Established in honor of Mary Flexner, a Bryn Mawr graduate of the class of 1895, the Lectureship has brought some of the world's best-known humanists to campus. The pioneering Egyptologist James H. Breasted gave the first series of Mary Flexner Lectures in 1928-29, followed in later years by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arnold Toynbee, Isaiah Berlin, I.A. Richards, Erwin Panofsky, Frank Kermode, Natalie Zemon Davis, Anthony Appiah, and Judith Butler, among others.
Holders of the Mary Flexner Lecturership typically give a series of talks that introduce their scholarship and present new chapters or developments in that work. While in residence, they engage in seminars and discussions with faculty and with undergraduate and graduate students. Lecturers publish the work they develop during their Flexner residency with Harvard University Press.