The Humanities Institute

Founded in 1986, the Humanities Institute presents a thematic program each semester on a topic related to the humanities. As part of Scripps’ tradition of interdisciplinary education, this program includes lectures, conferences, exhibitions, performances, and film series bringing prominent and younger cutting-edge scholars to campus.

Follow the Humanities Institute on Facebook and Twitter!

Latest Program: Concepts of Self

Who do you think you are? In spring 2015, the Humanities Institute presents a series of events, lectures, and workshops examining one of the most important and interesting topics: me. Or, rather: the concept of self.

We will peer through a multidisciplinary, multimedia, multicultural kaleidoscope in order to observe this concept in theory, fiction, religion, politics, film, other media, and in its “natural habitat” within. We can think of the self as an animal, an immaterial spirit, a neural system, a center of an internal narrative, and an autonomous moral agent. Selves have also been conceived in terms of cognitive functions, something ultimately gendered, a unit or determinant of economic value, and a construction out of socio-political relations, power struggles, and culture. Or is the self just a stream of consciousness, something mediated and even created by technology, or a vehicle for reincarnation? Is it some sort of fiction or illusion, a sick delusion whose ultimate function is to facilitate suffering?

Join us as we examine concepts of self and ask where they come from, how they relate or fit together, what purpose they serve (and for whom), and what broader implications they might have.

Calendar of Events

The full calendar of public events for this semester is available here.

Coming Soon

Public Lecture: Katherine Hayles

April 9, 2015
5:30-7:00 p.m.

Boone Recital Hall
Scripps College Performing Arts Center

The Cognitive Nonconscious: A New Framework for the Self

Katherine Hayles
Professor of Literature and Director of Graduate Studies, Literature Program
Duke University

Recent work in cognitive neuroscience has identified a level of neuronal organization, the proto-self, that is inaccessible to consciousness but nevertheless is essential for processing information, interpreting ambiguities, and integrating somatic markers from the body into a coherent representation of body states. So essential is the proto-self that consciousness could not function without it. This talk will develop this idea and discuss its implications for humanistic inquiry.

Katherine Hayles teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science, and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her print book, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis, was published by the University of Chicago Press in spring 2012. Her other books include How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-99, and Writing Machines, which won the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Los Angeles.