About the Center

Our Mission

The human fingerprint maps our identity, the ties that bind us, the lingering traces we leave on this earth. As humanists, we explore the durability as well as the fragility of the human condition — opening windows onto worlds near to home and oceans away, worlds we interpret through stories and images, poems and performance, history and narratives, sounds and silence. At Washington University in St. Louis, the Center for the Humanities facilitates the labor of humanists by nurturing innovative research, transformative pedagogy, and vibrant community engagement locally and globally.

Opening windows onto worlds

Our History

Washington University’s Center for the Humanities began as the International Writers Center, which was opened in 1990 under the directorship of William Gass, the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities. Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, became the second director of the International Writers Center in 2001. Under the guidance of its advisory board and after seeking input from Washington University faculty, the center expanded its mission to embrace the humanities more broadly. In 2003, the International Writers Center became the Washington University Center for the Humanities, “dedicated to letters and humanistic research and their presence in the public life.” Gerald Early directed the Center until 2013, when he stepped down to focus on other projects. Jean Allman, the J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities, became the center’s second permanent director in January 2014.

Center for the Humanities Executive Committee

The Center for the Humanities Executive Committee is comprised of nine tenure-track and tenured faculty members from across the humanities, who serve in an advisory capacity to the center’s director. Committee members are appointed to three-year terms by the director. At the end of each academic year, three members rotate off and three rotate on. The executive committee meets two to three times per year and provides expertise, counsel and ideas for the development of the center. Members also serve on the selection committees for grants and fellowships administered by the center.

Committee for 2021–22

Term expires in 2022

Matt Erlin (Professor of German)

Melanie Micir (Associate Professor of English)

Zoe Stamatopoulou (Associate Professor of Classics)


Term expires 2023

Joanna Dee Das (Assistant Professor of Dance)

Danielle Dutton (Associate Professor of Creative Writing)

Corinna Treitel (Professor of History)


Term expires 2024

Patrick Burke (Associate Professor of Music)

Jonathan Fenderson (Associate Professor of African and African American Studies)

Ila Sheren (Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology)


Ex-officio members

Gerald Early, Founding Director, Center for the Humanities