International Writers Center becomes The Center for the Humanities

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

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.

Gerald Early
Gerald Early

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. Sept. 2 in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include brief remarks by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton; Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences; and Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., 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.

Advisory board members

The Center for the Humanities advisory board members:

Nancy Berg, associate professor in Asian and Near Eastern languages and literatures in Arts & Sciences; 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 in Arts & Sciences; Larry May, professor in philosophy in Arts & Sciences; Angela Miller, associate professor in art history and archaeology in Arts & Sciences; Linda J. Nicholson,, the 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 theater and film critic; Jeff Smith, associate professor in the PAD and director of Film and Media Studies in Arts & Sciences; James V. Wertsch, the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences; and ex officio, Edward S. Macias, executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences.

“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 in 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 to offer programs involving K-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 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 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 the 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.”

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