Who Do You Think You Are? Scripps Humanities Institute Begins New Speaker Series

The Humanities Institute asks the question “who do you think you are?” in its Spring 2015 program, Concepts of Self. Through a series of lectures and workshops, students enrolled in the Institute (as well as others who wish to attend lectures) will examine what “self” really means and how it affects our daily lives.

Every semester, the Humanities Institute puts on a program based around a theme or idea. This semester’s program on selfhood 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” (Humanities Institute website).
“There is new, exciting, and very interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work being done on the self, so I thought it’d be perfect for interdisciplinary study,” said Program Director Yuval Avnur. “Some of the work is really breaking new ground rather than merely crossing disciplinary boundaries.”

The program will begin with back to back lectures on Feb. 6. Visiting speakers Peggy Phelan and Nancy Chodorow will be speaking from 2:30-6 p.m. in Boone Recital Hall.
Peggy Phelan’s talk is titled “Selfies: The Past and Future of Photographic Self-Portraits” and, according to the website, will discuss “the future of the self-portrait in the age of performance.”

“Nancy Chodorow’s talk argues for a new field of study, ‘Individuology,’ and will have lots to say about the way the self does (or doesn’t) figure into fields like sociology and anthropology, all from a psychoanalytic and feminist perspective,” said Avnur.

Avnur has tried to create a program that will interest the entire Scripps community. He hopes that the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the variety of lectures and workshops that make up the program will create an interesting examination of the self.

The Varieties of Self Conference on March 6 and 7 “focuses on the self as it is conceived in cultures and traditions that may not be so familiar to most of our students” said Avnur. The conference will feature six speakers, some of whom focus on the self in Confucian and Buddhist traditions.

“There is important, and even foundational work on the self that is not often encountered in the West and in our curriculum, and I wanted an opportunity to bring in people who can expose us to that,” said Avnur.

Members of the community can attend lectures and workshops starting on Feb. 6 and ending on April 30 with “A Self for Others: Concepts of Self in Benevolent and Beneficent Action.”  The full program and event list can be found on the Humanities Institute website.