This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

UB to open Humanities Institute

Published: September 22, 2005

Contributing Editor

The College of Arts and Sciences on Oct. 15 will officially open the UB Humanities Institute to promote innovative cross-disciplinary research, teaching and community programs in the humanities, in keeping with the goals of the university's UB 2020 strategic planning initiative.

The institute is committed to a broad conception of the humanities that will build on Buffalo's reputation as a city that attracts and retains creative artists and thinkers, says its director, Ewa Ziarek, Julian Park Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature.

"The UB Humanities Institute is unique in its focus on original, theoretically informed thinking across disciplines, and on the critical analysis of experimental art, both of which are among the university's historical academic strengths, Ziarek says.

Adds Martha Malamud, executive director of the institute and associate dean of the CAS: "We intend to create a venue where intellectual, aesthetic and political avant-gardes intersect to create a dynamic cultural life for the university and the city. Given this goal, we also will support original literature, music, theater, visual arts and new media, for which UB and the City of Buffalo have achieved widespread recognition."

Ziarek cites many well-known influential humanities scholars who have lived and/or worked in Buffalo, many of whom had ties to the university: cultural critics Michel Foucault, Michel Serres, Jacques Derrida, and Leslie Fiedler; eminent architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H.H. Richardson, Fredrick Law Olmsted, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, and Raynor Banham; legendary composers Morton Feldman, Leo Smit, and Lejaren Hiller; and cutting-edge filmmakers James Blue, Boguslav (Woody) Vasulka, Paul Sharits and Tony Conrad.

She also notes such famous artists and writers as Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, John Barth, Roland Barthes, Rene Girard, Charles Bernstein, Raymond Federman, Eric Bentley, Ishmael Reed, Carl Dennis, Susan Howe, Joyce Carol Oates, Samuel Delany, Myung Mi Kim, Steven McCaffery, André Maurois, Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Dennis and MacArthur Fellow Irving Feldman.

The UB Humanities Institute will sponsor a diverse range of programs and research projects, public lectures, annual scholarly conferences, collaborative research, fellowships for tenured and tenure-track members of the humanities faculty, and community-wide initiatives, such as "Joyce in Buffalo"; the Buffalo Art Film Series; and UB's Science, Technology, Humanities lecture series.

The institute will sponsor its inaugural international conference, "New Futures: Humanities, Theory, Art," Oct. 28-29. For additional information on the conference, go to the institute's Web site at www.

Along with the social sciences and the natural sciences, the humanities comprise one of three major components of the liberal arts and sciences. It is a group of academic subjects united by a commitment to studying different aspects of the human condition, culture and history.

The fields of the humanities include history, literature, languages and cultural studies, philosophy and, more broadly, the fine arts, media studies, architecture and other fields.