Chandler Davis

Chandler Davis

University of Toronto Professor Emeritus

Clement Markert

Clement Markert

(April 11, 1917 – October 1, 1999)

Mark Nickerson

Mark Nickerson

(October 22, 1916- March 12, 1998)

The annual lecture is named for three U-M faculty members—Chandler Davis, Clement Markert, and Mark Nickerson—who in 1954 were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. All invoked constitutional rights and refused to answer questions about their political associations. The three were suspended from the University with subsequent hearings and committee actions resulting in the reinstatement of Markert, an assistant professor who eventually gained tenure, and the dismissal of Davis, an instructor, and Nickerson, a tenured associate professor.

The 2022 Lecture is currently being planned. 


30th Annual Davis, Markert, and Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture

‘Challenges to Academic Freedom in a Changing Landscape, at Home and Abroad.’

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

4 pm – 6 pm

Access Zoom Recording Here

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom three renowned panelists and a moderator participated in a symposium.

Nadje S. Al-Ali

Robert Family Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies, Brown University

Nadje Al-Ali has recently left her long-term position at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS University of London to join Brown as the Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies. Her main research interests revolve around feminist activism and gendered mobilization, mainly with reference to Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Kurdish political movement. Her publications include What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (2009, University of California Press, co-authored with Nicola Pratt); Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (Zed Books, 2009, co-edited with Nicola Pratt); Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (2007, Zed Books), and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press 2000. Her co-edited book with Deborah al-Najjar entitled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press) won the 2014 Arab-American book prize for non-fiction. Prof Al-Ali is also a long-term feminist activist in several transnational organizations and initiatives.

Susan Benesch

Faculty associate at Harvard and adjunct professor at American University. Director of the Dangerous Speech Project.

Susan Benesch founded and directs the Dangerous Speech Project, to study rhetoric that can inspire violence – and to find ways to prevent this without infringing on freedom of expression. To that end, she conducts research on methods to diminish harmful speech online, or the harm itself. She regularly foists related ideas on tech companies, to improve both content moderation and user behavior. Trained as a human rights lawyer at Yale, Susan has worked for NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights First. She is an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service and hosts monthly dinner concerts at her home in DC.

Michael Bérubé

Michael Bérubé is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and former Chair of the University Faculty Senate at Pennsylvania State University, having served as Chair in 2018-19. He is the author of ten books to date, including Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics (Verso, 1994); Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (Pantheon, 1996; paper, Vintage, 1998); and What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “ Bias” in Higher Education (W. W. Norton, 2006). Life as We Know It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 1996 and was chosen as one of the best books of the year (on a list of seven) by Maureen Corrigan of National Public Radio.

In 2015 he published The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, co-authored with Jennifer Ruth (Palgrave). His ninth book, The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read; was published by NYU Press in early 2016; in October 2016, Beacon Press published Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up, which was written with extensive input from Jamie himself.

Professor Bérubé served three terms on the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2009 to 2018, two terms on the AAUP National Council from 2005 to 2011, and two terms on the International Advisory Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes from 2011 to 2017. In 2012 he was president of the Modern Language Association. From 2010 to 2017, he served as the Director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Melanie S. Tanielian

Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Director of the Center for Armenian Studies.

She is a historian of war and society, currently working on a comparative history of psychiatric hospitals during World War I. The project, preliminary titled Transnational Lunacy: Madness, Society and Citizenship in a World at War (1914-1920), is funded by the American Council for Learned Society (ACLS) and the International and Area Studies Division of the Nation Endowment for Humanities. Her 2018 monograph, The Charity of War: Famine, Humanitarian Aid and World War I in the Middle East, tells how the Ottoman home front grappled with total war and how it sought to mitigate starvation and sickness through relief activities. Using Ottoman Beirut as a case study, the book examines the wartime activities of the city’s municipal, philanthropic, and religious institutions and organizations, as well as international and state agencies, and reveals a dynamic politics of provisioning that was central to civilian experiences in the war, as well as to the Middle Eastern political landscape that emerged post-war. Prof. Tanielian has been a member of the Armenian Studies Executive Committee since 2012. As part of the committee, she has organized and co-organized several workshops, among them Teaching about Genocide: Approaches and Challenges and Rescue or Internment: Orphans of the Armenian Genocide. In 2015, Prof. Tanielian together with Prof. Kathryn Babayan curated the Francis W. Kelsey Exhibit: ‘Now or Never’: Collecting, Documenting, and Photographing the Aftermath of World War I in the Middle East to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide.