Revolutions, the humanities theme for 2016-17, is a year-long, campus-wide initiative designed to foster interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration.


Revolutions take many forms – political, literary, artistic, cultural, social, scientific, and conceptual. They can be abrupt or gradual, peaceful or violent, top down or bottom up, guided by elites or conducted by mobs, driven by ideology, or prompted by a new reality. But what constitutes a revolution? Is a spirited challenge to the existing system enough, or must it produce a radically different, lasting change? What are the conditions leading a revolution to occur? Is violence (physical or conceptual) inherent in revolution? Are revolutions a necessary good or a dangerous disruption of established order? How are they to be judged? How do literary or artistic movements gain the status of a revolution? What roles have revolutionary ideas played in the natural and social sciences and the arts and humanities? Do injustices or inequities underlie most political revolutions? Finally, what revolutions do we still need to have?