UM Unveils Brand New Center for the Humanities tonight

In a boon for intellectual life in Miami, the University of Miami unveils its brand-new Center for the Humanities--the first of its kind in South Florida--this evening at 6 p.m. in the Storer Auditorium in the School of Business Administration (5250 University Drive, Coral Gables).

What is a Center for the Humanities? According to Director Mihoko Suzuki it's a way to bring the public--and other local universities--into a larger discussion about issues that center around art, interpretative social science, pedagogy, and literature. Technically speaking, it's an non-degree-giving entity within a university that sponsors lectures, panels, and other educational events that aren't limited by departmental or even organizational constraints. First founded in the United States a little over 50 years ago, Centers for the Humanities allow universities to host visiting scholars and open their doors to non-affiliated individuals.

"The events are open to everyone," Suzuki says. "The Center will encourage exchanges between us and FIU, FAU, etc. It's been a long time coming."

Tonight's lecture is a great example. The Center is hosting Marjorie Garber, who is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She'll be presenting a talk on "Shakespeare, the Humanities, and Modern Culture"; in other words, how the works of Shakespeare continue to inform modern life and literature. The free lecture is followed by a cocktail reception. (To RSVP, call 305-284-1580.)

Right now, the Center's offices in 123 Ashe are being re-modeled, but the new center hopes to occupy them by the end of the calendar year. And in the future, Dr. Suzuki is hoping to build a free-standing Center, similar to the Hall Center at Kansas University.

"But right now, we just want people to learn that we're doing these events and to know that they should come," she says.