Intellectual locus

Center for Humanities and the Arts to open in January

A new center aimed at bringing together scholars and students in the humanities for intellectual discourse will open its doors in January. The Center for the Humanities and the Arts will be located at 48 Professors Row, next door to the Mayer Campus Center. The building is being renovated to accommodate a conference room, a lounge and offices.

Jonathan Wilson will direct the new Center for the Humanities and the Arts. © STEPHEN SHEFFIELD

Jonathan Wilson, professor of English and director of Tufts’ Creative Writing Program, has been named the center’s director. “It’s very exciting,” he said. “We’ve been pushing for a humanities center for a long time, maybe 15 years. It’s an interdisciplinary center that will be a wonderful locus for all kinds of programming and events that will bring together scholars in the humanities along with writers and intellectuals.”

There are 10 humanities departments in the School of Arts & Sciences, and Wilson said the new center will make it easier for faculty to learn what each other is doing and to “usefully interact in an intellectually stimulating atmosphere.”

The center will also house the Mellon Fellows, four postdoctoral scholars in the humanities. Each year a different group of fellows will teach and also work with faculty members on research projects. The six-year fellows program is being funded by a $992,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. In addition, said Wilson, there will be two faculty fellows affiliated with the new center who will receive stipends for travel and research, as well as fellows from outside Tufts who will spend three or four weeks at the center.

Wilson said he expects the center to work around a theme each year, such as religion and culture. To open the center next semester, Wilson is organizing a symposium on the art and ethics of translation and will bring in prominent language translators to discuss the issues involved. He said he also wants to inaugurate a series of lectures by alumni who received their degrees in the humanities.

Wilson credits the administration of the School of Arts & Sciences for creating the center and said plans are under way to raise funds from both private and public sources to support the new center.

Marjorie Howard is a senior writer in Tufts’ Office of Publications. She can be reached at This story appeared in the October 2007 issue of the Tufts Journal.