The events will take place in Massachusetts and New York, and the goal is to increase awareness of the Prize both in academia and in the various university administrations.
The three participating Laureates are literature professor and Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt (2016), Professor of Sociology Manuel Castells (2012), and history professor and scholar of Islamic history Michael Cook (2014). At all the events, Holberg Chair Sigmund Grønmo will give an orientation on the Holberg Prize.
Technology, Power and Conflict
Three different events are planned: The first will take place on 22 September, at the American American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Here, Stephen Greenblatt and Manuel Castells will discuss the status and importance of the social sciences and the humanities today: Some of the most pressing issues of our time include growing inequalities, mass migration and cultural and religious conflicts, and research in the humanities and the social sciences is crucial to finding viable solutions to these problems.
Castells will focus on the social sciences and his research into the implications of the technological revolution that has taken place over the last half-century. He will primarily speak on the processing and communication of information on the basis of digital networking technologies.
Greenblatt will look to literary and historical works in order to retrieve vital insights into technologies of power, as they have been described and scrutinized by authors in historical times. Greenblatt holds that texts such as Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Richard III can be instructive in our attempts to understand social and political conflicts in our own time.
The conversation will be moderated by journalist and poet Eliza Griswold.
Adam and Eve in New York
On 28 September, the Holberg Prize will co-present a facilitated conversation between Stephen Greenblatt and the American playwright Tony Kushner. The event is part of The New York Public Library’s flagship series LIVE from the NYPL. Here, Greenblatt and Kushner will discuss the topic of Greenblatt’s new book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, which explores the story of humanity's first parents–the origin story that is common to all the Abrahamic religions.
Greenblatt will discuss the immense theological, artistic, and cultural impact that the story has had over centuries, and how life has been conferred upon the story such in ways that these fictional first parents remain real to so many people, even today.
The event will be moderated by Paul Holdengräber, Director of the NYPL’s public programming, who founded LIVE from the NYPL in 2005. The conversation will be live streamed here. For more information, see the event page.
A Tale of Three Tribes
The previous evening, 27 September, the Holberg Prize and the Norwegian Consulate General will host a reception. At this event, invited guests from academia will be given a presentation on the Holberg Prize, and Laureate Michael Cook will deliver a lecture on the theme “How to Achieve Mass Literacy Without Really Trying." Here, Cook will focus on three tribal peoples in remote regions of the world—two of them Muslim—who historically have had surprisingly widespread literacy in scripts of their own.
The Holberg Prize organisation aims to make the Prize better known to academia worldwide. This is in an effort to receive more high quality nominations, and to make more people aware of the Prize and the Holberg Week celebrations. These efforts also work towards the Holberg Prize’s main goal: to stimulate interest and research in and the humanities, social sciences, law and theology.