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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



(Re)Centering the World: Examining the nature of well-documented disasters—genocide, earthquakes, hurricanes, climate change—and how they are being negotiated in the present day.

How might we institute better, more humane and humanistic responses to disasters, whether natural or man-made? How might we engender more productive conversations about the visions and failures of “disaster prevention” and “disaster relief”? The Humanities Institute will address these questions and more as part of its yearlong slate of public events.

The Scripps College Humanities Institute 2019-20 season acknowledges that the Claremont Colleges are settled on the shared traditional land of the Tongva, Serrano, and Cahuilla peoples, many of whom continue to steward the land, their ancestral home. We recognize that this statement of territory acknowledgment can only serve as partial restitution in a decolonial process which must make broader measures to understand and reconcile with the colonial history of this land; our programming over the 2019-20 season, which includes First Nations participants, and partners with Indigenous groups and institutions at the 5-Cs and locally, attempts to begin to do just this.


Upcoming Event

Public Event – M. NourbeSe Philip (Postponed)

April 9, 2020
4:15 PM

Balch Auditorium
Scripps College

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Los Angeles County and throughout California has prompted an abundance of caution among the sponsors of public events statewide and locally. Consistent with guidance from local, state, and national public health agencies to avoid large public gatherings and practice social distancing, Scripps College is cancelling ALL non-essential events effective immediately, including all Public Events, Scripps Presents programs and other series, performances, and exhibitions until further notice.

We thank you for your interest in HI programming and in this talk in particular. We hope that we will be able to reschedule this presentation for a future date.

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M. NourbeSe Phillip

Casas de las Americas awardee and Tobagonian Canadian lawyer, poet, playwright, essayist, and author of Zong! and Bla_k: Essays and Interviews, will be reading from her work in the @noon series. Philip is the 2020 recipient of the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature awarded by PEN America/NYC.

M. NourbeSe Philip is an unembedded poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and independent scholar who lives in the space-time of the City of Toronto. She practiced law in the City of Toronto for seven years before becoming a poet and writer. She has published four books of poetry including the seminal She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, one novel and four collections of essays. Her book-length poem, Zong!, is a conceptually innovative, genre-breaking epic, which explodes the legal archive as it relates to slavery. Her most recent work is Bla_K, a collection of essays on racism and culture. Among her awards are numerous Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, including the prestigious Chalmers Award, as well as the Pushcart Prize (USA, 1981), the Casa de las Americas Prize (Cuba, 1988), the Lawrence Foundation Prize (USA, 1994), the Arts Foundation of Toronto Writing and Publishing Award (Toronto,1995), the Dora Award (finalist, drama, 1999), and the Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (Outstanding mid-career artist. 2015). Her fellowships include Guggenheim (1990), McDowell (1991), and Rockefeller (Bellagio) (2005). She is an awardee of both the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Arts) and the Elizabeth Fry Rebels for a Cause awards. She has been Writer-in-Residence at several universities and a guest at writers' retreats.

Presented in partnership with Scripps Presents, the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies and Hartley Alexander Burr Chair Fund.