VHC Keynote Speaker: William Egginton, “A Humanities for Fractured Times”

We are proud to announce that the 2020 keynote speaker will be William Egginton, speaking on the subject of “A Humanities for Fractured Times.”
As we are told almost daily, we live in a divisive age. Can our democracy survive the new political reality wherein each faction not only claims the right to its own facts, but even to its very reality? Using the lenses of cultural history, literature, and political thought, Professor Egginton argues for a vision of humanistic education as central to the very survival of democratic governance.
Egginton holds the Decker and Mellon Chairs in the Humanities and is the inaugural director of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at the Johns Hopkins University. Previously he was vice-dean for graduate education of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, and was chair of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures for six years. He is the author, editor, or translator of more than a dozen books on such topics as the relationship between literature and philosophy; religion and politics; and science and the humanities. His self-authored books include How the World Became a Stage (2003), Perversity and Ethics (2006), A Wrinkle in History (2007), The Philosopher’s Desire (2007), The Theater of Truth (2010), In Defense of Religious Moderation (2011), The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered In the Modern World (2016), Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media (2017, with David Castillo), and The Splintering of the American Mind: Identity Politics, Inequality, and Community on Today’s College Campuses (2018).

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CFP for VHC 2020 is here! “The Humanities and our Global Future”


We live in a world under siege from the threat of climate change, the erosion of democratic norms, growing passions inspired by ethno-nationalism, the questioning of basic scientific facts, and other challenges that urgently require present-day confrontations with the shared question of the future. Humanists, whose main task it is to shed light on understanding the human condition, are perhaps uniquely well equipped to play a central role in a world full of existential risks, to imagine, communicate, revise, and adapt our visions of the future even as they are shaped by the changing present.

How can (and should) the humanities respond to the existential questions facing us?  What does it mean to be American in the present moment and to what it might mean in the future?  What does it mean to be human in an age “posthumanism” – in a world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), big (biometric) data and an internet of things?  How do we coexist with 7.7 billion inhabitants on this planet? Given the climate crisis, do we even have a future? How can we (re)create systems and structures in response to past, current, and future challenges? How will the humanities guide the discussion about the meaning and purpose of life in the 21st century, and beyond?

The 2020 Virginia Humanities Conference invites proposals for papers, panel sessions, and performances that explore the concept of the The Humanities and Our Global Future. Participation is open to national and international scholars.  We wish to examine broadly the role of the humanities and related disciplines in linking the global past, present, and future, and to use innovative scholarship to help chart potential futures during an uncertain present.  

Papers, presentations, digital humanities projects, and panels on our global futures might include, but are not limited to: 

  • Global migration and the refugee crisis
  • Climate justice
  • Local, national, hemispheric, and global identities and our futures
  • Questions of past, present, and future social justice
  • Imagined futures in literature, film and television, art, and other media 
  • Public scholarship and our future
  • The future of “community” 
  • Technology and the future
  • Digital futures
  • The future of higher education  

To participate submit a 250-word abstract through the website. Graduate students are encouraged to submit a proposal.  Undergraduate students are invited to present their research in poster form or individual papers with support of a faculty member. Deadline for submission is February 15, 2020. For more information, please contact Dr. J. Chris Arndt at arndtjc@jmu.edu.

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VHC 2019 Award Winners Announced

We are pleased to announce the winners of the outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional presentation awards from the 2019 Virginia Humanities Conference, held this past April at Virginia Wesleyan University:

Undergraduate winner: Melissa Fisher, Virginia Wesleyan University, “‘She Comes Apart’: Fascistic Feminine Identity in Thomas Pynchon’s V

Graduate winner: Shaun Respess, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, “The Demands for Pluralistic Care: Meeting the Fluid Needs of Despondent Persons”

Professional winner: Dr. Cathleen Rhodes, Old Dominion University, “Queer Spaces and Nearby Places: Using Local Queer History to Foster Community Engagement and Learning”


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