Harvard Professor Doris Sommer to Deliver Katz Lecture

Winter 2012 Katz lecturer Doris Sommer

On Tuesday, January 17, Doris Sommer will present the second Katz Distinguished Lecture of the 2011-2012 academic year. Her talk will explore the intersections of the arts, humanities, and social justice with a focus on Bogota, Columbia.

When Antanas Mockus was elected Mayor of Bogota in 1995, it was one of the most dangerous cities in the hemisphere. To tackle otherwise intractable situations of crime and financial instability the city faced, the mayor did something unexpected: he turned toward the arts and humanities.

The effects of his creative thinking would reduce homicides by 70%, traffic accidents by more than half, and tripled tax revenues for municipal public works. Taking Bogota as an example, Sommer will discuss how community-based educators, activists, artists, and intellectuals are combining politics and pedagogy in civic cultural experiments to engage publics in acts of community building and in democratic social change.

Sommer is Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures and Professor of African & African American Studies at Harvard University. She also serves as Director of Cultural Agents, an organization committed to promoting the arts and humanities as social resources and fostering creativity and scholarship that contribute to the development of communities worldwide.

Her lecture, “Ripple Effects: The Work of Art in the World,” will take place in Kane Hall, Room 220, at 7pm.

In addition to her lecture, two colloquia with Doris Sommer will focus on different aspects of her research. The first meets on Wednesday, January 18, at 3:30 pm in Communications 202, and will focus on cultural agency.  The second, which takes place on Thursday, January 19, also at 3:30 pm in Communications 202, will explore the work of Friedrich Schiller, John Dewey, Jurgen Habermas, and others to inform a discussion on aesthetics and democracy.  Visit the Simpson Center calendar for more details.

The Katz Distinguished Lectures in the Humanities Series recognizes scholars in the humanities and emphasizes the role of the humanities in liberal education. The series is named after Solomon Katz, who served for 53 years at the UW, as an instructor, professor, Chair of the Department of History, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Other lecturers for 2011-2012 include Linda Bierds (English, University of Washington) and Diane Taylor (Performance Studies and Spanish, New York University).

All Katz Lectures are free and open to the public. For more, visit http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/programs/lecture-series/katz/