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The Alexander Grass Humanities Institute is a focal point for the 10 world-renowned humanities departments at Johns Hopkins, other dynamic departments in the humanistic social sciences, and related centers and programs. The institute sponsors scholarly meetings, public events, visiting scholars, and student fellowships and research projects.

Upcoming AGHI-sponsored Events

A complete calendar of all humanities-related events, including all AGHI-sponsored events, happening at Johns Hopkins is available on our events page.

Humanities in the Village: Francesco Brenna – What Does Literature Do? The Renaissance and the Value of Literature Today
Jul 29 @ 7:00 pm Bird in Hand

The Ivy Bookshop, Bird in Hand, and the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute present the latest installment of Humanities in the Village, welcoming Francesco Brenna to deliver a talk entitled What Does Literature Do? The Renaissance and the Value of Literature Today.

Does literature participate in the quest for truth and knowledge? How does it compare to other disciplines? Is it distinguished from them merely by being fictional? Francesco Brenna will discuss how Renaissance reflections on poetry, which are marked by a theoretical rigorousness and artistic ambition that are rarely-matched, can help us define the value of literature in today’s climate, when the arts do not rank on the same level as other endeavors that offer knowledge and data to address pressing social, political, economical, or environmental concerns, and when fiction—“fake news” and “alternative facts”—is associated with misinformation and manipulation.

Francesco Brenna obtained a Ph.D. in Italian Studies from the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University and will start teaching in the Department of French and Italian at Indiana University Bloomington from the next academic year. He has published and presented on Renaissance treatises on poetry, chivalric romances, and epic poems (Pulci, Ariosto, Tasso, and John Milton). He is also interested in the relationships between poetry and film and between Italian poetry and soccer.

Humanities Highlights
Humanities Stories from Across Hopkins

Textual scholar Stephen Nichols makes the case for digitizing manuscripts

Textual scholar Stephen Nichols makes the case for digitizing manuscripts

From The Hub:

Call it the Villon epiphany. François Villon was a 15th-century French poet. His work has been passed down in many hand-scribed manuscripts, but none of them are originals in the author’s hand. On an autumn day in 1980, Stephen Nichols was in Paris studying different parchment manuscripts of the poet’s Le Testament. Like all textual scholars of the day, Nichols, who is now a Johns Hopkins professor emeritus in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, often worked from a modern critical edition of Villon’s work; that is, a text assembled from multiple sources by scholars and meant to represent the definitive version that Villon intended. “I was astounded to see the way the texts had been prepared and presented in the critical edition, which tied them up very nicely and gave them endings,” Nichols says. “In the [actual medieval] manuscripts, I couldn’t find those endings! I suddenly realized that editors, starting in the early 19th century, couldn’t stand that a literary work didn’t have a nice ending. And I realized that I was looking at evidence that in the Middle Ages, people had a high tolerance for just reading poems that didn’t have to have a neat beginning, middle, and ending.”

News & Events

Creating a Space for the Humanities by Dr. Egginton

William Egginton, Decker Professor in the Humanities, reflects on the opening of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins University and its contributions to students, faculty, and community programming at a STEM-oriented campus.

Want to fix the tech industry? Start with the humanities.

The humanities are central to our conceptions of technology and science. Steve Jobs once proclaimed that “technology alone is not enough.” Creating a better world, he repeatedly stressed, requires focus on people as well as technology, on the humanities as well as the sciences.