I am happy to report that the UM Center for the Humanities completed another successful—its seventh—year, which included, in addition to visits by Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professors, the Edith Bleich Lecture, our program on Expanding Career Opportunities for Humanities PhDs (now in its third year), as well as various lectures and workshops, a series of two lectures on the Present and Future of the University and the Humanities, and a new collaborative effort with the Libraries, on the Future of Academic Publishing, which will continue into next year.
The three Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professors this year were Frans de Waal, a distinguished primatologist who has published his views on the close relationship between humans and animals in popular as well as scholarly venues; Richard Burger, an archaeologist and expert on Andean civilizations; and Marcyliena Morgan, the founding executive director of Harvard’s Hiphop Archive. We also presented the second lecture in the Edith Bleich Speaker Series, on the rise of photojournalism during the Dreyfus Affair in Paris by Vanessa Schwartz, a historian of nineteenth-century French visual culture.
In spring 2016, the Center presented a standing-room-only lecture in the new ACCAC Distinguished Lecturers Program by Robin Fleming, a noted medievalist and recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant, on the archeology of Roman Britain. As part of a series of two lectures on the state of the university and the liberal arts, we hosted Jeffrey Williams, whose lecture was provocatively titled “Brave New University,” and Tim Burke, who crucially pointed out the importance of a liberal arts education for students entering the job market in a period when uncertainty would be most appropriately met with flexibility. The Center also worked in collaboration with the University of Miami Libraries to bring Peter Berkery, the executive director of the Association of American University Presses, and Peter Potter, who recently transitioned from being editor-in-chief at a major university press to a position in the libraries overseeing digital publishing, to engage in conversation with our faculty and graduate students on the future of academic publishing.
During fall 2016, I will be on leave from the Center to take up the Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professorship in Renaissance Studies at Smith College, where I will give a seminar and three public lectures. Mary Lindemann, Professor and Chair of History, has generously agreed to act as director in my absence. She will welcome as Stanford Distinguished Professors Alice Dreger, a medical ethicist and a specialist on intersexuality; and Lyndal Roper, a biographer of Martin Luther, whose visit will mark the 400th anniversary of his nailing the theses on the church door at Wittenberg.
Our new president Julio Frenk has already indicated his strong support for the Humanities and of the Center. We at the Center are grateful for his interest in the Center’s contributions to the culture of the university and of the South Florida community. Thanks are also due to the Center’s faculty board for their wise counsel, and our Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Leonidas Bachas and our Provost Thomas LeBlanc, for their ongoing support. I also acknowledge the hard work of our Associate Director Kyle Siebrecht, Administrative Assistant Zureyka Carsi, and Secretary Amanda Vargas, as well as Student Assistants Alisa Bé, Hunter Carpenter, Molly McHugh, Allyssa Proulx, Samantha Richard, Demaree Rios, Rajiv Tummala, and Micah Weinstein.
Director, Center for the Humanities
Professor of English