The 2023 Nuveen Lecture

Thursday, October 12, 2023 
Swift Lecture Hall 
A reception will follow 

Note: This lecture is now available on our YouTube channel.

The Divinity School is pleased to announce that Ada Palmer, Associate Professor of Early Modern European History, will deliver the 2023 Nuveen Lecture. Her lecture will be entitled "Why We Censor, from the Inquisition to the Internet."

The lecture will be Thursday, October 12, 2023 at 4:30pm in Swift Lecture Hall (3rd floor; elevator available). We will also offer a livestream of the event. A dinner reception will follow. 

Palmer’s work in intellectual history explores how history and thought shape each other over time. She focuses on the Italian Renaissance, a time when ideas about science, religion, and the world that had developed in the Middle Ages met those of the ancient world, reconstructed from rediscovered sources. 

In addition to her appointment in the History Department and the College, she is affiliated faculty with the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies; Associated Faculty in the Department of Classics, a Senior Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts in the College, and a Faculty Member in Medieval Studies, in Renaissance Studies, and in the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge (for which she is also a Faculty Fellow). She was the recipient, in 2021, of the University of Chicago’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. 

Professor Palmer’s current research focuses on patterns in the history of the real motives of censors over space and time, from antiquity to the digital age, especially the Inquisition and early modern censorship, and 20th century censorship of popular media, with special interest in how innovations in information technology trigger waves of new censorship.

The author of numerous scholarly articles and two monographs, including Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance (Harvard University Press, 2014), Palmer is also a novelist and a composer, whose creative projects explore the relationship between ideas and historical change. Her reach extends as well to comics, anime, podcasting, and manga. She has written a four-part science fiction series (Terra Ignota); the first in that series, Too Like the Lightning, won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, among other honors. 

Palmer has a number of forthcoming and current projects, including scholarly papers, two novels, and a popular press book (Why Renaissance? Invention of a Golden Age), which aims to present to a general audience how and why the ideas of a golden Renaissance and dark Middle Ages were invented. 

John S. Nuveen was one of Chicago’s most influential business leaders and an active civil and cultural leader with ties to many educational institutions. At the University of Chicago, he served as chairman of the University’s Alumni Association and as a trustee of the Baptist Theological Union, which established the Nuveen lecture in 1972 and manages an endowment that supports the University of Chicago Divinity School. Each year, a prominent member of the University's faculty is invited by the Divinity School to deliver the lecture. Past lecturers have included Wu Hung, Janet Rowley, Tahera Qutbuddin, and Leon Kass.