Victor Bailey
Hall Center for the Humanities

Hall Center to host international humanities conference

Wed, 04/17/2013

LAWRENCE — “Humanities, Publics, and the State,” the 2013 annual meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, will take place April 25-27at the University of Kansas. The Hall Center for the Humanities will host this prestigious conference, formerly held in locations ranging from Berkeley, Calif., to Oxford to Canberra, Australia.

The meeting will feature panels and workshops exploring the idea of the public humanities, especially in the context of current challenges to the university, and emerging responses to these challenges. What is the mission of the public university? What role should the university play in the political and social transformation of the state? What is the relationship between the humanities center and the public?

The role and value of public humanities is an especially urgent topic at this time. “The threats are familiar,” said Victor Bailey, director for the Hall Center for the Humanities. Such threats include declining state support for public education, the growing strength of instrumental attitudes to education and the broader devaluation of the arts, humanities and social sciences. “These issues takes different forms across institutions and in diverse international situations, but the urgency of their force is a shared concern.”

The conference will begin with opening remarks by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little at 9 a.m. April 26. Most panels and workshops will occur at The Commons in Spooner Hall, although the members of CHCI will also visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., for a panel, reception and formal dinner.

Two plenary speakers will be featured. Christopher Newfield, professor of English at the University of California-Santa Barbara, will speak on “The Future of the Public University” at 9:30 a.m. April 26. Helen Small, Jonathan & Julia Aisbitt Fellow in English Literature at the University of Oxford, will speak on “The Humanities and the Public Good” at 9 a.m. April 27. These keynote speeches will serve as the topical hubs of the meeting.

The Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, or CHCI, allows humanities centers to discuss interdisciplinary issues in the humanities, and to exchange information and best practices related to the organization and management of centers and institutes. CHCI currently has a membership of 154 organizations in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Pacific Rim. The organization is headed by a president and governed by an international advisory board of member directors and other leaders in the humanities. Bailey is a member of the advisory board.

For a full schedule of panels, please refer to the calendar in the Hall Center website. If you are interested in attending any panel session, please contact Associate Director Sally Utech at or 785-864-7823 to discuss registration guidelines.

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