Lewis Hyde: The Common Self


Thursday, November 6, 6:00 p.m.
Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Dr.

Lewis Hyde is a poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic with an interest in the public life of the imagination. His book, The Gift (1983), much-embraced by artists, illuminates the non-commercial artistic practice, while Trickster Makes This World (1998) uses ancient myths to argue for a kind of disruptive intelligence that cultures need to remain flexible and open to change, highlighting the special role of artists. Most recently with Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (2010), he defends our cultural commons of inherited ideas, inventions, and art.

Hyde's talk will explore what it means to think of creativity in non-individualist terms. With the American myth of individualism in mind, he will look to a counter-narrative found in South Asia, where we are told persons are not imagined to be "individual" (indivisible and bounded) but regarded as "dividual" (divisible and open), existing by virtue of the world around them. Where might we find the dividual artistic self, and what would that self look like? 

Hyde is an affiliate of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard and the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College. Among his many awards, he is a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

Presented on the occasion of A Lived Practice symposium, held in conjunction with the exhibition A Proximity of Consciousness: Art and Social Action at SAIC's Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th floor).


Lewis Hyde’s website

“A Republic of Letters,” The New York Times, by Robert Darnton

“Lewis Hyde: Gift-Giver, Trickster, Defender of Forgetting,” Radcliffe Magazine, by Lloyd Schwartz

“Lewis Hyde: In Defense of the Cultural Commons,” Walker Magazine, by Sarah Peters & Sarah Schultz

“What Is Art For?,” The New York Times, by Daniel B. Smith


Lewis Hyde [MP3]


Lewis Hyde. Photo: Reuben Cox