The Humanities Institute

Founded in 1986, the Humanities Institute presents a thematic program each semester pursuing a topic related to the humanities. As part of Scripps’ tradition of interdisciplinary education, these programs include conferences, lectures, exhibitions, and film series that bring together prominent and younger cutting-edge scholars.

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Latest Program: Silence

Is silence the absence of sound? Is it the space between words, a pause between heart­beats? Is silence a refusal to speak — or to respond? Is silence collaborative, complicit? Is it pleasant, peaceful? Contemplative? Is meditation a form of silence? Does silence signify absence? Does it entail presence? Does silence make you nervous? Is silence menacing? In fall 2014, the Humanities Institute explores the theory and practice of silence: voluntary and coerced, solitary and communal, literal and metaphoric. What are the politics of silence? How has silence been mandated and inflicted across historical periods and in a range of cultures and geographic locations? How are silence and gender related? Can silence be palpable, visual, deafening, architectural, dynamic? Hush. Let’s think about it.

Calendar of Events

The full calendar for this semester's program is available here.


Coming Soon: Public Talk: Gregg Bordowitz, "On Trying to Shut Up"

Gregg Bordowitz
artist and writer, New York

October 23, 2014 | 4:30pm
Boone Recital Hall, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

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There's a difference between silence and quietude. The experiences of living with AIDS for more than half of one's adult life demand fine distinctions. Some difficult lessons began in 1987 with the appearance of posters all over New York City proclaiming SILENCE=DEATH.

Gregg Bordowitz is a writer and artist living in New York and the Director of the Low-Residency MFA Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A frequent performer of his poems and improvisational lectures in the United States and abroad, Bordowitz wrote and directed the performances Sex Mitigating Death: On Discourse and Drives: A Meditative Poem (Tate Modern, London, 2011) and The History of Sexuality Volume One By Michel Foucault: An Opera (Tanzquartier, Vienna, 2010). His work was included in three recent museum survey exhibitions: This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980's (Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2012), Blues for Smoke (Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012-13), and NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (New Museum, New York, 2013).Bordowitz is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the author of General Idea: Imagevirus (Afterall Books, 2010), a book of poetry entitled Volition (Printed Matter 2009), and the essay collection The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings 1986-2003 (MIT Press, 2004), which received the Frank Jewitt Mather Award from the College Art Association in 2006. His films, which include Fast Trip Long Drop (1993), A Cloud In Trousers (1995), The Suicide (1996), and Habit (2001), have been widely shown in festivals, museums, and movie theaters and have been broadcast internationally.

Reception to follow

Co-sponsored by the Scripps College Department of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies