Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

The Liberating Vocation of Scholarship? A Hard Case

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
Portland Campus
Geoffrey Harpham
Free and open to the public. There will be a reception at 5:00 p.m. in the Art Gallery

This lecture will argue that rigorous academic work is informed by an openness to new discoveries, an unlimited responsiveness to evidence, and a commitment to the truth. These principles are the foundation of scholarship’s intrinsic challenge to power, and to the status quo. Balanced against these principles, however, are two worldly circumstances that limit or compromise them: the continual struggle for dominance among scholars, and the personal political and ethical commitments of individual scholars. How does this tension affect the practice of scholarship? And what is the right relationship between scholarly freedom and the various struggles for freedom in a difficult and dangerous world? The lecture will explore these questions and others in the context of the battle against apartheid in 1980s South Africa.


Geoffrey Galt Harpham was president of the National Humanities Center from 2003-15 and taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Tulane, and Duke. He has written thirteen books and over one hundred scholarly essays and articles. His most recent books include Scholarship and Freedom (Harvard University Press, 2020) and Citizenship on Catfish Row: Race and Nation in American Popular Entertainment (University of South Carolina Press, 2022).

Assigned Reading

Geoffrey Harpham, Scholarship and Freedom (Harvard University Press, 2020)



WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103
United States