University to host Virginia Humanities Conference

Shenandoah University will host the 2017 Virginia Humanities Conference April 7-8.

The conference, “The Unbearable Humanities,” is sponsored by the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, with presentations by scholars, activists and students from a variety of disciplines and institutions.

Petra Schweitzer, president of the 2017 Virginia Humanities Conference and SU’S director of Gender & Women’s Studies and professor of comparative literature, said is the university’s first time hosting the event.

“We expect to have the largest attendance the Virginia Humanities Conference has ever had, with many participants from the region, as well as across the nation and worldwide,” she added.

According to a SU news release, the conference “examines how and what kinds of knowledge the humanities produce that existing structures cannot bear; how and why approaches to this unbearableness that are grounded in the humanities are met with resistance; and, finally, how those in the humanities value, make use of, and respond to contemporary, and sometimes unbearable, issues.”

Schweitzer said she hopes the public will gain insights into the general education of the liberal arts and humanities, particularly in higher education settings.

“The focus of this conference is to examine its current ‘unbearable’ status and to reflect upon if 21st century America can bear the humanities,” she said.

Two events during the conference are open and free to the public:

  • “Pressures of the Unbearable: A Critical Conversation:” Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman will give a keynote address from 5 to 6 p.m. April 7 in Halpin-Harrison Hall’s Stimpson Auditorium.
  • “Can the 21st Century America Bear the Humanities?:” A humanities panel discussion will be held from 11 a.m. to noon April 8 in Henkel Hall’s Hester Auditorium. The panel will be moderated by Jeff Coker. the university’s dean of the College of Arts & Science. Participants include David Bearinger, of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; Robert Ehrenreich, of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; David Smith, of the Department of History at Baylor University; and Robert Townsend, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Anyone who plans to attend the full conference should visit vahumanitiesconference.org to register. For more information, contact Schweitzer at pschweit@su.edu or 540-545-7380.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com