The Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lecture Series

The Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lecture Series brings a highly regarded scholar to Memorial University every year for a guest lecture.

Scholars chosen to speak at the Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lectureship are academics who have enriched the humanities and social sciences with impactful contributions to their field(s). 

Established as part of the Henrietta Harvey Endowment Fund in 1964, the series has provided our faculty, students and the general public with the opportunity to learn from a well-regarded scholar. Read more about Henrietta Harvey.


2023 Lecturer: Geoffrey Rockwell

"Thinking Through Digital Things: How could big datachatbots like ChatGPT change the way we think through research?

Date: March 17 at 7pm
Venue: Suncor Energy Hall | MUN School of Music

Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell is a Professor of Philosophy with the University of Alberta. He is also:

  • Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study
  • Associate Director of the Artificial Intelligence for Society Signature Area

Lecture abstract:

How could big data, analytical tools, and new chatbots like ChatGPT change the way we think through research?

The use of intellectual aides is not new, but we are now confronted by chatbots trained on massive datasets that can engage in dialogue and write your paper for you. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates tells a story about the invention of writing and how we need to decide whether to use new techniques. In this lecture Geoffrey Rockwell will discuss the temptation to gather and analyze large social media datasets using opaque tools. The ease with which we can study data surrogates in the humanities and social sciences calls for attention to the processes of datafication and care for the tools of analysis.

He will talk about replication as an archaeological practice in the humanities that can unpack the assumptions that go into emerging practices and develop our algorithmic literacy. He will end by calling for an ethics of datafication in the face of generative AIs.

Faculty and students are welcome to nominate a guest lecturer, so long as they follow the guidelines below. Any costs associated with the Lectureship are covered by the Henrietta Harvey Endowment Fund. The Lecturer will be hosted by one or more departments. In person or virtual events are welcomed as deemed appropriate.

Nominations should include

  • The nominee’s CV
  • An email from the nominee expressing a willingness to be nominated
  • A statement justifying the selection of the nominee. It will include a tentative title for the lecture, a brief statement of its significance, and an indication of its likely appeal to members of the university and wider community (maximum 500 words)
  • A detailed budget, following the HH Budget Template(not exceeding $5,000)
  • Approval by the relevant department head(s)

Nominations should be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences by March 1, 2022. They should be submitted by email (

  • The Planning and Research Standing Committee of Faculty Council will adjudicate nominations.
  • The adjudication will consider the following factors:
    • The scope and depth of the nominee’s standing as an academic whose impactful contributions have enriched the humanities and social sciences. the assessment will draw on your nomination latter and the scholar's CV.
    • The significance of the planned public lecture and the appeal of the  lecture to members of the University and the wider community.
    • The extent to which the nominee will contribute to the academic mission of the Faculty.
    • The budget, to ensure it meets the Endowment Fund Terms of Reference.

Past Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lecturers
Winter 2020
  • Writing Ocean Histories with Dr. Helen Rozwadowski, Professor of History and Maritime Studies at the University of Connecticut and author of the 2018 book Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Department of Classics, the Department of History and the Maritime Studies Research Unit at Memorial University.
Winter 2019
  • Dr. Kim TallBear, Sponsored by the Department of Gender Studies.
Fall 2017
  • Dr. Robert Orsi, Sponsored by Department of Religious Studies.
Fall 2015
  • Dr. Riley E Dunlap, Oklahoma State University, Sponsored by Department of Sociology.
Winter 2015
  • Dr. Gavin Bridge, Durham University. Sponsored by Department of Geography.
Fall 2014
  • Dr. Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania. Sponsored by Department of Philosophy.
Fall 2013
Winter 2013
Fall 2012
  • Dr. Sandra Whitworth, York University. Sponsored by Departments of Political Science and Gender Studies.
Fall 2011
Fall 2010
  • Dr. Nigel Waters, George Mason University. Sponsored by Department of Geography.
Fall 2009
  • Dr. Bonnie McCay, Rutgers University. Sponsored by Department of Gender Studies and Department of Sociology.
  • Dr. Marek Zvelebil, University of Sheffield. Sponsored by Department of Archaeology and Department of Anthropology.
Fall 2008
  • Dr. Gianfranco Pasquino, University of Bologna and Johns Hopkins University. Sponsored by Department of Political Science
  • Dr. Mathieu Marion, Université du Quebec à Montréal.Sponsored by Department of Philosophy

Who was Henrietta Harvey? 

Mrs. Henrietta Harvey was a generous benefactress of Memorial University. Born in Nova Scotia in 1878, she first visited St. John's in 1905, accompanied by her mother. The following year she married John Harvey, a St. John's businessman and an important figure in the advancement of education and the fight against tuberculosis in Newfoundland. Mrs. Harvey was widowed in 1920.

When Mrs. Harvey died in 1964, she left a significant bequest to Memorial University. Among the properties were two letters from Rudyard Kipling (she and the Kiplings were warm friends). Memorial University presented these to the University of Dalhousie library, which already had an extensive Kipling collection.

The generous fund which Mrs. Harvey left to the university has been used, in accordance with her wishes, for the general enrichment of University activities in ways which would not otherwise be possible. It was decided that the benefaction would used be for the endowment of Chairs, to cover the costs of special visiting professors, and for the organization of special conferences and lectures.

While her funds were not used for buildings, Memorial's leadership felt it would be fitting to commemorate her gift in a tangible way. In 1970, at a special ceremony honouring Harvey, Memorial University Library was officially named the Henrietta Harvey Library. This library was replaced by a new one named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, which opened in 1982. Today, the Mathematics Building on our campus bears Mrs. Harvey's name.