Arts & Humanities Campus News

UGA presents the inaugural Humanities Festival

Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, will give the UGA Women’s History Month keynote lecture, “Stories of Lumbee Women,” as part of the 2023 UGA Humanities Festival. Lowery’s talk is also a UGA Signature Lecture. (Submitted photo)

The festival will highlight the richness and diversity of research and practice in the humanities at UGA

The University of Georgia will hold its first Humanities Festival from March 15-27, with more than 20 events spotlighting the creativity and breadth of humanities research and practices across campus.

Highlights of the inaugural festival are lectures on the role of humanities research in philosophy and film, environmental history and sustainability studies, fine arts and anthropology. Featured lecturers include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack Davis speaking on the history and symbolism of the bald eagle and executive director of the Modern Language Association Paula Krebs speaking on “The Humanities at Work.” David Beavan of the Alan Turing Institute will speak about the Living with Machines project that joins historians, geographers, linguists, curators, research software engineers and research data scientists to examine the impact of technology on people’s lives during the Industrial Revolution.

Other significant lecturers include Nika Elder, assistant professor of art history at American University, who will discuss early American portraiture and racial identities in the keynote lecture of the Emerging Scholars Symposium on March 23-24. Signature Lectures by visiting scholars Malinda Maynor Lowery, Kaywin Feldman and Carola Hein also are part of the festival.

“The Humanities Festival is a celebration of the world of words and ideas we live in,” said Nicholas Allen, director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and co-chair of the UGA Humanities Council. “Curiosity and innovation are the engine of our economy and the fabric of our society, and I am so excited for the festival to be a window into the transformative conversations that go on in humanities classrooms every day at the University of Georgia. The Humanities Council has done excellent work in bringing our community together, and I am grateful to its members for creating such a powerful and inclusive program.”

In addition to a diverse lineup of lectures, Humanities Festival events include a reception at the Founders Garden on March 15 to introduce the festival and a Willson Center St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring a creative spin on traditional Irish music by Hog-Eyed Paddy, a combination of Athens duo Hog-Eyed Man and multi-instrumentalist Paddy League. On March 16, Ed Pavlić, Distinguished Research Professor of English and African American Studies, will talk about the music of  “Atlanta,” “Insecure,” “I May Destroy You” and “Queen Sono” as part of the Screen Time with Your Humanities Professors series launched in fall 2022 as lunchtime conversations about TV shows and humanistic thinking. Details and a complete schedule for the 13-day festival are available at

The Humanities Festival is organized by the UGA Humanities Council, which was created in fall 2022 to elevate humanities research and practice at UGA and to bring visibility to the diversity and value of humanities as part of campus culture.

“Organizing a new festival is no small feat, and it’s been an honor to work with the Humanities Council members to bring this event to campus,” said Usha R. Rodrigues, the university’s interim vice provost for academic affairs and co-chair of the UGA Humanities Council. “This year’s festival, and the council’s upcoming work, will shine a light on the depth and value of humanities research at UGA.”

The Humanities 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.

“We in the Office of Research are thrilled to be one of the sponsors of UGA’s inaugural Humanities Festival,” said Karen Burg, vice president for research. “Scholarship in the humanities is vital to remind us of who we are and our interconnectedness, and no research university is complete without an energetic, creative and tireless group of faculty peering into the complexities of what makes us human. I look forward to supporting and celebrating the Humanities Festival, both this year and in years to come.”

Members of the council include representatives from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, Lamar Dodd School of Art, UGA Libraries, Georgia Museum of Art, Institute of Native American Studies, African Studies Institute, Institute for African American Studies, Institute for Women’s Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, School of Law, Center for Asian Studies, Office of Global Engagement and the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO).

“Fulfilling the University of Georgia’s mission of teaching, research and service would not be possible without the creativity and context that the humanities bring to our learning community,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The Humanities Festival is a chance to celebrate the abundance of humanities scholarship across campus and beyond.”