Annual Richard A. Macksey Lecture

The Annual Richard A. Macksey Lecture draws esteemed scholars from across the humanities and humanistic social sciences, amplifying those teachers and researchers who are leaders at higher-learning institutions around the country and across the world. Invited Macksey Lecture speakers take to the podium to share insights about the state of their disciplinary field(s), the wider landscape of higher education, and the broad social and political moment in which they speak. Recent Macksey lecturers have included Professors Judith Butler (video available below), Elaine Scarry, and Robert Pogue Harrison.

This annual lecture series honors the late JHU titan Professor Richard A. Macksey (1931–2019), co-founder of the Humanities Center (now Department of Comparative Thought & Literature) and beloved teacher and colleague for more than 50 years. Recalling Prof. Macksey’s versatile intellectual work, AGHI supports this lecture to further discussions that reach across disciplinary boundaries and instead spotlight the forefront of critical conversations each year.

2024 Macksey Lecture

Stay tuned for updates about our speaker for 2024—to be announced very soon!

Past Macksey Lecturers

2023 — Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah (man in blue suit) standing in afternoon sunlight with his profile framed in shadow and light against the wall.

We extend our warmest thanks to last year’s Macksey lecturer, Dr. K. Anthony Appiah. On March 9, 2023 Dr. Appiah joined us to deliver a talk entitled, “Whose Heritage? Preservation, Possession, and Peoples”—discussing the “attitudes” and principles behind the matter of cultural heritage, repatriation, and global communities of cosmopolitanism.

Kwame Anthony Appiah is a Professor of Philosophy and Law at NYU. Professor Appiah was born in London, where his parents met, but moved as an infant to Kumasi, Ghana, where he grew up, and where his three sisters were born. He took BA and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy at Cambridge and has taught philosophy in Ghana, France, Britain, and the United States, with professorships at Yale, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, and Princeton. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. His most recent book is The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity. 

2022 — Judith Butler

Butler, “Endangered Scholarship, Academic Freedom, and the Life of Critique” [Full video below]

2021 — Tiya Miles, “This Sack”: Reconstructing Enslaved Women’s Lives through Objects

2019 — Elaine Scarry, “Imagining Color”

2018 — Robert Pogue Harrison, “The Mind in Love: Reflections on the Universe”

2017 — Dan-el Padilla Peralta, “Undocumented”: on “a vocabulary and a language with which to resist the deadening objectification that is the immigration state.” [Full video below]