Longwood University will celebrate the humanities with a series of public programs throughout the 2013-14 academic year.

The yearlong celebration, titled "Humans Being," will include six panel discussions, addresses by nationally recognized scholars and the annual Virginia Humanities Conference, which Longwood will host for the first time.

The speaker for the kickoff event, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Wygal Auditorium, will be Dr. Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia who is a vocal proponent of the humanities and the author of several books, including the recently published Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education.

The panel discussions will focus on a variety of humanities disciplines to be explored by  interdisciplinary groups of faculty and students. These events, at 7 p.m. in Hull Auditorium, are "Why Music Matters" (Sept. 23), "Why History Matters" (Oct. 28), "Why Literature Matters" (Nov. 18), "Why Art Matters" (Jan. 27), "Why Philosophy Matters" (Feb. 17) and "Why World Languages Matter" (March 10).

The celebration will conclude March 22-23, 2014, with the Virginia Humanities Conference, which rotates among its member institutions. The keynote speaker, Dr. N. Katherine Hayles, is a postmodern literary critic who is a professor and director of the graduate program in literature at Duke University. She will speak on "how the humanities should function in the 21st century," said Dr. David Magill, associate professor of English.

Magill, president of the Virginia Humanities Conference, is an organizer of "Humans Being" along with Dr. Wade Edwards, associate professor of French and chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, and Dr. Kimberly Stern, assistant professor of English. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the blog http://blogs.longwood.edu/humansbeing.

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