Patten Lectures schedule for 2016-17 features psychologist, literary critic and ecologist

  • April 20, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Psychologist Paul Slovic, literary critic Franco Moretti and political ecologist Michael Watts will present Patten Lectures at Indiana University Bloomington during the 2016-17 academic year.

The William T. Patten Foundation presents the lectures under the auspices of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. The series brings scholars of national and international distinction in the science, humanities and arts to the IU Bloomington campus.

Paul Slovic, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, will lecture during the week of Oct. 24 to 27, 2016.

Slovic studies human judgment, decision-making and the psychology of risk. He is widely recognized for his contribution to the understanding of how people perceive risk, in particular how media coverage skews and even inverts individuals’ risk estimates, and how emotions and reason take part in this process. In recent work, he has examined the phenomenon of psychic numbing, or the failure to respond to mass human tragedies. His recent books include “The Feeling of Risk” (2010) and “Numbers and Nerves” (2015). Slovic is also the founder and president of Decision Research.

Franco Moretti, the Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, will lecture during the week of Jan. 23 to 26, 2017.

Moretti’s early books established him as perhaps the most distinguished living critic of the European novel in the “realist” tradition. In his more recent work, he has built on the quantitative approach to studying literature. In 2010, Moretti founded the Stanford Literary Lab as a means of further analyzing literature through statistical and computational methods. Some of his recent books include “Graphs, Maps, Trees” (2005), “The Bourgeois” (2013) and “Distant Reading” (2013).

Michael Watts, Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, will lecture during the week of Feb. 27 to March 2, 2017.

Watts’ work has been a major influence on nature/society research in many disciplines. His foundational research on political ecology, vulnerability and resilience, agrarian political economy, the social production of famine, oil and development, and environmental justice continues to shape scholarly debates and research programs. He is the author of the monographs “Silent Violence: Food, Famine, and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria” (1983) and “Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta” (2014) and of more than 300 articles and essays.

Lectures will be free and open to the public; they will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, with locations to be announced.

The William T. Patten Foundation

The William T. Patten Foundation, endowed by a student of the Indiana University class of 1893, provides generous funds to bring to the Bloomington campus for a week people of extraordinary national and international distinction in the sciences, the humanities and the arts. Past lecturers have included Oscar Arias, Jorge Luis Borges, Wendell Berry, Noam Chomsky, Natalie Zemon Davis, Umberto Eco, Werner Herzog, Julian S. Huxley, Evelyn Fox Keller, Toni Morrison, Martha Nussbaum, Amos Oz, Helmuth Rilling, Edward Said, Amartya Sen, Wole Soyinka, Rene Thom, Thomas Schelling, Strobe Talbott and Lester Thurow.

Inquiries about the Patten Foundation, the Patten Lecture Series and future nominations may be directed to

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Franco Moretti

Franco Moretti

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Michael Watts

Michael Watts

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