Salman Rushdie, David Simon, Alice Waters Headline UVA-Hosted Humanities Celebration

Author Salman Rushdie, Emmy-winning writer and producer David Simon, and celebrated chef Alice Waters headline the humanities celebration being held at UVA in September.

Internationally acclaimed author Salman Rushdie, Emmy Award-winning writer and producer (and creator of HBO’s “The Wire”) David Simon, and celebrated chef, author and National Humanities Medalist Alice Waters will be among more than 50 special guests participating in Human/Ties, a three-day celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities to be held Sept. 14-17 at the University of Virginia and venues throughout Charlottesville.

A public forum on the humanities and their evolving role in public life, Human/Ties will feature lectures, symposia, film screenings, performances, interactive discussions and other events exploring how the humanities help make sense of an increasingly complex world. The forum’s events will be free and open to the public, thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation combined with additional commitments from UVA and the NEH totaling $250,000.

 “The University of Virginia is proud to help celebrate this milestone anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities with this unique series of events,” said University President Teresa A. Sullivan. “This is an opportunity for members of the UVA community and the larger Charlottesville community to engage in conversations about the major issues of our time while considering the enduring value of the humanities.”

NEH Chairman William Adams said: “The NEH is grateful to the Mellon Foundation and to the University of Virginia for funding and leading the planning of this public forum to celebrate the history of the endowment. Nothing is more central to the future of the humanities than demonstrating their relevance to public life. We look forward to the work and insights of the forum.”

Human/Ties will provide a forum for writers, leading thinkers, scholars, museum directors, filmmakers, and community leaders to show how the humanities are essential for thinking about some of the nation’s and the world’s biggest challenges, including issues of race, war, citizenship, technology and the environment.  

“We are delighted to share the exciting news that Salman Rushdie, David Simon, and Alice Waters will be among our many guests for Human/Ties,” said Chad Wellmon, an associate professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at UVA and chair of the Human/Ties Planning Committee. “These extraordinary artists are emblematic of the various ways in which the humanities are both woven into, and inform our culture, and they each in their own ways capture the spirit of what the NEH has been doing for 50 years and will continue to do in the future –– support the work of the humanities for the common good.”

Coinciding with the final months of the presidential election campaign, Human/Ties will also focus on the issues of citizenship and democracy. UVA’s Miller Center is partnering with the forum for a “How Have America’s Presidents Used the Humanities to Govern?” panel discussion featuring esteemed presidential scholars Annette Gordon Reed (Thomas Jefferson), NEH grantee Ed Ayers (Abraham Lincoln) and Sid Milkis (Theodore Roosevelt). 

The Miller Center session will be bookended by a two-part panel discussion titled “How Can History Guide the 45th President?” in which the Miller Center will bring together historians and noted policy advisors from the G.H.W. Bush, Carter and Obama administrations to look back at their service in the West Wing, and what these experiences can teach the next president in his or her critical first year in office.

To receive email updates on the Human/Ties schedule of events, sign up at; forum organizers will be using the Twitter handle @human_ties (#hties2016) to post updates.

Human/Ties is a collaboration among The National Endowment for the Humanities, UVA, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Monticello, The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, The Miller Center, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and other partners.

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John Kelly

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