Mandel Center for the Humanities

Mandel Lectures in the Humanities

person and flowers

The goal of the Mandel Lectures in the Humanities is to promote the study of the humanities at Brandeis University. The series launched in 2011 following the 2010 opening of the Mandel Center for the Humanities.

Each year, prominent scholars deliver a series of three lectures and conduct an informal seminar during their stay on campus. The series is unique in its rotation of disciplines or fields within the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Following the completion of each year's lectures, the talks are published in book form for Brandeis University Press. The resulting series of books reflects both the interdisciplinary mission of the Mandel Center and the wide range of extraordinary work being done in the humanities today.

Mandel Lectures in the Humanities Fall 2022

picture of lawhore vagistan performing
Kareem Khubchandani

Kareem Khubchandani is an associate professor of theater, dance, and performance studies at Tufts University whose research and creative work centers on queer, feminist and trans aesthetics, namely in South Asia and its diasporas. Performing under the name LaWhore Vagistan, Kareem utilizes drag performance as a pedagogical tool.

He is the author of "Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife" (University of Michigan Press, 2020), which won the 2021 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Outstanding Book award, 2021 Dance Studies Association de la Torre Bueno book award, and the 2019 CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies Fellowship. He is also co-editor of "Queer Nightlife" (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and curator of

Dragademia — Dressing Up the University
4-5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27
Laurie Theater, Spingold Theater Center
Followed by reception in Merrick Theater.

Lessons in Drag with LaWhore Vagistan
5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28
Laurie Theater, Spingold Theater Center

Divas, Drag Queens, Aunties and Other Academic Personas
5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1

Past Lectures


Colm Tóibín, Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities

Columbia University

  • Lecture 1: "Between Heaven and Harlem: James Baldwin's Beginnings"
  • Lecture 2: "Stranger in Each Village: James Baldwin in the World"

Daphne Brooks

"We the People": Protest Music in America and the Black Freedom Struggle

Daphne A. Brooks, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, Music, American Studies, and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Yale University

  • Lecture 1: "Invisible Music: The Sonic Idea of Black Revolution From Captivity to Reconstruction"
  • Lecture 2: "Solidarity in Sound: Grassroots Arrangements & Civil Rights Transformation"
  • Lecture 3: "'Scratching the Celluloid': Sonic Plotting & Planning While Facing the 21st Century Catastrophe"

Nancy LangstonEnvironmental Humanities and the New Mobilities of the Anthropocene: Climate Change and Animal Migrations in the North

Nancy Langston, Distinguished Professor of Environmental History, Member of the Great Lakes Research Center
Michigan Technological University


David Der-Wei WangThe Alien, The Ghost, The Post-human: Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China

David Der-Wei Wang, Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature
Harvard University

Resulting Book Publication: “Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China” (forthcoming October 2020)


Dipesh ChakrabartyProvincializing Europe in a Warming World: On the Relevance and Limits of Postcolonial Criticism

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College
University of Chicago


Wendy DonigerMemoirs of a Jewish Girlhood

Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Religions
University of Chicago Divinity School
also in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, and the College

Resulting Book Publication: “The Donigers of Great Neck: A Mythologized Memoir” (2019)


Ingrid RowlandDivine Spark of Syracuse

Ingrid Rowland, Professor of Classical and Renaissance Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Resulting Book Publication: “The Divine Spark of Syracuse” (2018)


James WoodLetters to a Young Writer

James Wood
Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism
Harvard University

Resulting Book Publication:The Nearest Thing to Life” (2015)


David NirenbergJudaizing Aesthetics: Painting, Poetry, Politics

David Nirenberg, Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, Medieval History, Fundamentals, Middle East Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the College
University of Chicago

Resulting Book Publication: “Aesthetic Theology and its Enemies: Judaism in Christian Painting, Poetry, and Politics” (2015)