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Carolyn Abbate is among the world’s foremost musicologists. A virtuoso practitioner of the field’s traditional methodologies, she has also challenged their limits, mobilizing literary theory and philosophy to provoke new ways of thinking about music and understanding its experience. From her earliest essays, she has questioned familiar approaches to well-known works, reaching beyond their printed scores, their composer’s intentions, and the technicalities of their performance, to explore the particular, physical impact of the medium upon performer and audience alike. Her May 2005 lecture was called “Overlooking the Ephemeral.”
André Aciman is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and as Director of the Writers’ Institute at City University of New York’s Graduate Center, where he teaches the history of literary theory, the work of Marcel Proust, and the literature of memory and exile. A scholar of Proust and of the history of literary criticism, Aciman is known to a broad readership as the author of a memoir of Alexandria, Out of Egypt; of the novels Call Me by Your Name and Eight White Nights; and of numerous articles in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. His Stanford Presidential Lecture in October, 2009, was called “Parallax: Exile As Metaphor. ”
Award-winning architect David Adjaye was the lead designer of he new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Adjaye's Stanford Presidential Lecture was titled The Architecture of Civic Space, and it took place at Stanford University's Cubberley Auditorium on December 2, 2014.
Isabel Allende is one of Latin America's most visible female writers, author of several best-selling books. Born in Lima, Peru in 1942, Allende currently lives in Northern California. She is the author of La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits), De amor y sombras (Of Love and Shadows), Eva Luna, El plan infinito (The Infinite Plan); and more recently Hija de la fortuna (Daughter of Fortune) and Retrato en Sepia (Portrait in Sepia). Isabel Allende visited Stanford as a Presidential Lecturer in the Humanities and Arts in May of 2004. Her lecture was entitled “A sense of place.”
Svetlana Alpers is an art historian specializing in Baroque painting. She has written controversial books on Rubens, Rembrandt, and Dutch 17th-Century art, and is known for her innovative approaches to theoretical issues of narration and description in the visual arts. Alpers is one of a handful of art historians whose fresh, imaginative methodologies introduced the New Art History to a wider U.S. audience in the 1970s and 1980s. She is professor emerita (History of Art) at the University of California, Berkeley. She gave her lecture at Stanford on November 8, 1999 on "What Are We Looking For? Expectations in Art History."
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy, and Professor at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. The author of the 1992 "instant classic" In My Father's House, Appiah's principal and abiding concern is how we individually construct ourselves in dialogue with social circumstance, both private and public, past and present. He probes the complexity of this process of personal formation, emphasizing the opportunities as well as the dangers for self-creation in today’s ethnically fluid and culturally hybrid world. Appiah spoke at Stanford on "The Ethics of Identity" in November, 2004.
Talal Asad, the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Asad has been a major force in the field of anthropology for many years, always pushing its boundaries. His recent writings, such as the monographs Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (2003) and Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of power in Christianity and Islam (1993) and have been focused on his investigations into secularism and modernity. Asad's October 2006 Presidential Lecture at Stanford was titled “Thinking About Blasphemy and Secular Criticism.”
Choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch has directed the Tanztheater (dance theater) Wuppertal in Germany for 25 years. Her company is well known for provocative and innovative performances that combine dance, theater, music, and visual arts. The term dance theater began to be commonly used in the 1970s to describe this new genre that used whatever media is most effective in conveying and portraying what is being expressed. Bausch is often quoted as saying "I'm not interested in how people move, but what moves them." Her works are known for their exploration of relationships between people, particularly men and women, and confront issues of modern life. At times her work has drawn criticism and controversy, particularly in the United States, for its content and graphic depictions. When Bausch first started to choreograph her dance theater pieces, they were something totally different, even radical, and many reacted negatively to them. But they are now widely accepted and dance theater has become one of the major forces in modern dance today, largely due to Bausch. She has received many awards and is considered one of the most influential choreographers of our time. Pina Bausch conducted a public dance rehearsal and gave an onstage interview at Stanford on October 18, 1999.
Seyla Benhabib, author of Another Cosmopolitanism (2006) and The Rights of Others (2004), is a political philosopher who has worked throughout her academic career to clarify intellectually and critically what philosophy has to say about (and to) politics and social life. She has done that through critical examination of philosophers who speak to the political and social, from Hobbes, Hegel, and Kant to Arendt, Rawls, and Habermas, and by seeking empirically to relate and critique what political philosophers and political theorists of any era, including contemporaries, have to say about real-world issues that are both enduring and timeless. Her October, 2008, Presidential Lecture at Stanford was called “Cosmopolitan Norms, Human Rights & Democratic Iterations.”
Homi K. Bhabha gave a lecture at Stanford on March 6, 2000. Born in Bombay in 1949, Homi Bhabha received his D. Phil. in Oxford. After teaching English at Sussex University from 1978-1994, he began his tenure at the University of Chicago in 1994 where he is now the Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities. Widely know for his work in colonial theory, post-colonial theory and cosmopolitism, Bhabha is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on international cultures. Some of his publications are The Location of Culture (Routledge, 1994) and the edited volume Nation and Narration (Routledge, 1990).
Harold Bloom, an internationally distinguished literary critic and theorist, is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University and Berg Professor of English at New York University. The author of more than twenty books, ranging from early studies of British Romantic poets to recent commentaries on American millennial religion, Bloom is perhaps most familiar to general readers for The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1993), his polemical defense of the great writers of the Western tradition against the challenges of such academic fashions as deconstruction, feminism, Marxism, multiculturalism, and New Historicism.
Bloom was on campus from May 18-May 21, 1998. He spoke at Kresge Auditorium on May 18 at 7:00 p.m.
Karl Heinz Bohrer
Karl Heinz Bohrer is Professor for Modern German Literary History at the University of Bielefeld. An accomplished and productive scholar and essayist, he is also editor of the influential journal Merkur, Germany's "journal of European thought" and current affairs. He is one of Germany's leading writers on aesthetics, the aesthetic imagination in literature, and the relationships of literature and culture to the political state. Bohrer was on campus from November 9-10, 1998. He gave a lecture entitled "Without Future: The Meaning of Poetic Nihilism for Interpretation, Theater and State" at Pigott Hall (Bldng. 260) on November 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, spoke at Stanford University's Cubberley Autiorium on April 26, 2011. In his Presidential Lecture, titled Music between Nature and Architecture, Botstein spoke about the intersections of intellect and emotion delving into his personal experiences as administrator, master builder, conductor, scholar and impresario. There was a subsequent discussion session with Leo Botstein on April 27, at the Stanford Humanities Center.
Peter Robert Lamont Brown's concept of late antiquity recognizes few academic boundaries or disciplinary barriers. As defined in a recent handbook co-edited by Brown, "Late Antiquity" is a distinctive and decisive period of history between around 250 and 800 C.E., during which the foundations were laid for many of the religious, political and social structures we know today. Brown was honored with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 2001 Distinguished Achievement Award for scholars in the humanities. He spoke at Stanford as Presidential Lecturer in the Humanities on January 27-28, 2003, on "Scholarship and Imagination: The Study of Late Antiquity."
Hazel Carby has redefined African American studies. Born in Britain of Jamaican and Welsh parentage, she has broadened the range of African American scholarship by situating it in the larger context of the international black diaspora. Carby has also introduced to the field her own distinctive style of Marxist feminism. She spoke at Stanford as Presidential Lecturer in the Humanities on Monday, October 27, 2003 at 7:00 p.m. at the Law School. Her lecture was entitled: "Child of Empire: Racializing Subjects in Post World War Two Britain."
French historian of written culture Roger Chartier inaugurated the Autumn season of the Stanford Presidential Lectures at Stanford on October 16 of 2000. Roger Chartier is currently Directeur d'Études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) as well as Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Since 1969, he has been lecturing and publishing on the relationship between the material history of institutions and the embodied practices which both animate and survive these institutions: in particular, early modern techniques of reading, disseminating and collecting printed information. Roger Chartier presented his lecture entitled "At the Crossroads Between Textual Criticism and Cultural History: The Return to Literature," at the Law School.
Partha Chatterjee is Director and Professor of Political Science at The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. In addition to a rich bibliography, Chatterjee has led a varied career of academic positions in India and the United States; a wealth of visiting professorships across Europe, Asia and North America; and a dizzying list of invited lectures that span the globe. His work focuses not only on nationalism, colonialism, post-colonialism, modernity, and the idea of the nation-state -- but also (and more radically) strives to think outside these Western categories themselves. Chatterjee's lecture was part of the November, 2007 conference “Ethnicity in Today's Europe.”
Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The artistic team of Christo and Jeanne-Claude have produced some of the 20th century's most unique works of art. Their innovative utilization of fabrics in pieces such as the Running Fence (1976 Christo) and most recently the Wrapped Reichstag (1995 Christo) defy traditional approaches to materials and means of artistic production. Requiring collaborative efforts on a scale without precedent in contemporary art their projects engage not only the artists themselves but also their production teams, the workers who construct the final realizations, legislative bodies and planning agencies, and perhaps most importantly, the public. The Christos have redefined the nature of "work" in the "work of art". Christo and Jeanne Claude were on campus from March 2-March 3, 1998. They spoke at the Annenberg Auditorium on March 2, 1998, at 5:00 p.m.
A prolific writer and influential theorist, university professor, novelist, philosopher, playwright, and activist, Hélène Cixous blends multiple roles and vivid creative imagination in a body of work that is both poetic and deeply provocative. Her insights into the effects of difference developed the concept of an écriture féminine that influences all the genres in which she works, including the fiction, literary criticism, drama, essays, lectures, and interviews that have been published in close to 50 books and well over 100 articles. She is currently Professor of Literature at the University of Paris VIII, an institution she helped create after her active participation in the Parisian événements of May 1968, and where she later founded and now directs the doctoral program in the Centre d'Études Féminines. Cixous was on campus from March 16-19, 1998. She spoke in the Moot Court Room at the Law Building on March 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Acclaimed for decades as one of the world’s preeminent dancer/choreographers, Merce Cunningham first stepped into tap dancing class in 1932 with Maud Barrett, and began a career that would profoundly change modern dance. His own performance style and the nearly 200 original works he has choreographed since the 1940s have propelled dance through a series of dazzlingly new orbits that have left conventional notions of the art far behind. Cunningham came to Stanford for an extraordinary 2-week residency. For his Presidential Lecture, he appeared in conversation with New York Times dance critic John Rockwell on March 9, 2005.
The third and final lecturer scheduled to appear in the Fall Quarter series is Bei Dao, considered to be one of China's foremost poets. He is also known as Zhao Zhenkai, but has used the pseudonym Bei Dao since the late 1970s. In 1989, he was accused of helping to incite the protests in Tiananmen Square and consequently forced into exile. He has published numerous volumes of poetry and short stories, several of which have been translated into English. He was also one of the founders of Today (Jiantian), a literary magazine that provided a venue to emerging authors and poets, including Bei Dao himself. Bei Dao, who now lives in the U.S., has been a visiting scholar at the International Institute and the Center for Chinese Studies. He is currently in residence at the University of California Davis, and working on a collection to be entitled "Unlock." Bei Dao, accompanied by his translator, Eliot Weinberger, gave his lecture and a reading in Chinese and English at Stanford on November 29, 1999.
Daniel Dennett is a philosopher of mind, critic of religion, public defender (and, more importantly, dedicated deployer) of Darwinism — and, like Darwin, a developer and distributor of “dangerous” ideas. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, and co-director of the Tufts Center for Cognitive Studies. The title of Dennett’s January, 2009, Stanford Presidential Lecture was “The Evolution of ‘Why’ as the Key to Free Will.”
Jacques Derrida came into prominence in America because of his association with the school of philosophy and literary criticism known as deconstruction, and it is with deconstruction that he is still most closely identified today. Born in Algeria in 1930 of Algerian Jewish parents, Professor Derrida is Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. Derrida visited the Stanford campus April 15-16, 1999. He spoke on " The Future of the Profesion, or the Unconditional University (Thanks to the 'Humanities': What Could Take Place Tomorrow)" at Kresge Auditorium.
Junot Díaz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of fiction and a professor of creative writing at MIT, visited Stanford in May, 2017, engaged in a wide-ranging and lively conversation focused particularly on encouraging people of color, undocumented immigrants, and other minority or marginalized people to unite and support each other during turbulent political times.
Wendy Doniger is an author, translator, and editor whose prolific career has seen the publication of almost thirty books in as many years. She has been an unparalleled presence in international religious studies. She holds doctorates from Harvard and Oxford, in Sanskrit and Indian Studies respectively. Doniger visited the Stanford campus on Monday, February 23 of 2004. Her lecture was entitled "Self-Imitation in Ancient India, Shakespeare, and Hollywood."
Peter Eisenman's multi-faceted career includes the roles of architect, theorist, teacher, writer and editor. Founding Director of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, and editor of its influential journal, Oppositions, Eisenman has often been regarded more an agent provocateur than architect, with his particular practice occurring in the arenas of theory and design. Linked to the post-Functionalist trend in architecture wherein buildings achieve an autonomous and self-referential status, Eisenman is now devoting more of his energies to seeing his designs fulfilled in the built environment. His recent works have included the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, which signaled and symbolized the deconstructionist movement in architecture, and the Aronoff Center for Design and Art, University of Cincinnati. Eisenman was on campus from March 9-March 12, 1998. He spoke at Kresge Auditorium on March 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Marjorie Garber is one of the rare intellectuals whose work has had a significant resonance in both academic and popular culture. Writing on a wide variety of topics, from Shakespeare to "Charlotte's Web," she has demonstrated both a keen analysis of cultural productions and a flair for the intriguing anecdote. In its wide-ranging breadth, her work is most often concerned with the construction of identity in a particular societal context-particularly by minority groups within a given society whose difference from received norms challenges that society's implicit assumptions about its members' identity. Indeed, she is most well known for her work on gender identity, particularly in her ground-breaking Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992), which examines transvestitism in a number of contexts in Western culture and cultural productions. Here, as elsewhere, the conclusions she draws have consequences that reach beyond the confines of the academy: it is not surprising that her work has found an audience in activists and public intellectuals as well as in scholars. Currently, Garber is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and Director of the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Harvard University. She spoke at Stanford on Monday, January 11, 2000, at 7 p.m. in the Law School.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Humanities at Harvard University. As one of America's premier scholars on black literature, culture, and history, Gates has championed African-American studies' place in academe. He has been a force in establishing the traditions and cultural context against which black literature should be read and studied. His most recent book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, contains essays about and interviews with influential black men in high-profile positions (e.g., Colin Powell, Louis Farrakhan, Harry Belafonte). Gates was on campus from October 12-13, 1998. He spoke on "Race and Class / Race in Class" at Kresge Auditorium on October 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Stephen Jay Gould
At Harvard University, Stephen Jay Gould is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Professor of Geology, adjunct member of the Department of the History of Science, and Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. He is president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and perhaps America's best-known writer in the biological and geological sciences, particularly with regard to the theory of evolution, the interpretation of fossil evidence, and the meaning of diversity and change in biology. His essays in Natural History magazine and his writings on the history of science, particularly The Mismeasure of Man, have been influential and controversial. Gould was on campus from November 4-5, 1998. He lectured on "Interactions of Art and Science, and the Largely Arbitrary Nature of Academic Boundaries" at the SEQ Teaching Center on November 4 at 7:00 p.m.
Lani Guinier is Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where in 1998 she became the first African-American woman tenured professor in the law school's history. In addition to her scholarly research, specializing in matters of public policy and public conscience, and classroom teaching, she has had a prominent role as a civil rights litigator and public intellectual. Her books and projects include The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (2003), Who's Qualified? (2001), The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy (1994), and the Racetalks Initiative, a research and public education project. On October 31, 2004, Guinier spoke at Stanford on "Wealth, Race & Merit in Higher Education."
Amy Gutmann, currently President of the University of Pennsylvania, is a political philosopher whose ideas, featuring ways for opposing groups to achieve political accommodation, have great relevance for the early 21st-century world. She is the author of more than 100 articles and many books, including Why Deliberative Democracy (with Dennis Thompson, 2004), Identity in Democracy (2003), Democratic Education (revised edition, 1999), Democracy and Disagreement (with Dennis Thompson, 1996), Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (with Anthony Appiah, 1996), Ethics and Politics (with Dennis Thompson, 1984), and Liberal Equality (1980). She delivered her Stanford Presidential Lecture, "Extremism," on May 24, 2006.
Douglas Hofstadter burst onto the stage of public consciousness in 1979 with his Pulitzer Prize-winning first book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. Many of his other books have been equally visionary and remarkable, most notably Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language; Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern; and a volume co-edited with Daniel Dennett, The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. Currently the College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science, and Director of the Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition at Indiana University, Hofstadter is not only a theorist of topics as diverse as human cognition, artificial intelligence, and poetry translation (to name just a few) — he is also a serious practitioner, having published a novel verse translation of Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin in 1999. Hofstadter's Stanford Presidential Lecture on February 6, 2006, was called "Analogy as the Core of Cognition."
Lynn Hunt is one of North America's most respected historians. Pre-eminent among historians of the French Revolution, she is also known for her theoretical work in European cultural studies. Currently the Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History at UCLA, Lynn Hunt has taught and lectured internationally, and her books have been translated into a dozen foreign languages. Her lecture, "The Novel and the Origins of Human Rights: The Intersection of History, Psychology and Literature," was presented by the Stanford Presidential Lectures on April 8 of 2002 at the School of Law.
Canadian public intellectual and political figure, Michael Ignatieff spoke at the Stanford Humanities Center's Levinthal Hall on Monday, October 15, of 2012. His lecture was titled On Partisanship: Enemies and Adversaries in Politics, in it emphasizing the need to recover civility and compromise in our political discourse.
Wolfgang Iser is the final lecturer for the series this year. Born in 1926, Iser is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Constance. Iser takes a phenomenological approach to literary theory. An exponent of 'reception-theory', Iser sees the reading process as a synthesis of the literary text and the reader's imagination. Among many works, Iser is perhaps most well known for his work The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Wolfgang Iser lectured at Stanford on April 3, 2000 at the School of Law, Room 290.
Fredric Jameson is an internationally renowned Marxist critic. Presently the William A. Lane Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University, he has long been recognized as a major theorist of modern culture and a master analyst of its relation to socio-economic reality. In recent years Jameson has concentrated on contemporary artistic practices, both popular and elite, and is today best known for the essays collected in Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), which diagnose late twentieth-century culture as a symptom of the new global economy. Methodologically eclectic, Jameson's critical thought yields unusually subtle studies of aesthetic production, ranging from avant-garde literature and corporate architecture to popular films and video art. Jameson was on campus January 25-26, 1999. He spoke on "Aesthetic Autonomy in the Age of Late Capitalism" at the School of Law, Room 290 on January 25 at 7:00 p.m.
There has always been a touch of the divine and the regal in Judith Jamison’s illustrious career as a dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, from which she will retire in June, 2011. In January of 2011, Jamison graced Stanford in a public conversation with our own Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Harry Elam, Jr., and a dance master class.
For nearly a quarter century, Bruno Latour has been a vanguard figure in the eclectic field of "science studies." Indeed, his writings chart the course of this newly emergent discipline. "Science studies" describes research that uses the methods of the social and human sciences (sociology, anthropology, philosophy) to understand how humans go about their scientific and technological pursuits. At the base of this research are questions about how scientific knowledge is created. Latour's Stanford lecture in April, 2003, was entitled "Why has critical spirit run out of steam? About Iconoclash and beyond."
Maya Lin is an artist who has designed several of the most significant and best-known works of public art of the late 20th century, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her lecture, which was scheduled for November, 2002, did not take place as scheduled; however, the lecture website prepared for this event is still available here.
Stefan Maul is an internationally renowned Assyriologist. His main area of research is Mesopatamian religion in the first millenium B.C., but he is recognized as a very accomplished scholar in many areas of Assyriology and cuneiform culture. In 1997, Professor Maul was awarded the G. W. Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious scientific prize in Germany, which will allow him generous funding for a scientific project undertaken over the next five years. Maul was on campus May 17-18, 1999. He gave a lecture entitled "Constructions of Divinity. The Idea of God in Ancient Near East" at the Cantor Arts Center Auditorium on May 17 at 7:00 p.m. He also presented a seminar on May 18 entitled "The Magician's Archives".
In a career that has spanned four decades and garnered many of the historical profession’s top accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize, two Lincoln Prizes, the NEH’s Jefferson Lectureship in the Humanities, and a term as the president of the American Historical Association, James M. McPherson is one of the nation’s foremost historians of the American Civil War era. In all of his writings, McPherson has consistently sought to bridge the dichotomy that has divided historians writing about the Civil War: those who focus on the “causes and results of the war,” and those who study what Walt Whitman called “the real war,” the experiences of soldiers in battle and civilians on the home front. He delivered a lecture titled “But There Was No Peace: The Aftermath of the Civil War” on April 13, 2009.
Siddhartha Mukherjee is a physician, researcher, and a scholar. He is one of the most acclaimed science writers of our time. Mukherjee takes on deeply complex challenges in science today, communicating them in a way that is intensely personal and relating stories from his own family, the patients he has treated, and the lives of the scientists and physicians who came before him. He visited Stanford University during the Spring quarter in 2018. The title of his lecture was Notes from the Edge of an Experiment (or Cancer’s Anxieties), and it was delivered at the Hauck Auditorium on the evening of May 9.
Alexander Nehamas, born in Greece, studied at Swarthmore and then Princeton, where he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1971. Currently Edmund N. Carpenter Professor in Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton, Nehamas is also chair of Princeton's Council of the Humanities. His most recent book is Virtues of Authenticity: Essays on Plato and Socrates (Princeton UP, 1998). Describing how he ended up teaching and writing about philosophy, Nehamas told an interviewer: "My official plan was to go into business and retire at a relatively young age in order to discuss intellectual issues on my yacht. But I never got a yacht, I got tenure instead." Nehamas was on campus March 8-9, 1999. He gave a lecture entitled "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" at the School of Law, Room 290 on March 8 at 7:00 p.m.
One of the most publicly engaged social scientists of his generation, Robert Putnam has built his career on the rare ability to combine rigorous research methods with an engaging and accessible writing style. His work has consistently focused on exploring important social and political issues, including early research on international conflict resolution, best-selling research on social capital, and his most recent research on the changing role of religion in American life. His 2000 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community was a best-seller, as was his follow-up Better Together: Restoring the American Community in 2003. In his Fall 2010 lecture at Stanford, Putnam presented work from his just-released book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.
Human rights advocate, lawyer, professor and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson spoke at Stanford University's Cubberley Auditorium, at the School of Education, on April 12, 2010. Her lecture was titled Human Rights Strategies in the 21st Century, highlighting her work in the areas of corporate responsibility and the right to health, decent work, and climate justice.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and essayist Marilynne Robinson spoke about education as offered and received, drawing from a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay that is known as America's intellectual Declaration of Independence. Her lecture was entitled The American Scholar Now, and it took place at the CEMEX Auditorium, at Stanford University's School of Business, on Thursday, October 29, 2015.
Beatriz Sarlo is one of Latin America's most important cultural critics. Her writings examine the work of literary giants (Jorge Luis Borges: A Writer on the Edge, 1993) and with the same ease, she examines Argentina's every day life to address issues of technology, modernity, fiction and mass media (Escenas de la Vida Posmoderna: Intelectuales, Arte y Videocultura en la Argentina, 1994). Her more recent work is La Maquina Cultural: Maestras, Traductores y Vanguardistas, 1998. Since 1978 she has published Punto de Vista, one of Argentina's most important cultural publications. Sarlo is a professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and is a frequent contributor to several Latin American newspapers. She has been a Wilson Center and Guggenheim fellow. Sarlo was on campus February 22-23, 1999. She gave lecture entitled "No Future? Literature and Cultural Politics" at Pigott Hall (Building. 260), Room 113 on February 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Literary theorist and cultural critic Elaine Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value for the Department of English at Harvard University. She visited Stanford University on February 25-26 of 2002 as part of the Presidential Lectures. Her lecture, entitled "Nine One One: Citizenship in Emergency," was presented at the School of Law on Monday, February 25th, of 2002.
Schama, University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, is a prolific cultural historian who provides readers compelling narratives of historical events and figures, from the world of the early modern Dutch Republic to the experiences of African-American loyalists during the American Revolution. In addition to his ten published books of history and criticism, and numerous essays accompanying art exhibition catalogs, Schama is also a regular columnist and critic for such publications as The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, and The New Yorker (for which he served as art critic from 1995 to 1998). Schama’s ability to tell lively, engaging stories transcends his large corpus of printed work: he is also a writer and presenter of television histories, whose BBC series on British history and the history of Western art have captivated viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. Simon Schama's lecture was presented at Stanford's Cubberley Auditorium on October 29, 2007 under the title "The Abolition of the Slave Trade Two Hundred Years On — America & Britain: Two Diverging Destinies?"
Joan W. Scott
Joan Wallach Scott is best known for her ground-breaking work in feminist history and gender theory. Much of her work focuses on France, but to describe her as simply a French historian of gender would be inaccurate and insufficient; her writings address universal issues such as how power works, the relation between discourse and experience, and the role and practice of historians. Scott insists on grappling with theory’s application not only to history, but also to current events, focusing on how terms are defined and how positions and identities are articulated. Her 2007 monograph, The Politics of the Veil: Banning Islamic Headscarves in French Public Schools, addresses the ongoing discussion in France on the Islamic headscarf and what it symbolizes for religion and women in the public spaces of republican, secular France; this was also the topic of Scott’s 2007 Stanford Presidential lecture, “Cover-Up: French Gender Equality and the Islamic Headscarf.”
British novelist, essayist, and short-story writer Zadie Smith, author of the best-seller White Teeth and other works, was in conversation with Harry Elam, Vice President for the Arts at Stanford University, in March 2019.
Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1986, is a distinguished dramatist, poet, autobiographer, and cultural critic. Born in Nigeria and educated in both his native country and Britain, Soyinka first came to prominence in the 1960s as a dissident artist-activist, whose plays and improvised street theater attacked the follies and cruelties of Africa's early post-colonial leaders. In the years since, Soyinka's work has continued to act as the outspoken conscience to a succession of oppressive regimes in Nigeria as well as other African states, and he has consequently suffered periods of both political imprisonment and exile. Beyond Soyinka's role as the socially engaged man-of-letters, he is also an influential teacher, having taught at a number of universities in Africa as well as in Britain and the United States. Today Soyinka is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts at Emory University in Atlanta. Soyinka was on campus from November 30 through December 1, 1998. His lecture "Contemporary Literature and the Future of the Humanities and Arts" was presented at Stanford's Kresge Auditorium (Stanford School of Law) on November 30, at 7:00 p.m.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is one of the leading literary theorists and cultural critics of our times. She was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh till 1991, and the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University on 2001. In addition she has taught at Université Paul Valéry, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, University of British Columbia, Goethe Universität in Frankfurt, Riyadh University, and Stanford University among others. Her lecture, titled "Human Rights and the Humanities," was presented on February 12 of 2001 at the Law School with a subsequent open discussion at the Humanities Center Annex on February 13, 2001.
Among those who write about music today, Richard Taruskin stands out for his keen insight into source material; his rigorous musical analysis; his wide-ranging grasp of the related social, cultural, and political background; his high degree of serendipitous discovery; his gift for looking at the familiar through a new lens; and his use of language, combining both scholarly authority with wit and ease of expression. Taruskin’s books, articles, and lectures frequently overturn previously accepted ideas in highly original, perceptive, and often controversial ways that have earned him the respect, admiration, and, sometimes, ire of his colleagues and readers. He has written about the chanson and sacred music of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, issues of musical performance practice, music historiography, the relationship of music and politics, and the music of Russia from the eighteenth century to the present. He is well-known as a reviewer for the New York Times and the New Republic, and for his recent voluminous contribution to the musicological literature, The Oxford History of Western Music. Taruskin's 2008 lecture at Stanford was called “Shall We Change the Subject? A Music Historian Reflects.”
In her 2012 Presidential Lecture, entitled “Wallace Stevens as an American Poet,” Helen Vendler — poetry scholar and critic, and the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor in the English Department of Harvard University — reassessed Wallace Stevens’ role as an American rather than an international poet, and accordingly argued that American literary history needs to broaden its concept of what counts as American in American poetry.
Marina Warner is a writer and thinker of such range that her work defies easy categorization. Although one could perhaps list the major topics of her most important works — myths, fairy tales, ghosts, monsters, the supernatural, women, the female form, childhood, children’s literature, and the cultural histories of each of these — such a list does not nearly do justice to Warner’s range. Warner’s immense breadth of knowledge comes not only from her voracious research and writing as an adult scholar: she seems also to have had the enviable sort of pan-European upbringing that prepares one for a life of such scholarship. She read French and Italian at Oxford in the 1960s, then became a freelance writer in London for the Daily Telegraph Magazine, Vogue, and others, completing her first monograph in 1972 (and adding others to that at the rate of at least one every several years) and garnering a number of awards for her work. From the late 1980s through early into the 2000s she lived the life of an independent scholar, with a series of visiting professorships and academic fellowships around the world (including at Stanford, in 2000), all the while lecturing widely, curating museum exhibits, and of course writing. In 2004 she was named a professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. Marina Warner's lecture “The Voice of the Toy: Writing Magic and Enchanted States” was presented at Stanford's Law School on Monday, April 14 , 2008 at 7 p.m.
Robert Wilson is an acclaimed director, stage designer, performer, writer, furniture designer, draftsman, and educator of international and multidisciplinary scope. An artist of the stage, he has come to that profession by way of business school, architectural training, painting, and chance encounters with uniquely inspirational individuals. Perhaps because of this non-linear trajectory, he has again and again felt cause and had vision to test and question all of the presumed essential elements of the theater: the spectator, the performer, the writer, the stage, the story. His productions, including Einstein on the Beach, Deafman Glance, and the CIVIL warS, are lengthy yet highly controlled, minimalist yet intricately detailed. Wilson’s memorable 2008 Presidential Lecture and Performance at Stanford was called “1. HAVE YOU BEEN HERE BEFORE” / “2. NO THIS IS THE FIRST TIME.”