Humanities Institute

Cline Centennial Visiting Professorship in the Humanities


Doris Sommer, PhD
Rita Charon, MD, PhD
Naomi Klein
Laurie Anderson
Paul Farmer, MD, PhD
Seymour Hersh
Lawrence Wright
Richard Schechner, PhD
Shirin Ebadi, JD
Sekou Sundiata

Past Lectures

 Doris Sommer2018-2019: Doris Sommer

"Pre-Texts in a Dublin Prison: StoryDads Tell Tall Tales"

The Humanities Institute welcomed Doris Sommer as the tenth C.L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor. Sommer's residency was co-sponsored by the Blanton Museum of Art.

Dr. Sommer's Cline residency was April 2-6, 2019. On April 3, she gave a public lecture, "Pre-Texts in a Dublin Prison: StoryDads Tell Tall Tales." The lecture was the second in the Humanities Institute's Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Series on the theme "Narrative and Social Justice." The following day, she led discussion at the Faculty Fellows Seminar. On April 6, she conducted a workshop, "Reading through Art," for children over the age of eight and adults. Both events took place at the Blanton Museum of Art. 

Dr. Sommer is the Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University. She is known for her focus on the intersectionality of public agency, arts and humanities, and cultural minorities. Some of Sommer's works include Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education (2004), Proceed with Caution when Engaged by Minority Literature (1999) on a rhetoric of particularism, and Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (1991) about novels that helped to consolidate new republics. 

Her most recent book, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (2014) discusses her project Pre-texts, an arts-based training program for teachers of literacy, critical thinking, and citizenship. Among the cases covered in the book are top-down initiatives of political leaders, such as those launched by Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and also bottom-up movements like the Theatre of the Oppressed created by the Brazilian director, writer, and educator Augusto Boal

Read a "Thinking in Community" blog post about Dr. Sommer's visit here

Watch a video of the "Reading through Art" workshop here.


Rita Charon2016-2017: Dr. Rita Charon

"The Shock of Attention: Bodies, Stories, Healing"

In September 2016, the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin welcomed Rita Charon as its ninth C.L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor. The professorship was co-sponsored by the English Department and its Texas Institute for Textual and Linguistic Studies.

Dr. Charon is a physician and literary scholar. She founded and directs the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she is also a professor of clinical medicine.

Her innovative approach to patient care uses storytelling to create empathy and understanding between physician and patient. She is author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illnessand editor-in-chief of Literature and Medicine. She is also the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residence and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Dr. Charon was in residence at the Humanities Institute from September 19-23. While in residence, she participated in the Humanities Institute Difficult Dialogues Public Forum, "What is a Caring Society"?, held on Monday, September 19th; she delivered a Distinguished Public Lecture, “The Shock of Attention: Bodies, Stories, and Healing,” on Wednesday, September 21st; and she gave a kenynote address at the Symposium on Literature and Medicine, an all-day event organized by TILTS, on Friday, September 23rd.

Dr. Charon's lecture is available for viewing below. 

Naomi Klein2015-2016: Naomi Klein

"This Changes Everything"

The Humanities Institute welcomed internationally known author and activist Naomi Klein as the eighth C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. As part of her tenure, Klein delivered a public lecture on Wednesday, November 11. She also attended a student discussion on Thursday, November 12th, leading a discussion on the themes of her new book and documentary "This Changes Everything." The Humanities Institute also hosted two film screenings of her new documentary on Tuesday, Nobember 10th.

Naomi Klein Klein’s first two books, No Logo (1999) and The Shock Doctrine (2007), were international hits, with each book being translated into dozens of languages and selling over 1 million copies. The Shock Doctrine exposes the ulterior motives of the neoliberal economic paradigm—not to bring freedom and democracy to developing countries, but to exploit their labor and resources through austerity politics. Often, the imposition of this neoliberal paradigm occurs in places recently impacted by disasters, whether natural or purposely instigated. Thus, Klein’s neologism of “disaster capitalism.”

Klein's most recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (Simon & Schuster 2014), argues that our current economic model threatens our very existence: "Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews. Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war." Along with an analysis of the many ways in which neoliberal policies promote actions that contribute to—and sometimes cause—environmental disasters, Klein provides concrete examples of ways in which people across the world are joining together to challenge these policies.

To learn more about Naomi Klein, please visit her website,

To learn more about This Changes Everything, please visit:

Dr. Klein's lecture is available for viewing below. 

Laurie Anderson2013-2014: Laurie Anderson

The Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin was delighted to welcome Laurie Anderson as its seventh C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. Anderson visied Austin three times during her residency and participated in a variety of public and University events.

A graduate of Barnard College with an MFA in sculpture from Columbia University, Anderson is an experimental performing artist and composer renowned for her innovative use of technology in the arts. This includes incorporating such devices as elaborate installation pieces, voice filters, and improvised musical instruments. Throughout her career she has cast herself in roles as wide-ranging as poet, composer, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist, and instrumentalist.

Over the past three decades, Anderson has performed throughout the United States and internationally. Some of her notable works include United States I-VEmpty PlacesThe Nerve Bible, and Songs and Stories for Moby Dick. She has also presented a number of acclaimed solo works, including Happiness, which premiered in 2001.

Anderson’s visual work has been featured by several museums in the U.S. and Europe, including a retrospective at The Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon in France, entitled The Record of the Time: Sound in the Work of Laurie Anderson, as well as an exhibition at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, entitled The Waters Reglitterized. She has published six books, among them Night Life and Stories from the Nerve Bible: A Twenty-Year Retrospective, and has released seven albums through Warner Brothers, most recently “Homeland” and “Big Science.”

She received the 2001 Tenco Prize for Songwriting in San Remo, Italy and the 2001 Deutsche Schallplatten prize for Life on a String, in addition to grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA, out of which she developed her solo performance “The End of the Moon,” which premiered in 2004 and toured internationally through 2006.

The first phase of her residency, from September 9-11, 2013, included a seminar with University faculty and graduate students, and a public showing of Laurie Anderson: Collected Films and Videos, followed by a question-and-answer session. The second visit, from September 25-27, featured discussions with faculty and students, and the opening of the Landfall exhibit at the Visual Arts Center. During her final visit, from October 15-17, Anderson performed with Kronos Quartet in the Texas premiere of Landfall at the Bass Concert Hall. There will be talk-backs after the performance and the following morning (photo: Laurie Anderson performing with Kronos Quartet).

Major support for Laurie Anderson's residency is provided by Texas Performing Arts, the Visual Arts Center, the C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professorship in the Humanities, the Sterling Clark Holloway Centennial Lectureship in Liberal Arts, the Viola S. Hoffman and George W. Hoffman Lectureship in Liberal Arts and Fine Arts, the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of Art and Art History.

To learn more about Laurie Anderson and her work, please visit her official website. A recent interview with Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith on "Overheard" can be viewed here.

Paul Farmer2012-2013: Dr. Paul Farmer

"Haiti After the Earthquake: Healthcare as a Human Right"

The Humanities Institute of The University of Texas at Austin welcomed Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, as its sixth C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. On April 22, 2013, Dr. Farmer participated in several public and University-specific events on the topics of social medicine, global health, and healthcare as a human right.

Dr. Farmer is a medical anthropologist and physician whose efforts to provide access to optimal healthcare to underserved communities have led to the improvement of life across the globe.  A co-founder of the global health advocacy group, Partners In Health, Dr. Farmer also chairs the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Farmer’s work focuses on community-based treatment strategies for infectious diseases in resource-poor settings. His research highlights the role of social inequalities in determining disease distribution and outcomes.  He served as the United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti from 2009 to 2012.  The author of numerous books and articles, his 2006 book, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor was awarded the distinguished J. I. Staley Prize for the outstanding book in anthropology.  Dr. Farmer is also the subject of Tracy Kidder’s 2003 best-seller Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.

Dr. Farmer participated in a discussion with students, met with a group of UT faculty and area medical and social professionals, and delivered a lecture, "Haiti After the Earthquake: Healthcare as a Human Right."

To learn more about Dr. Paul Farmer's work please visit his faculty page at Harvard University and the Partners In Health website.

Seymour Hersh2011-2012: Seymour Hersh

"Year Ten of GWOT – the Bush/Cheney/Obama Global War on Terrorism: A Progress Report:

The Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin was delighted to welcome Seymour Hersh as the fifth C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. He was in residency at the University of Texas the week of March 18, 2012.

As a distinguished journalist specializing in military and national security issues, Mr. Hersh has received several awards for his investigative reporting. As a New York Times reporter, he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his exposure and coverage of the My Lai Massacre. A regular contributor to The New Yorker, Mr. Hersh uncovered the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in a 2004 series published in that magazine. In addition, he is the author of multiple books in his field of investigation. He has received multiple awards, including two National Magazine Awards, five George Polk Awards for Journalism, and the 2004 George Orwell award.

While in residency, Mr. Hersh participated in a variety of public and University-specific events. On Monday, March 19, at 7:00pm, he engaged in a public discussion with Dr. Robert Jenson of the UT Journalism Department at the Third Coast Activist Resource Center, 5604 Manor Road. On Thursday, March 22, at 7:00pm, he delivered the Plan II Glickman Centennial Lecture at the AT&T Conference Center. Additionally during his stay in Austin, Mr. Hersh met with the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellows, speak to participants in the Free Minds Project, and attended a graduate seminar in the Journalism School.

For more information, please call 471-8524 or email us at

Click here to download a pdf of the 2011-12 Cline Vistiting Professor, Seymour Hersh events.

Lawrence Wright2010-2011: Lawrence Wright

"Aftershocks: Legacies of Conflict"

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

He is a graduate of Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the American University in Cairo, where he taught English and received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics in 1969. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1971, Wright began his writing career at the Race Relations Reporter in Nashville, Tennessee. Two years later, he went to work for Southern Voices, a publication of the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, Georgia, and began to freelance for various national magazines. In 1980, Wright returned to Texas to work for Texas Monthly. He also became a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. In December 1992, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, where he published a number of notable articles, which have won him the National Magazine Award for Reporting as well as the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, and Overseas Press Club’s Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine reporting.

Wright is the co-writer (with Ed Zwick and Menno Meyjes) of The Siege, starring Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Annette Bening, which appeared in November 1998. He also wrote the script of the Showtime movie, Noriega: God's Favorite, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Bob Hoskins, which aired in April 2000. He is currently working on a script for Ridley Scott.

His history of al-Qaeda, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Knopf, 2006) was published to immediate and widespread acclaim, spending eight weeks on The New York Times best seller list and being translated into twenty-five languages. It was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Lionel Gelber Award for nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Award for History, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. The NYU School of Journalism recently honored the book as one of the ten best works of journalism in the previous decade.

In 2006, he premiered his one-man play, "My Trip to al-Qaeda," at The New Yorker Festival, and then enjoyed a sold-out six-week run at the Culture Project in Soho. It has been made into a documentary film, directed by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, and will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

Wright has published six previous books. City Children, Country Summer (Scribner's, 1979), In the New World: Growing Up with America, 1960-1984 (Knopf, 1988), Saints & Sinners (Knopf, 1993), Remembering Satan (Knopf, 1994), Twins: Genes, Environment, and the Mystery of Identity (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1997; Wiley & Sons, 1998), and God's Favorite (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

Wright is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves as the keyboard player in the Austin-based blues band, Who Do.

(Courtesy of Mr. Wright's official web site.)

Richard Schechner2009-2010: Dr. Richard Schechner

"Dionysus in '69 and '09: Looking Back, Looking Forward"

The Humanities Institute was pleased to welcome Professor Richard Schechner, a C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. The University Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Schechner is a founding figure in the interdisciplinary field of performance studies. While on campus in November and December, Professor Schechner offered a public lecture in the Humanities Institute's Distinguished Visiting Lecture series on November 13 and participated in two public discussions on November 17.

In conjunction with his residency in Austin, Rude Mechanicals be recreated The Performance Group's interpretation of The Bacchae, entitled Dionysus in 69. Created collectively and directed by Schechner, Dionysus in 69 ran for a year and a half from 1967 to 69. It is widely regarded as one of the germinal works of American experimental theatre. Rude Mechanicals remounted the piece as faithfully as possible to the original production. Schechner led the Rudes in several workshops and rehearsals leading up to the production, which wasl directed by Shawn Sides, who studied with Schechner while studying performance studies at NYU, and Madge Darlington, a graduate of UT. He will gave a pre-show talk at the opening on December 4, participated in talk backs on December 5 and 6, and participated in a screening and discussion of Brian de Palma's film of the 1969 production on December 6. He also offered an informal introduction to the NYU program in Performance Studies on December 4.

Schechner's experimental approach to the theory and production of performance incorporates a broad multicultural perspective on the purpose of performance, and is undergirded by an interdisciplinary combination of anthropology, sociology, psychology, folklore, popular culture, feminist and queer theory, post-colonial studies, cultural studies, theater, and dance. One of Schechner's most significant contributions is his ability both to draw from these disparate disciplines and to refigure the relations among these fields.

Shechner is known for harnessing the vast amount of theoretical and practical work that has come before him, bringing it to his productions without being shackled by the conventions and assumptions of what theatre is or should be. Dionysus in 69 showcases one of Schechner's six axioms for environmental theatre, that "all the space is used for performance" through groundbreaking and innovative audience/performer interactions.

Schechner founded the Performance Studies department at NYU, which has been emulated in dozens of programs in the U.S. and Europe. He is also the artistic director of East Coast Artists (New York), editor of TDR (The Drama Review), and general editor of the Worlds of Performance series (Routledge). His numerous publications include, among others, the books Environmental Theater, Between Theater and Anthropology, The Future of Ritual: Writings on Culture and Performance, and Performance Studies: An Introduction. As a theater director, Schechner has directed over twenty professional productions, many of which, like Dionysus in 69, are new creations of classic works.

Shirin Ebadi2008-2009: Dr. Shirin Ebadi

"Democracy and Iran in the Middle East"

In collaboration with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Humanities Institute co-sponsored a six day campus residency by Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi during the last week of April, 2009. A courageous and accomplished civil rights activist and lecturer in law at the University of Tehran, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her pioneering efforts to advance democracy and human rights—especially the rights of women and children—in post-revolutionary Iran. During her residency at UT, Ebadi held the Humanities Institute’s C. L. and Henriette Cline Visiting Professorship in the Humanities. Dr. Ebadi’s residency included a public lecture, conversations with interested student, faculty, and community organizations, as well as panel discussions on such topics as the history and future of U. S.-Iranian relations and 21st century global challenges to the rights of women and children. Ebadi’s visit also built on and culminate a year of HI-sponsored or co-sponsored forums on aspects of its 2008-9 theme, Ethical Life in a Global Society.

Among the most visible and prominent women in the Islamic world, Shirin Ebadi first achieved distinction in the mid-1970s as the first woman judge to preside over a legislative court in Iran. Nearly thirty years later, she became the first Iranian, the first Shia, and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Prize. A supporter of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Ebadi nonetheless was stripped of her judgeship and of her license to practice law when conservative clerics prevailed in their interpretation of Islam as forbidding legal practice by women. Refusing to leave Iran, Ebadi raised a family and boldly fought for legal and human rights reform throughout the 1980s and, in 1992, succeeded in regaining her law license. A frequent defense counsel for Iranian liberals and dissidents and plaintiff’s counsel for victims of civil and human rights abuses. Ebadi helped establish two non-governmental organizations in Iran, the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) and the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), and drafted the original text of a law against physical abuse of children, which was passed by the Iranian parliament in 2002. She is the author of numerous books and articles—including two recent works for Western audiences, Democracy, Human Rights, and Islam and a moving and illuminating personal account of her experience of the Iranian Revolution, Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (512) 471-2654

Sekou Sundiata2006-2007: Sekou Sundiata

The 51st (dream)

In his most recent work, The America Project, Sundiata contemplates America, its place in the world, and the simultaneous and sometimes competing challenges of being an individual and a citizen. The project has two aspects: a multimedia stage performance entitled The 51st (dream) state, and a series of community activities called The America Project as an Arts, Humanities, and Civic Dialogue. The two components are meant to work in tandem to appeal to the imagination and the intellect, to cause reaction and reflection.

Sundiata and his company of actors, singers, dancers, and instrumentalists presented The 51st (dream) state at UT's Hogg Auditorium on Wednesday evening, February 28, 2007. The 51st (dream) state featured a cycle of songs, poems and monologues, still and moving images projected on multiple surfaces, and filmed dance. The public engagement portion of the project consisted of creative forums and civic interaction, such as "envisioning the future" workshops at participating local educational, community, religious, and business organizations, community forums, poetry circles, citizenship dinners, and a symposium, "A Day of Art and Ideas," to bring together art and civic dialogue around the themes of The 51st (dream) state performance.

Many of these events took place during Sundiata's weeks in residence as the holder of the Cline Centennial Visiting Professorship in the Humanities. The dates of the residency were November 27-31; February 8-18; and the two days following The 51st (dream) state performance—March 1 and 2.

The America Project, Sundiata explained, is "an extension of my work as a Public Artist, and of my interest in defining what it means to be a university-based artist and a citizen." Examining what he calls "a longstanding estrangement between American civic ideals and American civil practice" is vital in today's America. For him, it is "a civic responsibility to think about these things out loud, in the ritualized forum of theater and public dialogue." The Humanities Institute was proud to host Sekou Sundiata, whose poetry, music, and performances have their origins, according to Bill Moyers, "at the headwaters of the soul."

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