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Barber Lecture Series

The Barber Lectures in Literature are made possible by a gift to UMM from Laird H. Barber and the late Dorothy Klein Barber, both of whom had long and distinguished careers as English faculty at UMM. The endowed lecture series began in 1999 and is shared, in alternate years, between English and Foreign Languages and Literatures (German Studies, French, Spanish); its intention is to provide a stimulating forum for delving into the multiplicity of issues which confront and enrich literary studies in many areas of the world.

During their careers and after retirement, the Barbers made major contributions to the liberal arts at UMM and to the town of Morris. Their involvement with UMM began in 1964, when Laird joined the English faculty; Dorothy joined the English faculty the next year. Dorothy regularly taught courses such as Modern Grammar and Methods of Teaching English in the Secondary School, and she wrote a college text on modern English grammar and a novel, Baldy and the Mohawks, published in 1999. She retired from UMM in 1991 and passed away in 1998. Before retiring in 1994, Laird taught a wide array of early modern British literature classes as well as courses in the Bible as literature, and he published an edition of The Late Lancashire Witches in 1979. He continues to support intellectual life at UMM and in Morris.

Thanks to the Barbers, UMM’s Humanities Division brings to campus each year a distinguished literary scholar to enrich campus dialogue about contemporary literary issues.

Past Speakers Have included:

Fall 2022

  • Elizabeth Otto, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History and Global Gender Studies at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York: "Haunted Modern Art: Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics at Germany’s Bauhaus Art School”

Fall 2019

  • Brigitte Weltman-Aron, professor of French and Francophone Studies, affiliated with the Center for African Studies and the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research, University of Florida: “Resistance in Pictures: Assia Djebar on Art”

Fall 2018

  • Sonya Posmentier, associate professor of English, New York University: “Black Reading: Lyrics of the Color Line.”

Fall 2017

  • Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin & Comunidad de Historia Mapuche: "Indigenous Resonance & Responses from Mapiche Territory"

Fall 2016

  • Robyn Warhol, Interim Chair and Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University: “Reading Like a Victorian”

Fall 2015

  • David Tse-Chien Pan, Professor of German at the University of California, Irvine: "Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and Political Representation"

Fall 2014

  • Frances E. Dolan, Professor of English at the University of California, Davis: “Know Your Food: Turnips, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, and the Local”

Fall 2013

  • William Burgwinkle, Professor of Medieval French and Occitan at Cambridge University: “Medieval Bodies: Looking and Touching”

Fall 2012

  • Jay Parini, D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College: “The Imagination of Truth: How Fiction Shines a Light into the Dark Corners of History”

Fall 2011

  • Ofelia Ferrán, Professor of Spanish & Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: “Mass Graves, Stolen Children, and Other Specters of the Past Haunting Contemporary Spain”

Fall 2010

  • Kate Flint, Professor of English at Rutgers University: “Flash! Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination”

Spring 2010

  • Siegfried W. de Rachewiltz, Schloss Tirol Museum Director & Faculty Member at Innsbruck University: “Oswald von Wolkenstein, The Last of the German Minnesänger”

Fall 2008

  • Dana Nelson, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and Russ Castronovo, Jean Wall Bennett Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: “‘Action, Action, Action’ 19th-Century Literature for 21st-Century Citizenship”

Fall 2007

  • Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University: “Reading The Flowers of Evil Today”

Fall 2006

  • Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia: “Philology in a New Key Humane Studies in Digital Space”

Fall 2005

  • Marvin A. Lewis, Professor of Spanish & Director of the Afro-Romance Institute for Languages and Literatures of the African Diaspora at the University of Missouri-Columbia: “Afro-Hispanic Literature and the Canon”

Fall 2004

  • Mary Louise Pratt, Silver Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University: “Language and Contemporary Geopolitics”

Fall 2003

  • Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and of Medicine & Director of the Humanities Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Chicago: “Is Multiculturalism Good for the Jews A Literary View”

Spring 2003

  • Lawrence Buell, Powell A. Cabot Professor of American Literature & Chair of English at Harvard University: “Environmental Imagination, Environmental Crisis”

Fall 2001

  • Trinh T. Minh-ha, Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Film Studies, Women’s Studies and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley: 1st Foreign Language Barber Lecture (French), “Far Away, From Home” (with screening of her film Surname Viet Given Name Nam after lecture)

Fall 2000

  • Leah Marcus, Professor of English at Vanderbilt University: 1st English Barber Lecture, “Elizabeth I as Public and Private Poet”

Fall 1999

  • Samuel Schuman, Interim UMM Chancellor Inaugural Barber Lecture, “‘Twas beautiful and hard’: Why Study Literature?”