National Humanities Center, Fall Events 2010

National Humanities Center
Fall Events 2010
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PUBLIC LECTURES at the National Humanities Center 
Fri., September 10 — 7:30 p.m. (talk begins)
"A Conversation with Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate in Literature"
Wole Soyinka, Playwright, Poet, Novelist, and Essayist

Wole Soyinka
Born on July 13, 1934, the Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1986, Wole Soyinka, has published more than thirty works, and remains active in various international cultural and human rights organizations. Born and educated in Nigeria, Wole Soyinka continued his studies at the University of Leeds, England, then joined the Royal Court Theatre, London as a play-reader. In 1960, he returned to Nigeria, where he founded two theatre companies—"The 1960 Masks," and the "Orisun Theatre." Soyinka writes in various genres—from the light comedy of cultures in The Lion and the Jewel, through King Baabu, a savagely satiric adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, to the dense poetic tragedy of Death and the King’s Horseman.

Soyinka has also written novels and autobiographical works. Aké: The Years of Childhood has been described as a classic, while his latest, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, was acclaimed one of the best non-fiction works of 2006. Literary and thematic essay collections include his 2004 BBC Reith Lectures, Climate of Fear, while his most recent collection of poems was published as Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. Wole Soyinka has held several university positions and still lectures extensively. He is currently Professor Emeritus in Comparative Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; Emeritus Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada; and the President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA.

» Reserve space for this event, Friday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Thurs., October 7 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Science, Truth, and Knowledge in 19th-Century British Exploration"
Dane Kennedy, George Washington University

Dane Kennedy, George Washington University
Dane Kennedy is the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University. An expert in British imperial history, he is the author of numerous articles and four books: The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World (2005); Britain and Empire, 1880-1945 (2002); The Magic Mountains: Hill Stations and the British Raj (1996); and Islands of White: Settler Society and Culture in Kenya and Southern Rhodesia, 1890-1939 (1987). He is also the co-editor with Durba Ghosh of Decentering Empire: Britain, India, and the Transcolonial World (2006).

Prior to coming to George Washington University, Kennedy was professor and chair of the history department at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Kennedy will be working this year at the National Humanities Center on Mapping Continents: British Exploration of Africa and Australia.

» Reserve space for this event, Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.

Tues., November 9 — 5:00 p.m. 
"The Suicide of the Humanities"
Dr. Raymond Tallis, University of Liverpool

Dr. Raymond Tallis, University of Liverpool
Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist, and cultural critic and was until recently a physician and clinical scientist. In the Economist's Intelligent Life Magazine (Autumn 2009) he was listed as one of the top living polymaths in the world.

After a distinguished career caring for the elderly and conducting research in stroke, epilepsy, and neurological rehabilitation, Tallis retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer. Currently he is Visiting Professor in the School of English, University of Liverpool. Over the last twenty years, he has published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and eighteen books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. Together with over a hundred articles in Prospect, Times Literary Supplement, and many other outlets, these books offer a critique of current predominant intellectual trends and an alternative understanding of human consciousness, the nature of language, and of what it is to be a human being.

His most recent publication is Michelangelo's Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence (Atlantic, 2010). His visit to the National Humanities Center is made possible through the Meymandi Fellowship for distinguished visitors which, in recent years, has also brought to the Center such distinguished visitors as E. O. Wilson, Michael Pollan, Mark Stoneking, Oliver Sacks, Wole Soyinka, and A.S. Byatt.

» Reserve space for this event, Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., November 18 — 5:00 p.m. 
"An Introduction to 300 Years of Anthropometric History"
John Komlos, University of Munich, Germany

John Komlos, University of Munich, Germany
John Komlos is professor of economics and chair of the Institute of Economic History at the University of Munich, Germany. A leading figure in establishing the discipline of anthropometric history, the study of the effect of economic development on human biological outcomes such as physical stature, his research includes work on the biological standard of living, conceptualizations of the Industrial Revolution, and the use of quantitative methods and economic theory in historical analysis.

Komlos is the founding editor of the journal Economics and Human Biology. His influential work on the subject includes Nutrition and Economic Development in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropometric History (1989). His finding that after being the tallest in the world for two centuries Americans lost their height advantage to Western European populations after World War II has attracted much media attention: "The Height Gap: Why Europeans are getting taller and taller—and Americans aren't," The New Yorker, April 5, 2004, pp. 38-45; the New York Times; and The Daily Show.

Komlos has previously taught at the University of Vienna, Duke University, the Vienna University of Economics, University of St. Gallen, and North Carolina State University. This year he is working at the National Humanities Center on An Anthropometric History of the World from the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century.

» Reserve space for this event, Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., December 9 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Mediterranean Trade and the Arts: A Cross-Cultural Reading"
Maria Georgopoulou, American School of Classical Studies, Greece

Maria Georgopoulou, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece
Since 2004, Maria Georgopoulou has been director of The Gennadius Library at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Prior to her appointment as director of the library she was associate professor of art history at Yale University. An expert in the art and architecture of the Mediterranean region, she is the author of Venice's Mediterranean Colonies: Architecture and Urbanism (2001) and editor or co-editor of three other volumes. She has also written extensively on the intersections of commerce and material culture in the middle ages.

In 2010-11, Georgopoulou is working at the National Humanities Center on her current project, Arts, Industry, and Trade in the Medieval Mediterranean, which examines the wide ranging influence of trade on cultures from the eastern Mediterranean through the Italian peninsula into urban centers in Western Europe as it was reflected in a variety of aesthetic objects that became common among wealthy Europeans and Muslims.

» Reserve space for this event, Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.

Golden Mirage
Golden Mirage, mixed media
September 1 — December 17
"Aesthetic Perception of Arts and Crafts"
Violet and Rose Jane Designs
North Carolina

Lectures and exhibits at the National Humanities Center are free and open to the public. They are supported by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Educational and Cultural Outreach Endowment Fund.

For more information, please contact Martha Johnson by phone (919) 549-0661, ext. 110 or e-mail

Directions to the Center
National Humanities Center
7 Alexander Drive, P.O. Box 12256
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2256 USA
Phone: (919) 549-0661   Fax: (919) 990-8535
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Revised: October 2010