Letter from 2017

Thanks in large part to Mary Lindemann, who generously stepped into the directorship while I was on leave during fall 2016, the UM Center for the Humanities completed another event-filled (its eighth) year, which included lectures with large audiences comprised of the UM community—faculty, staff, students—as well as the general public, and two conferences that showcased cutting-edge interdisciplinary developments. 

The three Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professors during 2016-17 were Alice Dreger, a medical ethicist and a specialist on intersexuality; Merry Wiesner-Hanks, a historian of early modern global and women’s history; and Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Columbia oncologist whose “biography” of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize. We also presented the third lecture in the Edith Bleich Speaker Series, by Joshua Katz, Professor of Classics at Princeton, on the provocative topic, “What is English and How Do We Know?”

In spring 2017, the Center organized a conference on the topic of “Expanding Visions: Women in the Medieval and Early Modern World,” which brought an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars to UM. The Center also presented a lecture on Shakespeare’s First Folio by Peter Holland, the President of the International Shakespeare Association, in the ACCAC Distinguished Speakers Series. Working in collaboration with University of Miami  Libraries, the Center presented the second seminar in the series, “The Future of Academic Publishing,” with Alison Mudditt, Director of the University of California Press; Kathleen Fitzpatrick from the Modern Language Association; and Seth Denbo from the American Historical Association. 

Finally, in May, we organized and presented a Medical Humanities Summer Institute, in collaboration with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. With the support of the Office of the President and the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, Miller School of Medicine, Miami Institute for the Advanced Study of the Americas, and the Graduate School, we were able to invite distinguished keynote speakers from Princeton, Harvard, Michigan, and NYU, as well as showcase our own outstanding faculty. The conference brought together close to 100 participants, from the UM community and beyond—both medical practitioners and humanities scholars—to discuss topics of pressing concern to doctors, nurses, and patients alike. The conference thereby fulfilled an important goal of the Center: to build bridges between the humanities and the sciences, including medicine.

We thank President Julio Frenk for his support of the Humanities and the Center, especially in taking time from his busy schedule to welcome audiences at the lecture by Siddhartha Mukherjee and the Medical Humanities Summer Institute. Thanks are also due to the Center’s faculty board for their wise counsel, and our Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Leonidas Bachas, for his strong interest in and ongoing support of our programming. I also acknowledge the hard work of our Associate Director Kyle Siebrecht, Administrative Assistant Zureyka Carsi, Secretary Amanda Vargas, and Program Coordinator Alisa Bé, as well as Student Assistants Delaney Jacoway, Molly McHugh, Demaree Rios, Rajiv Tummala, Micah Weinstein, and Peter Winans.

Mihoko Suzuki
Director, Center for the Humanities
Professor of English