Nussbaum to Give Prestigious Jefferson Lecture

Nussbaum will lecture about emotion in politics at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By Anne Nazzaro

Philosopher and University professor Martha Nussbaum has been selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)'s 2017 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on May 1 in Washington D.C.

Nussbaum’s lecture will be entitled “Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame.” It will focus on emotion in politics and the way “uncertainty leads to the blaming of outsider groups.”

“It is urgent for us to understand ourselves better, to see why we have arrived at this state of division, hostility, and non-communication. A philosophical approach, focused on a close look at human emotions, offers that understanding of ourselves…I believe it also offers us strategies of hope and connection,” Nussbaum said in the NEH’s press release.

The Jefferson Lecture is the federal government’s highest honor for intellectual achievement in the humanities, according to the NEH’s website. Other University of Chicago scholars that have previously been selected for this honor include sociologist Edward Shils, historian John Hope Franklin, and most recently, Leon Kass.

Nussbaum has also covered this subject in her most recent book, Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, and Justice, and in an ABC Religion and Ethics editorial with the same name as her upcoming lecture.

The lecture will take place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets will be free and available starting in April through the NEH’s website. The lecture will also be livestreamed online.

This will be the last Jefferson Lecture planned by the Obama-era NEH. The Hill reported earlier this month that the Trump administration was considering eliminating the NEH.