Initiatives in Public Humanities

These Research Workshops feature a public humanities element to their programming.

Classical Receptions

Classical receptions is a fast-growing field of research that examines the complex relationships between, on the one hand, the literary and material record of classical antiquity and, on the other, its uses by various authors and actors working in a wide array of media and civic contexts at specific moments in later periods in and beyond antiquity (e.g., visual artists, journalists, political activists, academics, drama, fiction, film, etc.). Its aim is twofold: to illuminate the peculiarities and concerns of the receiving culture (by reading uses of antiquity in rich context) and to generate fresh insights into the meaning of the ancient sources in their own time (by stripping away layers of expectations and readings that have colored interpretations). Our group convenes a Kaplan Institute Research Workshop which conducts seminars devoted to student work and key publications in the field, and hosts small conferences in collaboration with Contexts for Classics at The University of Michigan. Notable visitors to Northwestern have included Edith Hall, Anthony Grafton, Lorna Hardwick, Glenn Most, Caroline Winterer, Yopie Prins, Felix Budelman, Christopher Stray, Pierre Judet de la Combe, and Yannis Simonides.

Our group also oversees the Classicizing Chicago Project, an investigation of the scattered traces of a changing, sometimes antagonistic, but always keen relationship with the Greek and Roman past evident in Chicago history. The Classicizing Chicago Project is building a digital archive of examples of this cultural mingling across time and space, and a collection of interpretative materials of interest to scholars, students, teachers and the general public.

Undergraduate curricular initiatives are collected in the Department of Classics' list of "classical traditions" courses.

Poetry and Poetics

The Poetry & Poetics Colloquium (PPC) is the principal forum for cross-disciplinary, transhistorical scholarship on poetics at Northwestern, as well as a collection of arts initiatives that support the practice of poetry on campus and beyond. Founded in 2009, the colloquium regularly convenes a group of core faculty and graduate students who share an interest in the long and varied traditions of poetry and poetics across languages and historical eras. Premier contemporary poets from around the world have participated in our lively reading series, including Raúl Zurita (Chile), Christian Bök (Canada), Nikky Finney (US), Keorapetse Kgositsile (South Africa), Nathaniel Tarn (France), and many others. The reading series is supplemented by a lecture series in which leading theoreticians of poetry discuss their current work. Recent visitors include Marjorie Perloff (US), Clare Cavanagh (US), Derek Attridge (UK), and many others. Relatedly, a "futures of poetics" working group meets regularly to discuss works-in-progress and readings in poetics scholarship across a broad array of world societies and U.S. cultural margins. Beyond our reading series, the PPC also supports poetry as a living art through a fast-growing collection of partnerships: with Northwestern University Press, we sponsor the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, a first book prize for emerging poets of color; with Evanston Township, we offer a "poetry in the schools" program that gives undergraduates the opportunity to teach poetry to community youth.