What Good Is Higher Education for Our Cities? – 2023 Faculty Book Celebration

Featuring keynote speaker Davarian Baldwin, the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Trinity College, and author, “In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities”

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 Arts & 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. 

There’s so much to celebrate, and so many ways to join in! 
Virtual Book Display
How I Made This Book

Thursday, February 23

1 pm  |  Panel discussion, “Humanities and the City” | Olin Library, Room 142

4 pm  |  Keynote lecture and Washington University faculty speakers (right) | Umrath Lounge

Keynote lecture


“What Good Is Higher Education for Our Cities?”

4 pm | Umrath Lounge

In today’s dominant knowledge economy, universities have become big business and our cities their company towns. But there are both benefits and costs to those who live in the shadow of these ivory towers. With St. Louis as our backdrop, this talk ponders: What good is higher education for our cities?


Davarian L. Baldwin is a leading urbanist, historian, and cultural critic. He currently serves as the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Research Lab at Trinity College (CT). Baldwin is the author of several books, most recently In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities and is the text author of The World of the Harlem Renaissance: A Jigsaw Puzzle. He sits on the executive committee of Scholars for Social Justice and the national council of the American Association of University Professors. Baldwin also serves as a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and was just named a 2022 Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. His opinions and commentaries have been featured in numerous outlets from NBC News, PBS, and The History Channel to USA Today, Washington Post and TIME


Washington University faculty speakers

Two members of the Washington University faculty will speak on their own new book releases.

Miguel Valerio

Assistant Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and Performing Arts Department (affiliate)

Sovereign Joy: Afro-Mexican Kings and Queens, 1539-1640 (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Sovereign Joy explores the performance of festive black kings and queens among Afro-Mexicans between 1539 and 1640. This fascinating study illustrates how the first African and Afro-creole people in colonial Mexico transformed their ancestral culture into a shared identity among Afro-Mexicans, with particular focus on how public festival participation expressed their culture and subjectivities, as well as redefined their colonial condition and social standing. By analyzing this hitherto understudied aspect of Afro-Mexican Catholic confraternities in both literary texts and visual culture, Miguel A. Valerio teases out the deeply ambivalent and contradictory meanings behind these public processions and festivities that often re-inscribed structures of race and hierarchy. Were they markers of Catholic subjecthood, and what sort of corporate structures did they create to project standing and respectability? Sovereign Joy examines many of these possibilities, and in the process highlights the central place occupied by Africans and their descendants in colonial culture. Through performance, Afro-Mexicans affirmed their being: the sovereignty of joy, and the joy of sovereignty.

Lynne Tatlock 

Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Chair, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and director, Program in Comparative Literature

Jane Eyre in German Lands: The Import of Romance, 1848–1918 (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Lynne Tatlock examines the transmission, diffusion, and literary survival of Jane Eyre in the German-speaking territories and the significance and effects thereof, 1848-1918. Engaging with scholarship on the romance novel, she presents a historical case study of the generative power and protean nature of Brontë’s new romance narrative in German translation, adaptation, and imitation as it involved multiple agents, from writers and playwrights to readers, publishers, illustrators, reviewers, editors, adaptors, and translators.

Jane Eyre in German Lands traces the ramifications in the paths of transfer that testify to widespread creative investment in romance as new ideas of women’s freedom and equality topped the horizon and sought a home, especially in the middle classes. As Tatlock outlines, the multiple German instantiations of Brontë’s novel — four translations, three abridgments, three adaptations for general readers, nine adaptations for younger readers, plays, farces, and particularly the fiction of the popular German writer E. Marlitt and its many adaptations — evince a struggle over its meaning and promise. Yet precisely this multiplicity (repetition, redundancy, and proliferation) combined with the romance narrative’s intrinsic appeal in the decades between the March Revolutions and women’s franchise enabled the cultural diffusion, impact, and long-term survival of Jane Eyre as German reading.

Though its focus on the circulation of texts across linguistic boundaries and intertwined literary markets and reading cultures, Jane Eyre in German Lands unsettles the national paradigm of literary history and makes a case for a fuller and inclusive account of the German literary field.

Panel discussion


“Humanities and the City”

1 pm  |  Olin Library, Room 142

Moderated by Laura Perry, Assistant Director for Research and Public Engagement, Center for the Humanities

Faculty Book Celebration keynote speaker Davarian Baldwin will join a panel of Washington University faculty: Shanti Parikh, Professor and Chair of African and African-American Studies and Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology; Samuel Shearer, Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies; Geoff Ward, Professor of African and African-American Studies. Lunch provided.

Co-sponsored by University Libraries