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Welcome from James English

James English

Welcome from James English

Director of the Penn Humanities Forum
John Welsh Centennial Professor of English

Founded in 1999, the Penn Humanities Forum is a humanities center for the twenty-first century. We are committed to broadening the scope of humanistic inquiry and increasing public appreciation of the most adventurous current research into history, art, and the human endeavor.

Every year we organize a core program of lectures, seminars, performances, and film series around a single major topic: Origins, Violence, Virtuality, Sex, Color. Through our fellowship programs we gather dozens of researchers at every level from undergraduate students to senior faculty to explore the topic together in depth and from diverse perspectives.

Our public events draw large audiences from throughout the Philadelphia area, and are viewed online by people all over the world. On campus, we serve not only as the main research hub for humanist scholars and creative artists but also as the primary site for initiating conversations between the humanities and the social, physical, medical, cognitive, and computational sciences. Since the launch of our DH Forum in 2012, now the Price Lab for Digital Humanities, we have spearheaded Penn's effort to take a leading position in the emergent field of digital humanities.

Far from being a zone of dusty tools and stale paradigms, the humanities are constantly evolving in light of new methods and under pressure of new and urgent problems. Many of today's most vibrant fields of humanistic research, in such areas as environmentalism, disability studies, transgender medical ethics, and cultural network mapping, were scarcely imaginable just a few decades ago. Such upheavals are the very motor of our intellectual excitement and activity, even as they present us with major practical and conceptual challenges. We invite you to join us in taking those challenges on. Explore our website, connect to our social media, attend an event, apply for a fellowship, make a donation: become a participant in the Penn Humanities Forum.