Blog - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities and the University of Tulsa College of Law are excited to announce that Amanda Cobb-Greetham will deliver a keynote address at the Work of Sovereignty Symposium on March 31.

Amanda Cobb-Greetham is a Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the founding director of the Native Nations Center. Her research looks at tribal history and culture in Indian Territory and Oklahoma as well as issues of Native American representation and cultural production. She received a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship (2021) for Bright, Golden Haze: Oklahoma/Indian Identity in Myth and Memory and the American Book Award for Listening to Our Grandmothers Stories (2002). She has published several book chapters and articles in journals such as American Quarterly, American Studies, Studies in American Indian Literature, and American Indian Quarterly.

Since receiving her PhD from OU in 1997, Cobb-Greetham has held several tenured academic appointments, including faculty positions at the University of New Mexico and Oklahoma State University. She also served as the Administrator of the Division of History and Culture for her tribe, the Chickasaw Nation, from 2007-2012. During her tenure, she directed the launch of the Chickasaw Cultural Center and the Chickasaw Press. She received the Chickasaw Nation’s Dynamic Woman Award (2018) and is being inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame (April 2023).

Come listen to her talk at 9:30 a.m. at the University of Tulsa’s Lorton Performance Center. A day of panels will follow. The event is free.

Registration for the Symposium is now open. Chick here to reserve a spot. For more updates, including keynote speaker announcements, visit our website and Facebook page.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is excited to announce that Rebecca Nagle will deliver a keynote address at the Work of Sovereignty Symposium on March 30.

Rebecca Nagle is an award-winning journalist, known for her podcast This Land, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her writing on Native representation, federal Indian law, and tribal sovereignty has been featured in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, Indian Country Today, and more. Rebecca Nagle is the recipient of the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, Women’s Media Center’s Exceptional Journalism Award, a Peabody Nominee, and numerous awards from the Native American Journalist Association.


Nagel says Indigenous communities deserve the same standard of journalism as the rest of the country, but rarely receive it from non-Native media outlets. Her journalism seeks to correct this. From the census, to COVID, to the Supreme Court, Nagle focuses on deeply and timely reporting that sheds light on issues of national importance.

Nagle lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where she also works on language revitalization.

Listen to her talk “We Are Still Here: Fighting Indigenous Erasure in the Media” at 7 p.m. at 101 Archer. A reception will precede the talk at 6:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Registration for the Symposium is now open. Click here to reserve a spot. For more updates, including keynote speaker announcements, visit our website and Facebook page.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is excited to announce that the Lead Artist/Curator and one contributing artist in the Work of Sovereignty will participate in the exhibit’s corresponding symposium on April 1.


Carly Treece will participate in the Representing Sovereignty panel at 9:30 a.m. on April 1. A citizen of Mvskoke Nation and of Cherokee descent, she works in multimedia with a focus on cold wax and oil.  Currently, her artwork is focused on abstract Native landscapes that explore the physical, emotional, and spiritual connection between land and Native people.  She continues to be an advocate for land and body sovereignty. 



Kalyn Fay Barnoski (Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek descent) will participate in the Native Futures panel at 2 p.m. on April 1. They are a songwriter, musician, interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator from Oklahoma. Centering Indigenous methodologies, their work focuses on self-location, community-building, collaboration, and empathy through the use of music, storytelling, and contemporary craft.  They facilitate space for themselves and others to pursue multitudes. Kalyn holds an M.F.A. from University of Arkansas (2021), an M.A. from The University of Tulsa (2016), and a B.F.A. from Rogers State University (2012). Kalyn is currently an NACF LIFT Fellow, an MAAA Artist Leadership Fellow, and the Assistant Curator of Native Art at Philbrook Museum of Art. 

You can find several of their pieces in the “Work of Sovereignty” exhibit at 101 Archer. The gallery is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays.

Registration for the Symposium is now open. Click here to reserve a spot. For more updates, including keynote speaker announcements, visit our website and Facebook page.

Springtime brings change and amid the season’s timid blooms and stormy winds, TU’s Oklahoma Center for the Humanities has moved to its iconic new home at 101 Archer, the gateway to the city’s Arts District.  This space (formerly the Hardesty Arts Center) thrums with potential, from its state-of-the-art gallery facilities to its offices, studios, classrooms, and event spaces.  When President Carson announced the acquisition of 101 Archer, he promised to make it into one of the nation’s most inclusive community arts spaces and we’re happy to begin this work by opening our newest exhibition, The Work of Sovereignty.

Curated by OCH fellow Carly Treece, it features dozens of works by Native American artists that explore, in often surprising ways, the thirteen Oklahoma counties that take their names from indigenous nations.  Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Social Science Research Council, we will host a three-day national conference, also called The Work of Sovereignty, in partnership with TU’s College of Law.

In addition to these flagship events, we have continued to develop new and exciting programming driven by this year’s theme, Freedom.  Over the next few months, we’ll host nearly a dozen events around this topic, culminating in the inaugural Switchyard Festival running from May 30-June 4.  This event will bring some of the nation’s leading artists and thinkers to Tulsa, including Art Spiegelman, Maia Kobabe, Natasha Trethewey, Cass Sunstein, Margo Price, and many more.  Building on the OCH theme of freedom, the festival will focus on book banning amid the rising forces of intolerance across the political spectrum that seek to silence opponents rather than welcome the civil exchange of ideas.  In the evening, we’ll then welcome nearly twenty different bands for a week full of music hosted at the historic Cain’s Ballroom.  Tickets are on sale now.

Despite our recent growth, the mission at OCH remains the same: to explore what it means to be human by bringing the distinctive tools of the arts and humanities to bear on the most urgent challenges facing our community.  Whether you come for music, art, conversation, creativity, or a performance, we look forward to welcoming you to 101 Archer.

-Sean Latham, OCH Director

Event to take place 7pm on April 6. Event to be held at 101 Archer in downtown Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is pleased to welcome Professor Steven Thrasher for a talk on his newest work, The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide.

Over the course of his career, Professor Thrasher has studied several viruses and the public health issues they pose– namely the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Covid pandemic, and most recently Mpox (formerly known as “Monkeypox”). The Viral Underclass combines these years of study along a common theme: that of a disproportionately impacted “underclass.” Of this, Thrasher writes that “a theory of the viral underclass can serve as a framework for understanding how vulnerability is manufactured for certain kinds of people and how it spreads through society more broadly.”

In the opening section of his book, Thrasher relates his personal experience when the Coronavirus pandemic hit. It was one of uncertainty, but also of calculated risk: “where can I access the best, most affordable healthcare?” The rest of the book follows suit as Thrasher’s research traces the lives of several people within the “viral underclass” to show the human impact of larger systemic issues. Thrasher’s work shows us that exposure, infection, and mortality rates from these viruses follow similar patterns—the same groups over and again are devastated, groups such as LGBTQ communities, black communities and other people of color, the impoverished, the homeless, and the incarcerated. What’s more is that these inequities spill over into care: treatment and accessible healthcare resources are difficult to access or, at times, nonexistent. Thrasher’s work reveals, ultimately, that viruses act as a “magnifier of the divisions already present in our world.”

Join us for what promises to be a fascinating and urgent talk on the nature of viral pandemics/epidemics in our contemporary world, and the ways in which the “viral underclass” is disproportionately impacted.

Steven W. Thrasher is an assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern Medill., and he is the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg Chair of social justice in reporting (with an emphasis on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community). Thrasher has worked as writer-at-large at the Guardian, staff writer at the Village Voice, and facilitator for the NPR StoryCorps project. His articles are regularly published in the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, Esquire, the Nation, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Daily Beast. He’s also a former researcher for Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” Thrasher is also a frequent guest on NPR, CNN, and Democracy Now. He has also lectured extensively at universities and cultural institutions internationally, including the San Francisco Public Library, the Schomburg Center in Harlem, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the American University of Beirut.

Event to take place April 19, 7pm. Event to be held at 101 Archer in downtown Tulsa.

Bill Deresiewicz has led a fascinating career, one that spans the diverse fields of literary criticism, contemporary politics and social commentary, and higher education. If there is one through line for Deresiewicz’ thinking it is that of “flatness”: diagnosing and recognizing flatness, and working toward its opposite (depth, complexity, and enrichment).

For Deresiewicz, flatness is an intellectual concern, a state of being that higher education often encourages—i.e. students pursuing a major or degree without considering the larger questions facing them as people such as who they want to be, what kind of life they want to live, and why. This has created, according to Deresiewicz, a crisis in higher education as students feel alienated from their studies, their relationship to it being purely vocational or practical. There is an interconnected network of influences that create such a system: parental and societal expectations, economic pressures and the need for financial stability, and the university itself. These actors perpetuate a cycle that flattens our experience of the world and our relationship to ourselves. What is needed instead is what Deresiewicz calls a “moral imagination,” an intangible but necessary component of a complete education.

Similar ideas expand to the art world as well. In an article published in Salmagundi, Deresiewicz lambasts an art world that not only rewards but perhaps requires politically-oriented work. Here is where complexity is lost– in the wake of unidimensional political arguments that encourage predictable reactions rather than opening up to a range of emotional and intellectual responses. Deresiewicz contends that great art, the art we should encourage and consume, is art that resists closure by diving into questions of our own humanity. Here is where the work of art is performed—not in flattened political rhetoric but in broad, ambiguous, and complex ideas that speak to the human experience. Most recently, Deresiewicz has written on solitude and loneliness, two experiences that our current culture makes different to achieve. According to Deresiewicz, what we lose in a culture of “celebrity” and “interconnection” is our sense of self. We look outwards to others for recognition and validation, when identity can be better attained through introspection and isolation.

In a world that tends to flatten, how can we find depth? In a world that constrains ideas and ways of thinking, how can we find freedom? Bill Deresiewicz will answer these questions and more in conversation with OCH Director and TU Professor of English, Sean Latham.

William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent speaker at colleges, high schools, and other venues, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. His new book is The End of Solitude: Selected Essays on Culture and Society. Deresiewicz has published over 300 essays and reviews. He has won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and a Sydney Award; he is also a three-time National Magazine Award nominee. His work, which has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper’s, and many other publications, has been translated into 18 languages and anthologized in 39 college and scholastic readers.

Event to take place March 9, 7pm. Event to be held at 101 Archer in downtown Tulsa.

In an article for the New York Times, Andrew Ross and Julie Livingston lay bare the realities of car ownership for lower income, non-white, and/or previously incarcerated American citizens. It’s a fascinating piece, one that asks us to consider histories of segregation and redlining alongside the concept car ownership. It also draws parallels between many recent iterations of filmed police brutality and everyday traffic stops—several black Americans killed by police in recent years were first pulled over for minor roadway violations. The focus of the essay, however, is on the specific obstacles that these Americans face when it comes to car ownership. Acquiring a car often leads to predatory lending and disproportionate amounts of debt. Driving a car puts them at risk of “revenue policing” and the fees and fines that follow. Ultimately, Ross and Livingston ask us to reconsider perhaps the most iconic symbol of American freedom: the automobile. What does freedom of movement (enabled by automobiles) mean to those who face predatory lending or policing racial disparities? What does this inequality imply for the American ideal of freedom?

Andrew Ross will speak at length on these issues and more. “Automobiles have always been promoted and sold as the great American ‘freedom machines,'” Ross writes, “but for too many of us, they have become vehicles of unfreedom.” Drawing on interviews with formerly incarcerated men and women, Ross will discuss the ways in which car ownership and car use can lead to detention, either through policing or auto loan debt traps, while serving, increasingly, as a channel of surveillance. In response, Ross will lay out a vision for an alternative transportation landscape, one based on principles of mobility justice.

Image cover for “Cars and Jails” (2022)

Andrew Ross is a social activist and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. A contributor to the Guardian, the New York TimesThe Nation, and Al Jazeera, he is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing, Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel, The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and Property Values in Disney’s New Town, and Fast Boat to China: Lessons from Shanghai.His most recent book (co-authored with Julie Livingston), is Cars and Jails: Freedom Dreams, Debt, and Carcerality. He is a co-founder of several groups, including Decolonize This Place and the Debt Collective. More details about Ross’s work can be found at

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities’s exhibit, The Work of Sovereignty, will run March 3-April 22 in our new space, 101 Archer. This exhibit was developed with contributions from several local, indigenous artists. Below, you will find their biographical information.

Lead Artist and Co-Curator

Carly Treece is a citizen of Mvskoke Nation and of Cherokee ancestry.  She is a multidisciplinary artist, community advocate, volunteer, gardener, and mother.  She works in multimedia with a focus on cold wax and oil.  Currently, her artwork is focused on abstract Native landscapes that explore the physical, emotional, and spiritual connection between land and Native people.  She continues to be an advocate for land and body sovereignty. 


Artist Bios

Kalyn Fay Barnoski (Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek descent) is a songwriter, musician, interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator from Oklahoma. Centering Indigenous methodologies, their work focuses on self-location, community-building, collaboration, and empathy through the use of music, storytelling, and contemporary craft.  They facilitate space for themselves and others to pursue multitudes. Kalyn holds an M.F.A. from University of Arkansas (2021), an M.A. from The University of Tulsa (2016), and a B.F.A. from Rogers State University (2012). Kalyn is currently an NACF LIFT Fellow, an MAAA Artist Leadership Fellow, and the Assistant Curator of Native Art at Philbrook Museum of Art.


Shane Brown is a Cherokee photographer and cinematographer.  He specializes in documentary and experimental photographyIn addition to his ongoing projects and freelance work, he is also the on-set still photographer for FX’s Reservation Dogs.  His pictures and cinematography work have been featured by organizations as varied as Bob Dylan Archive, Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times, and the First Americans Museum.


Britteny Cuevas started Four Locv, a company that seeks to cultivate Native American, Southeastern Indigenous art by educating and providing cultural, lesson-based activities. Four Locv offers interactive labs in which Britteny’s patrons can learn to weave baskets, make moccasins, create corn husk dolls, and to do many other engaging activities.


Kristin Gentry is passionate about using her art to create different ways to preserve her traditional Southeastern tribal culture of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She uses her art to educate and restore the beauty of her people’s journey to where they are as Chahta Okla, Choctaw People, today. She is a writer, curator, painter, printmaker, and photographer. She often photographs families in their tribal regalia and creates designs and patterns from traditional clothing in her painting and prints.


Jessie Haase (an enrolled Cherokee) is a selftaught writer, poet and creator. Born in Oklahoma, by way of small towns in the far corners of Kansas. Mother of two, semigrown beings still trying to make sure they find a way in the world while maintaining kindness, tact and their sense of humor, and wonder. Always grieving. And missing my Mama, Janie. BUT Doing what I can to honor her and make her proud. Wherever she is… 

Haley Madden is an Osage/Comanche artist, specializing in painting and beadwork.  Her Osage name is Wah Zha Zhi Me Tsa He, which translates to Osage Sacred Sun. This name is the first daughter’s name for her deer clan people. She lives in Bartlesville with her three children and fiancé.  She is extremely proud of her Native Oklahoma and New Mexico heritage.

Travis Mammedaty is a Kiowa/Seneca-Cayuga contemporary expressionist artist hailing from Oklahoma, now residing in the center of the Navajo Reservation in Chinle Arizona. His mediums of choice are acrylic and charcoal.  He has showcased his work in museums and galleries throughout Native America.  Travis is also a Kiowa language instructor and historian.


Brittany Postoak is a Mvskoke citizen and has a long history of family residing in Indian Territory. She works with traditional art such as beadwork and leather crafting as well as watercolor and acrylic paint. She expresses her appreciation for land, water, and ancient symbols to make deeply personal creations. 

Born in Tahlequah, Ryan RedCorn is an Osage filmmaker, photographer, WGA screenwriter, and graphic designer.  Ryan graduated with an art degree in visual communications from the University of Kansas. He then co-founded the Indigenous comedy troupe, the 1491s, and started a full services ad agency in Pawhuska, Oklahoma called Buffalo Nickel Creative.  He later graduated with an MFA degree in screenwriting in the Spring of 2020 and is presently alive, vaccinated and serving his second stint as a writer on the third season of FX’s tv show, Reservation Dogs. 

Dan Rocky is a Tulsabased Mvskoke/Seminole artist. Inspired by the pop art of the 80s, drag, glam, and powerful femmes, they created a world of neon illustrations. Working with acrylic paint, to digital, they often find themselves balancing the two styles creating a sweet combination of technique. Never afraid to reference, they tend to feel inspired to be bold yet simple.

IG: danrockyy 

Lisa Rutherford (Cherokee Nation) balances her creative time between clay arts and textile arts, including pottery, sculpture, eighteenth-century clothing, feather capes, southeast applique beadwork, and twined textiles.  She has been making ancestral style pottery since 2005 and began making historic clothing to wear while she demonstrated her art, leading to her career as a living history interpreter as well as an artist. She creates historic clothing for museum exhibits, specializing in feather capes. In 2018, she was named a Cherokee National Treasure by the Cherokee Nation for her work in preserving and promoting Cherokee pottery and culture. 

FB: Lisa Rutherford Art 

Semurai DesignsChris Thompson (Seminole), Jeremy Thompson(Seminole), and beading by Walela Knight (Cherokee/Choctaw). The concept for Semurai Designs was born in 2006 from two brothers’ love of art and sneakers, and the ingenuity to combine them. Jeremy Thompson and Chris Thompson began painting shoes and promoting their art medium in the local Tulsa area. What began as using cheap paint on worn down shoes, has evolved into high quality paint and expertly crafted, one-of-a-kind designs. Supplying everyone from sneakerheads that want to stand out from the crowd to celebrities that want to promote or commemorate their work. 


For Kindra Swafford (Cherokee Nation), art has been a lifelong pursuit and passion. From doodling as a kid to finding early guidance from supportive teachers in Salina, OK, to honing her craft in Northeastern State University’s art program, Kindra finds regenerative joy in art. Today, her work retains the exuberance of that early passion in her vivid colors and playful compositions, particularly in watercolor, a medium to which she finds herself increasingly drawn. She is an active member of Arts Council of Tahlequah, Inkslingers of Tulsa, OVAC, and SEIAA. 


UPDATE: This event has been postponed. Please check back for rescheduling information.

Prof. Jan Wilson, author of Becoming Disabled, will be in conversation with Sara Beam.

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities published a video essay by TU Prof. Sara Beam. In it, Beam explores everyday spaces from the perspective of disability and accessibility. The essay demonstrates that a small shift in perspective can change entirely how we understand any given space. In a similar vein, TU Prof. Jan Doolittle Wilson’s new book asks the audience to perform a shift in perspective, one that explores disability as a concept and a state of mind.

In Becoming Disabled: Forging a Disability View of the World, Jan Doolittle Wilson describes how becoming disabled is to forge a new consciousness, one that challenges ableist discourses and systems. The work intends to create alternative meanings that understand disability as a valuable human variation. Using an autoethnographic approach (i.e. analyzing lived experience), as well as multiple first-person accounts from disabled writers, artists, and scholars, Wilson critiques the disabling impact of language, media, medical practices, educational systems, neoliberalism, mothering ideals, and other systemic barriers. From her own disability view of the world, she demonstrates the value of human interdependency and the necessity of social supports for individual flourishing and happiness. And she offers a powerful vision of a society in which all forms of human diversity are included and celebrated and one in which we are better able to care for ourselves and each other.

Some of the OCH’s central questions regarding freedom– “What does freedom mean? How can we account for both the needs of the community and individual freedoms?”– take on renewed urgency when considered from the perspective of disability. At once a diagnosis of a world that fails to accommodate fully disabilities and a look forward to a better, more inclusive world, Wilson’s book offers us new insights and new perspectives. Join us in celebrating Wilson’s most recent publication.

Dr. Jan Wilson is a professor of history at the University of Tulsa. Her research and teaching interests focus on the history and study of gender, disability, feminism, and sexuality. She recently finished the manuscript for her second book titled The Zoey Prism, which draws on historical analysis, theory, and her personal experiences to offer new perspectives on concepts such as mothering, identity, intersectionality, the gaze, and the meaning of disability. Dr. Wilson lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, Nathan, her children, Zoey and Connor, and dogs Linda and Marlin.

Event to take place February 22 at 7pm. Event to be held at 101 Archer in the Tulsa Arts District downtown.

In the 21st century, machines are learning to write essays, diagnose disease, create visual art, and even write new computer code. As our lives are increasingly guided by artificial intelligence, what are the implications for the humanities, and for human freedom itself? This talk and discussion will explore Renaissance humanism’s origins in a similar moment of technological upheaval and will suggest that humanistic study can articulate concepts of human agency, academic freedom, and truth that are indispensable in the age of the machine.

Professor Blaine Greteman is a Renaissance scholar, both in his field of expertise and in his penchant for exploring wide-ranging topics– such as mapping Renaissance England, medieval and early modern literature, the state of education in today’s political and social climate, and challenges facing the humanities in higher education. If you look through his author pages on sites like Slate and The New Republic, this diversity of interests becomes apparent. As an organization that is committed to the arts and humanities, we’re particularly drawn to his work on the state of the humanities today.

He has written about the experience of teaching Walt Whitman in a time of political uncertainty and social unrest. In another essay, he discusses the impact of Silicon Valley “disruptors” who claim to offer higher education a technological way out of its current mires, such as ballooning student debt and decreasing government funding. And he has also written on the balance humanities educators must strike in maintaining the traditions that make it a valuable field of study, while also adapting to a rapidly changing technological environment.

Most recently, in an article published by Newsweek, Greteman addresses a recent disruption to higher education: ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence software that “can produce uncannily human prose.” Greteman, perhaps surprisingly, embraces such technology, seeing it as an opportunity to let machines help us in our thinking. In his professional life, he writes, he has used AI software to generate poetry and performed “a computational analysis of Shakespeare’s social network.” More than that, however, Greteman understands this moment as an indicatio to shift from an educational model that “tests basic skills in processing, retaining, and communicating information.” Rather educators need to guide students to explore “deeper humanistic questions” that AI software, such as ChatGPT, struggles to compute.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is thrilled to welcome Blaine Greteman for an especially urgent discussion on the role of the humanities and the realities of freedom in the age of AI.

Blaine Greteman is a professor of English at the University of Iowa. He has written two longer scholarly works, The Poetics and Politics of Youth in Milton’s England and Networking Print in Shakespeare’s England. As an educator, he currently directs the University of Iowa’s General Education Literature program, where he supervises about 1,500 undergraduates each semester. He also writes for popular publications including The New Republic, Slate, The Week, and The London Review of Books.

Arts remain focus of District centerpiece

On February 2, 2023, The University of Tulsa leadership announced the acquisition of MAYFEST and the Hardesty Arts Building located at 101 East Archer Street in downtown Tulsa. This purchase ensures the original anchor property for the Tulsa Arts District remains as a centerpiece of the community’s arts scene. The sale of the building allows the Arts and Humanities Council (ahha) to emerge financially whole as an independent 501c3 and Tulsa MAYFEST to continue in 2023 as a program of TU.

“I am thrilled The University of Tulsa is in a position to intervene and bring stability to the Tulsa Arts District through this purchase,” said university President Brad R. Carson. “This truly is a win-win. TU demonstrates, yet again, our commitment to the arts and humanities. The Arts and Humanities Council is on a firm footing going forward, while TU maintains a significant presence at the intersection of Greenwood, the Arts District, and downtown Tulsa.

“The University of Tulsa wants to be a foundation upon which the Tulsa arts community can grow. We envision this building to be the epicenter of the arts and humanities community and we will use it as a community resource.”

Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum transferred the land lease to The University of Tulsa in support of the sale.

“For over a century, The University of Tulsa has helped shape our City’s growth and prosperity. Today is yet another milestone moment in our storied history together,” Mayor Bynum said. “The arts and humanities in Tulsa are an important part of our history, and I want to thank President Carson and the TU Board of Trustees for this valuable investment to ensure Tulsa retains a critical anchor in our thriving and growing arts district.”

Designed by Selser Schaefer Architects for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, the building opened on December 16, 2012, at the northeast corner of East Archer Street and North Boston Avenue in the then emerging Tulsa Arts District. For nearly ten years, the Hardesty Arts Building served as a community centerpiece for the arts until the organization closed its doors on November 4, 2022.

Through this purchase, The University of Tulsa gives the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa a firm financial footing, an office space within the building from which they can rebuild their organization. The University of Tulsa assumes control of Tulsa Mayfest, which ensures the beloved arts festival continues for its 50th anniversary event May 12-14, 2023.

“We are proud to work with The University of Tulsa to ensure the building and Mayfest continue its commitment to art in Tulsa and the region,” said Mendi Dunn, president of the Arts & Humanities Council. “As a proud arts organization, we look forward to a bright new future for arts in the community in the Tulsa Arts District as we continue to keep Tulsa creative.”

With the purchase now complete, TU will begin moving the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, led by Sean Latham, the Pauline McFarlin Walter Endowed Professor of English and Comparative Literature and director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities (OCH) and Switchyard, into 101 East Archer Street this week, as well as the great work of bringing the 50th Tulsa Mayfest to life in 100 short days. Additional uses for the space have yet to be defined.

“With this purchase and TU firmly set in the heart of Tulsa, we can now begin the great work of involving the community to create the most inclusive and engaging art space in America,” said Carson.

Event to take place Feb. 16, 7pm at Tyrell Hall on the University of Tulsa campus.

Susan Briante is the author of Defacing the Monumenta series of essays on immigration, archives, aesthetics and the state. For this work, Briante won the Poetry Foundation’s Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism in 2021. Briante will be in conversation with TAF and OCH fellow Kaveh Basiri to discuss Defacing and perform a poetry reading.

In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly calls the collection “a superb examination of the ethical issues facing artists who tell others’ stories” and a “dazzlingly inventive and searching text.” In another review, author Marie Scarles locates Briante’s focus on “the Southwest border, documenting the cruelty and violence of US immigration policy.” In this political, national/global discussion is also a very personal lyrical element. Briante accounts for herself as affected observer, as activist, as poet, all existing in the same poetic world. Additionally, as Scarles notes, Briante’s book isn’t just about the struggle for justice at the southern US border, but also a meditation on documentary poetics more broadly, tracing its history from James Agee to NourbeSe Philip.

As a whole, this work fits into a trend called documentary poetics, a recently burgeoning genre that uses legal documents, news reportage, testimony, personal experience, and other elements (both fiction and non) to form the basis for its content. What emerges, especially for Briante, is a complex web of information, a narrative perhaps, that attempts to tell a more complete story of an event. Briante’s work hits at the heart of debates about immigration, border control, and the legal system. What does freedom mean to those attempting to cross the US-Mexico border? How is the US embodying its ideal of “freedom” as it relates to immigrants? How does Briante’s innovative work help us to think about these questions? Join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening.

Susan Briante is the author of three books of poetry: Pioneers in the Study of Motion, Utopia Minus, and The Market Wonders. She has received grants and awards from the Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, the Academy of American Poets, the US-Mexico Fund for Culture, and (most recently) the Ucross Foundation. She is a professor of English in the creative writing program at the University of Arizona. There she serves as co-coordinator of the Southwest Field Studies in Writing Program, which brings MFA students to the US-Mexico border to engage in reciprocal research projects with community-based environmental and social justice groups.

Event will take place 5pm on Friday, Feb. 10. Event to be held at the Zarrow Center downtown.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities pleased to host TU Assistant Professor of History, Nicole Bauer, for a talk on her newest book, In the Kingdom of Shadows: Secrecy and Transparency in the French Revolution. In it, Bauer examines the changing attitudes towards secrecy in the eighteenth century, and the development of ideas around government transparency before and after the French Revolution. From the author: “Secrecy can call to mind mystery, darkness, wickedness, and the unknown. Meanwhile the cultural origins of government transparency are equally murky. By looking at the interplay of politics and culture in the French Revolution, we can gain insights into our attitudes towards secrecy today.” Bauer offers at once a history of the idea and impact of secrecy in the French public sphere—it’s politics and influence.

The right to privacy (secrecy) is fundamental to American conceptions of individual freedom; and the ongoing desire for transparent governance fuels many contemporary political discussions, as was made apparent by the January 6 Committee’s investigation and the recent finding of mis-stored classified documents of past and current presidents. How do the concepts of secrecy and transparency contribute to the OCH’s ongoing examination of the nature of freedom? How does Bauer’s research into French history help us to understand better today’s social and political world?  Bauer will address these questions and more in a conversation with OU Professor of History, Jennifer Davis. Join us for what promises to be an informative and interesting evening!

Nicole Bauer is a cultural historian specializing in early modern France. Her current book project explores the history of dreams, compassion, and ideas of the self in early modern Europe. Her research has been supported by the Institut français d’Amérique and the Oklahoma Center for Humanities. She teaches courses on the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, gender and queer theory, and dabbles in film studies.

Event will take place 7pm on Thursday, Feb. 2. Event to be held at Tyrell Hall at the University of Tulsa.

“The Rhyme and Rhythm of Democracy: Why Fact-checking, Media Literacy, and a Knowledgeable Electorate are Not Enough”

Since 2016 those who are concerned about the health of American democracy have been lamenting the easy spread and amplification of bogus claims, vast conspiracy theories, and massive lies through media both social and traditional. This concern is necessary but insufficient. Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan’s talk will argue that pro-democracy Americans must also rediscover the poetry and music of democracy — the stirring rhymes and rhythms. From Walt Whitman to Woody Guthrie to Aaron Copland to Nina Simone to Bruce Springsteen, American democracy has been moved and expanded by stirring appeals to community and humanity, solidarity and freedom. As we rush into a world governed by data and computer code, committed to raw utilitarianism, this talk argues for a revival of more humane American values that could generate better visions and conversations about the America we can build.

Vaidhyanathan’s previous works include Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy, The Googlization of Everything and Why We Should Worry, and The Anarchist in the Library. In one way or another, these works investigate the negative impacts of various technological advancements such as social media websites, search engines and algorithms, and mass data collection and storage. His work serves as a warning, as a diagnosis of dangerous patterns and trends that can harm individuals, their relationships with others, and the community at large. What does freedom and responsibility mean in our digital information age? What dangers does the internet pose to both the ideals and realities of freedom? What possibilities does it enable as the nation continues to strive towards freedom and fairness for all? Join us for what promises to be a fascinating discussion on these issues and one possible solution rooted in the arts and humanities: a return to “the poetry and music of democracy.”

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. Vaidhyanathan directs the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia, which hosts a Democracy Lab, produces  several podcasts, and the Virginia Quarterly Review magazine. He has appeared in an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss early social network services. Vaidhyanathan has appeared in several documentary films, including Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013), Inside the Mind of Google (2009), and Freedom of Expression (2007). Vaidhyanathan has also written for many periodicals, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Bloomberg View, American Scholar, Dissent, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post,, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Nation.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is excited to host an upcoming conference on The All-Black Towns of Oklahoma, an event featuring seven speakers discussing this important legacy of the state. 

On Saturday, February 18, authors, historians, town and state-level leaders, and other experts will convene to explore the concept of all-black spaces and their role in Oklahoma’s history and future. In addition to examining the foundations of the nearly fifty all-black towns that once spanned the state, the conference will also address the decline of the remaining thirteen historic townships, and their potential for opportunity and growth. 

The conference will be held at the Henry Zarrow Center in the heart of Tulsa’s Arts District, and will accompany a curated exhibit on these fascinating towns.  

Obtain your free tickets for this event here.

Conference Schedule

Saturday, February 18 

9:30-10:00am— Catered Breakfast

9:50am— Welcome and Land Acknowledgement

10:00-11:00am   Keynote Address by Karla Slocum

  • “The Enduring Allure of Oklahoma’s Black Towns”

11:15am-12:30pm   Panel I “Foundations”

  • Eli Grayson
  • Mayor Keisha Currin: “Struggle and Hope within Tullahassee, the Oldest Historical Black Town in Oklahoma”
  • Quraysh Ali Lansana: “All-Black Towns Along Route 66”

12:30-1:30pm— Catered Lunch

1:30-3:00pm   Panel II Potential”

  • Hannibal Johnson: “Acres of Aspiration: The All-Black Towns in Oklahoma”
  • Mayor Mildred Burkhalter: “Rentiesville: Our Past, Present, and Future” 
  • State Senator Kevin Matthews: “The Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail” 


The All-Black Towns of Oklahoma exhibit and public lectures have been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the Social Science Research Council.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Social Science Research Council.