Humanities Festival

Downtown Cultural District

March 26 – 29
Various times

A new first comes to town this weekend when the inaugural Pittsburgh Humanities Festival brings world-renowned academics, artists and intellectual innovators for 20-plus interviews, conversations and performances exploring the human condition.

Setting up shop at venues located throughout downtown’s Cultural District, as well as in neighboring locations, the first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh festival runs March 26-29. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Carnegie Mellon’s Humanities Center have teamed up to launch the annual forum for focusing on rich and relevant topics ranging from art, literature and identity to science policy and politics.

It’s smart stuff that matters, as they say.

Featured speakers include Iranian writer and professor Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, who will discuss the role of fiction and democratic imagination in society, why we need humanities during times of crisis and more.

Also headlining are Tony Award nominee Kathleen Chalfant and award-winning actress and singer Tonya Pinkins. The pair will perform Robert Myers’ new play, Twilight Country, which explores the unique friendship that develops between a white female writer and the mother of a deceased black veteran who meet in Asheville, NC in 1948 and read Dante’s Inferno together.

Sure to be a festival hit is famed actor and human rights activist, George Takei, who’s been dubbed the “#1 most influential person on Facebook.” Best known around the globe for starring as Hikaru Sulu in the hit TV show Star Trek, and now the subject of a new documentary, Takei is a refreshing voice today exploring worlds of technology, current events and pop culture. A VIP ticket will get you access to a pre-show meet & greet with the man himself.

The festival’s impressive lineup of award-winning figures also features filmmakers John Sayles and Tony Buba, performance artists Vanessa German and Cynthia Hopkins, Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis, Economist correspondent Sarah Thornton, poet Terrance Hayes, Mexican DJ Smurphy, authors Frances Bartkowski and Israel Centeno, Queer History Project co-directors Tim Haggerty and Harrison Apple, Andy Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik and more.

View a complete festival schedule and see all ticket options.

Download a festival brochure.

Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.