School of Historical Studies

Sperm Bomb: Art, Feminism, and the American War in Vietnam

Mignon Nixon
The Courtald Institute of Art
April 17, 2012

A blue mushroom cloud fills the page, its contour traced by the comet-like tails of shrieking heads whose gaping mouths spew out furious curses in a rain of profanity over needle-stiff bodies littering the ground. This lecture by Mignon Nixon borrows its title, “Sperm Bomb,” from Nancy Spero, who, in 1964, in response to the escalating American war in Vietnam, abruptly abandoned ­painting on canvas for more immediate means: gouache and ink liberally diluted with spit. Returning to the scene of war ­resistance and nascent feminism in the Vietnam era, Nixon reflects upon newly pressing questions of what art concerned with ­subjectivity brings to a situation of war.

This lecture was the final one in the series Art and Its Spaces, cosponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.

Celebrating Modern Democracy’s Beginning: The “British Club” in Paris (1789–93)

Jonathan Israel
Institute for Advanced Study
March 7, 2012

Prior to the Terror (1793–94), the French Revolution was generally viewed very positively by progressive constitutional thinkers and law reformers. On November 18, 1792, more than a hundred distinguished Anglo-American democrats, including several founders of modern feminism, gathered at the British Club in Paris to celebrate liberty, human rights, and the spread of democracy across the world—what they viewed as the assured democratic future of mankind. In this lecture, Jonathan Israel, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, explores the vast significance of the toasts drunk at this banquet and of the public address that was afterward presented to the French National Assembly. They illuminate the relationship between the French Revolution and modernity, the history of our own time, and the many ironies of the values and propositions that the “British Club” in Paris proclaimed to the world.

Our Words, and Theirs: A Reflection on the Historian's Craft, Today

Carlo Ginzburg
Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles
October 3, 2011

What is the relationship between the idiom of the observer (historian, anthropologist) and the idiom of the actors, dead or alive? This question, which has been addressed from widely different (and usually unrelated) points of view, provides an oblique approach to the cognitive, moral, and political implications of the historian’s craft today.

Panel Discussion: Secularism and Human Rights: Basic Human Rights in History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology

Moderator: Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Trustee, Institute for Advanced Study
November 13, 2010

Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science
Jonathan Israel, Professor, School of Historical Studies
Avishai Margalit, George F. Kennan Professor, School of Historical Studies
Joan Wallach Scott, Harold F. Linder Professor, School of Social Science