Over the years, FHI has selected yearlong thematic foci to organize interdisciplinary programming at the Institute. Current and past themes include World Arts, Water, and the Monument.

For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, the Franklin Humanities Institute selected the theme of World Arts.

The World Arts series explores the world-making potential of the arts and the ways in which worlds are imagined within them. Events and working groups will examine the way in which the arts and humanities have been conceptualized with an expanded world view, whether in terms of universalisms and planetarities; by trade and trade routes, such as the spice trade, silk routes, and the slave trade; and by worldview, whether religious, ideological, or territorial.  Seeking to provide a platform for a broad historical and geographical investigation, we will also explore how older and newer empires are sustained by the imaginative work of the political, of the spiritual and of astronomy as well as land, space, finance, and secular and religious worldviews. We will also explore current conceptualizations of world arts, in categories such as: world literature, the global novel, international style, world music and dance, art and architecture biennials, and music, dance, and film festivals.

With multiple events over the 2018-2019 academic year, this thematic series covered many aspects of humanistic and artistic responses to water, from oceanic voyages to lives built around rivers, from aquatic aesthetics to refugee migration, from water shortage to floods, and from water conceived through sacred forms to aquatic lifeworlds and ontologies.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and in conjunction with other events on campus, the Franklin Humanities Institute’s Monument series examined the concept of “monument” and monumentality; the relation of the monument (and counter-monument) to the nation-state; controversies over disgraced monuments; architectural theory and monumental aesthetics; and the shifting meanings of the histories embodied in monuments in an age of the digital.