The International Symposium on New Directions in the Humanities will feature plenary session addresses by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Garden Conversation Sessions

Main speakers will make formal 30 minute presentations in the plenary sessions. They will also participate in 60 minute Garden Conversation sessions at the same time as the parallel sessions. The setting is a circle of chairs outdoors. These sessions are entirely unstructured-a chance to meet the plenary speaker and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

  • Joseph A. Buttigieg

  • Joseph A. Buttigieg's is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His main interests are modern literature, critical theory, and the relationship between culture and politics. In addition to numerous articles, Buttigieg has authored a book on James Joyce's aesthetics, 'A Portrait of the Artist in Different Perspective'. He is also the editor and translator of the multi-volume complete critical edition of Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, a project that has been supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Several of his articles on Gramsci have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Portugese, and Japanese. He was a founding member of the International Gramsci Society of which he is the executive secretary. The Italian Minister of Culture appointed him to a commission of experts to oversee the preparation of the "edizione nazionale" of Gramsci's writings. Buttigieg serves on the editorial and advisory boards of various journals, and he is a member of the editorial collective of Boundary 2.

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, teaches English and the Politics of Culture. She was educated at the University of Calcutta, and came to Cornell University in 1961 to finish doctoral work. Apart from her own considerable publications, she has translated the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and the Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. She is active in the International Women's Movement, the struggle for Ecological Justice, and rural literacy. Her influence has been felt in Art and Architecture, Law and Political Science, in curatorial practices here and abroad. Her work has been translated into all the major European and Asian languages. Her focus has remained education in the Humanities.

  • Lindsay Waters, Executive Editor for the Humanities, Harvard University Press.

    Lindsday Waters' main areas of acquisition are philosophy, literary studies, cultural studies, film, Asian cultural studies, pop culture, and conflicting relations among the races in the United States and around the world. The philosophy list builds from books by Quine, Putnam, McDowell, Hornsby, Anscombe, Brandom, Rawls, Haugeland, Rorty, Scanlon, Gibbard, Albert, Sellars, and Cavell. How is philosophy changing to take on issues left unexplored in the heyday of analytic philosophy? The literary and cultural studies lists build out from questions in literary history as explored by Hollier's 'New History of French Literature' and Wellbery's 'New History of German Literature'. It also builds out from work of Walter Benjamin in many areas including affective responses to art. How do artworks haunt humans? This question is explored in Victoria Nelson's 'The Secret Life of Puppets' and Sianne Ngai's 'Ugly Feelings'. Spivak and Said, as well as the Convergences series edited by Said, represent efforts to explore new possibilities for humanistic inquiry worldwide and lead to books by Jean Franco, Leo Ou-fan Lee, Lydia Liu, and Wang Hui. He is also interested in explorations of language and the arts around the world. Exemplary recent titles are Hardt and Negri's 'Empire', Pascale Casanova's 'World Republic of Letters', and Evelyn Ch'ien's 'Weird English'. Pop music explorations include books by Marcus, Christgau, Press and Reynolds, and Frith. Authors of books in feminist legal studies include Catharine A. MacKinnon and Patricia Williams.

  • Lydia H. Liu

    Lydia H. Liu is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at Columbia University She is regarded as one of the nation's foremost scholars in modern Chinese literature and culture. Her unique insights into both western and eastern cultures have made her a highly sought-after authority in comparative literature and cultural studies—on both sides of the Pacific. She has published widely in literary theory, cultural translation, material culture, and postcolonial empire studies. 'Translingual Practice' and 'Tokens of Exchange' (her edited volume) are both innovative studies of how words, ideas, and artifacts move across cultures, civilizations, and histories. 'The Clash of Empires', which is her latest work, reexamines the earthshaking encounters between the British Empire and the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) during the Opium Wars. The study shows that what is lost in translation may be a war, a world, or a way of life. Liu is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim award in 1997. Lydia H. Liu completed her doctorate in comparative literature at Harvard University in 1990. Since then, she spent more than a decade teaching at UC Berkeley where she eventually became the Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Over the past four years, she taught at the University of Michigan where she held the chair of the Helmut Stern Professorship in Chinese Studies. She is a member of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University.

  • Jean Franco

  • Jean Franco was the first Professor of Latin American Literature in England. She was appointed Professor by the University of Essex in l968 having previously taught at Queen Mary College and Kings College, London University. In l972 she took up a position at Stanford University where she was later appointed to the Olive H. Palmer chair of Humanities. She has been at Columbia University since l982, first in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and later in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She is now Professor Emerita. Professor Franco is one of the editors of the Cultural Studies of the Americas series published by Minnesota University Press and is General Editor of the Library of Latin America series, published by Oxford University Press. Professor Franco has been writing on Latin American literature since the early sixties. She has published 'The Modern Culture of Latin America' (l967), 'César Vallejo. The Dialectics of Poetry and Silence'.(l976) 'An Introduction to Latin American Literature', (l969) 'Plotting Women. Gender and Representation in Mexico'. (1989). 'Marcando diferencias. Cruzando Fronteras' (l996) 'A selection of essays Critical Passions',edited by Mary Louise Pratt and Kathleen Newman was published in October l999 by Duke University Press. Her book, 'The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City. Latin America and the Cold War' was published by Harvard University Press in 2001 and was translated into Spanish as 'Decadencia y caída de la ciudad letrada' in the collection, 'Debates'. The book was awarded the Bolton-Johnson Prize by the Conference of Latin American Historians for the best work in English on the History of Latin America published in 2003. 'Plotting Women', 'Marcando Diferencias', and several chapters of 'Critical Passions' and 'The Decline and Fall' specifically focus on gender and the essays, 'Killing Priests, Nuns, Women, Children' and 'Gender, Death and Resistance' have been reprinted on numerous occasions. She is at present working on racial discrimination in Latin America. Professor Franco has been decorated by the governments of Mexico, Chile and Venezuela for her work on Latin American literature and has received awards from PEN and from the Latin American Studies Association for lifetime achievement. She has served as President of the Latin American Studies Association in Great Britain and of the Latin American Studies Association in the U.S.

  • Brent Hayes Edwards

    Professor Edwards is the author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard, 2003), which won the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies. With Robert G. O'Meally and Farah Jasmine Griffin, he co-edited the collection Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia, 2004). He has published essays and articles in a wide variety of journals and magazines on topics including African American literature, Francophone literature, theories of the African diaspora, black radical intellectuals, cultural politics in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, surrealism, 20th-century poetics, and jazz. His translations include essays, poems, and fiction by authors including Edouard Glissant, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, and Monchoachi.

    The co-editor of the journal Social Text, Professor Edwards also serves on the editorial boards of Transition and Callaloo. He is a Permanent Fellow at the university’s Center for Cultural Analysis and sits on the supervisory board of The English Institute at Harvard University. Between 2005 and 2006, Professor Edwards was awarded a fellowship to pursue research at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library. While there, he worked on a project entitled “Alternate Tracks: The Politics of Experimentation and Collaboration in New York Jazz, 1972-1982” for his next book, a study of the interplay between jazz and literature in African American culture.

    In 2003, Professor Edwards won both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education and the Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence. Prior to that, he received an award for his contributions to curricular development. His teaching includes courses in black poetry and serial poetics.