Upcoming Dessert Lectures

The Fall 2017 ECS Chocolate Cake Lecture will be announced early in the fall semester. Please check back for more information.

Dessert Lecture Series

Each semester, the European Cultural Studies program invites a renowned guest speaker to campus to present their work to Brandeis students and faculty.

Spring 2017 ECS Chocolate Cake Lecture

Kierkegaard's Response to Hegel's Interpretation of Antigone

Featuring Jon Stewart, Research Fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Thursday, March 30, 2017
4:00 p.m.
DuBois Lounge (Rabb 119)

Kierkegaard's Response to Hegel's Interpretation of Antigone

Both Hegel and Kierkegaard were fascinated by Sophocles' famous tragedy Antigone. Treating this work in the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel sees the play as representing a key moment in the development of history. Kierkegaard, by contrast, examines the work under the guise of a pseudonym in the first volume of Either/Or. He suggests not so much an analysis of Sophocles' work on its own terms as a rewriting of it as a modern tragedy. In his talk, Jon Stewart brought out the defining elements in the interpretations of the two thinkers. He argued that Kierkegaard's account is more dependent on that of Hegel than is usually recognized.

Jon Stewart is a specialist in the thought of G.W.F. Hegel and Søren Kierkegaard. He is the editor of the series Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, Texts from Golden Age Denmark, and Danish Golden Age Studies and the coeditor of the Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook and Kierkegaard Studies Monograph Series. He is the author of eight books, including Kierkegaard's Relations to Hegel Reconsidered (Cambridge University Press 2003) and Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity (Oxford University Press 2015). In 2013 he produced a popular MOOC on Kierkegaard, which can be seen on the Coursera platform. He has translated six volumes of philosophical texts from the 19th century and is the editor of more than 35 anthologies. Since 2007 he has been a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Currently, he is a research fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

This event was presented by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and co-sponsored by the Comparative Humanities Program, the Comparative Literature and Culture Program, the European Cultural Studies Program, and the Humanities Fellows Program.


Spring 2017 ECS Lemon Cake Lecture:

'But little ... that I can recognize': Challenges of Writing the Civil War

Featuring Elizabeth D. Samet, Professor of English at the U.S. Military Academy

Monday, March 13, 2017
3:30 p.m.
Golding 103

Elizabeth D. SametThis lecture explored some of the difficulties faced by combatants attempting to write about the American Civil War, with a particular focus on Ulysses S. Grant.

Elizabeth D. Samet is the author of several books, including Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, which won the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America, a finalist for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She is also the editor of Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers. Samet’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. A former Guggenheim Fellow, Samet is a professor of English at the U.S. Military Academy.

This event was presented by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and co-sponsored by the European Cultural Studies Program and the Humanities Fellows Program.


Spring 2016 ECS Lemon Cake Lecture

Dostoevsky's Concept of Unity: Pro and Contra

Featuring Anna Berman, Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at McGill University, and Yuri Corrigan, Assistant Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at Boston University

Wednesday, April 20, 2016Dostoevsky's Concept of Unity
2:00 p.m.
Mandel Reading Room
(Mandel Center for the Humanities, Rm. 303)

The problem of interpersonal unity lies at the heart of Dostoevsky's writing. His hopes for a future all-embracing communal union are matched in their intensity only by his adamant warnings against the dangers of collectivism. How does Dostoevsky navigate this apparent paradox? Can people unite in positive ways that do not destroy their sense of autonomy and personal identity? Focusing on The Brothers Karamazov, Corrigan and Berman applied different readings to the same scenes in order to illuminate the many sides of this issue.

Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the European Cultural Studies Program.


Fall 2015 ECS Chocolate Cake Lecture

Osip Mandelstam and Visual Experience

Featuring Andrew Kahn
Professor of Russian Literature, University of Oxford
Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
3:30 p.m.
Mandel Reading Room
(Mandel Center for the Humanities, Rm. 303)

During this lecture, Professor Andrew Kahn argued for a new understanding of the visual in Mandelstam based on more precise connections to the science of the eye, contemporary trends in art history and psychology of art, and the aesthetic context of the late Imperial period and, the Soviet reception of Cubism in the 1930s.

This event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Mandel Center for the Humanities, the Comparative Literature and Culture Program, and the European Cultural Studies Program.


Spring 2015 ECS Lemon Cake Lecture

Bakhtin and the Actor

Featuring Caryl Emerson
A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University

Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 4 p.m.
DuBois Lounge (Rabb 119)

This event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the European Cultural Studies Program, and the Mandel Center for the Humanities.


Fall 2014 ECS Chocolate Cake Lecture

The Prosodic Protolanguage Hypothesis and the Origins of Poetry

Featuring Anna Christina Ribeiro
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Texas Tech University

Monday, November 24, 2014, 2 p.m.
Shiffman 125

This event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the European Cultural Studies Program.


Spring 2014 ECS Lemon Cake Lecture

Understanding Franz Rosenzweig's "Büchlein": The Sick and the Healthy

Featuring Hilary Putnam
Cogan University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, Harvard University

Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 2 p.m.
Mandel Reading Room, 303

This event was sponsored by European Cultural Studies and History of Ideas programs.