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The Oakley Center

The Oakley Center was established in 1985 to support research across the humanities and social sciences, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary work. Since that time, it has come to play a vital role in the scholarly life of Williams College. The Center provides a meeting place where faculty and administrative staff can pursue their intellectual and research interests. It sponsors many events and programs throughout the year, some exclusively for faculty and staff and others for the entire campus and the wider public.

Programs especially for faculty include fellowships, colloquia with distinguished visiting scholars and Center-supported faculty research and reading groups. Each semester, about eight faculty Fellows are in residence and participate in a weekly research seminar. Through the Ruchman Fellowship program, two Williams seniors participate in the Fellows' seminar as well. Through the Clark-Oakley Fellowship, offered in conjunction with the Research and Academic Program of the Clark Art Institute, the Center also provides an office and funding for one scholar, from outside the College, who will take part in the programs of both institutions. The Center's public events include occasional conferences and the annual Richmond, Weiss, and Davis Lectures.

We invite you to join us for these Spring 2014 events:


Tuesday, April 22 at 5:00 pm, Oakley Center


A conversation with Diana Taylor (New York University's Tisch School for the Arts and Founding Director of The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics)

In The Archive and the Repertoire Taylor writes that the ‘live’ acts that are the repertoire exceed the archive’s capacity to contain them.  Now, however, she questions whether '‘things’ can be archived at all, if they might not (rather) belong to a world of endless transformation.  Do ‘things’ have a life of their own that exceed the limits of the archive without belonging to the repertorial ‘live’? Join us for an exploration of this question as viewed through a performance by Brazil’s theatre company, Teatro da Vertigem.

*By RSVP only*


Wednesday, April 30 at 4:00 pm, Oakley Center

"COMICS IN CAIRO, SHREK IN TEHRAN: U.S. Culture in the Middle East"

A conversation with Brian Edwards (Director, Program in Middle East and North African Studies, Northwestern University)

*By RSVP only*


Monday, May 5 at 6:30 pm, Griffin Hall #3


Martin Wilkinson (Political Studies, University of Auckland, and Member of the New Zealand National Ethics Advisory Committee) delivers the annual Weiss Lecture on Medicine and Medical Ethics

*This event is free and open to the public

Oakley Center News

Senior Oakley Center Fellow and Williams College President Emeritus John Chandler was recently featured in an article in Newsweek Magazine: "Inside the Colleges that Killed Frats for Good."

The Chronical of Higher Education featured an article on the work of Daniel Everett (Dean of Bentley College and professor of anthropology and linguistics) who delievered the annual Richmond Lecture on March 13, 2012.

Siddartha Mukherjee, (Columbia and CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital), who gave the annual Andrew B. Weiss, MD, Lecture on Medicine and Medical Ethics in 2010, has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Barbara J. King of the College of William and Mary blogs about a recent Oakley Center symposium, "After Humanism," here. Information about the symposium (September 23-24, 2010), as well as conference pictures, can be found here.

Former Clark-Oakley Humanities Fellow Jonathan Katz, now head of a new visual studies program at SUNY-Buffalo, speaks out about the controversy sparked by a high-profile exhibition that he curated at the National Portrait Gallery: "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture." The exhibition received a positive review in the Washington Post.

Link to Oakley Center past events, 2006-2013