Co-Creator of Humanities 11c. Frameworks: The Art of Reading
Peter Sacks was born in 1950 in South Africa. He lived there for the first half of his life, mostly in the city of Durban, on the Indian Ocean. Sacks studied at Oxford, as well as in the United States, at Princeton and Yale (where he wrote, partly as his thesis, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats). All through this time, which included the study of art and the history of painting – from the rock-art of Southern Africa to the frescoes of the early Renaissance, from the funerary portraiture of Egypt to the entangled figurative and abstract heritages of Modernism – Sacks also spent years of travel, often times on foot. Walks across various parts of South and North America, Africa, Europe and Asia, comprised much of his development on a formal as well as cultural level. In addition, the shifting confluences of poetry and painting (Sacks is also the author of five volumes of poetry) – elements of narrative, music, metaphor or symbol, as well as those of envisioning and evoking rather than depicting – arrive at visual concerns at once bodily, topographical and architectural. One senses the presence of battlegrounds or construction sites of ancient yet contemporary history. A procession of figures moves through some purgatorial region, caught between birth and catastrophe, between despair and survival. His recent paintings challenge our assumptions of what might or might not be human, whether in ourselves, or in the marks we make upon the spaces we inhabit, construct, deform or save.
Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English
Co-Creator of Humanities 11c. Frameworks: The Art of Reading
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English, the Director of the Humanities Center and the Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost at Harvard University. Bhabha is the author of numerous works exploring postcolonial theory, cultural change and power, and cosmopolitanism, among other themes. Some of his works include Nation and Narration and The Location of Culture, which was reprinted as a Routledge Classic in 2004. Harvard University Press will publish his forthcoming book A Global Measure, and Columbia University Press will publish his next book The Right to Narrate.
Co-Creator of Humanities 11a Frameworks: The Art of Looking
Robin Kelsey is Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography and Director of Graduate Studies in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University. He is also a member of the Committee on Higher Degrees in the History of American Civilization and a Faculty Associate of the Center for the Environment. He holds a PhD from Harvard and a JD from Yale Law School and has practiced law in California.
Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities
Co-Creator of Humanities 11a Frameworks: The Art of Looking
Jennifer L. Roberts is Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard College Professor, and Chair of the Program in American Studies. She is an art historian specializing in American art, with particular interests in landscape, material culture, print culture, and the history of science. She received her A.B. from Stanford and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale, and joined the Harvard faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2002.
Roberts has received numerous awards and fellowships for her teaching and research. She currently holds a Harvard College Professorship, recognizing distinguished contributions to undergraduate teaching, and in 2005 she received the Roslyn Abramson Award for excellence in teaching undergraduates. She has been awarded research fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center and the Clark Art Institute, and has accepted an invitation to occupy the Slade Professorship in Fine Arts at Cambridge University in 2018.
Within an art-historical discipline built on assumptions about the virtuality, ephemerality, and transcendence of images, Roberts has consistently sought to return attention to the material intelligence – and material beauty -- of art. Her first book, Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History (2004) examines the models of history developed by the prominent land artist Robert Smithson, arguing that Smithson attempted to redefine historical thinking so that it would no longer rely on optical metaphors (no more historical “backgrounds,” “horizons,” or “perspectives;” no more “looking back”). Smithson took his models instead from geology and physics, imagining history as a series of alluviations, depositions, and stratifications.
Co-Creator of Humanities 11b Frameworks: The Art of Looking
Professor Hamilton first came to Harvard in 2001. He has held teaching positions in Comparative Literature and German at New York University, with visiting professorships in Classics at the University of California-Santa Cruz and at Bristol University’s Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition. Since 1995, he has been actively involved with the Leibniz-Kreis, a working group directed by Glenn Most and originally based in Heidelberg, which is devoted to the “Afterlife of Antiquity.” In 2005 – 06 he was a resident fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; and has enjoyed subsequent fellowships at Berlin's Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung. Together with Eckart Goebel and Paul Fleming, he serves as an editor of the “Manhattan Manuscripts” series, published in Germany by the Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. With Almut-Barbara Renger and Jon Solomon, he co-runs a series at Brill: "Metaforms: Studies in the Reception of Classical Antiquity."
Co-Creator of Humanities 11b. Frameworks: The Art of Listening
Alexander Rehding is Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard University. A native of Hamburg, Germany, he received his Ph.D. in 1999 from Cambridge University. He held postdoctoral research fellowships at Emmanuel College Cambridge, the Penn Humanities Forum, and Society of Fellows at Princeton before joining the Music Department at Harvard University in 2003. In 2005 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin. During that time, he was promoted Gardner Cowles Associate Professor, and a year later, in 2006, Professor of Music. Since 2007 Mr. Rehding has been co-editor of Acta musicologica, the journal of the International Musicological Society.
Professor of English and African and African American Studies
Reassessing the meanings of "black humor" and "dark satire," Glenda Carpio’s Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery illustrates how black comedians, writers, and artists have deftly deployed various modes of comedic "conjuring"--the absurd, the grotesque, and the strategic expression of racial stereotypes--to redress not only the past injustices of slavery and racism in America but also their legacy in the present. Focusing on representations of slavery in the post-civil rights era, Carpio explores stereotypes in Richard Pryor's groundbreaking stand-up act and the outrageous comedy of Chappelle's Show to demonstrate how deeply indebted they are to the sly social criticism embedded in the profoundly ironic nineteenth-century fiction of William Wells Brown and Charles W. Chesnutt. Similarly, she reveals how the iconoclastic literary works of Ishmael Reed and Suzan-Lori Parks use satire, hyperbole, and burlesque humor to represent a violent history and to take on issues of racial injustice. Ultimately, Laughing Fit to Kill offers a unique look at the bold, complex, and just plain funny ways that African American artists have used laughter to critique slavery's dark legacy.
Professor Carpio recently received Harvard University's Abramson Award for Excellence and Sensitivity in Undergraduate Teaching.
"Leviathan," a new film by Lucien Castaing-Taylor (VES and Anthropology) and co-director Véréna Paravel was recently described by the New York Times as "perhaps the most radical work yet to emerge from the lab and certainly the one that goes furthest in striving for an immersive cinematic experience. Shot entirely aboard a fishing trawler off the Massachusetts coast, largely with small, waterproof digital cameras that were variously tethered to the fishermen, tossed in with their dead or dying catch and plunged into the roiling ocean, the film had its premiere in competition last month at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where it won the international critics' prize." It was shown at the Toronto Film Festival, in the Wavelengths section for innovative cinema and will be shown in October at the New York Film Festival.
The book Visionary Journeysexplores the parallel and yet profoundly different ways of seeing the outside world and engaging with the foreign at two important moments of dislocation in Chinese history, namely, the early medieval period commonly known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (317–589 CE), and the nineteenth century. Xiaofei Tian juxtaposes literary, historical, and religious materials from these two periods in comparative study, bringing them together in their unprecedentedly large-scale interactions, and their intense fascination, with foreign cultures.
Seamus Heaney, Denis Donoghue, William Pritchard, Marilyn Butler, Harold Bloom, and many others have praised Helen Vendler as one of the most attentive readers of poetry. In Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, Vendler turns her illuminating skills as a critic to 150 selected poems of Emily Dickinson. As she did in The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets, she serves as an incomparable guide, considering both stylistic and imaginative features of the poems.
Pianist Robert Levin, a passionate advocate of new music and a noted theorist and Mozart scholar, has been heard throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia, in recital, as a soloist, and in chamber concerts. In early May, he and cellist Steven Isserlis collaborated on series of events at the 92nd Street Y in New York. After a lecture-recital preview on Wednesday evening, Mr. Isserlis and Professor Levin performed all of Beethoven's works for cello and piano on Thursday and Saturday evenings.
"These players, pushing each other to the limit, achieved a gripping excitement seldom heard in these works from the combination of cello and modern piano." James R. Oestreich, The New York Times
Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English
When we think of breaking images, we assume that it happens somewhere else. We also tend to think of iconoclasts as barbaric. Iconoclasts are people like the Taliban, who blew up Buddhist statues in 2001. Under the Hammer: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition argues instead that iconoclasm is a central strand of Anglo-American modernity. Our horror at the destruction of art derives in part from the fact that we too did, and still do, that. This is most obviously true of England's iconoclastic century between 1538 and 1643. And once started, iconoclasm is difficult to stop. It ripples through cultures, into the psyche, and it ripples through history.
Stephen Greenblatt was recently awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction for "The Swerve: How The World Became Modern." The book, both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, chronicles how one manuscript - an ancient Roman epic by Lucretius - plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought, fueled the Renaissance, inspired great minds from Galileo to Freud, and helped make possible the world as we know it.
At the Polinsky Language Sciences Lab at Harvard University, language diversity meets cognitive science. Researchers in the lab study the ways in which people use and process language in real time. The lab has a strong cross-linguistic focus, drawing upon English, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Mayan languages, Basque, Austronesian languages, languages of the Caucasus, and others. One of the major research areas in the lab is in heritage languages and their speakers—people who learned a minority language in childhood but later switched to another, societally dominant language.
Abbot Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures
An Errant Eye studies how topography, the art of describing local space and place, developed literary and visual form in early modern France. Arguing for a "new poetics of space" ranging throughout French Renaissance poetry, prose, and cartography, Tom Conley performs dazzling readings of maps, woodcuts, and poems to plot a topographical shift in the late Renaissance.