Get inspired by the Spring Named Lecture Series

Mark your calendars! This spring, departments across Arts & Sciences are bringing in big speakers for their named lecture series. These memorial and distinguished lectureships allow us to broaden the conversation and research at the University by interjecting new ideas into our halls and classrooms. However, it can sometimes be hard to keep them all straight. Here’s a brief overview of some of the distinguished and memorial lecture series in Arts & Sciences coming this spring.


The Paul and Silvia Rava Memorial Lecture in Italian Studies
February 15: Deanna Shemek
Founded in 1997, the series was made possible through a generous endowment from Silvia Rava in the memory of her husband Paul. Paul Rava was born in Venice in 1911 and graduated in 1933 from the law school of the University of Padua. In 1940, he fled Mussolini’s racial laws and landed in the United States. Within a few years, he graduated from WashU’s law school, having received one ear of transfer credit for his Italian degree and teaching experience.
Past Speakers: Ellen Nerenberg, 2017; Alexander Stille, 2016; Jacob Soll, 2015


Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Colloquium
February 21: Persi Diaconis “Adding Numbers and Shuffling Cards”
Hosted by the mathematics department, this series was established by Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb as a general interest lecture for mathematicians in 2001. Carol, a mathematician and advocate of math and science in the St. Louis community, serves on the School of Medicine’s National Council and is a Life Member of the Washington University Danforth Circle Dean’s Level. Jerome Loeb, former chairman of the May Department Stores Co., died in 2004. The series includes two lectures, The Undergraduate Loeb Lecture in Mathematics and The Loeb Research Lecture in Mathematics.
Past Speakers: Erica Flapan, 2017; Robert DeVaney, 2016; Francis Su, 2015


The Annual William H. Matheson Lecture
February 26: Daniel Medin “Kafka from Puszta to Pampa”
February 27: Daniel Medin—Faculty Panel Discussion with Danielle Dutton and Martin Riker

This series is given in honor of the late Professor Matheson, who was a venerable member of comparative literature for 30 years. Each year, the lecture is a highlight of the comparative literature program’s academic events. In addition to the lecture, visiting scholars hold workshops and other meetings with students.
Past Speakers: Susan Bernofsky, 2016; Johanna Drucker, 2015; Shu-mei Shih, 2014


William Catron Jones Lecture
March 8: Marie Seong-Hak Kim "A Case for Korea in Comparative Legal History"
This series is hosted by East Asian Studies and co-sponsored with the Washington University Law School's Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies. The lecture honors the late Professor Jones for his contributions to Chinese legal studies.
Past Speakers: H.E. Judge Liu Daqun, 2017; Wen-Chen Chang, 2016; Curtis Milhaupt, 2015


Weltin Lecture
March 20: Elaine Pagels “Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of Revelation”
Professor E. G. Weltin retired from full-time teaching after a long distinguished career as professor of Greek and Roman history and director of the program in religious studies. Upon his retirement, this lectureship in early Christian history was established in his honor by gifts from his students in 2000.
Past Speakers: Caroline Schroeder, 2017; Elizabeth Digeser, 2016; J. Albert Harrill, 2015


Helen Clanton Morrin Lecture
March 26: Oskar Eustis
Helen Clanton Morrin, was a former writer, editor, public relations director and community service volunteer in St. Louis. From 1969 to 1988, Mrs. Morrin was executive director of the World Affairs Council in St. Louis. From 1934 to 1941, she was a feature writer and editor to the Globe-Democrat before transitioning the public information director for the Post-Dispatch. She also did public relations work with Fleishman-Hillard Inc., St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and several others.


McDonnell Distinguished Lecture Series
March 28: George Philander “The Hedgehog and the Fox: A Nelson mandela Perspective on Global Warming”
March 29: George Philander “The Precarious Present: Is Global Warming Inhibiting an Incipient Ice Age?"

The McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences sponsors the lecture series in memory of James Smith McDonnell, whose generous endowment led to the creation of the center in 1974.
Past Speakers: Bill McKinnon, 2017; John P. Grotzinger, 2016; Roger J. Phillips, 2015


Stanley Spector Memorial Lecture on East Asian History and Civilization
April 6: Peter K. Bol “Books and Biographies: Localizing China’s Intellectual History”
This series was founded in 1994 to honor Dr. Stanley Spector for his tremendous contributions to the creation and development of Asian Studies at WashU. Born in New York City in 1924, Spector earned a doctorate in East Asian history in 1954 from the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1955, he came to WashU, and he served as chair of the Department of Chinese and Japanese (now East Asian Languages and Cultures) from its inception in 1963 until 1973. He also served as chair of the Committee on Asian Studies and as director of International Studies from 1971 to 1989. He was granted emeritus status in 1989.
Past Speakers: Akiko Takenaka, 2017; Charles Armstrong, 2016; Valerie Hansen, 2015


Varner Lecture
April 9: Anja Greitmann
Joseph Varner joined the biology department of Washington University in 1973. He started with a small research group, and soon after arriving, he convinced then-chancellor William Danforth that he could build a first-rate plant biology program if the department were given additional faculty positions. Varner clearly saw that plant biology was nearing a new takeoff point, and he wanted WashU to be part of it. He attracted a number of first-rate junior plant biologists to the department, including Roger Beachy, Mary Dell Chilton, William Outlaw, and Virginia Walbot. The lecture series was established to honor and thank Varner.
Past Speakers: June Nasrallah, 2017; Elliot Meyerowitz, 2016; John Ralph, 2015


John and Penelope Biggs Residency in the Classics
April 11-13: Biggs Residency Reunion
Each spring, a prominent classics scholar visits the campus for a week as the John and Penelope Biggs Resident. The Resident offers lectures and interacts with students and faculty over the course of the week. Established in 1990, the Biggs Residency in the Classics is the gift of John and Penelope Biggs, alumni of Washington University. This year, fifteen former Biggs Residents in Classics will return for three days of scholarship and fellowship.
Past Speakers: Robert Wallace, 2017; Daniel Mendelsohn, 2016; David Sedley, 2015


The Isidore Silver Memorial Lecture
April 19

This series was established in 1999 through a generous bequest made to the Romance languages and literatures department by Edith Silver in memory of her late husband Professor Isidore Silver, a distinguished senior French colleague in the department. Professor Silver earned his doctorate in 1938 from Columbia University and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1948. By the time he joined Washington University in 1957, he was considered the world's leading authority on French Renaissance poet Ronsard.
Past Speakers: Cynthia Brown, 2015; Jean-Claude Carron, 2014; Edwin Duval, 2013


Viktor Hamburger Lecture in Biology
April 23: Eve Marder
Born in Germany, Viktor Hamburger attended the Universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Munich, and Freiburg. He earned his doctorate in zoology (experimental embryology) in 1925 from the University of Freiburg, where he studied with the renowned biologist and Nobel Laureate, Hans Spemann. As the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1932, Dr. Hamburger came to the US, and in 1935 he joined Washington University. Known for his pioneering work in experimental embryology, neuroembryology, and the study of programmed cell death, as well as his work on NGF with Rita Levi-Montalcine and Stanley Cohen, Dr. Hamburger served as chairman of the Department of Zoology at WashU from 1941-1966. Though he retired in 1969, he continued his research until the mid-1980s. He passed away in 2001, just short of his 101st birthday.
Past Speakers: Olivier Pourquié, 2017; Martyn Goulding, 2016; Barbara Meyer, 2015


The Kennedy Lecture Series 
May 4: Frank Stillinger
The lecture is given in memory and honor of the late Professor Joseph W. Kennedy, who served as chairman of the WashU Department of Chemistry from 1946 - 1956. Born in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1917, Kennedy made history with the discovery of the element plutonium along with his colleagues Arthur C. Wahl, and Glenn T. Seaborg. He was awarded the Medal for Merit by the President of the United States in 1946. Under his leadership, the department of Chemistry gained a new orientation, and it is now recognized not only for its commitment to high quality undergraduate education, but also to strong research programs and to education at the graduate level.
Past Speakers: Jon Clardy, 2017; Ernest J Moniz, 2013; Moungi G. Bawendi, 2011



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