Arts & Humanities Campus News

UGA presents second annual Humanities Festival

A.E. Stallings, Oxford Professor of Poetry and a UGA Classics alumna and former Foundation Fellow, will be the opening keynote speaker on March 12 for the 2024 UGA Humanities Festival. (Submitted photo)

The March 11-22 festival highlights richness, diversity of research and practice in the humanities

The University of Georgia Humanities Festival returns for its second year on March 11-22.

Building on the success of the inaugural celebration in 2023, this year’s festival will feature lectures, conversations, performances, networking opportunities and bookend keynote events with Oxford Professor of Poetry and UGA alumna A.E. Stallings and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hua Hsu.

“The humanities are the fabric of our life together, our stories and songs, our histories and our future,” said Nicholas Allen, Baldwin Professor in Humanities, director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and co-chair of the UGA Humanities Council. “This university is rich with the knowledge and creativity of our vibrant humanities community, and it is a pleasure to celebrate the excellence of our faculty and students.”

The festival is organized by the UGA Humanities Council, created in 2022 to elevate humanities research and practice at UGA and to bring visibility to the diversity and value of the humanities as part of campus culture. The council is supported by the Office of Research, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, with the participation of more than 30 colleges, schools, departments and units across the university.

A public reception at the Founders Memorial Garden will open the festival on March 11 and will include a celebration of recent accomplishments in humanities scholarship and practice by UGA faculty and students. The opening keynote event on March 12 will be a UGA Signature Lecture by the internationally renowned poet A.E. Stallings, who studied classics at UGA and the University of Oxford and is acclaimed for her works of translation and original poetry. In 2023, Stallings was elected Oxford Professor of Poetry, a four-year post that is one of the world’s most prestigious in the field of poetry. She is the second woman to hold the position in its more than 300-year history.

Hua Hsu, who will give the closing keynote on March 22, is the award-winning author of the memoir “Stay True,” which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Memoir or Autobiography and the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography. It was named a best book of the year by more than a dozen major publications and outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and NPR. Hsu will be in residency at UGA as the Willson Center’s Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding.

Other events include a conversation with UGA alumni on how their scholarship in the humanities prepared them for life and happiness in careers spanning a diverse variety of fields; a Signature Lecture by feminist philosopher and social critic Kate Manne on “The Authority of Hunger”; a lecture and discussion with Courtney Thorsson, author of “The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture”; a lecture by visiting artist Stephanie Dinkins on her use of emerging technologies and artificial intelligence to probe their impact on communities of color and advance “ecosystems based on care and social equity”; and a talk by Evelyn Saavedra Autry of Rutgers University, who received her Ph.D. in Romance languages at UGA with a specialization in Latin American studies and a graduate certificate in women’s studies.

The festival will also showcase current work by members of the UGA humanities community. Senior seminar students in the department of comparative literature and intercultural studies have organized a spoken-word event and an open discussion of Paul Lynch’s Booker Prize-winning novel “Prophet Song.” The UGA Hodgson Singers will present “The Poet Sings,” an evening of poetry set to choral music, and Éric Morales-Franceschini, associate professor of English and Latin American and Caribbean studies, will discuss and read selections from his new poetry collection “Syndrome.” Usha Rodrigues, professor of law, and Aaron Meskin, professor and head of the department of philosophy, will reprise their roles as hosts of Humanities Trivia Night, which is open to teams formed in advance or on-the-spot.

“Humanities scholarship and practice play a central role in enriching the teaching, learning and service that make UGA a top public university,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “This festival is an important opportunity to reflect on the value of the humanities within higher education and to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding faculty, staff and students.”

Participating units in the Humanities Festival include the departments of classics, comparative literature and intercultural studies, English, and Romance languages; Hugh Hodgson School of Music; Lamar Dodd School of Art; Willson Center for Humanities and Arts; UGA Libraries; Jere W. Morehead Honors College; UGA at Oxford Program; Georgia Writers Hall of Fame; UGA Mentor Program; Career Center; Creative Writing Program; Georgia Museum of Art; Institute of Native American Studies; African Studies Institute; Institute for African American Studies; Center for Asian Studies; Institute for Women’s Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute; Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO); and The Georgia Review.