Princeton University Press Lectures in European History and Culture

Princeton University Press

The TORCH/Princeton Lectures in European Culture and History is a series which aims to make manifest the commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and public engagement which are so crucially important both to TORCH and to Princeton University Press. 

The aim of the series is to attract scholars of acknowledged international recognition for lectures, and so too consequent books, which will serve as distinctively singular statements.  These might be new syntheses of recent learning, explicit challenges to disciplinary thinking, or suggestions for fresh explorations on the frontiers of a subject.   The pitch and register will be suited to an intellectually curious general public constituency, but should not assume expertise in any discrete area of scholarship. 

The emphasis on European Culture serves both to represent Oxford’s history as a European institution and the fact that the editorial emphasis of Princeton’s humanities output is decidedly more European than British. This thematic emphasis should not, however, be thought of as limiting or in any sense exclusionary. This series welcomes approaches that critically examine its key terms, their global history, and their shifting and contested contemporary resonance.


The books which materialise out of the lectures will be of modest length of between 35,000 and 50,000 words.  The format is meant to be inviting to prospective general readers and entirely compatible with what will essentially be extended essays of a provocative and indeed polemical quality.


The 2022 lecture series ran on the 1st, 3rd and 8th November at Levine Auditorium, Trinity College.This year's lectures were given by Professor William Marx. Professor Marx is a writer, researcher, and Professor of Comparative Literature at the Collège de France.  He received the Montyon Prize of the Académie française in 2010  and was elected a member of the Academia Europaea in 2022. He is the author of The Hatred of Literature (2018) and The Tomb of Oedipus: Why Greek Tragedies Were not Tragic (2022).

The 2022 lecture series was on the subject of 'Libraries of the Mind': “Minds are libraries. We never read texts in a vacuum, but rather draw on other texts on our mental shelves, which contextualize, sort, and steer our understanding of the ones we hold in our hands. These mental shelves go by different names: the canon, heritage, patrimony, tradition.... These shelves might appear to be invisible, but they are in truth inseparable from the material and visible libraries which exist in our real world, and with which they share an intertwined history.”


The three lectures in the 2022 Princeton University Press Lecture Series in European Culture and History explored this concept of 'libraries of the mind', and the effect on our knowledge and enjoyment of literature.


The recordings of the three 2022 lectures are now available:


1: Recording of Lecture 1: Libraries of the Mind: (1st November, 2022)

2: Recording of Lecture 2: The Dark Matter of Literature: (3rd November, 2022)

3: Recording of Lecture 3: The World Library, or, Beyond World Literature: (8th November, 2022)



Past Events