Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and a member of the founding board of Representations, will present a lecture entitled “In the Cave: The Humanities and the Human Condition.” The lecture will take place at 5:00pm on Thursday, September 3 in 315 Wheeler Hall (Maude Fife Room).
One of the oddest features of the Humanities is their almost complete lack of progress. With technology, science, and medicine, we expect and indeed demand the latest, most advanced version; with the Humanities the latest is not necessarily the best, and the aging of work–that is, distance from the immediate circumstances of our lives–simply does not matter. How is that possible? In this lecture, Greenblatt will talk about the paintings in the cave de Chauvet, from 30,000 years ago, and then turn to Gilgamesh, Genesis, and the Iliad. What do these artifacts, among the earliest that survive, have to tell us about the ways that the Humanities make us human?