Past Events

Who Counts? Struggles for Representation and Recognition

In 2020, a year that held both an election and the 100th year celebration of Women’s Suffrage, the Humanities Institute organized events and other activities around the theme of “Who Counts? Struggles for Representation and Recognition.” 

Our series mobilized around the question of who counts?—both in the sense of “who gets counted?” as well as “who does the counting?”—focusing on the multiple dimensions along which social and political representation has been achieved (and denied), the historically precarious attainment of political voice for all citizens, and the complexities of suffrage for all members of the citizenry who may be given a vote but wonder if they are given a voice.  

The history of struggles for representation and recognition in America was the subject of the third episode of HI’s documentary series, HumIn Focus: 

Who Counts: The Complexities of Democracy in America. 

Centering on the troubled history and ongoing fragility of democracy in America, scholars in both the humanities and the social sciences were interviewed on the values inherent in democracy and the tenuous ways that institutions and practices in the U.S. have, and have not, lived up to those values.


Reflections on the meaning of democracy in a post-election America. 

Using Episode 3 as a springboard, coupled with the dramatic presidential election we witnessed in 2020, on December 10th HI Director John Christman talked with Dr. Cynthia Young, Head of the Department of African American Studies at Penn State about questions such as:

What is the place of protest movements in a democracy, and the trajectory of protests against anti-black racism in this country and around the world?

Repair institutional norms or push for radical solutions? What are the best next steps to restore and strengthen democracy?

What is the threat to democracy from abiding dynamics of inequality, including imbalances of political representation, wealth, and power?

What is the legacy of the fight for women’s suffrage and the ongoing effects of patriarchy?

What is the role of mass- and social- media in fomenting or suppressing healthy democratic deliberation?

To listen to the recording of this conversation, follow this link

PLEASE NOTE: The following events were cancelled due to COVID-19. 

In Spring 2020, Prof. Michael Ralph of NYU–whose work focuses on the connections between slavery, debt bondage and institutions like the insurance industry–was to talk on how such connections can cast light on the way that human beings get counted in social, political and economic registers.  

Our Annual Humanities Lecture was to feature Prof. Qiana Whitted, Professor of English and African American Studies and Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her recent work focused on the ways that various social struggles and trauma, especially those involving civil rights, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice in America, have been portrayed in comics and graphic literature

HI Conference 

The Humanities Institute hosts an Annual Conference as part of the Humanities in the World initiative and in partnership with faculty members through the Faculty Invites program. Conference topics may be in any area of humanities research, including interdisciplinary collaborations with other fields. Planning for upcoming conferences is currently underway.

Dislocation Beyond War's End

International Colloquium on the Occasion of the Armistice Centenary, November 12 & 13, 2018

The first Annual Conference was held on November 12-13, 2018. Dislocation Beyond War’s End: International Colloquium on the Occasion of the Armistice Centenary was hosted by faculty members Sophie De Schaepdrijver (History) and Nicolas de Warren (Philosophy). Under the general rubric of dislocation and discontent, the aim of the conference was to explore the many ways in which the First World War failed to end in November 1918.