Conceived as a complement to the Balch seminar curriculum, the speaker series brings together the entire freshman class for a conversation with an author whose work they may just have encountered in class. The format — a formal lecture followed by an informal conversation and an even more informal dessert reception — provides the perfect combination of intellectual engagement, excitement, and fun.
In recent years, the Balch Speaker Series has featured award-winning novelist and essayist Zadie Smith; novelist and MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Karen Russell; and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.
The 2017 speaker was author and historian Jill Lepore, who appeared on campus on Oct. 26 for an interview and question-and-answer session, followed by the dessert reception.
The 2018 speaker was acclaimed writer and scholar Roxane Gay, author of works such as bestsellers Bad Feminist, Difficult Women, and Hunger. She appeared on campus on Nov. 6.