By Howard Brick
Louis Evans Professor of History
Director, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies
It is a great pleasure to serve as the director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. Since its inauguration in 2007, the Institute has welcomed visiting speakers who stand as some of the most exciting and innovative historians of our time and who engage in spirited, collegial discussion with members of U-M’s intellectual community across many fields. This year, as we approach the Eisenberg’s tenth anniversary (and the university’s bicentennial) in 2017, we introduce the Institute’s fifth biennial theme—“Senses and Longings.”
“Senses and Longings” will invite scholars to plumb the history of the human senses and emotions while giving special attention to the ways actors in history have imagined past ages or forecast desired futures—the kind of time travel, in either direction, captured in the emotion of longing. Meanwhile, other EIHS-sponsored events in the next two years will entertain a range of other issues: rethinking the phenomenon of “secularization,” synthesizing cultural studies and the history of capitalism, marking the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and more.
As the Institute completes its first decade, we celebrate its success in nurturing a strong and vibrant community of scholars, who support each other’s research by sharing and debating new knowledge about the human past. To that ongoing endeavor, we will add new educational ventures intended to address a broad audience across the Michigan campus and beyond, in ways that convey the import and public benefit of robust historical analysis, critique, and understanding.
Moreover, the Institute will contribute to the celebration of the university’s bicentennial in 2017 by engaging faculty and students in research regarding U-M’s long history as a center of learning and public responsibility. Understanding the present as the outcome of a deep and complex past helps set the stage for decision and action; thus we hope that building new historical knowledge will help shape a vision of U-M’s future worth longing for.