The Mary Flexner Lectures of Bryn Mawr College

Established in honor of Mary Flexner, a Bryn Mawr graduate of the class of 1895, the Lectureship has featured some of the world’s best-known humanists. The pioneering Egyptologist James H. Breasted gave the first series of Mary Flexner Lectures in 1928–29, followed in later years by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Arnold Toynbee, Isaiah Berlin, Paul Henry Lang, Douglas Cooper, Natalie Zemon Davis, and Harold Bloom, among others.

Holders of the Mary Flexner Lecturership typically give a series of talks that introduce their unique scholarship and present new chapters or developments in that work. While in residence, they often lead seminars or discussions with undergraduate and graduate students. The books presented here build on the scholarship presented during each scholar’s Flexner Lectures.

Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.

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Cover: Experiments in Ethics

Experiments in Ethics

Appiah, Kwame Anthony

Appiah explores how new empirical moral psychology relates to the age-old project of philosophical ethics, urging that the relation between empirical research and morality, now so often antagonistic, should be seen in terms of dialogue, not contest. He thereby shows how experimental philosophy is actually as old as philosophy itself.

Cover: Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia

Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the court was the crucial site where expanding Eurasian states and empires met and made sense of one another. Richly illustrated, Courtly Encounters provides a fresh cross-cultural perspective on early modern Islam, Counter-Reformation Catholicism, Protestantism, and a newly emergent Hindu sphere.

Cover: Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly

Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly

Butler, Judith

Judith Butler elucidates the dynamics of public assembly under prevailing economic and political conditions. Understanding assemblies as plural forms of performative action, she extends her theory of performativity to show why precarity—destruction of the conditions of livability—is a galvanizing force and theme in today’s highly visible protests.

Cover: A Feminist Theory of Refusal

A Feminist Theory of Refusal

Honig, Bonnie

Bonnie Honig invigorates debate over the politics of refusal by insisting that withdrawal from unjust political systems be matched with collective action to change them. Historical and fictional characters from Muhammad Ali to the Bacchants of ancient Greek tragedy teach us how to turn rejection into transformative efforts toward self-governance.

Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization, by David Livingstone Smith, from Harvard University Press

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Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene