When Gregg Lambert stepped down as founding director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center in 2014, he did what any self-respecting professor would do. He hit the books.
Nearly two years later, Lambert is still at the top of his game; it’s just that the stakes are different.
“Some say that keeping busy is the key to happiness,” says the Dean's Professor of the Humanities, who has served as director and principal investigator of The Central New York Humanities Corridor since 2008. “A little bit of stress is okay. It’s important, however, to overcome distractions and maintain focus.”
Granted, the Humanities Corridor—a large-scale interdisciplinary project involving nine institutions, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—takes up most of Lambert’s time, but it’s not the only thing on his bucket list. A highly sought after teacher-scholar, he frequently travels the globe, researching and lecturing on critical theory and film, 20th-century French philosophy, or the dynamics of the contemporary university.
Such persistence seems to be paying off for the former English professor in Arts and Sciences, as evidenced by a spate of recent accomplishments. In February, Lambert was appointed an International Scholar in the Global Collaborative Summer Program at Kyung Hee University (KHU) in South Korea. Co-founded by KHU and the University of Pennsylvania, in tandem with the Ministry of Education and various international organizations, including the United Nations, the program offers summer courses in humanity, civilization, and global governance.
As such, Lambert will spend July at KHU’s Seoul campus teaching a course on “How We Become Posthuman: Hollywood and the Question Concerning Posthumanism.” The job also comes with a professorship in KHU’s College of the Humanities, where Lambert is expected to publish two academic papers in peer-reviewed journals, conduct special lectures, lead seminars, and provide guidance to students.
“Popular culture is fascinated with intelligent machines, cyborgs, and nature-culture,” he says, alluding to such sci-fi fare as the Terminator and Matrix franchises, Blade Runner, Ex Machina, The Fly, and Minority Report. “Yet, how we portray our ‘otherness’ in film and on TV says a lot about the human condition. I’ll use a genealogical method to consider how humans are depicted in advanced capitalist and technological societies.”
News of the appointment came on the heels of Lambert’s keynote address at the “Humanities Now” Graduate Conference, which took place in February at the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati. The lecture, whose title comes from Lambert’s forthcoming book (Philo)sophy After Friendship (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), was inspired by a brief correspondence between Gilles Deleuze and Dionys Mascolo, in which the former famously asserted that the democratic ideal of friendship had become corrupted throughout history.
“I reconstructed a brief genealogy of the different concrete situations to which Deleuze’s statement might refer, arriving at a moment of recollection where perhaps the essential meaning of philosophy might be interrogated anew,” says Lambert, who also is lecturing this spring at Stockholm University and the National Taichung University of Education in Taiwan. “I sought to look at Deleuze’s assertion in a new light.”