“Celebrating Our Books, Recognizing Our Authors”

Renowned philosopher-author Appiah, WUSTL faculty discuss their books

Famed public intellectual Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, will present the keynote address Thursday, Nov. 29, for “Celebrating Our Books, Recognizing Our Authors,” Washington University’s 11th annual faculty book colloquium.

Organized by the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences and the Washington University Libraries, “Celebrating Our Books” also will feature new book presentations by two faculty authors and display all WUSTL faculty books published during the past three years.

The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge. A book signing and reception will follow the keynote address.

The two featured WUSTL faculty presenters are Mary Jo Bang, professor of English in Arts & Sciences, and Nancy Reynolds, PhD, associate professor of history, of Jewish, Islamic and near Eastern languages and cultures, and of women, gender and sexuality studies, all in Arts & Sciences.

Faculty books also will be displayed and available for purchase in the Washington University Campus Store.

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. To make a reservation, call (314) 935-5576 or email cenhum@artsci.wustl.edu.

Keynote address

Appiah, PhD, is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University and president of the PEN American Center, the internationally acclaimed literary and human rights association.

In his latest book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (2010), Appiah argues that honor and morality are two separate entities and that social reform stems more from evolving notions of honor than from a true understanding of morality.

As a scholar of African and African-American studies, Appiah established himself as an intellectual with a broad reach.

His prize-winning book In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (1992) and his collaborations with Henry Louis Gates Jr., including The Dictionary of Global Culture (1997) and Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999), are major works of African struggles for self-determination.

His seminal book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2007), is a moral manifesto for a world in which identity has become a weapon and where difference has become a cause of pain and suffering.

Cosmopolitanism won the Arthur Ross Book Award, the most significant prize given to a book on international affairs.

Appiah is a 2012 National Humanities Medal winner. He was featured in the documentary Examined Life and was named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals.

Faculty new book presentations

Bang is the author of Inferno: A New Translation (Graywolf Press, 2012).

She translated Inferno into English at a moment when the scope of popular culture is so wide that it has even turned Dante Alighieri, author of the 14th-century epic poem The Divine Comedy, into an action-adventure video game hero. Dante, a master of innovation, wrote his poem in vernacular Italian rather than literary Latin.

Bang’s translation is contemporary and accessible. She has matched Dante’s liberal use of allusion and literary borrowing by incorporating references familiar to contemporary readers: Shakespeare and Dickinson, Freud and South Park, Kierkegaard and Stephen Colbert.

Reynolds is the author of A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2012).

Reynolds specializes in social and cultural history of the modern Middle East, commerce and consumption in 20th-century Egypt, and urban and environmental history.

A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt is, as Zachary Lockman writes, a “pathbreaking study [that] explores the ways in which 20th-century Egyptians’ consumption practices helped shape their identities and their politics.”

Though now remembered as an act of anti-colonial protest leading to the Egyptian military coup of 1952, the fire that burned through downtown Cairo stores and businesses appeared to many people at the time as an act of urban self-destruction and national suicide. The logic behind this latter view has now been largely lost.

Reynolds’ close examination of struggles over dress customs and shopping habits reveals that nationhood coalesced informally from the conflicts and collaboration of mass consumers as well as from more institutional and prescriptive mandates.