Letters Archive

Spring 2008, Vol. 16, No. 2 (requires Adobe Acrobat)

A Place for the Humanities:
20th Anniversary Events for the Warren Centers

The spring of 2008 will mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. To celebrate this achievement, the Center has planned a series of diverse activities throughout the semester. The series, entitled “A Place for the Humanities,” features five events that demonstrate the centrality of the humanities on our campus.

1. First, on Thursday, February 7, the Warren Center will co-sponsor a presentation by the human rights activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu. Menchu is widely known as a leading advocate of human rights and ethnocultural reconciliation, not only in her native Guatemala but around the world. Menchu comes to Vanderbilt thanks to the efforts of the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, with whom the Warren Center is sponsoring her talk.

2. POSTPONED - On Tuesday, February 26, the Warren Center, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Office, will present a public lecture by Bruce Cole, eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cole, a scholar of Renaissance art history and literature, has served as chairman since 2001; during his tenure at the NEH, he has launched several significant initiatives, including We the People, a program to encourage the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. A reception for Chairman Cole is at 5:00 p.m., and his lecture will begin at 6:00 p.m. Both events will take place in Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music.

3. On March 13 and 14, several influential scholars from Europe and the United States will convene for the Warren Center’s symposium “Thinking with Franz Rosenzweig.” This international gathering will focus on Franz Rosenzweig, one of the most trenchant intellectuals, religious or secular, Jewish or non-Jewish, of the twentieth century. The symposium is presented in association with the Vanderbilt University Library, the Program in Jewish Studies, the Max Kade Center for European and German Studies, and the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture. Although much of the symposium will take the form of a working discussion for scholars, some key events will be open to the public. Further information will soon be available.

4. Friday, April 4, will mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Warren Center will commemorate this occasion with a two-day civil rights conference on April 4-5. The conference takes as its starting point Robert Penn Warren’s 1965 volume Who Speaks for the Negro?, in which Warren records interviews he conducted with dozens of major Civil Rights leaders, including King. At the conference, the Warren Center will bring together many of the figures whom Warren interviewed, as well as other activists, scholars, and community leaders working on civil rights issues today. The two-day conference has both a public dimension as well as a working dimension, and it will examine the history of the Civil Rights movement as well as the future work that must be done to begin healing the legacy of racism in the 21st century. The events and lectures on April 4 will be open to the public, and details will be released in the spring.

5. Finally, on April 12 we close our 20th anniversary celebrations with a rousing concert at the Blair School of Music. Dale Cockrell, professor of musicology, has worked for many years to produce faithful recordings of the music documented in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books. His efforts resulted in two albums, Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Arkansas Traveler: Music from Little House on the Prairie. On April 12, the Warren Center and the Blair School of Music will bring together talented musicians and special guests to give a public concert of these historic Appalachian songs. The event is free and open to the public, but guests should reserve tickets in advance.

Information about these events, including times, locations, and registration, will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available. Please visit www.vanderbilt.edu/rpw_center throughout the spring to check for updates.

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For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.

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