James Baldwin Lecture

The annual James Baldwin Lecture series was launched March 29, 2006 with the inaugural lecture presented by Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values.

This series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to provide an occasion for the intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist James Baldwin, one of America’s most powerful cultural critics.

The Dramatist’s Call to Action: Realizing the Provocative Prescience of James Baldwin and María Irene Fornés

The Dramatist’s Call to Action: Realizing the Provocative Prescience of James Baldwin and María Irene Fornés

April 12, 2018 4:30 PM
McCormick 101

Presenters: Brian Eugenio Herrera and aas21

María Irene Fornés (b. 1930, Havana, Cuba) is among the most influential American theater-makers of the twentieth century. A defining force within the off-off-Broadway movement of the 1960s and 1970s (and nine-time Obie Award winner), Fornés — as playwright, director, designer and teacher — became a guiding presence for emerging theater artists of the 1980s and 1990s, especially those invested in staging feminist, queer and latinx aesthetics and experiences. Fornés’ experiments in theatrical form and her transformative teaching techniques continue to challenge and inspire new generations of theater-makers today. Even so, the living legacy of María Irene Fornés remains remarkably under-acknowledged among contemporary theater artists, students and scholars.The Dramatist’s Call to Action

Thursday’s lecture is given in conjunction with a constellation of events being held at Princeton, and around the country, occurring in April 2018 to honor the work of María Irene Fornés. (More information: arts.princeton.edu)

Brian Eugenio Herrera is Assistant Professor of Theater at Princeton University where his work, both academic and artistic, examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is author of The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report (HowlRound, 2015) and Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015), which was awarded the George Jean Nathan Prize for Dramatic Criticism. He is the Inaugural Resident Scholar for The Sol Project, an initiative dedicated to producing the work of Latinx playwrights in New York City and beyond.

The annual James Baldwin Lecture series was launched March 29, 2006 with the inaugural lecture presented by Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Princeton University Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values.

The series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to provide an occasion for the intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist James Baldwin, one of America’s most powerful cultural critics.

Elaine Pagels presents Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of Revelation

Elaine Pagels presents Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of Revelation

February 12, 2013 7:00 PM
McCormick Hall 101

Presenters: Elaine Pagels

“Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of

Revelation” by Professor Elaine Pagels

This event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She joined the faculty in 1982, shortly after receiving a MacArthur Fellowship. Perhaps best known as the author of “The Gnostic Gospels”, “The Origin of Satan”, and “Adam, Eve and the Serpent”, she has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity, and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity. Her most recent books include “Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas” (was on the New York Times best-seller list) and “Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity”, co-authored with Karen King of Harvard. Her latest book entitled “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Boo”k of Revelation”, was published in March 2012. Revelations”  explores the New Testament Book of Revelation and other Jewish, Christian, and Pagan books of Revelation written around the same time.

The annual James Baldwin Lecture celebrates the scholarship of a distinguished Princeton faculty member and provides an occasion for our intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American culture. The complexities of race in the United States demand the insightful work both of experts in the field and of all who share a genuine commitment to the well-being of our society. The Baldwin Lecture Series presents Princeton scholars, accomplished in their respective fields, with the opportunity to think carefully with others about race in America.

The Baldwin lectures also honor the extraordinary legacy of the late James Baldwin (1924-1987). One of America’s most powerful cultural critics and essayists, Baldwin exemplified ways in which we might remain critically focused upon and engaged with the relationship of race to democracy in American society.

Paul Lanky presents A Musical Conversation About Race

Paul Lanky presents A Musical Conversation About Race

April 20, 2011 5:30 PM
McCormick Hall 101
Presenters: Paul Lansky

A personal perspective by a composer on the influence of race and music of other cultures on his own music. A reflection on the ways in which cross-cultural and racial content are manifested in music, with particular attention to spoken word and the influence of rap and hip-hop.

Shirley Tilghman presents The Meaning of Race in the Post-Genome Era

Shirley Tilghman presents The Meaning of Race in the Post-Genome Era

March 9, 2010 5:30 PM
Richardson Auditorium
Presenters: Shirley Tilghman

The 5th Annual James Baldwin Lecture titled “The Meaning of Race in the Post-Genome Era” was delivered by President Shirley M. Tilghman on March 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The annual James Baldwin Lecture celebrates the scholarship of a distinguished Princeton faculty member and provides an occasion for our intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American culture. The complexities of race in the United States demand the insightful work both of experts in the field and of all who share a genuine commitment to the well-being of our society. The Baldwin Lecture Series presents Princeton scholars, accomplished in their respective fields, with the opportunity to think carefully with others about race in America.

The Baldwin lectures also honor the extraordinary legacy of the late James Baldwin (1924-1987). One of America’s most powerful cultural critics and essayists, Baldwin exemplified ways in which we might remain critically focused upon and engaged with the relationship of race to democracy in American society.

The transcript and slides from the lecture are available online

Anthony Grafton presents Race in the Renaissance?

Anthony Grafton presents Race in the Renaissance?

March 30, 2009 5:30 PM
McCormick Hall 101
Presenters: Anthony Grafton,  Anthony T. Grafton, and Henry Putnam University Professor of History

In this lecture, Professor Grafton will look at what has traditionally been seen as the first modern western culture — that of Western Europe in the Renaissance — through the prism of race. He will examine the thought and practices of European artists, scholars, and officials, as they encountered people who were not European or Christian, both in Europe and around the world; tried to understand where they came from and who they were; and drew practical consequences, which were often — but not always — harsh and tragic from their assumptions about the origins and nature of the peoples of the world (who included, they thought, everything from monsters and beings condemned by their nature to servitude to non-Christians of great wisdom and virtue). The lecture will pay special attention to Christian views of the Jews, strangers who lived in large numbers inside Europe but will also examine European responses to many other groups.

Bonnie Bassier presents So you want to be a Doctor: Diversity and Scientific Research

Bonnie Bassier presents So you want to be a Doctor: Diversity and Scientific Research

April 22, 2008 12:00 AM
Presenters: Bonnie Bassler

Who are the role models for African Americans considering careers as scientific researchers?  Who are the mentors? Right now, those mentors are rarely African Americans. I am among the generation of women scientists who trained at a time when there were few female scientific mentors. My mentor — a white male — taught me bacteriology, genetic methods, and how to think like a scientist. This training led to the work of my lab which is to show that bacteria, primitive single-celled organisms, communicate with chemical languages that allow them to synchronize their behavior and thereby act as enormous multi-cellular organisms. This process, called quorum sensing, enables bacteria to successfully infect and cause disease in humans. My lab group is now developing strategies to interfere with quorum sensing that may yield novel antibiotics. The members of my lab: undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs; are the young experimental and idea engines that drive scientific progress.  In this Baldwin Lecture, I will share my group’s research on quorum sensing, some ideas about mentoring and role models, and how, in my role as Graduate Director, I have focused on the challenge of racial disparity in biological science education at Princeton. There is good news.

Kwame Anthony Appiah presents The Cosmopolitanism of W.E.B. Du Bois

Kwame Anthony Appiah presents The Cosmopolitanism of W.E.B. Du Bois

March 29, 2006 4:30 AM
1 Robertson Hall
Presenters: Kwame Anthony Appiah

The annual James Baldwin Lecture series was launched March 29, 2006 with the inaugural lecture presented by Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values.

The talk, titled “The Cosmopolitanism of W.E.B. Du Bois,” took place at 4:30 p.m. in 1 Robertson Hall.

Appiah is widely regarded as one of the most insightful and imaginative thinkers in the country. His interests range over African and African-American intellectual history and literary studies, ethics and philosophy of mind and language. His major current work centers on the philosophical foundations of liberalism.

This new series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to provide an occasion for the intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist James Baldwin, one of America’s most powerful cultural critics.