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Apart from its regular seminars, the ISI hosts a number of related activities. We are delighted to invite eminent figures for our Annual Lecture, which supplements and corresponds to our seminar in any given year; sometimes this takes on other formats, such as a symposium or panel presentation. We also host other panels and presentations from time to time, and co-sponsor other events on campus. Details on current and past activities are below.

ISI Annual Lectures and Symposia

2010-11: ‘The Evolution Wars: Why Do They Matter? Why Do They Continue?’
Kenneth Miller (Brown University). 31 March 2011. Seminar: (Ir)rationality and Public Discourse

Eighty years after the notorious Scopes Monkey Trial, the powerful Intelligent Design movement continues to claim that evolution is ‘only a theory.’ The ensuing debates go to the heart of what counts as rational and scientific in the public arena. Professor Kenneth Miller was the lead witness in the historic Dover Trial, where his testimony proved instrumental in the judge’s ruling that the local school board had no right to require teachers to offer Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution. Professor Miller is a bestselling author and repeat guest on The Colbert Report; his books include Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul. The topic of the Annual Lecture coincides with the ISHA theme for the year, on ‘(Ir)rationality and Public Discourse.’  Learn more and listen to the podcast.

2008-09: ‘The Art of Conflict Transformation in the North of Ireland/Northern Ireland.’
An international symposium with Belfast muralists Danny Devenny and Mark Ervine. Hosted in collaboration with UMass Amherst Graduate School. April 30 2009. Seminar: Public Thought, Public Art, Public Effect. For more information see http://mural.umasslegal.org/.

2007-08: ‘When Will We Find the Extraterrestrials?’
Seth Shostak (SETI Institute). 15 October 2008. Seminar: Other Worlds.

2006-07: ‘Negotiating the Past: Culture, Heritage, Politics.’

A symposium featuring Patty Gerstenblith (DePaul University) and Joe Watkins (University of Oklahoma). 29 March 2007. Seminar: Cultural Ownership.

2004-05: ‘What’s Wrong, and Right With Marriage? Reasons to Replace Marriage with Civil Unions.’

Mary Lyndon Shanley (Vassar College). 9 May 2005. Seminar: Marriage and its Alternatives.

2003-2004: ‘Just War and Reparations: Confronting the Present, Facing the Past.’

A mini-conference featuring Sohail Hashmi (Mount Holyoke College), Bat-Ami Bar On (Binghamton University-SUNY), and John Torpey (University of British Columbia).  7 May 2004. Seminar: Just War and Reparations.

2002-2003: ‘Earth Democracy: The World Beyond Globalization.’

Vandana Shiva (Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology). 21 November 2002. Seminar: Sustainability and Stewardship.

2000-2001: ‘Trauma and its Vicissitudes.’

Dominick LaCapra (Cornell University). 6 May 2001. Seminar: Reproduction.

Special Events and Speakers

Lovelace, Earl. Reading from Is Just a Movie. 13 March 2012.

Purkey, Malcolm.  Theater in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Lessons from an Artistic Director (UMass Amherst). 10 November 2011.

Eddie Daniels: ‘With Courage, For Justice’: Overcoming Apartheid in South Africa (UMass Amherst). 3 October 2011.

Faculty Symposium: Paul Theroux (UMass Amherst). 29 September 2011.

Poetry Reading. Ingrid de Kok (University of Cape Town, S.A.). 10 April 2004.

‘South Africa Now: What the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Left Out.’ Sindiwe Magona (United Nations). 10 April 2002.

‘Diagrams and Unruly Complexity, Ecology and Reflective Practitioners.’

Peter Taylor (University of Massachusetts, Boston). A colloquium for undergraduate students, in collaboration with Commonwealth College. 1 November 2002.

‘The Junction Avenue Theatre Company and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Johannesburg.’

Malcolm Purkey. Five College Artist Residency, in collaboration with Mount Holyoke College. 2 April 2001.

Graduate Student Colloquium. Kelwyn Sole.

Collaborations and Co-Sponsorships


‘Who Made English the Global Language?’:
A Public Lecture by Professor David Northrup.

An historian of Africa at Boston College, Professor David Northrup’s work on Africa encompasses economics, labor and culture, and his several books include Beyond the Bend in the River: A Labor History of Eastern Zaire, 1870-1940Indentured Labor in the Age of Imperialism, 1834-1922Africa’s Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850; and Crosscurrents in the Black Atlantic, 1770-1965: A Brief History with Documents. 24 March 2011.

‘Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt’

An exhibit at the University Museum of Contemporary Art.

David Goldblatt (b. South Africa, 1930) is one of the great photographers of our time. As both citizen and photographer, he was witness to apartheid’s infiltration into every aspect of South African life. The exhibition of over 100 photographs, taken by Goldblatt during the past 50 years, focuses on South Africa’s human landscape in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.  3 February - 1 May 2011.


‘Students, Faculty, and Mental Health.’

A panel discussion in the wake of the Virginia Tech Shootings featuring Dr. Harry Rockland-Miller (University Health Service), Barbara O’Connor (Campus Police), Deborah Carlin (Department of English). In collaboration with the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. 3 October 2007.


Feminist Philosophy Conference on the Occasion of the Retirement of Ann Ferguson. 11-12 May 2007.

‘What if There Were No Humanities or Arts? Thinking Counterfactually.’

A panel featuring Susan Jahoda (Department of Art, Architecture and Art History), Patrick Mensah (Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures), Alice Nash (Department of History), Max Page (Department of Art, Architecture and Art History), Manisha Sinha (W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies), and James Young (Judaic Studies and Near Eastern Studies Department). In collaboration with the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. 12 April 2007.

‘A Manifesto for the Humanities and Arts.’

A panel featuring Barton Byg (German and Scandinavian Studies), Stephen Clingman (Department of English), Lisa Green (Department of Linguistics), Joseph Krupczynski (Department of Art, Architecture and Art History), Laura Lovett (Department of History), and Pricilla Page (Department of Theater). In collaboration with the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. 15 March 2007.


‘Dateline Britain 2005: The Racial State of the Everyday.’

Jacqueline Nassy Brown (Hunter College). Annual Distinguished Lecture: New Directions in the Anthropology of Europe. February 2006.

Five College African Film Festival. An international Film Festival featuring African filmmakers based in Africa and Europe. 29 March-2 April 2006.

‘Remapping Black Germany: New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture.’

An international conference in collaboration with German and Scandinavian Studies, 6-27 April 2006.

‘Thieves of Baghdad: The Journey to Recover the World’s Greatest Treasure.’

Lecture by Matthew Bogdanos (Assistant D.A. of Manhattan). In collaboration with Art History and fifteen other departments and programs. 18 April 2006.

New Faculty Lecture Series Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature (OGSCL). A series of seven lectures by new faculty in the humanities. Fall 2005.

‘What You Do Matters: Creating Communities to Solve Global Problems.’

Jody Williams (International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1997). 29 September 2005.


‘The Contribution of African Historians to African Historiography.’

A roundtable symposium, part of the Five College African Studies Project, ‘Listening Again For the African Past.’ 23 October 2003.