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Humanities to honor Gracia


Published September 20, 2012

Jorge Gracia

Jorge Gracia

The Humanities Institute’s annual Scholar Session showcases a distinguished member of the UB humanities faculty by presenting a program that brings two or three renowned scholars to the university to discuss that faculty member’s work.

This year’s scholar is Jorge J.E. Gracia, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Chair in the departments of Philosophy and Comparative Literature, a “most fitting honoree,” says institute director Erik R. Seeman, who calls Gracia “one of the most widely influential humanists at UB.”

“Interpreting Race, Art and Literature: Conversation between Appiah, Stavans and Gracia” will take place at 4 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Special Collections Library, 420 Capen Hall, North Campus.

The program will feature presentations about Gracia and his internationally recognized work by two acclaimed scholars in his field: Kwame Anthony Appiah of Princeton University and Ilan Stavans of Amherst College.

“The annual Scholar Session allows the institute to showcase the work of UB’s outstanding faculty members in the humanities to the larger Buffalo community,” says Carrie Tirado-Bramen, associate professor of English and executive director of the Humanities Institute.

Although less well-known to his Western New York neighbors than are many UB faculty members, Jorge Gracia is nevertheless one of the most accomplished, productive, accessible and warmly regarded members of the university community.

He also is a distinguished, multiple award-winning philosopher who has written or edited more than 40 books, many of them on such topics as metaphysics and ontology, philosophical historiography and Hispanic/Latino/Latin-American philosophy. His groundbreaking contributions to the philosophical study of race and ethnicity have helped shape the field and address many issues that previous theories had left unanswered.

In addition, Gracia is recognized for significant contributions to the history of medieval philosophy, hermeneutics and philosophy of religion.

The session in Gracia’s honor will feature presentations by two of the most prominent scholars in his field.

One is Kwame Anthony Appiah, Laurence S. Rochefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, a Ghanaian-British-American philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist whose interests include political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual history.

Among his critically acclaimed books is “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” (2010), which has been called “monstrously interesting.”

Appiah will be joined by Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, a widely celebrated Mexican-American essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator and author whose best-selling work focuses on language, identity, politics and history.

Known as a sharp, fast writer, he has produced 48 books, among them “The Hispanic Condition,” “Tropical Synagogues,” “The Left-Handed Pianist” and his magnum opus, “The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature,” described by The Nation as feeling “less like a book and more like a magic carpet ride through time and space.”


The Humanities Institute’s annual Scholar Session this year is devoted to the work of philosopher Jorge J.E. Gracia, who is called “one of the most widely influential humanists at UB" by institute director Erik Seeman.

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