The Bebe Koch Petrou Speaker Series was established in 1990 through the generous gift of an endowment from the John and Bebe Petrou Foundation.
This series, the most prestigious in our department, honors Bebe Koch Petrou, the late wife of John Petrou and a Maryland graduate. Their son, David, an alumnus of our department, was instrumental, with his father, in setting up the original lecture series. In 2010 the Petrou family kindly allowed the English department to expand Petrou events to include writers-in-residence, readings, multiple lectures, and conferences. Petrou events are intended to be the “hallmark of distinguished academic excellence.”
The department’s signature series varies depending upon goals identified by the chair and others, but consistently brings top-rated scholars and authors to contribute vitality and currency to departmental conversations and inquiries.
- April 25, 2019: Nikhil Pal SIngh, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History; Faculty Directory NYU Prison Education Program. New York University. "The Subject of Black Radicalism" (Keynote Address for Genealogies + Futures of Black Aesthetics Conference)
- October 23, 2018: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, "Refugees, Immigrants, Americans: Changing Our Stories" (ARHU Dean's Lecture Series, First Year Book, Im/Migration Initiative)
- September 14, 2017: Lisa Lowe, Distinguished Professor of English, Tufts University, “Archives, Materiality, History.”
- March 10, 2017: Caryl Phillips, Professor of English, Yale University, “A Sense of Home”(Keynote for “Forming Black Britain Conference”).
- October 22, 2015: Sianne Ngai, Professor of English, Stanford University, “Theory of the Gimmick.”
- October 30, 2014: Bill Brown, Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture, University of Chicago, “The Unhuman Condition (Hannah Arendt/Bruno Latour).”
- March 27, 2014: Jonathan Sterne, James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology, McGill University, “Are People Analog?” (Keynote for “SoundPlus Conference”).
- October 26, 2012: W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor in English and Art History, University of Chicago, “Seeing Madness.”