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Hampshire Invites the Public to Humanities Events

Hampshire College invited the public to attend open sessions during a June 6-8 alumni event called "Transforming Ideas, Pursuing the Humanities." The event was built around the creativity and scholarship of Hampshire alumni—including such prominent figures as filmmaker Ken Burns, author Leah Hager Cohen, and literary journalist Chip Brown—and Hampshire's humanities faculty.

The following sessions were open to the general public. To learn more, please email

Saturday, June 7

Roundtable of Hampshire College alumni authors

Author Leah Hager Cohen, novelist Elizabeth Brundage, Williams College religion professor Jason Ananda Josephson, and University of Rochester film and media studies professor Jason Middleton discussed writing and the humanities as well as their own books. Professor Jeff Wallen, dean of Hampshire's School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, moderated.

Humanities in the Digital Age

Panelists included Pratt Institute chair of English and humanities Maria Damon, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Elizabeth Francis, New School digital humanities professor Julie Beth Napolin, and Google systems engineer Andrew H. King. Lise Shapiro Sanders, English literature and cultural studies professor at Hampshire, moderated. All participants in this session are Hampshire alumni, including the moderator.

Curating and Contemporary Art

Panelists for a discussion of the explosion of interest in curating and curatorial studies included Hampshire alumni Laurel Ptak, executive director and curator of the Triangle Arts Association in New York, and Gordon Hall, director of the Center for Experimental Lectures, and curator Jocelyn Edens. Philosophy professor Christoph Cox, moderated.

Film Screening and Q&A with Ken Burns

Why do the humanities matter? Burns screened The Heart of the Matter and participated in a Q&A. He produced the short film and is a member of the national Commission on Humanities and Social Sciences.

Sunday, June 8

Roundtable on the Humanities at Hampshire College

Participants shared their experiences working in the humanities at Hampshire as well as looking forward in a discussion of humanities education. This session referenced the work of two of Hampshire's most influential founding faculty, David Smith and Dick Lyon. Alumni panelists were writer Chip Brown, Purdue University professor and poet Donald Platt, executive director of New York Arts Program Linda Earle, and Amherst Books co-owner Nat Herold. Literature professor Brown Kennedy moderated.


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