Stanford Humanities Center hosts annual celebration of publications

From history and poetry to music and philosophy, the 19th annual event showcased the wide-ranging scope of humanities scholarship at Stanford.

L.A. Cicero 19th annual Humanities Publication Celebration

The 19th annual Humanities Publication Celebration drew fans from across the university.

Publications of all size and shape blanketed the large tables that filled Levinthal Hall during the Stanford Humanities Center's 19th Annual Celebration of Publications on March 6. With refreshments in hand, invited attendees browsed the 77 publications produced by their colleagues in 2011.

Research on topics ranging from studies of the 19th-century American railroad to Sufism in medieval Islam reflected the broad historical and cultural scope of the titles produced by 61 humanities scholars in the past year. Among the publications were CDs, digital publications and theater playbills.

In opening remarks, Debra Satz, senior associate dean for the humanities and arts in the School of Humanities and Sciences, said that although she's a philosopher, she likes statistics and attempted to tally the total number of pages of all the books. However, she added, the point is to celebrate not quantity but the "amazing range of knowledge" that the publications deliver to the public.

Noting the array of languages represented in the titles as well as studies of topics as disparate as aging in Japan, the origins of witchcraft persecution and post-WWII German culture, Satz said "it's amazing how much of the research being done at Stanford transcends national boundaries" and "speaks to the lives of people around the globe."

Seeing the display of research that addresses real-world public problems from genocide to the fragmentation of Europe, to understanding the role of ethnic categories in China, Satz said she was particularly struck by how much of the humanities scholarship at Stanford is "engaged in thinking through the troubles of our time."

Satz said that by offering alternate perspectives on both past and future global dilemmas, the creative element of humanities research is crucial. "A lot of failures in solving public problems are a failure to imagine solutions and to imagine the lives of other people," she said.

Humanities Center Director Aron Rodrigue, professor of history, reminded the audience that in contrast to the typically isolated process of humanistic research, the sociable publications affair gives humanities scholars a chance to come together "to witness the fruits of our collective labors and learn about one another's research."

Gesturing to all the books available to peruse, Rodrigue also noted that the event presented a tangible opportunity to "hold in our hands the richness of our remarkable creative and intellectual production at Stanford."

A complete list of the publications is available on the Stanford Humanities Center website.

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