Hall Center announces its 2015-2016 Humanities Lecture Series

Friday, May 08, 2015

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities announced its Humanities Lecture Series for 2015-2016, which will feature prize-winning historians, sociologists, explorers and podcast hosts. All events are free and open to the public.

Lectures in the upcoming academic year will focus on topics ranging from the rise of political conservatism to ways humans interact with the Great Barrier Reef.

The first speaker in the series is Rick Perlstein, “chronicler extraordinaire of American conservatism” and The New York Times best-selling author. His lecture, “The Invisible Bridge: From Nixon to Reagan to Palin and Beyond,” explores the rise of modern American conservatism, beginning with Reagan and still reverberating today in how America’s politicians make decisions about global warming, the financial crisis and the war in Iraq.

Next in the series is University of Wisconsin sociologist Alice Goffman. She will examine the largely hidden world of police beatings, court fees, sentencing hearings, and low-level warrants that pervade daily life for young people in one poor black neighborhood in Philadelphia. By Goffman’s sophomore year in college, she had moved into the neighborhood she calls Sixth Street and befriended the young men caught up in court cases, probation and parole supervision, and low-level warrants.

Krista Tippett, journalist, entrepreneur and winner of the National Humanities medal, will focus on the central question of being alive: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? Her Civil Conversations Project has focused these questions on public life, in practical terms, for communities from the Deep South to Harvard Law School. She will speak about how we can all begin to create the conversations we want to be hearing, where we live. 

The Series will feature Iain McCalman’s “The Great Barrier Reef: How Human Stories Matter.” The acclaimed historian and explorer will take audiences on a new adventure into the Great Barrier Reef to reveal how our shifting perceptions of the natural world have shaped this extraordinary seascape.

Hannah Britton is KU associate professor of political science and women, gender & sexuality studies as well as director of the Center for the Study of Injustice. In this role, she coordinates KU's Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative, which is a working group of faculty and students engaged in teaching and research about slavery and trafficking. Her talk will focus on human trafficking in the heartland.

Robin D.G. Kelley is one of the most distinguished experts on African-American studies and a celebrated professor who has lectured at some of America’s highest learning institutions. His talk focuses on the killing of Mike Brown and the wave of anti-police protests, and he suggests that the struggle for justice for Brown and other victims is not new, but is a casualty of a war originating more than 500 years ago, a war to colonize, dispossess, enslave and deny rights of citizenship to African-Americans.

“Each year we invite six renowned speakers to campus to promote engaged discussion of fundamental themes in the humanities and social sciences,” said Victor Bailey, Hall Center director. “Next year’s lecture series offers an exciting and diverse roster of public commentators on themes that define and challenge our times.”

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Junot Diaz, actress and playwright Natasha Trethewey, and political analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

The full schedule is below.

  • Rick Perlstein, “The Invisible Bridge: From Nixon to Reagan to Palin and Beyond,” 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16, Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union
  • Alice Goffman, “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, The Commons, Spooner Hall
  • Krista Tippett, “The Adventure of Civility,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union
  • Iain McCalman, “The Great Barrier Reef: How Human Stories Matter,” Feb. 10, The Commons, Spooner Hall
  • Hannah Britton, “Human Trafficking in the Heartland,” March 22, The Commons, Spooner Hall
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, “Mike Brown’s Body: A Meditation on War, Race and Democracy,” April 14, Lied Center Pavilion.