The Francis A. McAnaney Humanities Lecture is the new name of the humanities scholar series at Saint Mary’s College, formerly known as the Christian Culture Lecture. Over the years, this lecture series has welcomed remarkable writers, historians, philosophers, and theologians to campus. 

The programming was first established at the College in 1957 by the late Professor Bruno P. Schlesinger. Schlesinger laid the foundation for a humanities major at Saint Mary’s, modeling the program after the British cultural historian Christian Dawson’s suggestions for a liberal education. 

Continuing for a quarter century, the lectures brought to campus such distinguished scholars as Mircea Eliade, Jaroslav Pelikan, Brian Tierney, and Lawrence Stone. In 2006, thanks to the generosity of a 1961 graduate of the program, Susan Fitzgerald Rice, and her husband, Donald B. Rice, the series was revived.

In 2022, The Francis A. McAnaney Humanities Lecture was endowed by a gift from the Peter B. and Adeline W. Ruffin Foundation to continue this important cultural lecture series in perpetuity.

By bringing Saint Mary’s students, faculty, and the larger public into contact with leading humanities scholars, the series is intended to kindle intellectual excitement in a new generation.

The purpose of the McAnaney Lecture is to highlight prominent figures in the humanities to not only the college campus, but also the community. The McAnaney Lecture allows students to meet with nationally and internationally recognized authors, theologians, lawyers, and others who have experience in the Humanities field.

– Laura Williamson
Associate Professor
Department of Humanistic Studies

The National Advisory Council

Each year the National Advisory Council for the humanities scholar series, now known as the Francis A. McAnaney Humanities Lecture, convenes on campus to plan for future lectures. The council also participates in discussions with students and faculty aimed at enhancing the humanities at Saint Mary’s College. Current members of the council are: Paula Lawton Bevington '58, Judith Rauenhorst Doerr '74, Gracie Guebert Foxwell '07, Kathleen McAnaney Glaser '65, Kristen McAndrew '94, Lucy Macfarlane '14, Susan V. McGury '80, Donald B. Rice, Susan Fitzgerald Rice '61, Suzanne Richards '69, Rachael Stowe '07, Margaret Rodgers Taylor '78, and Lucia Anna Trigiani '80.   

Department of Humanistic Studies

Unique to Saint Mary’s College, the Department of Humanistic Studies has remained a vital enterprise since its founding in 1956. Each year about a dozen students enter the major, and many more are introduced to the program through general education classes. Humanistic Studies majors spend two years systematically studying Western culture from classical antiquity to the present. In discussion courses focused on the great books, they examine the literature, history, and art of each cultural epoch, paying particular attention to the role of Christianity and women in shaping Western society. 

The program houses the College’s first endowed professorship, the Bruno P. Schlesinger Chair in Humanistic Studies, now held by Professor Philip Hicks. Since its inception, the program has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most intellectually stimulating courses of study at the College. It boasts award-winning students and faculty, and many of its graduates are among Saint Mary’s most accomplished alumnae.