Named for Craig (’75) and Deborah Cogut in recognition of their generous support, the Cogut Center for the Humanities was originally launched in the fall of 2003 as the Brown Humanities Center to support collaborative research among scholars in the humanities. Long before the center’s founding, scholars in the humanities at Brown began to challenge and redefine the foundational categories of the humanities in the largest sense, asking what it means to be human. Over the years, they have built new concepts at the interstices of the old disciplines and across the boundaries of national cultures. Scholars of the ancient, medieval, and early modern worlds are still recovering ways of thinking that give us new concepts with which to imagine and conduct research. Others working on modern and contemporary cultures – on the language, literature and culture of the post-colony or the complex and often self-contradictory messages with which new media bombard us – continue to change the horizons of the humanities. In this respect, humanities scholars at Brown have long been working toward a common goal.
The Cogut Center closes the gap between the interdisciplinary character of Brown University's humanities research faculty and the tangible support for collaborative research among scholars in the humanities, moving Brown decisively ahead of its peers. The center takes full advantage of the most successful features of existing humanities centers, focusing on the connections between our cultural and linguistic past and the digital age now emerging. In view of recent geopolitical changes, the Cogut Center stresses the importance of comparative work across cultural and linguistic boundaries.