Upcoming Events

  • Recent events have highlighted the vital role of social norms in sustaining democratic life. G. W. F. Hegel develops such a view through an account of the role of habits in supporting or undermining legal and political institutions, as well as a subtle, easily misunderstood account of the role of religion in forming these habits. If we attend closely to Hegel’s expansive conceptualization of religion, we can connect these claims with the roles of a wide range of groups and institutions in shaping habits and identities—while also appreciating the resources he offers for comprehending why religious groups have been so prominent in recent anti-democratic movements.

    Talk by Thomas A. Lewis, Professor of Religious Studies and responses by Irina Kalinka, doctoral student in Modern Culture and Media, and Melvin L. Rogers, Associate Professor of Political Science.

    This event is part of the series “Democracy: A Humanities Perspective,” convened by Amanda Anderson, Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. The series features short talks followed by two responses and a larger conversation among the participants and the audience. Through both the format and the content, we aim to showcase the forms of layered understanding and analysis that humanities scholars bring to the study of democracy, with special emphasis on current challenges in the U.S. and abroad. The events are free and open to the public.

    Thomas A. Lewis

    Thomas A. Lewis is Professor of Religious Studies, as well as Co-Deputy Dean and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Graduate School at Brown University. He has taught previously at the University of Iowa and at Harvard University. He specializes in religious ethics and philosophy of religion in the modern West and has strong interests in methodology in the study of religion. His research examines conceptions of tradition, reason, and authority and their significance for ethical and political thought. His publications include Freedom and Tradition in Hegel: Reconsidering Anthropology, Ethics, and Religion (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005); Religion, Modernity, and Politics in Hegel (Oxford University Press, 2011); Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion–and Vice Versa (Oxford University Press, 2015); and articles on religion and politics, liberation theology, communitarianism, and comparative ethics.

    Irina Kalinka

    Irina Kalinka is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. Kalinka holds a B.A. in Politics & Human Rights from Bard College, N.Y., and an M.A. in English Literatures from Humboldt University, Berlin. Her previous work experience includes serving as an elected county-council representative for the Green Party in Teltow Fläming, Germany. She will be joining the Cogut Institute as a graduate fellow during the 2021/22 academic year, where she will be working on her dissertation on the digital imaginary of “User Democracy.” Here, she is asking what it would mean to imagine politics as a technological problem to be managed and solved in the name of smooth operability, better design choices, user-friendliness, and optimization—and how to resist such reductionist conceptions of collective world-making.

    Melvin L. Rogers

    Melvin L. Rogers is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at Brown University. He is the author of The Undiscovered Dewey (Columbia University Press, 2012), editor of John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems (Ohio University Press, 2016), co-editor of the recently released African American Political Thought: A Collected History (University of Chicago Press, 2020), and author of The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought under contract with Princeton University Press. 

    REGISTER More Information Humanities
  • Join Virtual EventInstructions: Register once for all three days.

    May 20-22, 2021, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm EDT

    The Spring 2021 edition of Political Concepts at Brown invites the featured graduate speakers and the conference participants more broadly to generate and rethink concepts from the positions of the student. The conference addresses a moment of crisis indicated in the U.S. by the failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, sustained state violence against Black Americans, and increasingly active White supremacist movements. Proposed as early as April of last year, all the concepts to be discussed from across the humanities and social sciences link the structural conditions of, as well as the persistence of popular resistance to, this crisis. The conference wagers that graduate students have a distinctive political role as intellectual workers whose avowal of their lack of knowledge drives their will to generate concepts—insisting that the world is not reducible to what already is, but might be otherwise.

    The conference is organized by Brown University graduate students Felicia Denaud (Africana Studies), Jeffrey Feldman (Political Science), Julia Huggins (Modern Culture and Media), Kristen Maye (Africana Studies), Marah Nagelhout (English), Rachel Nusbaum (Political Science), and Nick Pisanelli (English).

    Hosted by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities as part of the Political Concepts Initiative and co-sponsored by Hispanic Studies, Italian Studies, Modern Culture and Media and the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Religious Studies, and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

    Image: “Almost Heaven” by Tate Hudson.

    View the full schedule More Information Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • May 20-22, 2021, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm EDT

    The Spring 2021 edition of Political Concepts at Brown invites the featured graduate speakers and the conference participants more broadly to generate and rethink concepts from the positions of the student. The conference addresses a moment of crisis indicated in the U.S. by the failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, sustained state violence against Black Americans, and increasingly active White supremacist movements. Proposed as early as April of last year, all the concepts to be discussed from across the humanities and social sciences link the structural conditions of, as well as the persistence of popular resistance to, this crisis. The conference wagers that graduate students have a distinctive political role as intellectual workers whose avowal of their lack of knowledge drives their will to generate concepts—insisting that the world is not reducible to what already is, but might be otherwise.

    The conference is organized by Brown University graduate students Felicia Denaud (Africana Studies), Jeffrey Feldman (Political Science), Julia Huggins (Modern Culture and Media), Kristen Maye (Africana Studies), Marah Nagelhout (English), Rachel Nusbaum (Political Science), and Nick Pisanelli (English).

    Hosted by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities as part of the Political Concepts Initiative and co-sponsored by Hispanic Studies, Italian Studies, Modern Culture and Media and the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Religious Studies, and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

    Image: “Almost Heaven” by Tate Hudson.

    View the full schedule More Information Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • May 20-22, 2021, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm EDT

    The Spring 2021 edition of Political Concepts at Brown invites the featured graduate speakers and the conference participants more broadly to generate and rethink concepts from the positions of the student. The conference addresses a moment of crisis indicated in the U.S. by the failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, sustained state violence against Black Americans, and increasingly active White supremacist movements. Proposed as early as April of last year, all the concepts to be discussed from across the humanities and social sciences link the structural conditions of, as well as the persistence of popular resistance to, this crisis. The conference wagers that graduate students have a distinctive political role as intellectual workers whose avowal of their lack of knowledge drives their will to generate concepts—insisting that the world is not reducible to what already is, but might be otherwise.

    The conference is organized by Brown University graduate students Felicia Denaud (Africana Studies), Jeffrey Feldman (Political Science), Julia Huggins (Modern Culture and Media), Kristen Maye (Africana Studies), Marah Nagelhout (English), Rachel Nusbaum (Political Science), and Nick Pisanelli (English).

    Hosted by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities as part of the Political Concepts Initiative and co-sponsored by Hispanic Studies, Italian Studies, Modern Culture and Media and the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Religious Studies, and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

    Image: “Almost Heaven” by Tate Hudson.

    View the full schedule More Information Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • A John Hay Library/Center for the Study of the Early Modern World fellowship project, this interdisciplinary symposium convenes to bring forward new or underexplored theories of performance in the study of the global early modern, with a focus on performance in relation to the objects of historical analysis. These objects may be archival materials, the individuals or collectivities that produced these materials, or conceptual and abstract knowledge-objects. How can performance, as a theoretical rubric, illuminate the interaction within and among such categories of object, as well as between object and subject— both historical subjects and historian-subjects? How do objects represent, enact, or mediate performance? In what ways can one object surrogate or perform as another? How do objects circulate performances across distances of space and time?

    The symposium will be held virtually over two sessions on June 14th and June 15th. Papers by invited scholars will be published online in advance. Each of the two symposium sessions will be divided between discussion of the papers and presentations by participants on relevant objects digitized from the John Hay Library’s collections. Professor Holly Shaffer of Brown’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture will moderate.

    More Information Early Modern World, Humanities, Libraries, Social Sciences