Humanities professor will deliver University Lecture March 21.
President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley announced the appointment of comparative literature professor Gayatri Chakravorkty Spivak as University Professor, the institution’s highest faculty rank, on March 9. The appointment, approved by the Trustees at their March meeting, recognizes exceptional scholarly merit and distinguished service to Columbia.
“Gayatri Chakravorkty Spivak’s commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship, at the most creative levels, and a life of civic engagement—including in her native India—embodies Columbia’s mission of teaching, scholarship, and service to the broader world community,” said President Bollinger. “Through her new role as University Professor, I hope and expect more students will be able to experience her imaginative mind and spirit.”
“Gayatri is a world-renowned scholar who is also a highly valued member of our scholarly community,” Provost Brinkley added. “These are exactly the qualities that characterize our remarkable group of past and present University Professors at Columbia.”
University Professors serve Columbia as a whole rather than a specific faculty or department. Current University Professors are: Eric R. Kandel, T.D. Lee, R. Kent Greenawalt, Ronald C.D. Breslow, Simon Schama, Richard Axel, Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Wayne A. Hendrickson, Robert A. Mundell, Joseph E. Stiglitz, and Rosalind E. Krauss. Past University Professors have included Jacques Barzun, Meyer Schapiro, and Lionel Trilling.
Spivak will deliver a University Lecture titled “Thinking about the Humanities” on Wednesday, March 21, at 6:15 pm in Low Memorial Library Rotunda. Registration, which is required, can be made online at https://www.college.columbia.edu/calendar3/projects/upe/spivak.php.
Spivak is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. She received her B.A. in English (Honors) from Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1959, her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University in 1967, and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto and the University of London, as well as many additional honors. Her fields of academic inquiry include feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, and globalization.
The focus of Spivak’s work has concentrated on the use of education in the humanities as the most effective weapon to combat the legacy of imperialism. Her influence has been felt in art and architecture, law and political science, and in curatorial practices around the globe. A committed activist as well as a renowned scholar, Spivak contributes her time and efforts to the international women’s movement, the struggle for ecological justice, and rural literacy in India.
Spivak’s books, authored and translated, include: Myself Must I Remake (1974); Of Grammatology (translation with critical introduction of Jacques Derrida, De la grammatologie, 1976); In Other Worlds (1987); Selected Subaltern Studies (ed., 1988); The Post-Colonial Critic (1990); Thinking Academic Freedom in Gendered Post-Coloniality (1993); Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993); translations of Mahasweta Devi’s Imaginary Maps (1994), Breast Stories (1997); Old Women (1999), and Chotti Munda and His Arrow (2002); The Spivak Reader (1995); A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999); Song for Kali: A Cycle (translation with introduction of Ramproshad Sen, 2000); Death of a Discipline (2003); Other Asias and An Aesthetic Education (forthcoming).
Spivak’s appointment takes effect July 1.