Pittsburgh Humanities Festival Returns March 21-27
By Stefanie Johndrow
This spring, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University are bringing internationally acclaimed artists and performers together with renowned academics and community leaders for a series of curated conversations and performances. This year’s Pittsburgh Humanities Festival will explore topics like Pittsburgh’s history, policy and politics, Kennywood, racial inequalities, drag culture, Shakespeare, food and art. The festival will run March 21-27.
“This year we have a really broad range of events,” said David Shumway, director of The Humanities Center at CMU and professor of English. “There is a very strong emphasis on cultural diversity. We’re very pleased with the breadth of our offerings that represent a wide range of the Pittsburgh community and a wide range of interests.”
Featuring 16 events and three partner events, highlights from this year include a performance from Tony Award winner Ali Stroker and a new twist on a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Other core conversations include writer Ed Simon, who received his master’s degree from the Department of English in 2007; professor and novelist Kathleen George, who is the widow of beloved CMU English professor Hilary Masters; and artist Max Gonzalez, a 2016 graduate of the College of Fine Arts.
“The festival has successfully brought the humanities to thousands of Pittsburgh residents,” Shumway said. “Our audience is primarily not students or academics but members of the general public. We are able to bring the kinds of conversations we have typically in the classroom on campus to people who don’t normally get that experience on a regular basis. I think that’s been a really important part of our mission and has been quite successful.”
Shumway noted that people who are interested in the festival should consider attending the core conversations. The audience size normally ranges between 25 to 40 people, so people who attend these sessions get the chance to know the presenter and ask questions.