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SLE and Theme House Events

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Thinkers in Residence


Our Sushi Salons create lively and provocative discussions on a range of diverse topics and feature writers, artists, and thinkers at SLE's homebase in Florence Moore Hall. Events to the campus and the public.

Simone Kotva on Mysticism and Ecology
Further Connections


Coffee and pastries go well together. Fostering intellectual curiosity and deep conversations on literature, philosophy, and the arts is the purpose of these casual gatherings. Open to campus and the public.

Orpheus and Eurydice, SF Opera perfromance 2022
Exploring the Bay Area


From performances spaces to museum exhibitions, theme house activities give SLE theme house students and program alums the opportunity to explore the cultural offerings of the Bay Area.


Study and struggle is a student group housed with SLE
Winter 2023


Meets on Fridays at noon in the SLE office. This reading group seeks to bring together students, faculty, and community members at Stanford who are interested in and committed to abolition through political education, community building, and mutual aid. 

To quote the creators of Study and Struggle, “We believe that study and struggle are necessary, complementary parts of any revolutionary movement, and that dismantling the prison industrial complex (PIC) requires centering criminalized people.”



Sushi Salon

Return here for the Winter Quarter line-up in January.

Previous Guest Speakers
2023 - 2024

Manuel Vargas on What are Latinxs?

An image of Manuel Vargas in his office at UC San Diego

Are Latina/ctx/es a race, an ethnic group, or some other thing? Are we better off doing without Latina/o/x/e-ness as a concept? Vargas will discuss some of the conceptual puzzles surrounding the idea of Latinxs and Latinx-ness. He argues that these puzzles reveal some peculiarities of U.S. social identity categories that can be overcome by thinking of Latinxs as neither a racial nor ethnic group but as some other thing.

Manuel Vargas is Professor of Philosophy, Latin American Studies, Chicanx & Latinx Studies at the University of California San Diego. He has written and edited several books on free will, moral responsibility, and moral psychology, including Four Views on Free Will (2007, 2024); Building Better Beings (2013); Rational and Social Agency (2014); and The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology (2022). His current projects include a book on the history of philosophy in Mexico and an anthology on Latinx philosophy.

Parna Sengupta on Rokeya Hossain

Parna Sengupta

This presentation draws on Toni Morrison’s reflection that “The only thing I do for me is writing. That's really the real free place where I don't have to answer,” to consider the work of the early 20th century feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain (1880-1932). But rather than focus on her educational work on behalf of “women’s uplift,” (which is how both the Bangladeshi state and historians tend to celebrate her), Sengupta draws attention to her as a writer and thinker who played with ideas of composition that were linked to alternate states of consciousness. Specifically, using her most famous text, Sultana’s Dream (1905), Sengupta considers how writing can be a form of dreaming while awake.

Parna Sengupta is Associate Vice Provost and Senior Director of Stanford Introductory Studies (SIS), under the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE). SIS curricular programs include: COLLEGE, The ESF (Education as Self-fashioning) program, SLE, and ITALIC. Previously, Parna was an associate professor in South Asian history at Carleton College. Her book, Pedagogy for Religion: Missionary Education and the Fashioning of Hindus and Muslims in Bengal (UC Press, 2011), reveals the centrality of missionary models of schooling on the development of modern education, an influence that resulted in the reinforcement of religion and religious identity in colonial India. Her most recent project is on the early twentieth century feminist thinker Rokeya Hossain.

Armando Perez-Gea on Aristotle's Relevance for Democracy Today

An image of Armando Perez-Gea

This Democracy Day, Armando Perez-Gea will discuss Aristotle's relevance for thinking about democracy today.

SLE alum Armando Perez-Gea is a political theorist and philosopher with a PhD in political science and philosophy and an MA in economics from Yale.  He is currently a Fellow to Diversify Teaching and Learning in the COLLEGE program.  His current research focuses on exploring Aristotle’s normative thought and using those insights to contribute to contemporary debates about political institutions.

Haleh Liza Gafori (Vocalist, Poet, Educator) on Rumi reading and lecture

An image of Haleh Liza Gafori alongside the cover of her Book Gold

Gafori will lecture and recite Rumi's poetry from her translation, Gold. About her work translating Rumi, she notes, “The languages of Farsi and English possess quite different poetic resources and habits. In English, it is impossible to reproduce the rich interplay of sound and rhyme (internal as well as terminal) and the wordplay that characterize and even drive Rumi’s poems. Meanwhile, the tropes, abstractions, and hyperbole that are so abundant in Persian poetry contrast with the spareness and concreteness characteristic of poetry in English, especially in the modern tradition. I have sought to honor the demands of contemporary American poetry and conjure its music while, I hope, carrying over the whirling movement and leaping progression of thought and imagery in Rumi’s poetry… I have chosen poems that seem to me beautiful, meaningful, and central to Rumi’s vision, poems that I felt I could successfully translate and that speak to our times.”

Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, vocalist, poet, and composer born in NYC of Persian descent. Her acclaimed book, Gold (New York Review Books Classics/Penguin Random House, 2022), features her translations of poems by Rumi, the 13th century sage and mystic. Supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Gafori has created a cross-media performance piece based on the book, weaving translations, original text, and musical compositions sung in Persian and English. Gafori’s work has been published by Columbia University Press, Harvard Review, Literary Hub, Hyperallergic, The Marginalian, and elsewhere. She has presented lectures, workshops, and performance pieces at universities and festivals across the country and abroad, including Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Lincoln Center, the New York Public Library, and Bradford Literary Fest.

Annie K. Lamar on Homer and A.I.

Annie K. Lamar on the Stanford campus.

Stanford PhD student in Classics Annie K. Lamar will present her ongoing research into a computational model of the Homeric formula.  Formulae are repeated phrases that shape the meaning, meter, and performance of Homeric works.  Her new investigations into Homeric formula highlight how access to high-computational environments allow scholars to ask new questions about ancient texts.

Annie K. Lamar (PhD candidate, Stanford) received a B.A. in Classics and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Puget Sound in 2019. Her research is focused at the intersection of Classics and AI. Her most recent research on the use of neural networks to generate metrically accurate Homeric poetry will be published in Fall 2019. Within Classics, her primary interests are Homeric poetry and Greek linguistics. Annie also passionately pursues a side-project focused on how acorns are used in ancient literature.

Louis Newman on Thinking Critically in College  Friday, 

An image of Louis Newman.

Newman discusses his book, Thinking Critically in College, which shows students how to do the work professors assign and explains how to tackle common academic challenges. Louis E. Newman is the former Dean of Academic Advising and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University.


Greg Watkins: Why SLE?

Greg Watkins

Former SLE Lecturer and Associate Director and SLE alum Greg Watkins will discuss the meaning, purpose, and potential of a SLE education.

Greg is a SLE alum and a former lecturer and associate director for the SLE program.  He is currently a lecturer at the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, where his work focuses on developing and administering a SLE-inspired curriculum for high school students.  The current version of the course is called “Searching Together for the Common Good” and is run in collaboration with Stanford Digital Education and the National Education Equity Lab.

2022 - 2023 

Elias Rodriques “Writing a Novel and the Role of Intertextuality” — in conversation with Miles Osgood  

Professor of African American Literature (Sarah Lawrence), novelist, and SLE alum returns to SLE and will be in discussion with current SLE lecturer, Miles Osgood about novel writing and the role of intertextuality. 

Sensitive to the complexities of class, race, and sexuality both in the American South and in Jamaica, Rodriques’ first novel, All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running is a work of tenderness, grief, and joy. His academic work focuses on African American literature, critical prison studies, Black feminism, and Black Marxist thought.

Hugo Garcia Manríquez on Commonplace – in conversation with Whitney DeVos 

SLE lecturer Garcia Manríquez discusses his latest book of poetry, Commonplace, which examines the layers of colonial and geopolitical violence that underlie both contemporary landscapes of Mexico City and the nation’s literary institutions. 

García Manríquez further links the Mexican state―and the cultural apparatus it supports―to ongoing ecological catastrophe, suggesting that more explicit forms of political force find their basis in the slower violence of environmental exploitation and the systematic erasure of indigenous knowledge across the Global South. He will be in conversation with translator Whitney DeVos, Pitzer College

Ann T. Delehanty:  on Skepticism and the Early Modern Novel 

Ann Delehanty on Skepticism and the Early Modern Novel

French and Humanities Professor Ann T. Delehanty joins SLE to discuss skepticism and the early modern novel.

What can Don Quixote teach us about skepticism and shock? In her talk, Delehanty draws from her recent book, Disenchantment, Skepticism, and the Early Modern Novel in Spain and France. She argues that early modern novels encourage readers to take a critical stance toward accepted beliefs, through content that stages multiple encounters with the shockingly unfamiliar as well as through experiments in literary form, especially the interpolated story. At its broadest reach, this study asserts the fundamental value of literature as a means of encouraging discernment, recognizing the illusory, and honing critical acuity.

Ann T. Delehanty is John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of French and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She is also the author of Literary Knowing in Neoclassical France: From Aesthetics to Poetics (2012).

Simone Kotva on Mysticism and Ecology 

Simone Kotva on Mysticism and Ecology

What does ecstasy and religious trance have to do with ecology? According to one influential narrative, mystical experiences are so rarefied or so rare as to have no bearing on earthlife. In this talk, she will be debunking some of the misconceptions regarding mysticism. In particular, Kotva will be talking about mysticism and speciesism and show how, historically, mysticism has been seen as a multi-species activity connecting humans to a more-than-human field.

Kotva is a philosopher of religion working at the intersection of theology, critical theory and earth ethics. She received her PhD in 2015 from the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and has taught at the Universities of Gothenburg and Cambridge. Currently, Kotva is a research fellow at the multidisciplinary ECODISTURB project, based in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo. She is also an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. 

Kotva is the author of Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy, a monograph on what it means to practice philosophy as a way of life and spiritual exercise. She is currently working on projects on ecologies of ecstasy and magic and ecology and actively shares her research on several social media accounts. @thisnonhumanity

Priya Satia: Time's Monsters. How History Makes History

We welcome History Prof. Priya Satia,  the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History. She is a cultural historian of the material and intellectual infrastructure of the modern world in the age of empire. Her work examines the origins of state institutions, military technologies, ideas and practices of development, and the anti-colonial responses they inspired in order to understand how the imperial past has shaped the present and how the ethical dilemmas it posed were understood and managed. 

In her third book, Time's Monster: How History Makes History (Belknap HUP/Penguin Allen Lane, 2020) Satia examines how historical imagination played a significant role in the unfolding of an empire. Winner of the 2021 Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies Book Prize and the 2021 Bronze Prize in History (World) from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. It was also a BBC History Magazine Book of the Year (2020) and New Statesman Best Books of the Year (2020). 

Michaela Hulstyn - Unselfing: Global French Literature at the Limits of Consciousness 

Michaela Hulstyn

SLE lecturer Michaela Hulstyn will discuss her recent book, Unselfing: Global French Literature at the Limits of Consciousness. 

What happens to the self during altered states of consciousness? Do experiences like hallucinatory drug transports, mystical transcendence, acute psychological pain, or ecstatic pleasure serve to sharpen or blur the sense that we have of ourselves? What narratives do we craft in the wake of these experiences at the limit of self-consciousness?

Hulstyn’s book explores the shapes and meanings of “unselfing” through the framework of the global French literary world, encompassing texts by modernist figures in France and Belgium alongside writers from Algeria, Rwanda, and Morocco. Together these diverse texts prompt a re-evaluation of the consequences of the loss or the transcendence of the self.

Malcolm Harris - Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World

Malcolm Harris joins SLE for the first sushi salon of Spring quarter to talk about his most recent book, Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World.  

In PALO ALTO, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, Malcolm Harris examines how and why Northern California evolved in the particular, consequential way it did, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered there over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism, from IQ tests to the "tragedy of the commons," racial genetics, and "broken windows" theory. The Internet and computers, too. It's a story about how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, and how it came to lead the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. PALO ALTO is an urgent and visionary history of the way we live now, one that ends with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.

es: A Lover’s Discourse.

Michael Shur, Creator of Good Place and The Office 

Michael Shur, Creator of Good Place and The Office

Loved Parks and Rec? Laughed at The Office? Wondered about The Good Place? Then join us for a special session with the creator, writer and director of all three shows, Michael Schur, to discuss a humorous introduction to moral philosophy. Michael Schur will be in conversation with Prof. Rob Reich from Political Science.

In addition to creating The Good Place, Parks and Rec, and writing for The Office, Michael Schur is the author of the new book, How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question which offers a sprawling discussion of the major ethical theories in philosophy with candor and humor. 

Michael Schur is the author of the New York Times-bestselling book, HOW TO BE PERFECT: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question, published in January 2022. He created the critically acclaimed NBC comedy “The Good Place,” and co-created "Parks and Recreation," "Brooklyn 99," and the Peacock series “Rutherford Falls." He is also an Executive Producer on HBOMax’s “Hacks” and Netflix’s "Master of None." Prior to “Parks,” Michael spent four years as a writer-producer on the Emmy Award-winning NBC hit "The Office." His first TV writing job was at "Saturday Night Live," where he spent seven seasons, including three as the producer of "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon.

Sarah Derbew discusses her book, Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity 

Sarah Derbew, Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity

Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2022) is the first book to examine the articulations of blackness from the fifth century BCE to the twenty-first century. In the book, Sarah F. Derbew traces literary and artistic representations of black Egyptians, Aithiopians (Nubians), Indians, and Greeks in the ancient Greek world. In addition, she probes deeply into race’s precarious grip on skin color and thereby uncovers the silences, suppression, and misappropriation of blackness within modern studies of Greek antiquity. 

Altogether, her anti-racist study promotes a contextualized, rigorous approach to representations of black people in Greek antiquity that rejects simplistic conflations. 

Yuri Herrera on Writing and the Novel

Yuri Herera on Writing and the Novel

Yuri Herrera (Actopan, Hidalgo, México, 1970). Received his BA in Political Science at UNAM, MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. His first novel Trabajos del reino (in English: Kingdom Cons) won the Premio Binacional de Novela Joven 2003 and received the “Otras voces, otros ámbitos” prize for the best novel published in Spain in 2008; his second novel, Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (Signs Preceding the End of the World) was finalist of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize. His third novel is La transmigración de los cuerpos (Transmigration of Bodies). The three novels have been translated into multiple languages, and published in English by the British publisher And Other Stories. He has also published two books for children in Mexico: ¡Éste es mi nahual! and Los ojos de Lía

In 2016 he shared with translator Lisa Dillman the Best translated Book Award for the translation of Signs Preceding the End of the World. In 2016 Rice University and Literal Publishing published Talud, a collection of his short stories. Also in 2016 he received the Anna Seghers Prize at the Academy of Arts of Berlin, for the body of his work. His latest books are the historical narrative A Silent Fury: The El BordoMine Fire, and the sci fi short stories collection Diez planetas. He has taught literary theory, creative writing and Latin American literature at the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico; and at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, before coming to Tulane University, where he is an Associate Professor.   

Haleh Liza Gafori: Poet, Performer, and Rumi Translator 

Haleh Liza Gafori: Poet, Performer, and Rumi Translator

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207–1273) was a Sufi mystic born to Iranian parents in or near Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan. He is considered the greatest poet of the Farsi language. His major works include the Masnavi, a six-volume collection of mystical teachings in rhyming couplets, and the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, a collection of lyric poetry dedicated to his spiritual mentor. 

Haleh Liza Gafori is a poet, translator, and musician born in NYC of Persian descent. Her book of translations by Rumi, the 13th century mystic was published by New York Review Books/Penguin Random House. A graduate of Stanford University, her work has been published by Columbia University Press, Literary Hub, and Rattapallax. As a musician, she has toured extensively, adapting Persian poetry to song and performing at venues such as David Byrne’s One Note at Carnegie Hall, Celebrate Brooklyn, and Bonnaroo. She teaches workshops on Rumi’s poetry at universities and festivals across the country.