Professor Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, will deliver the inaugural lecture at UR’s Humanities Center.

Dexter Perkins Professor in History and Interim Director of the UR Humanities Center Joan Rubin noted the good fortune of having Professor Early as the inaugural lecturer in the Center. “He is such an accomplished scholar of African-American culture and literature,” Rubin said. “We got the idea of having a series of speakers who can help us build our own [humanities center], then we thought about what institutions were kind of like us. I thought, ‘Oh, wow — if we could get this guy, that’d be terrific. […] I’ve heard that he’s a great speaker.” The lecture will be held on September 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library.

Professor Early’s lecture is the first of many slated to occur during the 2015-2016 academic year: three other speakers will be featured as part of the inaugural series, all former or current directors of humanities centers; MIT Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics, Emeritus, Noam Chomsky will be featured in April through the Center’s Distinguished Visiting Humanist program; and Professor R. Larry Todd of Duke University will be speaking on October 29.

Since its formation in April, the Center has created approximately one dozen programs for faculty, students and the Rochester community. It also inherited lecture series and symposia from various sources.

At the forefront of the Center’s future plan is an ongoing push to engage undergraduate students who are interested in the humanities.  “We really want undergraduates to know that they’re welcome at all of our events,” Rubin said.

To that end, a new creation of the Center is the Undergraduate Conversations  series, geared toward its namesake demographic. The first lecture of the series will be delivered by UR Professor Ezra Tawil on September 29 and is entitled “The Humanities and the American Difference.” There will be three Conversations each in the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters.

Rubin praised the support of University administration in the formation of the Center. “We have been very fortunate to benefit from the support of the University administration at the highest levels,” Rubin said.


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