Past Events

  • Elizabeth Chang, Department of English Poor, Obscure, Plain and Little: Maligning Charlotte Brontë on her 200th Birthday

    Apr 10

    Elizabeth Chang, Department of English

    Everyone loves a good roast, even of a beloved writer. In commeration of Charlotte Brontë’s bicentennial, Elizabeth Chang, Associate Professor of English at MU, considers the legacy of Jane Eyre’s famous author. Will she burn her down like Thornfield Hall? Come find out—and bring your book club!

    More Information

  • Nathan Hofer, Department of Religious Studies Revolutionary Islam

    Mar 13

    Nathan Hofer, Department of Religious Studies

    There have been a number of notable Islamic revolutionary movements over the past 1,500 years. Is the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) one of them? In this installment of Speaking of Culture, Professor Nate Hofer of MU’s Department of Religious Studies will help us consider ISIS in the context of some of history’s most successful Islamic revolutions: the original movement from 7th century Arabia; the Wahhabi revolution of the 18th century; and the Iranian revolution of 1979.

    More Information

  • Nina Furstenau, Department of Science and Agriculture Journalism Sensuous Flavors: Food, Love, Culture

    Feb 14

    Nina Furstenau, Department of Science and Agriculture Journalism

    Whether you bring your beloved or go stag, don’t miss Nina Furstenau, acclaimed author of “Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland,” discuss how food and love are connected across cultures in this special Valentine’s Day Speaking of Culture.

    More Information

  • Lily Gurton-Wachter, Department of English ‘The Stranger Guest’: Literature & New Motherhood

    Dec 6

    Lily Gurton-Wachter, Department of English

    Those experiencing the momentousness of new motherhood—its joys and difficulties—frequently search for ways to help contextualize and consider their sometimes terrifying new role. While literature might seem an obvious source of communion for new mothers, finding works that portray their complex experience deeply is more difficult than we might think. With that in mind, MU English professor Lily Gurton-Wachter revisits some essential literary works (among them Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Eula Biss’s On Immunity, and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts), which have been essential to her since becoming a mother herself.

    More Information

  • David Schenker, Department of Classics Homer’s Handy Voting Guide: Using the Ancient Epics to Choose Our Next President

    Nov 8

    David Schenker, Department of Classics

    The cacophony of the 2016 presidential season is upon us, with its punditry, Super PACs, and relentless bluster. Bernie or Hillary? Trump or Carson? The choices counfound us. So how do we choose? Eureka! We turn to the Classics, with the help of Professor David Schenker, who will show us some familiar leadership archtypes in Homer’s epics and find among our candidates their contemporary analogs.

    More Information

  • Steve Weinberg, School of Journalism Writing Lives: How Deep Should a Biographer Delve?

    Oct 18

    Steve Weinberg, School of Journalism

    We love to know about the lives of fascinating figures, but how does a biographer decide what to disclose and what is off limits? Acclaimed author Steve Weinberg, of MU’s School of Journalism, explores the biographer’s role and methodology, based in part on his experience writing about such compelling subjects as muckraker Ida Tarbell, magnate John D. Rockefeller, and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau.

    More Information

  • Signe Cohen, Department of Religious Studies Romancing the Robot: Humans, Machines, and Doomed Romance in Ancient Buddhist Robot Tales

    Sep 20

    Signe Cohen, Department of Religious Studies

    Please join us as we kick off the 2015-16 Speaking of Culture season with…ancient Buddhist robot tales? Affirmative! Professor Signe Cohen of MU’s department of Religious Studies, teacher of wildly popular courses including “Harry Potter, Magic, and Religion” takes us to futures past in what is sure to be a fascinating talk.

    More Information


Speaking of Culture is a monthly series produced by MU’s Honors College for the enjoyment of the entire Columbia community. Modeled on the acclaimed Saturday Morning Science series, Speaking of Culture will feature each month an MU faculty member from some area of the Humanities, who will talk enthrallingly and accessibly about a subject of great professional or personal significance.

When and Where

Map of Orr Street Studios

Each talk will be held at Orr Street Studios (106 Orr Street, between Walnut & Ash), beginning at 2:00pm and running approximately 50 minutes.

FREE and open to the public.

Coffee and baked treats provided.

Mailing List


Speaking of Culture is supported by: