The Whitney Humanities Center is an interdisciplinary institution that reflects Yale University’s longstanding commitment to the humanities. The Whitney promotes research and scholarly exchange across fields and supports especially the activities of faculty and students whose work transcends departmental boundaries.
It does this in many ways, from hosting conferences, colloquia, and lectures that bring prominent visitors to the university to providing research and publication grants to individual scholars; from supporting the focused interdisciplinary work of the Humanities/Humanity workshops to sponsoring working groups of faculty and students devoted to the informal exchange of ideas on topics of shared interest.
A cornerstone for the humanities at Yale, the Whitney is home to a broad-based intellectual community defined by a distinguished fellowship that meets weekly. Beginning in 2021, the Whitney has welcomed a cohort of incoming PhD students as Graduate Fellows in the Environmental Humanities. Other programs sponsored by the Whitney include the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, and the Yale Translation Initiative.
Highlights of each year’s activities at the Whitney include the prestigious Tanner Lectures on Human Values, given in recent years by such notable figures as Judith Butler, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Bruno Latour, and Achille Mbembe; the Finzi-Contini lectureship in comparative literature, which has been delivered by such renowned writers as Amitav Ghosh, Maxine Hong Kingston, and W. S. Merwin; the much-anticipated series of public lectures associated with each year’s Franke seminar in the humanities and Shulman seminar in science and humanities; and the screenings, festivals, conferences, workshops, and visits by distinguished filmmakers sponsored throughout the year by Films at the Whitney.
From its founding in 1981 to 2020, the Whitney Humanities Center was housed in what was formerly the Trinity Parish Church House, acquired by Yale in 1980 as a gift from John Hay Whitney. In 2021, the Whitney Humanities Center joined fourteen other departments and programs in the humanities at 320 York Street, in the newly renovated Humanities Quadrangle (HQ). In this shared space, the Whitney will further its mission as a place where the meaning of humanities goals and practices can be debated and discussed. We look forward to the coming years at HQ, where we can foster research in the humanities, pedagogical endeavors, and larger interdisciplinary conversations among faculty and students from Yale and beyond.
The Whitney Humanities Center honors and respects the enduring relationship that exists between the indigenous peoples and nations—including Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic, and the Quinnipiac and other Algonquian speaking people—that have stewarded through generations the lands and waterways of what is now the state of Connecticut.