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Hall Center announces Humanities Lecture Series for 2013-14

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities has announced the speakers for its 2013-2014 Humanities Lecture Series. The series will include Arsalan Iftikhar, Jill Lepore, Junot Díaz, Anne Hedeman, Peter Brown and Jeffrey Toobin.

The lectures are free, open to the public, and begin at 7:30 p.m. on the dates specified below. Iftikhar, Lepore, Díaz, Brown and Toobin will also take part in conversation sessions at 10 a.m. the day following their lecture.

Arsalan Iftikhar – “The Role of Islam in Post 9/11 America," Sept. 12-13

Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, author and founder of the popular TheMuslimGuy.com. He regularly comments on NPR's "Tell Me More" and contributes to CNN, Esquire and other publications. His most recent book, "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era" (2011), argues for a pacifist alternative to religious extremism, advocating for a nuanced understanding of Islam in the face of both religious extremism and racism and violence. Iftikhar's funny, incisive commentary and writing has earned him the reputation as one of the most effective and thoughtful ambassadors for a critical understanding of the post-9/11 Muslim experience, "giving voice to the vast majority of Muslims who see violence as an abomination and a sacrilege."

Jill Lepore, “Unseen — The History of Privacy," Oct. 22-23

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History and chair of the History and Literature Program at Harvard University. Her research interests include the history of war and violence, as well as the history of language and literacy. She is the author of eight books, including "The Story of America: Essays on Origins" (2012), a collection of wide-ranging essays framed by the idea of the United States as itself a set of stories, and "New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan" (2006), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history. In this lecture, Lepore traces the history of invisible people, including H.G. Wells' invisible man, considering the strange history of the relationship between the unseen and the unknown. In an illustrated lecture that ranges from the mysteries of the medieval church to the privacy settings on Facebook, Lepore argues that what was once mysterious became secret and, finally, private. This event is supported by the Sosland Foundation of Kansas City.

Junot Díaz — “An Evening with Junot Díaz: Literature, Diaspora, and Immigration," Nov. 18-19

Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz is the author of the genre-spanning, critically acclaimed "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007) and short story collections "Drown" (1996) and "This Is How You Lose Her" (2012). Díaz emigrated from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey as a child, and this immigration experience serves as the thematic focus of most of his work. Critics describe his work as "electrifying," "distinct" and "vulgar, brave and poetic," and he has received the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award and the MacArthur Genius Fellowship. Díaz is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT, and he is currently working on a novel of science fiction titled "Monstro."

Anne Hedeman – “Imagining the Past: Interplay between Literary and Visual Imagery in Late Medieval France," Feb. 13, 2014

Anne D. Hedeman, Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor of Art History, is a scholar of late Medieval and Northern Renaissance art and the history of the book, particularly the illustrations in medieval manuscripts and early printed books. Her research examines the relationships between text and image in vernacular late medieval French manuscripts. She studies how pictures in illuminated manuscripts explain and translate classical stories to late medieval French readers. Her book in progress, "Visual Translation and the First French Humanists," analyzes this dynamic in works owned or made by three early 15th century French humanists. She is the author of several scholarly monographs, including "Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500" (2010) and "Translating the Past: Laurent de Premierfait and Boccaccio’s 'De casibus'" (2008).

Peter Brown – “Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-500 AD," March 11-12, 2014

Princeton Professor Emeritus of History Peter Brown is credited with having created the field of study referred to as late antiquity, during which Rome fell, the three major monotheistic religions took shape, and Christianity spread across Europe. His major research interest is the rise of Christianity, and he has investigated such diverse topics as Roman rhetoric, the cult of the saints, the body and sexuality, and wealth and poverty. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award for his scholarly output, which includes a dozen publications and a significant number of articles. His most recent book, "Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD" (2012), looks at wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman empire. He examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty.

Jeffrey Toobin – “The Supreme Court in the Age of Obama” — April 24-25, 2014

Jeffrey Toobin is a senior legal analyst for CNN, lawyer and author of six books, including "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson" (1997); "Too Close to Call: the Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election" (2001); and his most recent publication, "The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court" (2012), an insider’s account of the ideological war between the current Supreme Court and the Obama administration. Toobin has offered legal analysis on some of the most high-profile cases in recent history, including O.J. Simpson's murder trial, the deportation of Elian Gonzalez, the investigation of President Clinton, and the battle for gay marriage in the Supreme Court. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1993 and previously served as an attorney in Brooklyn.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at the University of Kansas. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Diane Ravitch and T.R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule.

For more information, please contact the Hall Center via email or call 785-864-4798.