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Dean's Speaker Series

The School of Liberal Arts Dean’s Speaker Series brings prominent scholars, writers, and practitioners in the humanities, fine & performing arts and social sciences to Tulane University to foster an ongoing conversation about the vitality of the liberal arts in addressing topics that matter to society.

Upcoming Events

Ali Behdad, Dean's Speaker Series

"Jack of All Trades; Master of None!"

Featuring Ali Behdad, John Charles Hillis Chair in Literature, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and the Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA.
Monday, October 30, 2023, at 6pm, Stone Auditorium

Ali Behdad is John Charles Hillis Chair in Literature, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and the Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA. He has published widely on issues of travel, immigration, Orientalism, photography, and Postcolonialism, including three books, Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Duke University Press, 1994), A Forgetful Nation: On Immigration and Cultural Identity in the United States (Duke University Press, 2005), and Camera Orientalis: Reflections on photography of the Middle East (U. of Chicago Press, 2016) He is also the co-editor of A Companion to Comparative Literature (Blackwell, 2011) and Photography’s Orientalism: New Essays on Colonial Representation (Getty Research Institute, 2013).

This reflexive talk addresses the challenges of engaging in literary studies in an era marked by the expansion of the literary globe. It argues that there is a value in viewing the work of literary comparison as a form of scholarly amateurism that embraces intellectual mobility and shuns specialization that academic institutions often valorize. It elaborates a model of literary scholarship that is critical towards the narrowness of disciplinary formation and the lure of mastery that comes with the cult of expertise.

Past Events


2021-2023 Series: Anti-Racism and the Disciplines

Many of the liberal arts disciplines have complicated relationships to structural racism, colonialism, and/or imperialism, which arguably are structured into the “rules” of the disciplines themselves. Scholars working in those disciplines, including those featured in the series, are working to uncover those histories in the effort of thinking about and staging work for the next generation(s) of scholars. Each speaker gave a public talk; and also met in a smaller group with faculty and students for a workshop on anti-racist research and scholarship.


Final Symposium: Anti-Racism and the Disciplines

Friday, March 31, 2023
1–6 pm
Rogers Chapel

As a formal close to the Dean’s Speaker Series on the theme of Anti-Racism and the Disciplines, School of Liberal Arts Dean Brian Edwards invited all previous participants to Tulane’s campus for an all-day symposium of panels and presentations. While addressing and combatting racism is an ongoing uphill battle, the agenda included critical debates and conversations about the role of racism in numerous liberal arts academic disciplines.

In addition to the cast of participating scholars (names and institutions listed below), the symposium featured a keynote by American literary critic, Black Feminist scholar and Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor at Vanderbilt University, Hortense J. Spillers, who spoke on Anti-Racism and Literary Studies.

Symposium Participants:

Anti-Racism and the Disciplines participants
  • Keynote on Literary Studies: Hortense Spillers
    Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor Emerita of English, Vanderbilt University
  • Anthropology: Lee D. Baker
    Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, and African and African American Studies, Duke University
  • Classical Studies: Dan-el Padilla Peralta
    Associate Professor of Classics, Princeton University
  • Communication Studies: Sarah J. Jackson
    Presidential Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Media, Inequality and Change Center, University of Pennsylvania
  • Economics: Gary Hoover
    Professor of Economics and Executive Director of the Murphy Institute, Tulane University
  • Philosophy: Lionel McPherson
    Associate Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University
  • Sociology: Mary Pattillo
    Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University


1:00 – 2:15 pm: Anti-Racism and the Humanities
Sarah J. Jackson | Lionel K. McPherson | Dan-el Padilla Peralta
Chair: Nghana Lewis (Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies, Tulane University)

2:30 – 3:45 pm: Anti-Racism and the Social Sciences
Lee D. Baker | Gary Hoover | Mary Pattillo
Chair: Andrea Boyles (Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Belonging, and Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Tulane University)

4:00 pm: Keynote on Literary Studies
Hortense J. Spillers

Supplemental Content:
Host Brian Edwards, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University, interviews leading Black scholars to examine the complex histories of the disciplines in the liberal arts and to reimagine the kind of anti-racist scholarship and teaching that the next generation might do. Listen to all eight episodes now!

Anti-Racism and the Disciplines at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts



Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Dean's Speaker Series'

Anti-Racism and Classical Studies

Featuring Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University.
Monday, April 25, 2022, at 6 pm

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University, where he is affiliated with the Programs in Latino Studies and Latin American Studies and the University Center for Human Values. A Dominican by birth and New Yorker by upbringing, he holds degrees from Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford. He is the author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin, 2015) and Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic (Princeton University Press, 2020); and he has co-edited Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation (Cambridge University Press, 2017). His current projects include a co-authored study of 338 BCE and the origins of Roman imperialism (under contract with Harvard University Press), A People’s History of Rome (under contract with Princeton University Press), a co-edited volume on new approaches to the Middle Roman Republic, and a co-authored book-length essay on race and racism in the disciplinary identity of Classics.
Watch video on Youtube.

Kim Gallon

Anti-Racism and the Digital Humanities

Featuring Kim Gallon, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.
In conversation with Liz McMahon, Associate Professor of History at Tulane University.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at 6 pm

Kim Gallon is Associate Professor Africana Studies at Brown University. Her work investigates the cultural dimensions of the Black Press in the early twentieth century. Gallon earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania, and she holds an MS in Learning and Design Technology from Purdue University. Author of Pleasure in the News: African American Readership and Sexuality in the Black Press (University of Illinois Press, 2020) and the field-defining article “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities” (in Debates in the Digital Humanities, University of Minnesota Press, 2016). she is also the founder and director of two black digital humanities projects: The Black Press Research Collective and COVID Black: A Taskforce on Black Health and Data. Gallon’s current projects include Technologies of Recovery: Black Digital Humanities, Theory and Praxis (University of Illinois Press), a book about the black digital humanities as a site of resistance and liberation, and Fiction for the Harassed and Frustrated (Johns Hopkins University Press), which examines the role and significance of popular literary expression in the Black Press in the early twentieth century.

Lionel McPherson, Dean's Speaker Series'

Anti-Racism and Philosophy

Featuring Lionel K. McPherson, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021, at 6 pm

Lionel K. McPherson received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University. McPherson’s research focuses on the fields of ethics and political and social philosophy. McPherson has published a number of essays on normativity, the basis and extent of obligations, war and terrorism, and race in venues such as the Journal of American Philosophical Association, Ethics, and the Journal of Philosophy. His first book, The Afterlife of Race, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (2022).

Anti-Racism and Communication Studies

Featuring Sarah J. Jackson, Presidential Associate Professor and co-director, Media, Inequality & Change Center, University of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, April 29, 2021, at 6 pm
Watch video on Youtube.

Anti-Racism and Anthropology

Featuring Lee D. Baker, Mrs. A. Hehmeyer Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, and African and African American Studies at Duke University.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 6 pm
Watch video on Youtube.

Anti-Racism and Sociology

Featuring Mary Pattillo, Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and Chair, Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 6 pm
Watch video on Youtube .

Anti-Racism and Economics

Featuring Gary Hoover, Director, Murphy Institute and Professor of Economics, Tulane University.
Thursday, January 28, 2021, 6 pm
Tulane Press Release

2020 Events:

Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women: A Reading and Conversation

Featuring E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies, Northwestern University
February 3, 2020, at 6 pm in the Commons in Diboll Gallery
Event Details