photo of annual faculty book celebration

Faculty Book Celebration

Recognizing the milestone of publication and the creative achievement of our faculty

“Sustainable Forms: Routine, Infrastructure, Conservation” (2019)

Caroline Levine, the David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, Cornell University

Literary and cultural studies have long prized moments of rupture and resistance. But as neoliberal economics undoes prospects of secure work, and as fossil fuels radically disrupt longstanding ecosystems, it seems increasingly clear that we need not more radical disruption but more stability. This talk asks how we might best support and sustain collective life over time. It turns to the tools of formalist analysis to sketch out some arrangements of space and time, some organizations of power and resources, some patterns of distribution and conservation, that are more supportive of the common good than others. It turns to forms we’ve often mistrusted or dismissed—forms of the everyday that keep life going over time and so have been called conservative — to articulate an aesthetics of building and making for a sustainable future.

Caroline Levine has spent her career asking how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. She argues for the understanding of forms and structures as crucial to understanding links between art and society. She is the author of three books, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (2003, winner of the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies), Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (2007), and Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015, named one of Flavorwire’s “10 Must-Read Academic Books of 2015”). She is currently the 19th-century editor for the Norton Anthology of World Literature and has written on topics ranging from formalist theory to Victorian poetry and from television serials to academic freedom. She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to Cornell, where she was co-founder of the Mellon World Literatures Workshop.

Washington University faculty speakers: John Hendrix, associate professor of art; Michelle Purdy, assistant professor of education

Past Faculty Book Celebrations

“The Origins of Today’s Billionaire-Funded Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy” (2018)

Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy, Duke University 

Washington University faculty speakers: Joanna Dee Das, assistant professor of dance, and Corinna Treitel, associate professor of history

 

“The Humanities After 2016: What Do We Want to Become?” (2017)

Sidonie Smith, the Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities, professor of English and women’s studies, director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan

Washington University faculty speakers: Ron Mallon, associate professor of philosophy, and Sowande’ Mustakeem, assistant professor of history and of African and African-American studies


“The Praiseworthy One: Devotional Images of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Traditions” (2015–16)

Christiane Gruber, associate professor, history of art, University of Michigan

Washington University faculty speakers: Catherine Keane, associate professor of classics, and Zhao Ma, assistant professor of modern Chinese history and culture


“From ‘Plessy’ to Ferguson: Why the Humanities Matter Now” (2014)

George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara


“Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future” (2013)

Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard


“The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” (2012)

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University


Tenth Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2011)

Douglas Brinkley, noted author and commentator, professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy; and Roz Chast, staff cartoonist for The New Yorker


“Academic Publishing in Transition” (2010)

 Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University


Eighth Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2009)

Louis Menand, essayist, literary critic, journalist, and author


Seventh Annual Faculty Book Celebration (2008)

Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California-Berkeley, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and author of five books
Washington University faculty speakers: Beata Grant, professor of modern Chinese language and literature, and Patrick Burke, assistant professor of music


“The Writer’s (Secret) Life: Woundedness, Rejection, and Inspiration” (2007)

Joyce Carol Oates, award-winning author