Center expands mission

International Writers Center to become The Center for the Humanities

Under the guidance of its advisory board, the International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences at Washington University is expanding its mission, and to reflect this growth, changing its name as well.

In September, the International Writers Center will become The Center for the Humanities with the tag line: Dedicated to Letters and Humanistic Research and Their Presence in the Public Life.

To recognize its new mission and name and to show appreciation for those who have supported the center since its founding in October 1990, The Center for the Humanities will host a ceremony and celebration at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, in the Ann W. Olin Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

The Women’s Building is located just south of Throop Drive or north of the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-5576.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include brief remarks by Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University, Edward S. Macias, executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences, and Gerald L. Early, director of The Center for the Humanities. A reception will be held immediately following the remarks.

Although The Center for the Humanities will continue to focus on literature and the act of writing, it will expand its reach within the humanities to be more inclusive of other scholars and various segments of the larger community.

“The reason for the change is simple,” Early said. “The center is being redefined. It remains dedicated to letters, to things international, and to writers, and it will continue to have visiting writers, readings, and the like. But the center also wishes to broaden its outreach, not only to a variety of scholars on our campus, but to the community as well.”

One example of this new outreach was a conference on the Korean War that the center hosted last May. Co-sponsored by the Missouri Historical Society, the conference included talks by faculty from numerous disciplines and institutions in the St. Louis area as well as local veterans.

Future projects on children and film, the meaning of war, and public intellectuals are being planned. The center also hopes to launch semester-long visits by writers and scholars, and offer programs involving K through 12 education.

“What we want is not a different center, merely, but a better center,” Early said. “Our emphasis on the humanities is a reassertion of what I think is the core of education itself: reading, writing, and what it means to do either and how both make meaning.”

The Center for the Humanities will continue to produce the bi-monthly review Belles Lettres: a Literary Review and the monthly newsletter The Figure in the Carpet, which features the St. Louis Literary Calendar.

The center will maintain its commitment to fostering literary communities within the university and around St. Louis. In addition, as reflected in its updated mission statement, The Center for the Humanities will embrace a variety of humanistic pursuits:

The Center for the Humanities at Washington University
is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of humanistic
thinking and the pursuit of letters as essential activities in the
intellectual, political, and artistic life of this university, the
community it serves, and the world.

“We are very excited about this new direction,” Early said. “It shows how much faith the advisory board has in the center and how much potential the center has to be a compelling voice for the humanities on the campus and in St. Louis.”

Center advisory board members are: Nancy Berg, associate professor in Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences at Washington University; Ken Botnick, associate professor in the School of Art; Letty Chen, assistant professor in Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures;

Don Fehr, senior editor and director of the Smithsonian Institution Press; Daniel Halpern, publisher and editorial director of The Ecco Press; Robert Henke, associate professor in the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences; Larry May, professor in philosophy in Arts & Sciences; Angela Miller, associate professor in art history and archaeology in Arts & Sciences; Linda Nicholson, Stiritz Distinguished Professor in Women’s Studies and History in Arts & Sciences;

Dolores Pesce, professor in music in Arts & Sciences; Carl Phillips, professor in English in Arts & Sciences; Joe Pollack, KWMU-FM theatre & film critic; Jeff Smith, associate professor in PAD and director of Film and Media Studies; Jim Wertsch, Marshall S. Snow Professor of Arts & Sciences; and ex officio, Edward S. Macias.

Beginning Sept. 1, the center’s e-mail address will be and its Web site address will be