The Annual Lecture, usually given during the fall semester, is one of the general, college-wide events sponsored each year by the Humanities Center. Its distinguished guest is invited to lecture on the basis of his or her expertise on the subject of that year’s Humanities Center theme.


November 8, 3:00 – 4:30 PM, JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).

Todd May, Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University will give the Humanities Center’s Annual Lecture on Friday, November 8th at 3:00 PM in the EIZ Theater.

Title: “Moral Vulnerability in a Time of Political Crisis”

Our current era is one of extraordinary political polarization, even political crisis. This crisis not only affects everyone, but also requires more of each of us. Our moral responsibilities are greater in times of crisis than they are in more normal times, and how each of us responds to this crisis will tell us important things about who we are. Professor May will frame the nature of the crisis, discuss what it requires of us, and show how our responses reveal our moral character.

Read a write-up of this lecture.


February 15, 3:00 – 4:30 PM, JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).


Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English at Michigan State University, will give our annual lecture on Friday, February 15th at 11:00 AM in 4010 JFSB.

Title: “Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University”

The university stands in a peculiar relationship to twenty-first-century North American culture. On the one hand, that culture imagines institutions of higher education to be providers of vitally important credentials for those seeking an engaging career and a secure economic future. On the other, that same culture routinely depicts the university and its denizens as being out of touch with the real needs of their communities, producing and transmitting useless, abstract knowledge and standing in the way of real economic and technological progress. Generous Thinking proposes that those of us

who work within the university might take a hard look at the ways we connect and communicate with a range of off-campus communities about our shared interests and concerns in order to begin rebuilding the relationship between the university and the public that it is meant to serve.


March 20, 3:00 – 4:30 PM, JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).

Tony McEnery, Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science and Distinguished Professor of English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University, as our Annual Lecture guest speaker on Tuesday, March 20th at 3:00 PM in the EIZ Theater.

Title: “Word Meaning on the Margins: Exploring marginalized groups in 17th century England”

The 17th century was an important one in the context of the development of modern social attitudes in the UK. In this talk I will explore the contribution that corpus linguistics can make to the exploration of the development of such attitudes principally by looking at how the poor, poverty and especially begging were discussed in public discourse in the Early Modern period. By exploring a 1 billion word corpus of language from 17th century Britain I will argue that we can use a corpus to explore changing attitudes to marginalized groups over time. In doing so, as well as showing the method I use for this purpose, I will also demonstrate the relevance of the findings of such research for historians and literary scholars, while reflecting on how using evidence from historical and literary studies is important in understanding what we find in corpus data. By triangulating together historical, literary and linguistic evidence, we can come to a more rounded view of how attitudes to marginalized groups – and the words used to refer to them – varied across the century.


September 23, 2016, 3:00 – 4:30 PM, JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).

The BYU Humanities Center’s welcomes Dr. Gregg Lambert from Syracuse University, as our Annual Lecturer which will be held on Friday September 23, 2016. Dr. Lambert is Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and director of the Central New York Humanities Corridor.

The title of his presentation will be: “Philosophical Fundamentalism Today”

In this lecture Professor Lambert will address the resurgence of explicitly Christian themes and authorities in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, drawing upon many of the arguments from his recent book: Return Statements: The Return of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

Read a write-up of this lecture.


March 11, 2016 3:00-4:30 p.m., JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).


Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University

As part of our exploration of this year’s annual theme, The Work of Art, we looked at how the humanities influence not only academia, but the world outside the university. Our theme, then, demanded that we stretch to include the work of art in the world. Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff ’s research has been seminal on questions of what the work of art and, more broadly, visuals do in the world. Dr. Mirzoeff is a professor of media culture and communications at New York University, and his work is motivated by a strong sense of ethics as well as aesthetics. His current project, on the Black Lives Matter movement, addresses how art and photography inspire public action. His lecture focused on the visual commons, and on how objects available to the public gaze influence political and social thought, and where we fit into that commons both as consumers and producers of art.

Read a write-up of this lecture.



October 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m., JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater).



David Harrison, Swarthmore Collegue.

“Disappearing Languages”


“My journey as a scientist exploring the world’s vanishing languages has taken me from the Siberian forests to the Bolivian Altiplano, from a fast-food restaurant in Michigan to a trailer park in Utah. In all these places I’ve listened to last speakers — dignified elders — who hold in their minds a significant portion of humanity’s intellectual wealth.

“Though it belongs solely to them and has inestimable value to their people, they do not hoard it. They are often eager to share it, sometimes because they find so few of their own people willing to listen. What can we learn from these languages before they go extinct? And why should we lift a finger to help rescue them?” [K. David Harrison, The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages]

Harrison addressed these questions in the lecture he delivered at BYU October 17, 2014.




February 21, 2014, 3:00 p.m., JFSB B192 (Education in Zion Theater)



Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research.

“Tragedy’s Philosophy”



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Preceding Events:

Friday, December 6th. We will hold the first of our seminars planned in conjunction with the visit of Simon Critchley. The subject of the seminar is Critchley’s 2012 book  The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology. We will hold the second seminar with Critchley on Thursday, February 20th (room and time TBA).




October 12, 2013, 4:00 p.m., JFSB B002



Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Director of the National Humanities Center

“Finding Ourselves: The Humanities as a Discipline”



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