Slavic and Comparative Literature
'Psychoanalysis and Culture'
This faculty seminar is imagined as a survey of the engagement between psychoanalytic theory and the field of humanities broadly conceived. Starting with the basic assumptions of psychoanalysis regarding the unconscious, repression, trauma and sexuality, we will trace the development of these concepts and their influence on a variety of disciplines: anthropology, social theory, political philosophy, literary studies, etc.
'Slavery and Emancipation in the United States'
This seminar has two goals. First, it seeks to create a sustained conversation across the disciplines about the character of U.S. slavery, the forces that converged to dismantle it, and the nature of the “emancipation” that followed. Second, it will serve as a launching pad for a broader and more public conversation during the following academic year (2012-13), which will be the 150th anniversary of the formal, national emancipation that began during the Civil War.
Anne Enke, History, Gender and Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, UW-Madison
Judith Houck, Medical History and Bioethics, Gender and Women’s Studies, History of Science, UW-Madison
What is LGBTQ studies, and what can it offer the humanities today? Scholars across the humanities now widely recognize that gender, sexuality, and even concepts of “queer” have been fundamental organizing principles in many cultural contexts: every humanities discipline now produces scholars whose primary expertise reflects an LGBTQ studies lens; many college and graduate courses contain at least a nod to the relevance and multiplicity of systems for regulating and enacting gender and sexuality. In ways unimaginable just a decade ago, it is now possible and useful to ask how the mainstreaming of LGBTQ topics has affected LGBTQ studies, and vice versa. What logics guide the ever-lengthening acronym such that Gay and Lesbian Studies now may include Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, and Intersexuality Studies? Does LGBTQ Studies imply the same rubric, or a different rubric, than gender studies and sexuality studies? How have other vital areas of inquiry such as critical race studies, subaltern studies, transnational and migration studies, gender studies, and body studies challenged lesbian and gay studies and vice versa?
This Faculty Development Seminar begins with such questions in order to examine the interdisciplinary tensions that have given rise to LGBTQ studies as a set of analytical and methodological lenses of interest to scholars in every field and subfield of humanities. We organize the seminar around keywords designed to elicit these tensions. For example, Globalization studies simultaneously encouraged critique of the ethnocentric concepts of gender and sexuality in North American lesbian and gay studies, while proliferating universalizing discourses of “gay rights as global human rights.” Scholarly attention to globalization may have been integral to the emergence of “queer” as an analytical lens that attempts to circumvent neoliberal and imperial formulations of the sexed and gendered subject. The keywords chosen are not designed as topics of the acronym (such as bisexuality), nor are keywords concepts that have been integrated into LGBTQ studies (such as racialization). Instead, each keyword reflects a vital “moment” in the transformations that comprise LGBTQ studies’ ongoing relevance. The order follows developments in the fields, but is also designed such that each key word may evoke and enhance the others. This structure, like a web, allows participants across disciplines to enter the conversation, and it does not require prior background in LGBTQ studies.
Ultimately, our goal is to bring faculty together from across the humanities to read, discuss, and debate moments in LGBTQ studies. Many faculty members and students at UW-Madison campus work on LGBTQ topics and with LGBTQ tools. But, unlike most of our peer institutions, UW has no formal venue to support faculty collaboration in LGBTQ studies. Indeed, our work and our interests may be unknown to our colleagues in the larger university community. With this seminar, we hope to enrich the intellectual labors of the participants. We anticipate that this will expand the analytical conversation on campus in a lasting way as it fosters nascent interest, builds ties across disciplines, and encourages cross- and inter-disciplinary research and collaboration in LGBTQ studies.
In times when cosmopolitanism, postnationalism, inter- and even transdisciplinarity are central concepts in contemporary debates about the future of the university and the humanities in particular, it is appropriate and necessary to step back for a moment and ask who the agent and patient of these –isms or –ity are. Since antiquity, humanitas and its derivatives have been terms that convey both a quantitative and a qualitative meaning, referring to all human beings on the one hand and the specific quality of the human being on the other. Humanitas has served for more than two thousand years as a cornerstone in the fundament of very diverse cultures. The goal of this seminar is twofold. On the one hand, we want to identify the position that humanitas/humanity has held in cultures of the past in order to find out whether there is a core value that remains constant throughout all the Protean changes of this concept. Was ‘dignity’ always Dignity? Was ‘human’ always Human? On the other hand, we want to investigate the multiple forms this concept has taken on in different discourses such as literature, politics, philosophy, anthropology, and the arts. That is, how has humanitas been emplotted, sculpted, painted, acted out, defined? For more details on the seminar, see here.
Russ Castronovo, English, UW-Madison
Nan Enstad, History, UW-Madison
'American Studies: Keywords and Problems'
Our goal with this seminar is to constitute an engaged intellectual community on campus around the diverse field of “American studies.”Unlike most of our peer institutions, the University of Wisconsin does not have an institutionalized program in American studies. For the past several years, under the loose rubric of the “American Studies Collective,” there have been various endeavors to bring together a group of faculty and graduate students on campus who are interested in American studies. The ensuing conference (“States of Emergency”), guest lectures, and conversations have been successful in eliciting interest and participation. Last year, the Ethnic Studies Cluster (many members of which already participated in American studies conversations) joined with the American Studies Collective to form the Comparative United States Studies Cluster. As is often true on our large and diverse campus, however, events typically draw a somewhat different crowd each time, depending on topic and the vagaries of individuals’ schedules. In addition, American studies is a broad and complex field, the boundaries of which are continually in debate and flux. Our hope for this seminar, then, is to create a more sustained conversation among a mixed group of faculty, some of whom would be new to American studies and others who have considerable expertise in this interdisciplinary field. For more details on the seminar, see here.
'Higher Education: Aims and Justice'
Higher Education is a perennial topic of controversy in America. Whereas 100 years ago private Universities were essentially finishing schools for a social elite, while public universities were training institutions for professionals, state bureaucrats and farm managers. Few people attended either. College attendance is now a gateway to middle class and professional life of which now about 40% of each cohort has some experience. Most states have one or two public institutions which attempt to compete with the elite private institutions while also serving a heavily subsidized education for non-elite students, while most private institutions try to provide a niche experience for students from elite backgrounds. Unlike other post-secondary institutions, Universities and Colleges do not regard themselves exclusively as training institutions, but promise a liberal education to all students, one which will challenge and transform them not only into effective workers, but into better citizens and better, more successful people. Elite higher education (provided by the flagship public universities, the Ivy League schools and their close competitors) promises a liberal/transformative experience for the student, and also promises substantially better prospects for getting good jobs, higher status and higher income. For more details on the seminar, see here.
Caroline Levine, English, UW-Madison
Lew Friedland, Journalism & Mass Communication, UW-Madison
Popular culture has seen a rising excitement about technological networks and social networking websites. Meanwhile, scholars working in engineering, mathematics, biology, and the social sciences have argued for the importance of networks to the understanding of a vast array of phenomena: not only new media technologies but gene-protein interactions, community building, human and animal brains, ecosystems, transportation, and terrorism. The humanities, on the other hand, have offered relatively little analysis of the network as a concept. And yet, if we look closely at the language of scholarship in the humanities, it turns out that networks have in fact been powerfully at work there for a long while, though in largely unarticulated ways. Humanists struggling to capture the complex flows of meanings, bodies, information, material objects, and power have often relied on the term “network” without explicitly theorizing it. These scholars routinely use the concept to refer to trade routes, the circulation of print, colonial administration, and even meaning itself—the web of connotations and associations within which a particular text takes shape. Indeed, the very notion of cultures as networks has become pervasive. It therefore seems urgent for the humanities to join the social and natural sciences and engineering in explicitly thinking through the biological, social, technological, and cultural importance of networks. For more details on the seminar, see here.
Digital humanities is an emerging area that draws on such fields as media studies, humanities computing, and new media arts. It brings together scholars working on, with, or through digital technology, whether it be studying computers' impact on society, inventing electronic research tools, creating multimedia work, or incorporating online activities into teaching and learning. The National Endowment for the Humanities recently upgraded their Digital Humanities Initiative into a standing Digital Humanities Office, thus signaling this area's importance to 21st-century humanities. This seminar focuses on enhancing and developing digital humanities across the UW-Madison campus. The faculty seminar is developmental in two ways: it seeks to develop faculty knowledge of digital humanities, while also applying this knowledge toward the development of digital humanities at UW-Madison. For more details on the seminar, see here.
Jill Casid, Visual Culture, Art History, UW-Madison
Theresa Kelley, English, UW-Madison
This seminar investigates visuality’s remarkable presence in contemporary culture and the academy, its sustained involvement in the long arc of modernity, and its emergent futurity. The work of the seminar emphasizes the modes of visuality which have shaped much of what we take today to be new or unprecedented in visual culture: its unsettling of disciplinary boundaries, its role in debates about the categories of the human and the non human and now the posthuman, its presence in global inquiry and histories, its vexed relation to truth claims and the role of other kinds of sensory knowledge. Much of visual thinking in modernity has turned on its relation to actuality, whether visual media produce simulacra of the world as, for example, aids to scientific presentation and investigation, the rise of photography from the so-called nature prints of the early nineteenth century, and so on. The readings for the seminar emphasize a skeptical reading of visuality’s relation to the “real” and a wide ranging investigation of the stakes of the visual in contemporary and emergent cultural life. One goal of the seminar is to ask how a more complex historicization of these topics and disciplinary engagements can contribute to a more nuanced and powerful account of visual theories and practices. The seminar readings pursue these questions by examining several topics: pre-modern and early modern visuality; interactions among vision, science and spectacle; the role of visual representation in slavery and empire; the ethics of the visual; religion; a visual history of the post human; the visual economies at work in globalization, transnationalism and transculturation; and the tyranny of the vision. For more details on the seminar, see here.
Susan Stanford Friedman
'Migration and Diaspora: Cultural Theory and Representation'
The seminar will explore current theory and its implications for understanding aesthetic practice in the exploding field of migration and diaspora studies. The most recent phase of globalization-enhanced by the new technologies of communication, information, and warfare-has intensified the global movements of people, goods, ideas, cultural practices, and money to epic proportions. What is often called "the new migration"-the massive transcontinental movement of peoples in the post-World War II era-has been the subject of extensive theorization and scholarship. This emphasis on recent migration on a global scale has also reinvigorated the study of migration in earlier historical periods, with many arguing that human mobility, civilizational clashes and intermixing, and global cultural flows have been endemic to the human species since the beginning. What is developing, in my view, is a new paradigm for reading human cultures and civilizations, one that supplants the older model of cultural and civilizational exceptionalism with a framework that emphasizes networks and relationality, bringing into the foreground interculturalism, borders and borderlands, and hybridic formations even as these occur in situations of great inequality, violence, and conquest. The seminar will work to build bridges between theories of migration and diaspora in the humanities and social sciences. While cultural theory in the humanities is particularly adept at dealing with visual and verbal forms of representation and the subtleties and variations embedded in texts, cultural theory in the social sciences has produced concepts that foster comparative work and theorization across different ethnic, racial, and national groups. Our seminar will aim to put these two strengths (with their concomitant limitations) in dialogue-using, for example, the sociological models of push/pull and circulation migration to illuminate literary or cinematic migration narratives; and using theories of memory, loss, and the fictionalizing imagination to add a phenomenological and linguistic dimension to social science modeling and typology. Several edited collections are now available that encourage this kind of interdisciplinary conversation: e.g., Theorizing Diaspora (Braziel and Mannur); Migration Theory: Talking cross the Disciplines (Bretell and Hollifield); The New Immigration: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Suarez-Orozco et al.); and Writing across Worlds: Literature and Migration (King et al.). Additionally, some important theorists themselves work across the humanities and social science divide-e.g., sociologist Nikos Papastergiadis and anthropologists Avtar Brah and James Clifford. Possible issues to be explored include the contexts for the newly invigorated field of migration and diaspora studies; the multiples meanings and models of diaspora and migration; the relation of migration and diaspora to conquest, colonialism, postcolonialism, refugeeism, political exile, etc.; the heterogeneity of diasporic groups, especially by gender, class, sexuality, caste, religion (etc.); the problematics and potentials of assimilation, acculturation, and transculturation; nativism and the hostility of hostlands; generational conflicts and continuities in the (re)production of culture; the role of language and other cultural practices in migratory experiences; the significance of memory for the production of what Salman Rushdie calls "imaginary homelands"; the phenomenological dimensions of migration and diaspora (loss, between worlds, nostalgia, depression, exhilaration, etc.); etc. For more details on the seminar, see here.
Jeremi Suri, History, UW-Madison
Jonathan Zeitlin, Sociology, Political Science, UW-Madison
This faculty development seminar will focus on the topic of "international governance." This is an area of research that has drawn major interest in the last decade from scholars in numerous humanistic and social science disciplines. The growing dangers attributed to unfettered competition among states in a world of proliferating weapons, rapid environmental degradation, and widening economic inequality have pushed diverse observers to contemplate alternatives to Westphalian presumptions about state sovereignty. The nation-state, in this sense, has lost some of its historical legitimacy. Numerous groups and institutions have coalesced in recent years to offer new approaches to governance on a transnational scale. Our seminar will not seek to build expertise about particular proposals for international governance, nor will it offer any proposals of its own. Instead, we will seek to interrogate the core conceptual issues behind the movement toward international governance. We will treat this topic as central humanistic dilemma - how to build order in diversity, cooperation with competition. In addressing questions of international governance in these terms we will take a broad approach, interrogating some of the most influential public discourses, historical experiences, and contemporary experiments with international governance. We will also examine some of the criticisms of globalization, especially those that question its effects on local culture, political accountability, and social equality. We expect that this is an approach that can draw fruitfully on many different humanistic fields of study, and contribute to the research of many diverse humanities scholars. For more details on the seminar, see here.
'Ovidianism: the Metamorphosis of Ovid'
The project of the seminar is a study of Ovid’s poetry, with a particular focus on its reception. How was this most protean of poets appropriated and transformed by different writers, artists and thinkers in different ages? What are the reasons for his enduring appeal now? Ovid is among the most influential of Roman poets, if not the most influential today. He had a major impact upon European intellectual history, literature, and art. The seminar will engage in a two-way process: the exploration of the influence his writings had upon later eras will shed fresh light on the original texts. The investigation moreover of why certain of his works were in vogue at various periods while others were excluded or marginalized, will tell us much about changing literary, social and political climates. But we will not deal only with Ovid’s works but with the poet himself as a figure of political exile around whom various myths accrued; hence we will be studying the phenomenon of ‘Ovidianism’. Clearly I am not an expert in all the disciplines upon which Ovid’s poetry had a major impact. I hope that the participation of an interdisciplinary group of faculty, for instance scholars in the disciplines of English, French and Italian, Art History, History, Comparative Literature and Classics, will shed new light upon and provide new directions for the study of this most protean of writers. The methods will differ from an ordinary seminar in that I will ask participating faculty to lead discussion in their particular areas of expertise. I envisage this seminar as a collaborative project under my guidance. For more details on the seminar, see here.