Director: Sarah Pike
Phone: (530) 898-6341

* The Humanities Center’s theme for this year is “Translations.”

Oct. 16 *Panel on "Translating the Dharma in Buddhist Asia

featuring guest Paul Harrison (Co-Director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford), Daniel Veidlinger (Comparative Religion) and Jason Clower (Comparative Religion)
Trinity 100, 5-6:30 pm, followed by a reception.

The most extensive project of cultural transmission in pre-modern history was the translation of thousands of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit and other Indian languages into Chinese, Tibetan and other Asian languages. This panel will discuss how this was done and the effects of this massive undertaking. Professor Harrison specializes in Buddhist literature and history, especially that of the Mahayana, and the study of Buddhist manuscripts in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan.

Oct. 24Forrest Gander

Humanities Center Talk and Reading
7:30 pm, Trinity 100. Reception will follow.

With an “unflinchingly curious mind,” celebrated poet Forrest Gander has become known for the richness of his language and his undaunted lyric passion. A translator, essayist, and editor, Gander is the author of more than a dozen books. His 2011 poetry collection Core Samples from the World was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books include his gemlike first novel As A Friend (2008); the poetry collections Eye Against Eye (with photographs by Sally Mann); Torn Awake; Science & Steepleflower; and the essay collection Faithful Existence: Reading, Memory & Transcendence.

Gander’s translations include Watchword, the Villaurrutia Award-winning book by Mexican Poet Laureate Pura Lopez Colome (2012) Spectacle & Pigsty, a co-translation with Kyoko Yoshida of selected poems by contemporary Japanese poet Kiwao Nomura (2011), which won the Best Translated Book Award for 2012; and Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho(2008), which was a finalist for the PEN Translation Prize. Gander’s essays have appeared in The Nation, The Boston Review, and American Poetry Review, among others.

In 2008, Gander was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, and is also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Howard, and Whiting Foundations; and he has received two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry.

Gander lives in Rhode Island, where he is professor of English and Comparative Literature at Brown University. He teaches courses on phenomenology and poetics, Asian-American literature, and translation.

Nov. 14Peggy Shumaker Poetry Reading

Co-sponsored with Writer’s Voice
Trinity 100, 7:30 pm

Peggy Shumaker’s most recent book is Toucan Nest: Poems of Costa Rica. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Her work was honored with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She served as Alaska State Writer Laureate from 2010-2012. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, she teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA Program. Please visit her website at

Feb. 12 *“Translating the Realist Body: Naturalism’s Nervous Mimesis.”

Christopher Hill (Associate Director of the European Institute at Columbia University).
Trinity 100, 7:30 pm, followed by a reception.

After it appeared in France in the 1860s, the naturalist novel quickly took to the road. The naturalist schools that emerged from the Americas to East Asia were important conduits for introducing the techniques of European realism to literatures around the world. Naturalism’s singular focus on the nerve as a means for describing both individual and society meant that as naturalism traveled, the nerve was translated into new literary idioms. The Japanese writer Shimazaki Tôson’s novel Spring (1907) reveals the new possibilities for critique that emerged in the process.

Christopher Hill writes on the transnational circulation of ideas and literary forms.  His current project, The Travels of Naturalism, is a study of the rise of the naturalist novel and its movement around the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Hill is author of National History and the World of Nations: Capital, State, and the Rhetoric of History in Japan, France, and the United States. His recent publications include “Nana in the World: Novel, Gender, and Transnational Form” (MLQ, Mar. 2011) and “Conceptual Universalization in the Transnational Nineteenth Century” (Global Intellectual History, Columbia UP, 2013).

Mar. 05 *Guest poet and translator Meryl Natchez and Kate Transchel

(History) discuss Natchez’s recent translation of three Russian poets, Poems from the Stray Dog Café: Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Gumilev, which was published last fall. Co-sponsored with Writer’s Voice.
Trinity 100, 5–6:30 pm

Kate TranschelGuest poet and translator Meryl Natchez and Kate Transchel (History) will read from and discuss Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Gumilev, three talented, bohemian poets who founded a poetic movement in the early 1900s in Russia. One was shot for treason, one exiled and starved to death on the way to the Gulag, and one forced to write poems in praise of Stalin to save her son’s life. Natchez’s recent translation, Poems from the Stray Dog Cafe, brings this period and their struggles to life. Trinity 100, 5-6:30. Co-sponsored with Writer’s Voice.

Natchez is also co-translator of Tadeusz Borowski: Selected Poems and author of the poetry collection, Jade Suit. Dr. Kate Transchel, Professor of History at CSU, Chico, is the author of Under the Influence: Working-class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932 (2006). Her articles have appeared in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, The Spirit, Saratovskie vesti, and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research Newsletter.

Mar. 27Race, Species and Nature in a Multicultural Age.

Claire Kim (Political Science, U.C. Irvine). Co-sponsored with the Department of Philosophy.
Trinity 100, 5–6:30 pm, followed by a reception.

Dr. Kim will present material from her forthcoming book, which examines impassioned disputes over how immigrants of color, racialized minorities and Native peoples in the U.S. use animals in their cultural traditions. She is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies. She teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on race, multiculturalism, minority politics, social movements, immigration, and human-animal studies. Dr. Kim’s first book, Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press, 2000) won two awards from the American Political Science Association: the Ralph Bunche Award for the Best Book on Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism and the Best Book Award from the Organized Section on Race and Ethnicity. She has been a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Apr. 24Street Chants and Violins, Politics and Race in Venezuela

T. M. Scruggs (University of Iowa)
PAC 134, 5pm

Recent protests in the more wealthy parts of several cities reveal that an intertwined class and racial divide remains a defining feature of Venezuela. This presentation looks at how music, and even a famous street chant can help reveal the ethnic and class composition of the mass movement that first elected Hugo Chávez president in 1998. This overview critically considers to what extent the musical and social landscape in Venezuela has changed from government and community initiatives, such as the hundreds of new community radio stations and the famous El Sistema youth program. 

T.M. Scruggs taught at the Universidad de los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela in 2005–06, on a Fulbright grant. Until recently he was the token ethnomusicologist at the University of Iowa. His primary research focus is on the use of music to construct social identity in the Americas.