Texas Tech University


The Humanities Center at Texas Tech Announces Value/Values As Its Theme for 2023-2024

What is the difference between “value” and “values”?  Why does the plural form of the word connote morality while the singular suggests exchange?  What inheres in the word's basic meaning that unites these two seemingly disparate realms?  Etymologically, “value” stems from an Indo-European root meaning “to have strength.” More proximately, the word comes into English from French, via the Latin verb valeo.  Valeo connotes strength, health, and power, but is also used to describe the worth of goods as well as the meaning of words.  Strangely, the moral dimension that is so prominent in the word's modern versions is absent from its ancient precursor.  While an etymology controls a word's meaning no more than its other historical and social contingencies, this information does offer a point of entry for considering the discrepancy between these two senses of value.  

For 2023-2024, the Humanities Center at Texas Tech will program events around the theme Value/Values.  We will explore the range of meanings across these two words through conversations across humanities disciplines.  Among the questions that will frame our programming are:  What are the historical conditions—material, political, economic, social--that produce and exclude values? How does value entail practices of interpretation? How do we think about aesthetic value both in the past and today? How do different disciplinary frameworks render values legible? How do systems of political value produce systems of devaluation across identities and subject positions?  

Throughout the year, we will explore the friction between values and value—between pluralistic and normative conceptions of value. What are we doing, exactly, when we evaluate something?  And what does that mean about the assumptions we bring to our habit of assessment, moral and otherwise? 

September 2023 Humanities Featured Scholar

Dr. Theresa Flanigan

The Humanities Center is pleased to introduce our September 2023 Humanities Featured Scholar, Dr. Theresa Flanigan. To learn more about Dr. Flanigan, please visit: September 2023 Featured Scholar


Post-Doctoral Fellow

For more details on the 2023-2024 Post-Doctoral Fellowship call, see:

Post-Doctoral Fellowship






Donations to the Humanities Center assist all of our free programming and contribute to the research support we offer to faculty and graduate students.


Upcoming Events

Oct. 5

Dr. Marcus Folch October 5 7pm

Dr. Marcus Folch (Columbia University) will present "Prisons Before Penitentiaries: Incarceration in the Ancient Mediterranean."

This talk considers the role of the prison in the ancient Greco-Roman Mediterranean, with particular emphasis on classical Athens. Whereas prisons are recognized as part of the fundamental architecture of the modern state, it is often assumed that in antiquity prisons were merely jails: temporary detention facilities for short-term custody of inmates before trial and after conviction. As such, prisons are thought to have played a limited role in ancient history. In this presentation, Marchs Folch pushes against the conventional, custodial model of ancient imprisonment. He makes two arguments. First, Folch suggests that prisons were—and were perceived as—integral parts of premodern states. In other words, prison was a thing, and imprisonment was far more prevalent in ancient societies than previously thought. Second, prison in the ancient Mediterranean has a history, a history profoundly shaped by fifth and fourth century Athenian democracy. The dynamics of political polarization and intra-elite competition in classical Athenian democracy produced a model of incarceration that outlasted Athenian democracy itself. Long after Athens' experiment in direct democracy came to an end, ancient authors, politicians, and religious innovators continued to represent the prison and prisoners within conceptual categories that emerged in the democratic period of Athenian history.

Marcus Folch joined the Columbia Classics Department in 2009, after receiving his B.A. in Classics from Cornell University in 2000 and his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 2006.

He is the author of The City and the Stage: Performance, Genre, and Gender in Plato's Laws (Oxford University Press), and his interests include ancient Greek literature, philosophy, rhetoric, performance studies, gender theory, and the history of punishment and incarceration.


For a complete list of events, please visit: UPCOMING EVENTS.


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