Co-Directors' Welcome

Letter from our Directors 

Happy new (academic) year from the Pitt Humanities Center!

This has been an extremely weird and extremely challenging time to begin co-directing the Center. We’ve been working through the summer along with the rest of the Pitt community to launch our first year in a way that devotes most of our resources to growing things (community, conversation, ideas) here at home. A lot is happening, even as all of it is happening online for at least the Fall term, and we’re excited to share it with you. Here’s some of what you can expect this year at your Humanities Center:

The colloquium will meet at our traditional time, Thursdays from 12.30-2:00. You’ll notice some changes to the format. With the dramatic transformations wrought by our circumstances in the last months, it’s become clear to many of us that we have an opportunity to think creatively about the forms that our academic and scholarly lives take, and to give ourselves and each other the freedom to experiment therein. In that spirit, you’ll find some of our colloquium presenters experimenting with ways to structure a scholarly gathering. The idea is to treat the process as a kind of gardening activity by starting with a primary goal or idea (e.g., what is important to you, as a maker of things and ideas? What are your main goals, right now? What kind of feedback would be most helpful to you at this point?) and to grow a structure from that seed that best helps you to get at what you’re aiming for. Sometimes that structure will look like a traditional colloquium format (a talk or a pre-circulated paper with peer-review commentary), and sometimes it will look quite different. In all cases, we invite you to join us in the spirit of serious play and joyful rigor. All of our events, for at least the Fall, will be online via Zoom at our dedicated URL:

We’re delighted to welcome a new cohort of Pitt faculty and graduate students to the Center this year. 

We’re also running a number of other initiatives during the year, so stay tuned! Note in particular the Black Lives Matter Reading Group, which is taking up recent and classic works on Black life to think about steps we can take to make our world more racially just. We’ll be meeting once or twice a month on Mondays, 2-3 pm. All are welcome, whether you’re joining us for a single meeting or staying with the group for a sustained conversation over time.

That’s all for now, but do check back as things start to ferment and brew. We’ll be sending out an update of events and opportunities each Monday during the semester as usual. You can also bookmark our events page here to see what’s going on.  

Be in touch any time if we can help you magic your humanities ideas into material form: while COVID has dramatically limited the extent to which we can devote budgetary resources to...really anything, this year, there are a lot of other forms that support can take. We’ll look forward to thinking and making with you. And we wish everyone the very best with all that you’re doing at this start of the new year.

With all best wishes,

David Marshall and Carla Nappi, Co-Directors