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: Film Screening: "Deaf Jam" and Tahani Salah

Screening followed by Q&A with Tahani Salah
poet, educator, and activist

September 11, 2014 | 6:00pm
The Bette Cree Edwards Humanities Auditorium, Scripps College

In Deaf Jam (dir. Judy Lieff, USA, 2011; 70 minutes), Aneta Brodski seizes the day. She is a deaf teen introduced to American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry, who then boldly enters the spoken word slam scene. In a wondrous twist, Aneta, an Israeli immigrant living in the borough of Queens in New York City, eventually meets Tahani Salah, a hearing Palestinian slam poet. The two women embark on a collaboration/performance duet - creating a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the Deaf.

Tahani Salah is a dynamic Spoken Word Poet educator and activist from Brooklyn with a bloodline to Palestine. She’s a member of the 2007 Nuyorican National Slam Team and a graduate of Columbia University.

Salah, a high school teacher who has worked for the United Nations and for such nonprofits as Urban Word NYC, Family International Support Team, and the AAFSC, serves on the Urban Word NYC board of directors. She is a 2006 Urban Word NYC Slam Team Member and has performed at the Apollo Theater in New York, at universities in South Africa and Germany, and on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam. As a Muslim Palestinian-American woman, she is committed to bringing light and solutions to problems faced by people from communities and experiences whose voices are silenced.

Reception to follow

Co-sponsored by the Scripps College English Department

Exhibition: “Prison Obscura”

September 2-October 17, 2014
Clark Humanities Museum, Scripps College
Visit website

Prison Obscura presents rarely seen vernacular, surveillance, evidentiary, and prisoner-made photographs, shedding light on the prison industrial complex. It builds the case that Americans must face these images to grasp the proliferation of the U.S.  prison system and to connect with those it confines. It encourages visitors to ask why tax-paying, prison-funding citizens rarely get the chance to see such images and to consider what roles such pictures play for those within the system. For more on the exhibition and its curator, please visit Prison ObscuraThe New York TimesYouTube, and the LA Times.

Prison Obscura is on view from Monday through Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm in the Clark Humanities Museum in the Bette Cree Edwards Humanities Building at Scripps. Brook will also present “Prison Silences,” a public lecture for the Humanities Institute on October 2 at 4:15 p.m. in Garrison Theater at the Scripps College Performing Arts Center, with a reception to follow from 5:30 to 7 p.m. inside the exhibition.

Prison Obscura is a traveling exhibition curated by Pete Brook and made possible with the support of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, Haverford, PA. Support for this presentation has been provided by the Scripps College Humanities Institute and by the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Scripps College.