Faculty Profile: John Gibson
“I hope he’s not going in the winter!” That’s what we were all saying when we learned that Professor Gibson would be traveling to Sweden next year. Why? John, along with his co-PI, Dr. Elisabeth Schellekens of Uppsala Universitet, won a prestigious and extremely competitive Templeton Foundation grant! The Templeton Foundation awarded Gibson and Schellekens $233,000 to support their project “Perception, Knowledge, and the Prospects of Criticism.” Among other things, the grant will fund a post-doctoral researcher and a series of workshops, and will help to establish and support international collaborations on themes related to the project. This is truly an incredible accomplishment and a clear indication of John’s preeminence in his field. The award will also bring visibility to our department, both within and outside of UofL.
It’s not John’s first innovative, grant-funded initiative. Last year, with funding from the Delmas Foundation, John worked with Prof. Janna Segal in the Department of Theatre Arts, and the students in both of their classes, to create a Zoom theatre production of Plato’s Symposium. Although his initial intention was only to work with students on understanding and interpreting the text, a last-minute change of plans required John to play the role of Aristodemus on short notice. The production – which you can watch on YouTube – was a triumph. In 2,500 years, Plato’s Symposium has rarely if ever been done with such vigor, clarity of vision, and, well, love. And Aristodemus was a surprisingly big part of it!
John recently concluded a five-year stint as director of the Commonwealth Center for Humanities and Society, during which time he hosted conferences, sponsored speakers, and funded five cohorts of faculty fellows whose interdisciplinary work broke boundaries in a wide variety of fields. This fall he’ll be teaching Philosophy through Literature and Film, and Philosophy and the Arts.