A Night of Philosophy and Ideas

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas

Saturday, January 26 - Sunday, January 27, 2019
Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University
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The Moody Center for the Arts and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will present A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019, a unique event bringing philosophers, musicians, artists, and authors from around the world together with the Houston community through a series of conversations and performances from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on January 26, 2019, at the Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University.

The event is free and open to the public.

In honor of the Paris Climate Accord and the leadership of the French government in addressing climate change, the theme of the event will be ecology, with a keynote presentation by philosopher and Rice professor Timothy Morton and internationally renowned multi-media artist and performer Laurie AndersonA Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019 will explore how collective dialogue and cultural insights can prompt environmental action and motivate national and international change.

Taking place for the first time in Houston, A Night of Philosophy and Ideas has been held in diverse international cities, including Paris, New York, London, and Berlin, and serves to link Houston to the larger international discourse. Throughout the night and into the early morning, philosophers and performers will present topics and debate ideas on a wide range of issues pertaining to ecology, including how environmental concerns intersect with ethics, religion, anthropology and social justice.

Participants will also enjoy musical performances, film screenings, and interactive performance artworks. NASA oceanographer Josh Willis will perform as Climate Elvis, addressing the science of climate change through popular performance. Artist Jae Rhim Lee will demonstrate the benefits of committing our bodies to a greener Earth through a special burial suit seeded with mushrooms. Open Dance Project will perform periodically in the galleries throughout the night. The evening will culminate in an exuberant midnight performance by New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band.

The Moody has commissioned Houston-based artist Natasha Bowdoin (b. 1981) to create a site-specific work that will fill the 24-foot wall of the Central Gallery. Known for her collage-based works made of cut paper and other materials, Bowdoin investigates the potential intersections of the visual and the literary, channeling the experience of reading into the activity of drawing while reimagining our relationship to the natural world.

An exhibition of new work by the French artist Michel Blazy (b. 1966) will be on view in the Moody’s Brown Foundation Gallery. Exhibiting for the first time in Texas, Blazy is known for working with live and mutating materials in projects that bring attention to the natural transformation of matter over time, often with elements of poetry and humor.

The acclaimed documentary film, Living in the Future’s Past, will play in the Lois Chiles Studio Theater. This beautifully photographed original work, created by Susan Kucera and narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, asks the question, “What kind of future do we want to live in?” and brings new insights into the environmental challenges confronting the modern world.

Throughout the event, refreshments by the event's sponsors Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Buffalo Bayou Brewery will be available for purchase in the Café Philosophes, staged in the Moody’s open creative studio. Free coffee will be provided throughout the evening by Katz Coffee.

The 2019 A Night of Philosophy & Ideas in Houston is being presented in conjunction with La Nuit des idées, a worldwide event taking place in over 100 cities in January 2019.


Laurie AndersonArtist, composer, musician, film director
Guillaume BagnoliniResearch Fellow in Philosophy, Founder of Cosciences, Epsylon Lab, University of Montpellier and Paul Valéry University
Lorraine L. BesserAssociate Professor of Philosophy, Middlebury College
Michel BlazyVisual Artist
Natasha BowdoinAssistant Professor, Painting and Drawing, Rice University
Dominic BoyerProfessor of Anthropology, Director CEHNS (Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences)
Gwen BradfordAssociate Professor of Philosophy, Rice University
Adam BriggleAssociate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas
Justin Brice GuarigliaVisual Artist
Benjamin HaleAssociate Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder
Ragnar HanssonDirector, comedian, filmmaker
Cymene HoweAssociate Professor of Anthropology, Rice University
Dale JamiesonProfessor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Director of the Animal Studies Initiative, New York University
James JustusAssociate Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University
Anne C. KleinProfessor of Religion, Rice University, Co-founder of the Dawn Mountain Center for Tibetan Buddhism
Jae Rhim LeeFounder and Director of the Infinity Burial Project
Renee LertzmanThought leader and advisor in psychology and environmental communications
Timothy MortonRita Shea Guffey Professor and Chair of English, Rice University
Frédéric NeyratAssociate Professor of Comparative Literature and Mellon-Morgridge Professor of Planetary Humanities at UW-Madison
Jeff SeboClinical Professor of Environmental Studies, Affiliated Professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics, and Philosophy, and Director of Animal Studies MA program, New York University
Momoko SetoDirector, writer and cinematographer
Josh WillisOceanographer, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Music by Bayou City Swing, New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band, and KTRU Dance by Open Dance Project




A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is presented in Houston by the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, and produced in connection with La Nuit des idées, a project of the Institut français, Paris. The program is made possible with support from Rice University though the Arts Initiative Fund, the Humanities Research Center, and the Conference and Workshop Development Fund, as well as by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, the Consulat Général de France à Houston, the Institut francais, and Étant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation, and by event partners Phoenicia Specialty Food, Katz Coffee, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, BCI Bonnete Inc, Maisons Marques & Domaines, the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice, the Rice Department of Philosophy, the Rice School of Humanities, FLO Paris French Bakery, and KTRU Radio. Visual identity created by La Reveuse. 


A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Check out the Cultural Events Calendar, a service of Houston Arts Alliance.