This calendar features CHI-sponsored events. You can see our CHI Salon series at this link.

2021 - 2022

Tue, Oct 26, 2021

Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan: Poet Activists in Conversation

Due to COVID restrictions, this in-person event is for on-campus audiences only.

Off-campus participants: Please register in advance for the Zoom link to this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

Please join us for a reading and conversation with the co-authors of the collaborative feminist YA novel Watch Us Rise, which Kirkus called, “A manifesto for budding feminists . . . An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world.”

Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. Her books include Blooming Fiascoes, Hemisphere, Crowned, and Reckless, Glorious, Girl. She has had poems and essays published in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry Northwest and in the anthologies: She Walks in Beauty, Southern Sin and Women of Resistance. She received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry in 2020 and has received grants from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Ellen is the Director of the Poetry & Theatre Departments at the DreamYard Project and directs their International Poetry Exchange Program with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. She co-leads the Alice Hoffman Young Writer's Retreat at Adelphi University. Raised in Kentucky, she splits her time between Kentucky and New York City with her family. She can be found online at

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her poetry and fiction often center around the experiences of black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée served as Founder and Executive Director of I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts, from 2016-2019. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City. She can be found online at

Mon, Nov 15, 2021

headshot of Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley: A Reading and Conversation

Due to COVID restrictions, this in-person event is for on-campus audiences only.

Off-campus participants: Please register in advance for the Zoom link to this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

Please join us for a reading and conversation. Evie Shockley is a poet and scholar. Her most recent poetry collections are the new black (Wesleyan, 2011) and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017); both won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the latter was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the LA Times Book Prize. Her poetry has appeared internationally in print and audio formats, in English and in translation. She has received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from institutions including the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cave Canem. Shockley is Professor of English at Rutgers University. She can be found online at

“In semiautomatic, a 2018 Pulitzer finalist and the recent winner of the Hurston/Wright Award for Poetry, Evie Shockley repurposes literary and musical modes from across centuries of African-American and diasporic traditions. Given the choice between formal flawlessness and page-spanning sprawls, between autobiographical revelation and collective outcry, she welcomes the self-contradictions of being all the above." ―Christopher Spaide (Amherst College ’11), LA Review of Books

Tue, Nov 30, 2021

headshot of Dennis James Sweeney

Dennis James Sweeney: A Reading and Conversation

Due to COVID restrictions, this in-person event is for on-campus audiences only.

Off-campus particpants: Please register in advance for the Zoom link to this event.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

Please join us for a reading and conversation. Dennis James Sweeney is the author of In the Antarctic Circle, winner of the 2020 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, as well as four chapbooks of poetry and prose, including Ghost/Home: A Beginner's Guide to Being Haunted. His writing has appeared in Five Points, Ninth Letter, The New York Times, and The Southern Review, among others. A Small Press Editor of Entropy and former Fulbright Fellow in Malta, he has an MFA from Oregon State University and a PhD from the University of Denver. Originally from Cincinnati, he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he teaches at Amherst College. He can be found online at

“This elliptical, haunted document is as beautiful and dangerous as the cold continent of which it sings, whispering of loss, of loneliness, of identity, of extinction. A perfect Beckettian marriage between the spoken and the unspoken, the said and the unsayable, this sublime collection speaks as much from its white spaces as from its exquisitely ordered text. In the Antarctic Circle is an unforgettable experience from a master stylist.”
—Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion: A Novel

Fri, Jan 21, 2022

Baltic Sea

Baltic Musics after the Post-Soviet

until Jan 23 Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI)

“Baltic Musics After the Post-Soviet” is an international conference hosted virtually at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College on January 21-23, 2022. The conference brings together scholars and artists working in the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and areas connected by the Baltic Sea) and with Baltic musics to document and understand emerging worlds and narratives of Baltic music. The conference is organized by music professors Jeffers Engelhardt and Katherine Pukinskis.

Thu, Feb 17, 2022

Thirii Myint with colorful abstract in background

Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint: A Reading and Conversation

Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint is the author of a novel, The End of Peril, the End of Enmity, the End of Strife, a Haven (Noemi Press, 2018), which won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a book of creative nonfiction, Names for Light: A Family History (Graywolf Press, 2021), which was the winner of the 2018 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, and was named one of Kirkus Review’s best books of 2021, and was long listed for the 2022 PEN Open Book Award. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College.

Thu, Feb 24, 2022

LitFest logo

LitFest 2022

Now in its seventh year, Amherst’s annual literary festival celebrates the College’s extraordinary literary life by inviting distinguished authors and editors to discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression—from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and spoken-word performance. This year’s lineup includes Pulitzer Prize winners Natalie Diaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen; 2021 National Book Award nominees Katie Kitamura and Elizabeth McCracken; and journalists Vann Newkirk and David Graham.

Fri, Feb 25, 2022

Map of Iberian peninsula with national borders in shades of orange

Decolonizing Iberian Studies: Migration and Diaspora

This roundtable is part of a new multi-year initiative to rethink Iberian Studies for an antiracist context. It is organized by Professors Sara Brenneis and Catherine Infante. The series of presentations invites scholars to consider the pedagogical implications of decolonizing the field. This first roundtable focuses on “Migration & Diaspora,” bringing together four scholars at different stages of their careers on Early Modern and Contemporary Iberia.

Sat, Feb 26, 2022

Viet Thanh Nguyen headshot

The Art of Belonging: A Conversation about Race, Migration, and Fiction Writing with Pulitzer Prize Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen

Hosted by Jennifer Acker ’00, editor-in-chief of The Common, part of LitFest 2022 and in partnership with the Presidential Scholars Program.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the Pulitzer Prize, was a Dayton Literary Peace Prize winner and made the finalist list for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict. Nguyen is a MacArthur Fellow. Along with teaching at the University of Southern California, he works as a cultural critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times.

Thu, Mar 3, 2022

Perspectives on Race and Blackness in the Francophone World

4:00 pm Virtual

This event is part of the French Department's lecture series in honor of Professor Emerita Leah Hewitt and Professor Emeritus Jay Caplan. It is sponsored by the Georges S. Lurcy Lecture Fund, the Turgeon Lecture Fund, and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

Professor Lydie Moudileno
Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of French and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California Dornsife
“We All Wear the Crown: Longing for African Royalty in the Diasporic Imagination”

This talk will revisit a trope most notably deployed in late seventeenth and eighteenth century slave narratives and abolitionist literature: The “Royal African.” Tracking new iterations of this figure in post-1990s Francophone Caribbean fiction as well as in American popular culture, it will consider some of the ways in which forms of African nobility and claims to royal genealogies continue to seed and reinvent transnational discourses of blackness, modernity, and distinction.

Professor Andrew S. Curran
William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Wesleyan University
“The Bordeaux Academy of Sciences and the Great Race contest of 1741” (Prof. Curran)

In August of 1739, Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences publicized a “prize puzzle” in Europe’s best-known scientific journal. The subject was a riddle that had long perplexed Europeans: “what is the cause of the Sub-Saharan Africans’ peculiar hair texture and dark skin?” While this query theoretically limited itself to discussion of African physical features, what really preoccupied the Academy were three hidden questions: the first two were who is Black? and why? The third was an even bigger concern, namely, what did being black signify? In this talk, Curran will both explain the genesis of this competition and its wider relationship to the Enlightenment quest to define the human species.

Mon, Mar 7, 2022

Portrait in blue heavily designed shirt with door in background

Philip Metres: A Reading and Conversation

Philip Metres is the author of ten books, most recently Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon, 2020) which Library Journal described as “at once intimate and politically taut,” The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance, winner of the 2019 Evelyn Shakir Award (Arab American Book Award in Non-Fiction), Pictures at an Exhibition: A Petersburg Album, the widely-praised Sand Opera, and I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky. His work—including poetry, translation, essays, fiction, criticism, and scholarship—has garnered numerous awards, and his poems have been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Polish, Russian, and Tamil. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University. He lives with his family in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thu, Mar 31, 2022


Tiana Clark: A Reading and Conversation

The Kenyon Review described Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood as a book that “unearths what many have hoped to obscure and demands recognition for the fact that the echoes of slavery, segregation, and racism are not only in existence, but in fact, maintain our country’s personal and political realities today.” That book won the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Clark’s first book, Equilibrium, was selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. In addition to scholarships at Bread Loaf, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Frost Place Seminar, and Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Clark is the winner of the 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is the recipient of the 2021-2022 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, a 2019 Pushcart Prize, and is a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Clark is currently the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith College.

Wed, Apr 6, 2022

David Mills headshot

David Mills: A Reading and Conversation

David Mills is the author of The Sudden Country, The Dream Detective, After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems), and Boneyarn. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, The American Antiquarian Society, The Queens Council on the Arts and The Lannan Foundation. He has an MFA from Warren Wilson College. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Jubilat, Obsidian and Fence. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years and wrote the audio script for MacArthur-Genius-Award Winner Deborah Willis’ curated exhibition: Reflections in Black:100 Years of Black Photography, which was shown at the Whitney and Getty West Museums. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced Mr. Mills’ play The Serpent and the Dove. He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.

Wed, Apr 20, 2022

Portrait in sepia

Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi: A Reading and Conversation

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the award-winning author of the novel Call Me Zebra, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the John Gardner Award, was long listed for the PEN Open Book Award, was an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller and named a Best Book by over twenty publications. It is being translated into Japanese, Chinese, Turkish and Romanian and was published in the UK by Alma Books, a division of Bloomsbury. Her first novel, Fra Keeler, was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree. Her third novel, Savage Tongues, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in August. She received a Whiting Award in 2015, and her work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, a MacDowell Fellowship, and a Fellowship from Art OMI. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, GRANTA, Guernica, BOMB, and the Los Angeles Review of Books among other places. She currently teaches in the MFA program at University of Notre Dame and lives in Chicago.

Sun, May 1, 2022

Henny Lewin at microphone in light blue jacket

Conversation and Brunch with Holocaust Survivor Henia "Henny" Lewin

11:30 am Frost Library, CHI Think Tank

Join us this Sunday, May 1st, as we have a conversation and brunch with Henia “Henny” Lewin, a Holocaust survivor from what is now Lithuania. Lewin spent two years as a small child in the Kovno Ghetto before her mother smuggled her out to a Lithuanian Christian family. Reuniting with her family after the War, she first moved to Israel, then to Montreal, Canada, before settling down in Burlington, Vermont in 1968. Lewin spent 19 years at the University of Vermont as an instructor in Hebrew, and served as a Yiddish educator at the Yiddish Book Center at Hampshire College, and at the University of Massachusetts. She now speaks across New England on the topics surrounding the Holocaust and the resurgence of nationalism. Sponsored by Amherst Hillel and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

Wed, May 11, 2022

Fresco of Mary holding baby Jesus

The Virgin's Milk in Global Perspective: On the Fluidity of Images and the Politics of Divine Presence

All day Frost Library, CHI Think Tank

A daylong conference featuring contributors to The Virgin’s Milk in Global Perspective: On the Fluidity of Images and the Politics of Divine Presence, the volume co-edited by Visiting Professor of History Jutta Sperling. Keynote address by Elizabeth Bolman.

Organizers: Jutta Sperling, Mati Meyer, Vibeke Olson, Bronwen Gulkis.
In conjunction with the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies.
Funded by the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of History at Amherst College, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, the Time and Narrative Learning Collaborative at Hampshire College, and The Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College.

Keynote Lecture:
Liquid Flesh and the Medicine of Immortality: The Nursing Virgin Mary in Egypt

Elizabeth Bolman, Elsie B. Smith Professor in the Liberal Arts, Professor and Chair of Art History, Case Western Reserve University.
10am - 11:15am:

I. (In)Imitable Performances: Disembodied Breasts and Kinetic Lactations

1. The Radical Potential in Becoming: Disembodied Breasts and Maternal Femininity
Clare Johnson, University of the West of England
Jenny Rintoul, University of the West of England

2. Lactatio Performed – The Kinetics of the Melun Diptych
Roland Krischel, Walraff-Richartz Museum, Cologne
3. Milk, Blood and Dew in Male and Female Mystical Experience: Transference and Resignification of European Iconography in Seventeenth-Century Quito
Carmen Fernández-Salvador, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

11:15am – 12:30pm:

II. Iconographic Variance, Displaced Gestures, and (Dis)Identifications

4. Reassigning the Virgin’s Lactation in Byzantine Art
Mati Meyer, The Open University of Israel

5. The Virgo Lactans and Christ as a Mother: Suor Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper Chrystine L. Keener, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
6. Essence of Mary: The Visual and Poetic Evocation of Fluids in Armenian Art
Ioanna Rapti, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris.
7. The Virgin, the Unicorn, and some Potent Drops of Milk
Christine Stephan-Kaissis, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz


12:30-1:pm: Lunch Break


1pm - 2:15pm:
III. Function, Devotional Reception, and Patronage

8. The Lactating Virgin at Anzy-le-Duc: Nurturing the Devotees?
Gili Shalom, Tel Aviv University

9. The Nursing Virgin in the Crusader Era: A Middle Eastern Tradition?
Mat Immerzeel, Universiteit Leiden

10. The Madonna del Latte – the Nursing Virgin in Trecento Italy
Beth Williamson, University of Bristol

11. The Birgittine Tradition of the Nursing Madonna in Late Medieval Sweden
Jonas Carlquist, Umeå Universiteit
2:15pm - 3:30pm:

IV. Miracle-Working Images

12. Noetic Milk of the Virgin: Theotokos Galaktotrophousa of Hilandar Monastery
Fr. Nebojsa Tumara, Saint Athanasius College

13. Rethinking Saidnaya: An Oil-Pouring Icon and Its History
Michele Bacci, University in Fribourg, Switzerland

14. The Madonna del Ponte in Montevarchi
Tiziana Bonetti, Universität Luzern


3:30pm -4:15pm:

V. Milk of Sorrow, Milk of Creativity, Milk of Suffering: Decolonial, Feminist, and Gender-Fluid Approaches to the Visual Depiction of Lactation

15. Corporeal Address: The Aesthetics of Shocked Milk in Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow
Norman S. Holland, Hampshire College
Monique Roelofs, University of Amsterdam

16. Artemisia Gentileschi and the Metaphoric Female Breast
Mary D. Garrard, American University

17. Gender Fluid/Gendered Fluids: Considerations of Lactation and Bleeding as Exempla in the Devotional Art and Thought of the Late Middle Ages
Vibeke Olson, University of North Carolina, Wilmington


4:15pm - 5:30pm:

VI. Copies, Hybrids, and Global Circuits

18. The Nursing Virgin in Mugal India
Bronwen Gulkis, Bowdoin College

19. The Global Circulation of a Nursing Virgin after Robert Campin: Japan, Peru, and Ethiopia
Jutta Sperling, Amherst College


6pm: In-person contributors: DINNER! Location t.b.a.