The End(s) of the Humanities

April 12, 2021
Event poster featuring a stack of books in a dark room with an old clock on a chain

Zena HitzTutor, St. John’s College; Anthony KronmanSterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Jonathan MarksProfessor of Politics, Ursinus College

Moderated by Joshua Katz, Cotsen Professor in the Humanities; Professor of Classics, Princeton University

The phrase “The End(s) of the Humanities” opens up a range of possible topics for conversation with three distinguished scholars who have recently written books about the life of the mind that are as accessible as they are compelling.  It is a truism that traditional humanism is on the decline, but are the humanities actually approaching their end?  Can the decline in confidence in the humanities be remedied through careful articulation of a specific end goal?  Or is it in fact a mistake to think about thought so instrumentally?

Join us for a frank discussion of ends—and also of means and new beginnings.

Our panelists:

Zena Hitz *05 is Tutor at St. John’s College, and so teaches across the liberal arts. Her scholarly work is on law, virtue, friendship, and human nature in Plato and Aristotle. Her book Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton University Press, 2019) explores the meaning and the value of learning for its own sake, through images and stories of bookworms, philosophers, scientists, and other learners, both fictional and historical. She received an M.Phil. in Classics from Cambridge and studied Social Thought and Philosophy at the University of Chicago before receiving her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton University.

Anthony Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A former Dean of Yale Law School, Professor Kronman teaches in the areas of contracts, bankruptcy, jurisprudence, social theory, and professional responsibility. Before joining the faculty at Yale, he taught at the University of Chicago. Among his books are Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (2007) and The Assault on American Excellence (Free Press, 2019). Professor Kronman received his B.A. from Williams College, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and J.D. from Yale University.

Jonathan Marks is Professor of Politics and Department Chair at Ursinus College. He has published on modern and contemporary political philosophy in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of American Political Science, and the Review of Politics. He is the author of Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education (Princeton University Press, 2021) and Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Professor Marks received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Joshua Katz is Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics at Princeton University. Widely published in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the ancient world, he is a linguist by training, a classicist by profession, and a comparative philologist at heart. He has taught at Princeton since 1998 and is the recipient of numerous awards for his teaching and his scholarship. Professor Katz received his B.A. from Yale University, his M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.


The End(s) of the Humanities


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