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Distinguished Visiting Professors

Each year, the Humanities Center brings diverse voices and perspectives to Syracuse University through the following distinguished visiting professorships and residencies:


The Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Humanities is a preeminent lectureship originally established by the Watson family to support on-campus residencies of prominent humanities scholars, writers, and artists. Previous holders of the professorship include: Saul Bellow, Laura Freixas, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Hans Mommsen, Toni Morrison, Martha Nussbaum, Mario Vargas Llosa, Leo Steinberg, Teresa de Lauretis, Stephen Greenblatt, Gesa Kirsch, William E. Wallace, Anthony Grafton, and Margaret Atwood.

Watson Professors engage the university community via public lectures, mini-seminars, readings or performances, and more. They are in residence for a semester, a sustained period within a semester, or conduct a series of short visits across the year. Visit our forms page to learn more.

Larry Blumenfeld

Larry  Blumenfeld 2019 Watson Professor. Cultural Journalist and Jazz Critic, Brooklyn, NY

    Larry Blumenfeld is a culture reporter, music critic and lecturer, who writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal, and has contributed to many newspapers, magazines, scholarly essay collections and websites. His work focuses on jazz and Afro-Latin music, and on the intersections between culture, politics and activism. His research as a Katrina Media Fellow for the Open Society Institute inspired a book about cultural recovery in New Orleans, due next year from the University of California Press. He was a National Arts Journalism Fellow at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He curates Spoleto Festival USA’s jazz series; the Deer Isle Jazz Festival in Stonington, Maine; and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s series, 'Jazz and Social Justice.'

    Read more about Blumenfeld's involvements while at SU.


    Susan Schweik 2018 Watson Professor. Associate Dean of Arts & Humanities, UC-Berkeley

      Susan Schweik is Professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley, where she has worked since 1984. She is the author of The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (NYU, 2009) and A Gulf So Deeply Cut: American Women Poets and the Second World War (1991) and is completing a book tentatively titled Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Changed American IQ, and Why We Don’t Know It She served as Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCB from 2007-2015. 

      She is a recipient of Berkeley’s Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and its Distinguished Teaching Award, and the University of California’s Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education. Schweik has been involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for over twenty years. She is co-founder and co-director of Berkeley’s Disability Studies minor and has been very actively involved in the advanced Disability Studies Research Cluster in Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. She was co-coordinator of the Ed Roberts Fellowships in Disability Studies post-doctoral program at Berkeley (coordinated by the Institute for Urban and Regional Development).

      She has taught and co-taught undergraduate courses in Disability and Literature, Discourses of Disability, The Disability Rights Movement, Disability and Digital Storytelling, Psychiatric Disability, Literature and Medicine, and Race, Ethnicity and Disability, among others, and graduate courses in Body Theory and Disability Studies and Advanced Disability Studies. Her other teaching and research interests include twentieth century poetry, late nineteenth century American literature, women's studies and gender theory, urban studies, grant writing, war literature and children's literature.

      Read more about Schweik's involvements while at SU.

      Cherríe Moraga

      Cherríe  Moraga 2017 Watson Professor.

      Cherríe Moraga is a playwright, essayist, and activist. Co-editor of the groundbreaking volume This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, she recently collaborated with visual artist Celia Herrera Rodríguez on a play, New Fire: To Put Things Right Again. Presently, Moraga is completing a memoir, The Native Country of my Heart. Recipient of the Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature, the American Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lambda Foundation’s “Pioneer” award, Moraga is Artist in Residence at Stanford University in Theater and Performance Studies and in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She is also a founding member of La Red Xicana Indígena, an advocacy group focused on education, culture, and international and local indigenous women’s rights. Read more about Moraga's involvements while at SU.

      Laura Freixas

      Laura  Freixas 2016 Watson Professor.

      Born in Barcelona in 1958, Freixas published four novels, several short story collections, a memoir, and numerous studies on women's writing and feminist issues. She has translated the works of Virginia Woolf and Andre Gide, among others. Her writings have been featured in Babelia of El País, Revista de libros, Letras libres, Mercurio, and Barcelona's daily newspaper, La Vanguardia. Freixas is also president of the Classics and Moderns organization, which promotes culture created by women.

      Featured activities while Freixas served as Syracuse University's 2016 Watson Professor:


      Gesa Kirsch 2015 Watson Professor. Professor of English and Media Studies, Bentley University

        In addition to serving as Syracuse University's 2015 Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor, Gesa E. Kirsch won the Mee Family Prize for Distinguished Research from Bentley University in 2015 and the Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award for Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy Studies (co-authored with Jacqueline Jones Royster) in 2014. She has held visiting appointments at UC Santa Barbara, Syracuse University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Orgeon.

        Kirsch co-founded and co-directed the Women's Leadership Institute (now the Center for Women and Business) at Bentley University. Her research and teaching interests include feminist rhetorical studies; ethics and qualitative research methodology; archival research and methodology; women's rhetorical education, past and present, feminist pedagogy, and environmental rhetoric. She has written and edited many books, including Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies (with Jacqueline Jones Royster); Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process (with Liz Rohan); Feminism and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook (with F. Maor, L. Massey, L.Nickoson-Massey, and M. P. Sheridan-Rabideau); Ethical Dilemmas in Feminist Research; Women Writing the Academy: Audience, Authority, and Transformation; Methods and Methodology (with Patricia Sullivan); and A Sense of Audience in Written Communication (with Duane Roen). Formerly Associate Executive Director for Higher Education, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana IL and faculty member at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Director of Women's Studies at University of Oregon, Eugene, and Wayne State University, Detroit.

        During Kirsch's Watson Professorship, Kirsch engaged with students and faculty through a public lecture titled "The Power of Social Networks: Rhetorical Agency and Civic Activism among 19th-Century Women Physicians," a podcast with graduate students, and a discussion in the Learning to Be Present: Mindfulness Practices for Writing, Research and Creativity" Brownbag series.

        William J. (Bill)Peace

        William J. (Bill) Peace 2014 Watson Professor.

          Area of research: Cultural Anthropology (Ph.D. Columbia University)

          Peace coordinated “Lives Worth Living,” a daylong symposium on disability, bioethics and contemporary medicine, while serving as 2014's Watson Professor. Barbara Farlow and Brenda Brueggemann joined the symposium to address issues of life, death and disability. The closing event featured a keynote presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sheri Fink, reading from her book, Five Days at Memorial


          Robert Adams 2013 Watson Professor.

            In addition to prior posts at Michigan, UCLA, Oxford, and most recently as Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Adams is the author of more than a hundred articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a fellow of both the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


            Sponsored by The Central New York Humanities Corridor from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative brings world-renowned scholars in disciplines across the humanities to Central New York for activities that stimulate research collaborations.

            Recent Mellon Distinguished Visiting Collaborators include: