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.

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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 Discussion: Jonathan Lethem and David Treuer

April 23, 2015
4:30-6:00 p.m.

Vita Nova Hall
Room 100

Humbert Humbert and Pnin: Vladimir Nabokov’s Two Authorial Selves (And Our Own)

Jonathan Lethem
Roy E. Disney '51 Chair in Creative Writing
Pomona College


David Treuer
Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

Claremont-based novelists David Treuer (Prudence) and Jonathan Lethem (Dissident Gardens) consider the different ways Vladimir Nabokov's elusive self is simultaneously disclosed and shrouded from view in his treatment of his most arrogant protagonist, and his most retiring. In the process, Treuer and Lethem will disclose (and perhaps shroud) the tricky presence of their own "selves" in the narrational space of their respective fictions.

Jonathan Lethem is the author of nine novels, including Gun, With Occasional Music; The Fortress of Solitude;  and, most recently, Dissident Gardens. Motherless Brooklyn, his fifth, won the National Book Critic's Award, and has been translated into 25 languages. Lethem is also the author of three story collections, a novella, and a book of essays, The Disappointment Artist. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Granta and many other periodicals and anthologies. In 2005 he was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation. He lives in Los Angeles and Maine.

David Treuer is Ojibwe from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the author of five books: three novels, a book of criticism, and the nonfiction book Rez Life. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Esquire, TriQuarterly, and Lucky Peach, among other publications. His new novel, Prudence, will be published by Riverhead Books in the February of 2015.