Signature Events

James E. McLeod Memorial Lecture on Higher Education

James E. McLeod Memorial Lecture on Higher Education honors the esteemed vice chancellor of students, who died in 2011. The lecture series addresses the role of the liberal arts in higher education, a subject especially meaningful to Dean McLeod. Recent past speakers include Lorgia García Peña, Professor of Latinx Studies, Princeton University (2023); Mary Schmidt Campbell, 10th president of Spelman College (2022); Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and two-time director-chair of Washington University’s Department of African and African-American Studies (2021); Bethany Nowviskie, Dean of Libraries, senior academic technology officer, and professor of English, James Madison University (2020–21); and George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity and of history, and director of the Center for Democracy and Diversity, University of Southern California (2019).

Faculty Book Celebration

The publication of a monograph or significant creative work is a milestone in the career of an academic. The Center for the Humanities commemorates this achievement annually during the Faculty Book Celebration. The event recognizes Washington University faculty from across the humanities and humanistic social sciences by displaying their recently published works and large-scale creative projects and inviting two campus authors and a guest lecturer to speak at a public gathering. Recent keynote speakers include Davarian Baldwin, the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Trinity College (2023); Charles Johnson, professor emeritus, University of Washington (2022); Walter Johnson, the Winthrop Professor of History and professor of African and African American studies, Harvard University (2021); Daphne Brooks, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, and professor of theater studies, American studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality Studies, Yale University (2020); and Caroline Levine, the David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, Cornell University (2019).

International Humanities Prize

The Washington University International Humanities Prize is awarded biennially to a person who has contributed significantly to the humanities through a body of work that has dramatically impacted how we understand the human condition. In 2022, the humanities center honored cartoonist-memoirist Alison Bechdel. Recent recipients include Bill T. Jones, internationally recognized choreographer and artistic director; documentary filmmaker Ken Burns; and Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk.