Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts

Saidiya Hartman

The Presidential Lectures bring distinguished scholars, artists, and critics to the Stanford campus for lectures, seminars, panel discussions, and a variety of interactions with faculty, students, and the community at large.

Pictured: Saidiya Hartman, 2022



Saidiya V. Hartman, English, Columbia University
"Graces of the Unsung"

October 27, 2022


Timothy Snyder, History, Yale University
"The Five Forms of Freedom"

October 19, 2021


Achille Mbembe, University of the Witwatersrand
"Future of Life & Futures of Reason" 

October 20, 2020


Zadie Smith, Novelist and Essayist
"In Conversation with Harry Elam"

March 7, 2019


Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author 
"Notes from the Edge of an Experiment (or Cancer's Anxieties)"

May 9, 2018


Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author 
"An Evening with Junot Díaz"

May 24, 2017


Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author 
"The American Scholar Now"

October 29, 2015


David Adjaye, award–winning architect
"Designing the Architecture of Civic Space"

December 2, 2014


Michael Ignatieff, University of Toronto
"On Partisanship: Enemies and Adversaries in Politics"

October 15, 2012


Helen Vendler, Harvard University
"Wallace Stevens as an American Poet"

January 17, 2012  


Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra
"Music Between Nature and Architecture"

April 26, 2011

Judith Jamison, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
"An Evening With Judith Jamison"

January 10, 2011

Robert Putnam, Harvard University
"American Grace: The Changing Role of Religion in America"

November 15, 2010  


Mary Robinson, Founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; President of Ireland, 1990-1997; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1997-2002
"Human Rights Strategies in the 21st Century"

April 12, 2010

André Aciman, City University of New York (CUNY)
"Parallax: Exile as Metaphor"

October 19, 2009  


James M. McPherson, Princeton University
"But There Was No Peace: The Aftermath of the Civil War"

April 13, 2009

Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University
"The Evolution of 'Why' as the Key to Free Will"

January 12, 2009

Seyla Benhabib, Yale University
"Cosmopolitan Norms, Human Rights, and Democratic Iterations"

October 27, 2008

Robert Wilson, Theater Director and Visual Artist
"1. Have You Been Here Before 2. No This Is The First Time, An Evening with Robert Wilson"

October 1, 2008  


Marina Warner, University of Essex, UK
"The Voice of the Toy: Writing Magic and Enchanted States"

April 14, 2008

Richard Taruskin, University of California, Berkeley
"Shall We Change the Subject? A Music Historian Reflects"

March 3, 2008

Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University
"The Black Hole of Empire"

November 7, 2007

Simon Schama, Columbia University
"The Abolition of the Slave Trade Two Hundred Years On- America and Britain: Two Diverging Destinies?" 

October 29, 2007  


Joan W. Scott, Institute for Advanced Study
"Cover-Up: French Gender Equality and the Islamic Headscarf"

April 30, 2007

Talal Asad, City University of New York (CUNY)
"Thinking About Blasphemy and Secular Criticism"

October 9, 2006  


Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania

April 24, 2006


Douglas Hofstadter, Indiana University, Bloomington
"Analogy as the Core of Cognition"

February 6, 2006

Lani Guinier, Harvard University
"Wealth, Race, and Merit in Higher Education" 

October 31, 2005  


Carolyn Abbate, Musicologist
"Overlooking the Ephemeral"

May, 2005

Merce Cunningham, Dancer/Choreographer
"Merce Cunningham in Conversation with John Rockwell"

March 9, 2005

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Princeton University 
"The Ethics of Identity"

November, 2004 


Isabel Allende, Author
"A Sense of Place"

May, 2004

Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago
"Self-Imitation in Ancient India, Shakespeare, and Hollywood"

February 23, 2004

Hazel Carby, Yale University
"Child of Empire: Racializing Subjects in Post World War II Britain"

October 27, 2003  


Bruno Latour, École des Mines de Paris (Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation)
"Why has Critical Spirit Run Out of Steam? About Iconoclash and Beyond"

April, 2003

Peter Brown, Princeton University
"Scholarship and Imagination: The Study of Late Antiquity"

January 27, 2003


Lynn Hunt, University of California, Los Angeles
"The Novel and the Origins of Human Rights: The Intersection of History, Psychology, and Literature"

April 8, 2002

Elaine Scarry, Harvard University
"Nine One One: Citizenship in Emergency"

February 25, 2002  


Gayatri Spivak, Columbia University
"Human Rights and the Humanities"

February 13, 2001

Roger Chartier, Directeur d'Études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris)
"At the Crossroads Between Textual Criticism and Cultural History: The Return to Literature"

October 16, 2000


Wolfgang Iser, University of Constance
"An Evening with Wolfgang Iser"

April 3, 2000

Homi Bhabha, University of Chicago

March 6, 2000

Marjorie Garber, Harvard University

January 11, 2000

Bei Dao, Poet

November 29, 1999

Svetlana Alpers, University of California, Berkeley
"What Are We Looking For? Expectations in Art History"

November 8, 1999

Pina Bausch, Director, Tanztheater Wuppertal, Germany

October 18, 1999


Stefan Maul, University of Heidelberg
"Constructions of Divinity: The Idea of God in Ancient Near East"

May 17, 1999

Jacques Derrida, Director of Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris)
"The Future of the Profession, or the Unconditional University (Thanks to the 'Humanities': What Could Take Place Tomorrow)"

April 15, 1999

Alexander Nehamas, Princeton University
"The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters"

March 8, 1999

Beatriz Sarlo, Universidad de Buenos Aires
"No Future? Literature and Cultural Politics"

February 22, 1999

Fredric Jameson, Duke University
"Aesthetic Autonomy in the Age of Late Capitalism"

January 25, 1999

Wole Soyinka, Emory University
"Contemporary Literature and the Future of the Humanities and Arts"

November 30, 1998

Karl Heinz Bohrer, University of Bielefeld
"Without Future: The Meaning of Poetic Nihilism for Interpretation, Theater and State"

November 9, 1998

Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
"Interactions of Art and Science, and the Largely Arbitrary Nature of Academic Boundaries"

November 4, 1998

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
"Race and Class / Race in Class"

October 12, 1998


Harold Bloom, Yale University

May 18, 1998

Helene Cixous, University of Paris VIII

March 16, 1998

Peter Eisenman, Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York

March 9, 1998

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Artists

March 2, 1998