-length multi-media Odyssey was presented as a work-in-progress at the Cleveland Experimental Choreographers Festival, The Yard, and the International Video and Dance Festival of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1997. Their latest collaboration is Venous Flow: States of Grace, a meditative journey through healing of the spirit and the body.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and David Levering Lewis Humanities Week

"The Souls of Black Folk" Centennial

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and David Levering Lewis
Du Bois Professor of Humanities at Harvard University and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of W.E.B. Du Bois

Monday, April 7, 2003 @ 8:00am Dane County, Wisconsin

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Levering Lewis were keynote speakers at "The Souls of Black Folk" Centennial April 7-13, 2003, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This second biannual "Humanities Week" sponsored by the Center for the Humanities was held at venues throughout Madison and Dane County.

The weeklong event-including lectures, theater, music and dance performances, movies, exhibits, readings, debates and panel discussions-paid tribute to the author W.E.B. Du Bois and his landmark book on African-American life, The Souls of Black Folk published in 1903. All events will be open to the public; most were free.

"The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line," said Du Bois. Born on Feb. 23, 1868, in Massachusetts, he grew to be a leading intellectual of African-American thought. Du Bois was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard and went on to become a scholar, writer, editor and political activist as well as a co-founder of the NAACP. He died in 1963 in Accra, Ghana.

This Humanities Week program was presented in conjunction with the W.E.B. Du Bois Centennial Symposium, an international academic conference focusing on the work of Du Bois and The Souls of Black Folk, the text thought to mark the founding of the discipline of African-American studies. The symposium, sponsored by the Afro-American Studies Department, was scheduled Thursday, April 10-12, 2003, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St.

Keynote speakers for the event were Gates, the Du Bois Professor of Humanities at Harvard University, and Lewis, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning biography, W.E.B. Du Bois. Other participants include such prominent authorities on African-American life as Hazel Carby, Paula Giddings, Marc Anthony Neal, Nell Painter and Arnold Rampersad.

Nellie McKay, professor of Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison and co-editor with Gates of the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, will co-direct centennial events with Craig Werner, professor of African-American Studies at UW-Madison and author of A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America.

"We are so pleased to be hosting this remarkable array of scholars here at UW-Madison," McKay says. "Why Madison? Why now? What more fitting place to explore one of the most influential books and thinkers of the 20th century than the home of the Wisconsin Idea."

"We look forward to sharing a wide variety of programming with the citizens of the Madison, the state and beyond," Werner adds. "'Humanities Week' offers an unprecedented opportunity to look ahead to the next 100 years of The Souls of Black Folk."

Humanities center director Steven Nadler, a professor of philosophy at UW-Madison, says, "Building on the tremendous success of the award-winning Jane Austen in the 21st Century Humanities Festival in 2001, the Center for the Humanities is pleased to be joining in the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the publication of an extremely important work of American letters and the life and times of one of our country's most important thinkers. This is a great opportunity to explore the continued relevance of Du Bois and his writings and the political, social and cultural legacies of his ideas."

Daniel Swetschinski

The Biblical Imagination of Rembrandt's Portuguese Jewish Neighbors

Daniel Swetschinski

Thursday, December 5, 2002 @ 8:30pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

Historian Daniel Swetschinski speaks on "The Biblical Imagination of Rembrandt's Portuguese Jewish Neighbors," a comparison of Amsterdam's Portuguese Jews' use of the Bible and Rembrandt's biblical works. Swetschinski is the author of Reluctant Cosmopolitans: The Portuguese Jews of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam, which won the National Jewish Book Award.

Shelley Perlove

Breaking Challah: Rembrandt's Supper at Emmaus (1648) and the Jews of Amsterdam

Shelley Perlove
Professor of Art History, University of Michigan at Dearborn

Thursday, December 5, 2002 @ 4:30pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

Shelley Perlove's talk, "Breaking Challah: Rembrandt's Supper at Emmaus (1648) and the Jews of Amsterdam," examines how Rembrandt's painting reflects the attitudes and strategies of a group of Christian reformers in Amsterdam centered around Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel who sought a rapprochement with Jews. A professor of art history at the University of Michigan at Dearborn and a prominent Rembrandt scholar, Perlove has published widely on the intersection of art, politics, and religion.

This event is part of the Rembrandt and the Jews Symposium

Miriam Bodian

Protestant Bible-Reading and the Image of the Jews

Miriam Bodian
Associate Professor of History and Jewish studies, Pennsylvania State University

Thursday, December 5, 2002 @ 3:30pm Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

Miriam Bodian offers a slide-presentation on "Protestant Bible-Reading and the Image of the Jews." Her lecture discusses how the Protestant style of Old Testament reading, de-emphasizing Christology and emphasizing hearth and home and story-telling, contributed to a changing image of Jews. Bodian is associate professor of history and Jewish studies at Pennsylvania State University and author of Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation, a study of Amsterdam's Sephardic Jews in the seventeenth century.

This event is part of the Rembrandt and the Jews Symposium

Larry Silver

New Jerusalem: Rembrandt, Jews, and Christians

Larry Silver
Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, December 5, 2002 @ 7:30am Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160

Larry Silver, professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania, specializes in painting and the graphic arts of the Low Countries. His lecture, "New Jerusalem: Rembrandt, Jews, and Christians," considered Rembrandt's concern for Christian-Jewish relationships. Silver argues that despite Rembrandt's regular contact with Jewish neighbors, his art most often stresses traditional contrasts between Jewish law and Christian grace, possibly signaling Rembrandt's hope for Jewish conversions to usher in a millennial epoch during the 1650s.

This event is part of the Rembrandt and the Jews Symposium

Alison Wylie, Margaret Lowman, and Eleanor Baum

Women and Science Symposium

Alison Wylie, Margaret Lowman, and Eleanor Baum
Professor of Philosophy, Washington University, St. Louis; Biologist; Dean of Engineering, Cooper Union, New York City

Wednesday, October 9, 2002 @ 7:30pm The Red Gym, 716 Langdon St.

How do you juggle walking among the treetops with raising children? How much does gender still limit women's place in major scientific research? How can more women be recruited into engineering? The issues facing women in science-professional, scientific, and ethical-are the focus of Women and Science Symposium. 

Alison Wylie, a professor of philosophy at Washington University, St. Louis, will speak on "The Gender of Science: Chilly Climate Issues for Women in Science." Her talk examines a recent MIT study that demonstrated continuing gender discrimination in the sciences, often manifesting itself not as overt marginalization of women but rather in far more subtle ways. While some found the study's results startling, Wylie will put this survey in the context of previous research demonstrating similar patterns and address, more broadly, the question of why the gender of science matters to science. Margaret Lowman, is a well-known biologist perhaps best known for her work on and in tree canopies. She pioneered efforts to access and map forest canopies, using ropes, walkways, cranes, and even hot-air balloons. Her talk, “Life in the Treetops: Balancing a Scientific Career with Family,” will relate how she has balanced her path-breaking scientific research with a family life and children. Eleanor Baum, Dean of Engineering, Cooper Union, New York City, will give the talk, "The New Face of the Engineer." She will discuss the need for diversity in the engineering workforce and the challenges in achieving this diversity. Baum will address the desired attributes for engineers of the future and the impact these expectations will have on recruiting people into the profession. Caitilyn Allen, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology and Women's Studies, UW-Madison, will moderate. Sponsored by the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) and Women in Science and Engineering Residential Program (WISE-RP), the event is free and open to the public.