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Previous Harry C. Howard Jr. Lectures 


Cal Flyn, Author of Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape and Thicker Than Water: History, Secrets, and Guilt

“Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape” 


David Haskell, Author of Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction; Professor of Biology at Sewanee: The University of the South 

“Sounds Wild and Broken: What Sonic Environments Teach Us about Creativity and Justice” 


Majora Carter, Real Estate Developer and Urban Revitalization Strategist 

“Reimagining Cities: A Conversation with Majora Carter” with Professor Paul C. Taylor of Vanderbilt’s Departments of Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies, and Dominique Anderson, Affordable Housing and Social Impact Strategy Consultant for Dominique Anderson Consulting, moderated by Professor Leah Lowe, of Vanderbilt’s Department of Theatre. (video) 


Jaquira Díaz, Author of Ordinary Girls: A Memoir 

“Ordinary Girls: Tacit Borders, Racialized and Gendered Violence, and the Corporeal Policing of Black and Brown Girls” 



Jon Parrish Peede, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities 

“The Vanderbilt Tradition and the Individual Talent” (video) 


Danielle Allen, Author and James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University 

“Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.” (video) 


Quiara Alegría Hudes, Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright 

“A Writer’s Many Selves” (video) 


William Adams, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities  

“The Common Good and NEH at 50” (video) 


James McBride, Author, musician and screenwriter 

The Good Lord Bird: Faith and American Slavery”  


Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation  

“Three Cents, Three Senses: Philanthropy, Higher Education, and the Future” (video) 


Edward L. Ayers, President and Professor of History at the University of Richmond 

“The Humanities in Our Times” (video) 


Van Jones, environmental and human rights activist, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and senior policy advisor at Green for All 

“Rebuild the American Dream: Green Jobs and Beyond” (video) 


David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University 

“’Gods and Devils Aplenty’: Robert Penn Warren’s Civil War” (video) 


Rosanna Warren, University Professor, Emma Ann MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities, and Professor of English and Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures at Boston University 

“Poems and Poem-Talk: A poetry reading and informal chat with Rosanna Warren” (video) 


Roy Blount Jr., acclaimed author, humorist, and Vanderbilt alumnus (B.A. 1963) 

Through Is Thoroughly Throughsome, Go Is Wide Open, and Wince Makes You Wince: On the Non-Arbitrariness of Words” (video) 


Charles S. Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University 

“The Space of Nations: Territory and History before Globalization”  


Helen Vendler, A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University 

“The Yeatsian Sequence: ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’ and ‘Blood and the Moon.’” (audio) 


Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University 

“The Allure of Spices in the Middle Ages” 


Joe Klein, journalist and author 

All the King’s Men and Primary Colors: The Relationship Between Political Fiction and Political Factors in Election Year 2004” 


Stephen J. Pyne, Professor of Biology and Society at Arizona State University 

“American History, with Fire in its Eye” 


Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Honorary Professor of English, University of St. Andrews (Scotland) 

“A Life in Moods: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Mental Illness” 


  1. Carl Brown, Garrett Professor in Foreign Affairs Emeritus Princeton University

“In Search of the Middle East” 


Arnold Rampersad, Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University 

“Biography and African-American Lives” 


Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Professor of Communication and Dean, The Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania; Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center 

“Buying Influence: Advertising and the Political Process” 


Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy, Harvard University 

“Liberalism in Difficulty” 


Michael F. Brown, James N. Lambert 1939 Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies, Williams College 

“Dilemmas of the Therapeutic Society: Dispatches from the New Age and Other Places of Higher Education” 


Patricia Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English, University of Virginia 

“Arrangements of Self-Love: Boswell and Rousseau” 


Lewis P. Simpson, Boyd Professor and William A. Read Professor of English Literature, emeritus, Louisiana State University 

“The Poet and the Father: Robert Penn Warren and Thomas Jefferson”