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A&S Faculty Spotlighted in ‘Human/Ties’ Festival

Sep 12, 2016 |

The “Human/Ties” festival commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Endowment for the Humanities opens Wednesday with a Nau Hall discussion titled “The Humanities in the Public Square,” led by NEH Chairman William Adams and Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom.

The University of Virginia received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the four-day public event, organized by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and community partners. The “Human/Ties” festival will include 21 panel discussions, lectures, workshops and other events featuring A&S faculty and other UVA faculty. A detailed schedule and a full list of speakers and partners is available online at You can sign up for event updates here and follow Human/Ties on Twitter @human_ties

All festival events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted as requiring advance tickets.

Author Salman Rushdie, Emmy-winning writer and producer David Simon and celebrated chef Alice Waters headline the humanities celebration being held in Charlottesville this week.


The Humanities in the Public Square
4–5:15 p.m., Nau Hall 101

This opening panel will feature Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom, NEH Chairman William “Bro” Adams, Thomas Jefferson Foundation President Leslie Bowman and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer on the role universities, libraries, and museums have played in supporting the public humanities and how they might continue to do so for another 50 years.


“Doubting Democracy?” featuring the BackStory with the American History Guys
5:30–7 p.m., Newcomb Hall Theatre

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might have the highest disapproval ratings among presidential candidates in recent history, but Americans have thought the electoral process to be broken since the very beginning. In this live BackStory show, the American History Guys (former A&S Dean and President Emeritus of the University of Richmond Ed Ayers, History Professor Brian Balogh and History Professor Peter Onuf) look at U.S. elections through the lens of civic engagement, voter apathy and disillusionment over establishment politics. 


Letterpress Printing Demo & Collections Showcase
9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Rare Book School (Alderman Library)
Print a letterpress keepsake in the Rare Book School Printing Office and view selected items from the RBS teaching collections. A UVA-affiliated foundation, the RBS offers educational opportunities to study the history, care, and use of written, printed, and digital materials.

Community & Identity: Cultural Heritage Practice in the 21st Century
10–11:30 a.m., The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
233 4th St. NW

Featuring Assoc. Professor Andrew Johnston (Architectural History) and Monticello’s Director of Archaeology Fraser Neiman (Anthropology, Architectural History) this panel discussion will address how cultural heritage can enrich the narratives of American history by bringing out stories that have been omitted, silenced or excluded.

Views from the White House: How the Presidents use the Humanities to Govern
10–11:30 a.m.
Miller Center of Public Affairs (2201 Old Ivy Road)

Featuring Ed Ayers, Professor Sidney Milkis (Politics, Miller Center) and Harvard University History Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, this panel discussion will consider how individual presidents drew upon particular literary, artistic, scriptural, or rhetorical sources for inspiration, guidance, and solace.

Confronting Race and Memory in the Charlottesville Heritage Landscape
12:30–2 p.m., The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (233 4th St. NW)

Featuring Assoc. Professor John Mason (History), Associate Professor Lisa Woolfork (English, Carter G. Woodson Institute) and Associate Professor and Assistant Dean Kirt von Daacke (History), this panel discussion will build on the preceding “Community and Identity” discussion to focus on the local spaces and objects of Charlottesville, specifically the historic interpretation of enslavement at UVA and recent debates about the Confederate memorial landscape.

Public Humanities: 50 Years and Counting
12:30–2:30 p.m., The Graduate Rooftop (1309 W. Main St.)

Featuring Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures Director Debjani Ganguly, this roundtable will bring together university-based humanities scholars with representatives of public humanities programs to discuss how the humanities can flourish in universities and local communities alike.

Meet Your New History: Beyoncé
1–2:30 p.m., Ruth Caplin Theatre

Featuring Associate Professor Karl Miller (Music) and Assistant Professor Jack Hamilton (American Studies, Media Studies), this roundtable group of some of the nation’s top music scholars and critics will discuss how pop music engages with politics, identity, education, commerce and art, historically and today.

ACCESS: Evolving Methods in Making Cultural Heritage Accessible
1–4 p.m., Scholars’ Lab (Alderman Library)

This workshop led by Research Professor Holly Cowan Shulman (History), Senior Editor Jennifer Stertzer (Papers of George Washington and UVA’s Center for Digital Editing), Associate Professor Worthy Martin (Computer Science, Advanced Technology in the Humanities) and Design Architect Jeremy Boggs (Scholars’ Lab) will provide hands-on experience with the evolving methods employed in more than a dozen specific humanities projects that have been undertaken, completed or are ongoing at the University of Virginia through collaborations with the Center for Digital Editing, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and Scholars’ Lab.

Little Magazine, Big Influence
3–4:30 p.m.,  Watson Manor (3 University Circle)

This workshop, featuring The Hedgehog Review editor Jay Tolson, Virginia Quarterly Review managing editor Allison Wright, will explore the role played by small magazines and journals in American public and cultural life.

Life in the Data Deluge
3–4:30 p.m., Ruth Caplin Theatre

Featuring an introduction by University Librarian, Dean of Libraries and Professor of English John Unsworth, this panel discussion will focus on how history, philosophy, and literature can illuminate the promises and perils of new technologies — from smartphones to driverless cars.

Outside the Ivory Tower: Reading for Life
3–4:30 p.m., Old Met Hall (101 E. Main St.)

Featuring Associate Professor of Business Administration Greg Fairchild (Darden), this workshop will introduce attendees to the Clemente Course, which provides free humanities education to disadvantaged adults.

Book talk and signing with Jack Hamilton (American Studies, Media Studies), Hua Hsu and Emily Lordi
5–6 p.m., UVA Bookstore Mezzanine

Hamilton, author of Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, and two other Harvard University Press authors discuss their published works in a larger conversation about the influence of race on literature and music in American culture.

Making Contact: Historical Critique in Gabriel MaraIngurra’s Contact Paintings
6–7 p.m., Brooks Hall Commons

Henry Skerritt, curator of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA, will discuss the themes of Australian Aboriginal artist Gabriel MaraIngurra’s works and their implications for indigenous self-representation and the shared project of cross-cultural research in the humanities.


Podcasts: Reinventing Storytelling
10–11:30 a.m., Nau Hall 101

Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan (Media Studies) will participate in this panel discussion with Lulu Miller (co-host of NPR’s “Invisibilia,” and former Poe-Faulkner Fellow for fiction writing), UVA alumnus and Slate political correspondent Jamelle Bouie and Public Radio International editor, reporter and broadcaster Patrick Cox on how podcasts have reinvented radio and spread the humanities to wider audiences by blending history, reporting and storytelling.

A Humanities for Our Time
10–11:30 a.m., Watson Manor (3 University Circle)

Professor James Davison Hunter (Religion, Culture and Social Theory/Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) will discuss with three Baylor University colleagues how contemporary anxieties about the humanities compare to previous moments in American history in which the humanities were marshaled for a range of private and public purposes. This workshop will also propose a new ideal for the humanities, a humanities for our time.

Thriving Cities
Noon–1:30 p.m., The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (233 4th St. NW)

Research Assistant Professor Joshua Yates (Sociology, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) participates in this workshop asking how the humanities can help us better comprehend the changing nature of contemporary urban life and its consequences.

What Can the Next President Learn From History? Domestic Policymaking in the First Year
Noon–1 p.m., Miller Center of Public Affairs, 2201 Old Ivy Road

In this panel discussion, White Burkett Miller Professor of Ethics and Institutions Barbara Perry (Miller Center) and senior White House domestic policy officials from four of the past five presidential administration look back at the memorable lessons learned advising past presidents on domestic policymaking before moving forward to consider the ways these lessons can inform the next administration.

What I Learned From Shakespeare: Lessons from Literature and History for Business
2–3:30 p.m., Nau Hall 101

College Foundation president Gene Schutt and Associate Professor Jared Harris (Darden) share the stage with successful business leaders to discuss how insights and ideas from the humanities continue to inform their lives and businesses.

Urban Flourishing
4–5:30 p.m., Paramount Theater (215 E. Main St.)

In this discussion featuring David Simon, the Baltimore-based journalist, author and creator of critically acclaimed television series “The Wire,” Research Assistant Professor Joshua Yates (Sociology, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) and the panel ask what kinds of cities are we inheriting, and, in turn, passing down to future generations? Introduction by Bruce Williams (Media Studies). 


Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America
10 a.m.–2 p.m., Monticello (requires advance tickets)

Featuring Ed Ayers, Professor Deborah McDowell (English, Carter G. Woodson Institute), Peter Onuf (History) and other notable historians, scholars, writers and activists, this summit on the history of slavery and its meaning in today’s conversations on race, freedom and equality will serve as the festival’s capstone event. For additional information, visit