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Spring 2011 Humanities Symposium to address the evolving role of the humanities

March 26, 2011

The Drake University Center for the Humanities will host the Spring 2011 Humanities Symposium from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, in the Cowles Library Reading Room, 2725 University Ave. The symposium is free and open to the public.

The Spring 2011 Humanities Symposium will address the evolving role of humanities in 21st century education and society, investigating ways to rethink the definition and characterization of academic disciplines that study the human condition.

"The humanities have sometimes been perceived as out of touch with the concerns, questions, interests and issues of those outside the classroom," says Craig Owens, symposium organizer and Drake University associate professor of English. "Our hope, in inviting the public to this dialogue, is to exchange perspectives and better understand who engages with the humanities, who the humanities serve, and how we, as scholars and teachers, can make that engagement and service more robust and meaningful. Along the way, though, we'll be touching on some questions specific to the academic and institutional work of humanities scholarship and teaching."

The symposium will feature three panel discussions on the following topics, followed by a group book discussion:


"What is The Humanities?" 9:45-10:45 a.m.

A panel discussion featuring Jeff Karnicky, assistant professor of English; Maura Lyons, associate professor of art and design; Martin Roth, visiting assistant professor of philosophy; Karl Schaefer, professor of librarianship; Joseph Schneider, Ellis and Nelle Levitt professor of sociology; and Mark Vitha, associate professor of chemistry.

"The Humanities and Their Publics," 11 a.m.- Noon

What, if anything, do the humanities owe to those outside the university? A panel featuring Jennifer Harvey, associate professor of religion; Claudia Frazer, associate professor of Librarianship; Lee Jolliffe, associate professor of journalism; Sandra Patton-Imani, associate professor of American studies; and Carol Spaulding-Kruse, associate professor of English, will discuss what constituencies are served by the humanities.


"The Humanities in Higher Education," 1:45-2:45 p.m.

This panel discussion will address, among other topics, whether the humanities need to reconceive their place in higher education. Panelists include Sally Beisser, professor of education; Megan Brown, assistant professor of English; Renee Cramer, associate professor of law, politics and society; Bruce Gilbert, director of library operations and technology; Jennifer McCrickerd, associate professor of philosophy; Jody Swilky, professor of English; and Craig Owens.

The symposium will conclude with a 3 p.m. group discussion of J.M. Coetzee's 1999 novel Disgrace , which touches on a number of the themes. Melisa Klimaszewski, assistant professor of English, will moderate.

Those wishing to attend all or part of the symposium are encouraged to pre-register by sending an email to humanities.center@drake.edu. For more information, contact Craig Owens at 271-3876.