"Humanities by the Numbers" was the theme for the annual conference of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, hosted by the Center for the Humanities in Madison in June. The status of "numbers" in humanities research sparked sharp debate—some attacking the loss of nuance and individualized specificity or uniqueness; some suggesting that numbers and counting invisibly undergird analysis that appears singular; others promoting the promise of the digital and 'big Data'; and still others probing the very concept, status, and deployment of numbers in human experience as well as humanities research.
The question of 'what counts as evidence in humanities research' broadens the issue beyond numbers per se. But some of the same debates apply, particularly as we move across the varied disciplines and interdisciplines that make up the humanities and as the humanities works collaboratively with the social sciences, sciences, and arts.
Panel Presentations (1 hour) and Open Discussion (1 hour)
My current project explores how Christianity made its remarkable voyage from the Roman Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent, and it examines the social relations that made such movement possible. It also analyzes how the narrative tradition regarding the apostle Judas Thomas, which originated in Upper Mesopotamia and accredited him with evangelizing India, traveled among the social networks of an interconnected late antique world. In this way, the book probes how the Thomas narrative shaped Mediterranean Christian beliefs regarding co-religionists in central Asia and India, impacted local Christian cultures, and experienced transformation as it traveled from the Mediterranean to India, and back again.
Nathanael Andrade is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oregon. His past research has principally focused on topics relating to the Roman and late Roman Near East and its broader Mediterranean context. Since receiving his PhD at the University of Michigan in 2009, he has written Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (Greek Culture in the Roman World; Cambridge University Press, 2013) and has conducted research as a regular member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (2012-2013). His research has also appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The Journal of Early Christian Studies, and many other journals and edited collections. He is at work on a project entitled "From the Roman Mediterranean to India: The Early Movement of Christianity through the Afro-Eurasian World System."
This seminar examines the travel of and subsequent changes in the Western concept of "happiness" as it has been exported to East Asia from the late nineteenth century onwards. It focuses on the term’s diverse reinterpretations by the Chinese in the process of its naturalization as a cultural keyword and organizing aspiration in contemporary China. Drawing on existing theoretical inquiry regarding traveling theory, translation, cultural translation, and globalization by literary critics, anthropologists, historians, and linguists, this interdisciplinary project aims to contribute to the discussion by 1) historicizing the transnational circulation of the concept of "happiness" over the last century; and 2) adding a contemporary dimension to deciphering the meanings and implications of the concept through ethnographic research.
Yongming Zhou is a Professor of Anthropology at UW-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University. In 2001-2002, he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He is the author of books Anti-Drug Crusades in Twentieth-Century China: Nationalism, History, and State-Building (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006). He has also been a Mellon Fellow at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge and a visiting fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. He served as the president of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in 2012. His latest "roadology" project focuses on the socio-cultural impacts of transnational road building on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and in the Great Mekong Subregion, where he has conducted fieldwork since 2006. He is at work on a project entitled Chasing Happiness: The Unhappy Life of a Western Ideal in China, 1890-2010.
Folklore and literature would seem to be separate—one a product of age-old tradition, the other original artistic creation. Naturally, most studies of folklore and literature consider how writers use folkloric content like songs, proverbs, or traditional plots in their literary production. My project, however, looks at folklore in a larger context, namely considering how interest in folklore study in nineteenth-century France overlaps with questions central to literature. I contend that notions of folklore and literature mutually redefine each other as writers respond to circumstances like government-sponsored folklore collecting and an increase in literacy among the masses. This project traces key moments of this evolution and maps concrete influence on literary production, especially the short story. Ultimately, the enduring conviction that tradition is about to disappear not only fuels folklore collecting but shapes and is shaped by debates about modern literature and its status as a national archive of tradition or contemptuous successor to the storyteller.
Jennifer Gipson is Assistant Professor of French at UW-Madison. She holds a Ph.D. in French (2011) with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on literature and folklore in nineteenth-century France as well as French in the United States, especially Louisiana and the Upper Midwest. Her article "'A Strange, Ventriloquous Voice': Louisiana Creole, Whiteness, and the Racial Politics of Writing Orality" is forthcoming in the Journal of American Folklore. She is currently preparing a book-length manuscript entitled "Phantom Storytellers: A Literary History of Folklore in Nineteenth-Century France."
This project begins from a deceptively simple question: what does it mean to be contemporary? While the question sounds practically timeless, the contemporary is in fact a relatively recent invention. The word did not become a historical category or a disciplinary framework until the mid-twentieth century. Yet the contemporary is not like other historical periods—for the simple reason that, as something that is ongoing and open-ended, it is not yet historical. The increasing prevalence of this not-quite-historical category suggests a deeper uncertainty about what it means to think about the present—our own living history—today. How do we manage to make sense of our contemporary moment? And how are those efforts reflected in the critical concepts and cultural forms we consider contemporary? Taking up these questions, "Contemporary Drift" has two central aims. It elaborates the challenges the contemporary poses to standard modes of historical understanding. And it argues that those challenges shape both the political concerns and the aesthetic forms of the field we call contemporary literature. Ultimately, this book shows how the calamitous histories of our contemporary moment—from the rise of postindustrial capitalism to the crisis of a changing climate—are first inscribed in the forms that help us think about the concept of the contemporary itself.
Theodore Martin is Assistant Professor of English at the UW-Milwaukee. He specializes in post-1945 American and British fiction. His work has appeared in Modern Language Quarterly and Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and is forthcoming in the edited volume Postmodern/Postwar and After (University of Iowa Press). He is currently finishing a book titled "Contemporary Drift: Genre and the Forms of the Present." He is also writing the entry on "Temporality" for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature.
In this talk, Drewal explores the vital role of the senses with an approach he calls sensiotics. While Drewal focuses on the Yoruba peoples of West Africa and their cultural sensorium, he argues that sensing is constitutive of thinking and that sensiotics can help us understand the shaping of persons, cultures, histories and the arts universally, as suggested in trans-disciplinary research that documents the crucial role of embodied knowledge.
While a teacher in Nigeria, Henry Drewal apprenticed himself to a Yoruba sculptor. That transformative experience led him to interdisciplinary studies at Columbia University in African art history and culture where he earned two Masters' degrees and a PhD in 1973. He has taught at Cleveland State University, UC-Santa Barbara, and SUNY-Purchase, and served as Curator of African Art at The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Neuberger Museum. Since 1991 he has been the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies and Adjunct Curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison. He has published several books, edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and many articles on African/African Diaspora arts and curated or co-curated several major exhibitions, among them: Introspectives: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent; Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought; Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe; Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas; Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria; Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) in India, and most recently, Double Fortune, Double Trouble: Art for Sacred Yoruba Twins. Among his numerous awards are several NEH grants, two Fulbright Research Awards (Brazil and Benin), two AIIS Senior Fellowships for research in India, a Metropolitan Museum of Art Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Changes in the American religious landscape enabled the rise of mass incarceration. At the same time, many religious ideas and practices oppose mass incarceration. My research intends to substantiate these two claims and to explore the tension between them. Working collaboratively with prison ethnographer Joshua Dubler, we aim to re-frame the exponential prison growth of the last forty years. By looking behind prison walls, inside churches, and at the language of political elites, we aim to explicate the peculiar nexus of religious and political ideas that enables mass incarceration, and we hope to harvest religious resources that can make the criminal justice system more just.
Vincent Lloyd is Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, and race, drawing on the resources of critical theory. Lloyd has written The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology and Black Natural Law: Beyond Secularism and Multiculturalism (forthcoming), and he has edited or co-edited the books Race and Political Theology, Sainthood and Race, and Race and Secularism in America. He edits the journal Political Theology. Lloyd has held fellowships from Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is at work on a project entitled "Religion and Mass Incarceration."
My project analyzes the United States-led counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001. By focusing on this node of war, part of the larger U.S. led overseas contingency operations, I demonstrate how war is indissociable from, and indeed becomes, every day life for all involved. I put forth that nowhere more than in the capacity to sleep—the dreams and nightmares it enables, its relation to the body and to the soul, its interruptions by trauma and sometimes its failure to be interrupted by conscience, its categorization as a military logistic, and its manipulation as such—is the complexity of war’s effects illuminated. And, yet, it has been overlooked as such.
Helen M. Kinsella is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interests include contemporary political theory, feminist theories, international law, especially international humanitarian and human rights, armed conflict, and gender and armed conflict. She is a graduate of University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and, prior to her appointment at Wisconsin, held pre and post doctoral fellowships at, respectively, Harvard University and Stanford University. Her first book, The Image Before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction Between Combatant and Civilian (Cornell UP, April 2011), received the 2012 Sussex International Theory Prize (The Centre for Advanced International Theory, University of Sussex) and Honorable Mention for the 2012 Lepgold Book Prize (The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Mortara Center for International Studies, Georgetown University).
Christ on a Donkey explores Palm Sunday processions and other public representations of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as embodied sites for the celebration, display, contestation, diffusion, and mockery of religious justifications for war and other exercises of power. Drawing on church processions, royal entries, and folk practices from as far apart as fourth-century Jerusalem, tenth-century Augsburg, and seventeenth-century Bristol, my project examines the mimetic practices deployed in such representations, the process by which royal entries and Palm Sunday processions came to resemble one another, and the shifting boundaries between narrative and performance, religion and politics, and dissent and blasphemy.
Max Harris is an independent scholar and Executive Director Emeritus of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. He has taught at the University of Virginia and, as a visiting professor, at Yale University. He is the author of five books: Theater and Incarnation (1990, 2nd ed. 2005), The Dialogical Theatre (1993), Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (2000), Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (2003), and Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011). His work has won the Otto Gründler Book Prize, and (twice) the David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies. He is at work on a project entitled "Christ on a Donkey: Palm Sunday, Processional Theater, and Blasphemous Pageants."
The widespread usage of digital cameras and smart phones has transformed photographic practice and its role in the study of individual lives. Traditional chemical photography and digital photography are produced, compiled, and shared in significant different contexts, and these differences have a profound impact on the relationship between photography and the auto/biographical representation. My project explores how the changing materiality of digital photography affects women's auto/biographical photo practices, and the opportunities and challenges this brings to the study of women's lives. In particular, I will compare the representation of the gendered self in personal digital photography and traditional photography, based on the personal photo albums I collected in China from women who lived through the Mao era. This research is part of a larger project entitled "The Taming of the Maoist Women: Changing Representations of Gender In China in Personal Photo Albums", which analyzes the visual/bodily manifestation of gender as recorded in personal photo albums and women’s narratives about them.
Xin Huang is an Assistant Professor in Women's and Gender Studies at UW-Milwaukee. Huang received her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Wome'’s and Gender Studies in 2010. Her main area of research is gender and sexuality in contemporary China, particularly the representation of gender and sexuality in oral narrative and visual forms. Her work has been published in the Frontier of History in China, Ethnologies, as well as in edited volumes. She has recently finished a book project entitled "The Gendered Legacy of Mao: A Study of Women's Live Stories in Contemporary China," and is at work on a project entitled "Gendered Self in the Digital Era: Digital Photography and Auto/biographic Representation."
Fear is one of the most salient political emotions, and is of particular importance to political theory. Many theorists argue that fear's prominence is modern and that this prominence is bad for political life. Few figures are as central to fear's modernity as Hobbes. Hobbes explains religion’s origins, why humans exit the state of nature, and why humans obey an earthly sovereign through fear. Hobbes systematizes fear's political role, deploys fear to buttress political rule, and lowers politics from the pursuit of a summum bonum to avoiding a summum malum. I focus on the individual level moral psychology of fear, comparing and analyzing fear in Hobbes's Leviathan and Lucretius' On the Nature of Things. Given Lucretius' influence on Hobbes, the similarity of their thought, and their skepticism, a comparison lets me hone in on similarities and differences in their theories. These differences are a function of the ends fear serves, and not of the way they understand fear itself.
Daniel Kapust is Associate Professor of Political Science, and affiliated with the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Early Modern Studies. A political theorist, he centers his research on rhetoric and republicanism, themes he explores in Roman, early modern, 18th century, and contemporary political thought. His work includes Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and he has published or had accepted for publication articles and chapters on Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. His research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Political Theory, History of Political Thought, European Journal of Political Theory, Political Studies, and Journal of the History of Ideas. Currently, he is working on a book project on flattery and political theory, and articles on Hobbes and Lucretius and deliberative democracy and the justification of war.
Urban migration in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century has been one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in history. Yet in the midst of this urban revolution, many African nationalist intellectuals and political leaders portrayed Africans as a rural people. Nowhere was this directive taken more seriously than in Tanzania, where from 1967 through 1985 president Julius Nyerere launched a campaign to relocate citizens into collective rural villages as the central policy of African socialism, or "Ujamaa." Despite official policies, youth from throughout East Africa made their lives in Tanzania's largest city of Dar es Salaam during the socialist era. Drawing together a range of unconventional sources, or "street archives," this project reveals a concurrent world of cultural innovation, literary production, and the elaboration of a distinctly urban subjectivity among migrants and refugees in Dar es Salaam.
Emily Callaci is an Assistant Professor of modern African history at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interests include global cities, African popular cultures, comparative socialisms and the global history of reproductive politics. Her work has appeared in the Journal of African History and Urban History. Building on her work on urban cultural and sexual politics in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, she has recently begun preliminary research for a second project on the transnational history of the family planning movement in Africa. She will spend her semester at the IRH working on a book that explores popular forms of urbanism in Tanzania during its socialist era, from 1967 through 1985.
Throughout the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the Ottomans based in Istanbul were the gatekeepers of Asia, and the Venetians were simultaneously their adversaries and favored trade partners. My current book project on Venetian-Ottoman political and commercial exchange takes the following question as its starting point: Given a history of Catholic-Islamic political clash dating back to the Crusades, how did Ottoman and Venetian administrators maintain competing political and territorial claims while simultaneously fostering a shared Mediterranean commercial culture? At the heart of this research is not only the history of Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations but also the history of early modern economies, the history of extraterritoriality in the era of empire, and the history of the state.
Ali Akhtar is an Assistant Professor at Bates College. He is also an historian of government, religion, and economy. His research focuses on networks of diplomats, scholars, and merchants who connected Mediterranean Europe with the Middle East and Asia in the medieval and early modern periods. His first book traces the political debates over Graeco-Arabic philosophy and Sufism in Islamic Spain and Abbasid Iraq (10th-12th centuries) as a larger window into the contested nature of political and religious authority in the medieval world. He is currently working on a new book on politics, law, and economy in the Republic of Venice and Ottoman Empire (15th-17th centuries) as part of a larger investigation of imperial boundaries in the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Mediterranean. Before arriving at Bates College in 2012, he taught at Bard College and New York University. He earned a Ph.D. and M.A. at New York University in History and Middle Eastern Studies and a B.A. at Cornell University. He is at work on a project entitled "Politics and Commerce in the Early Modern Mediterranean."
Cinema in colonial Taiwan is, by its nature, transmedia and transnational, unfolding a film history beyond films. Rethinking cinema through media archaeology, this project explores the intricate connections between visuality and power, and it aspires to layer a colonial experience of cinema on to the ontological ground of the medium. Considering cinema as a historical event, the visual dominance of which intertwines with the technological capacities and imperial control of its time, this dissertation examines the early film history in colonial Taiwan with various "cinematic situations," including the magic lantern shows, spatial sensibility in the movies, filmic realism in the news, soundscape of the local through films, and the mobility of film workers under wartime conditions.
Laura Jo-Han Wen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature at UW-Madison. Her research explores issues at the convergence of colonial modernity, visual culture, media archaeology, the history of early cinema, and transnationalism. As a Taiwanese, she is interested in thinking about the ways in which her Taiwan experience might contribute to, or sometimes confront, current scholarship and intellectual fields. From 2012 to 2013, she served as the president of the North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA), a US-based NPO dedicated to Taiwan studies and transdisciplinary research. She is at work on her doctoral dissertation concerning Taiwan’s early film history and cinematic culture, tentatively titled, "Visuals in Power: Archaeology of the Cinema of Colonial Taiwan (1895–1945)."
European theories of monarchical absolutism went hand in hand with a genealogical conception of history in which the king could trace his ancestry back to the patriarchs of Genesis via a network of predecessors who were often obscure or mythical. This genealogy with roots in the Garden of Eden had evolved in the middle ages but was still extant during the reign of the early Stuarts (1603-1649), when unusually complex genealogical trees were used to support the claims of the new dynasty to be 'natural kings' not only of Scotland and of England but of Britain. My book explores this genealogical conception of kingship, its role in debates on British nationhood, and its reflections in seventeenth-century British historiography, literature and visual culture. I argue that the principles of 'natural kingship' theorized by King James VI and I, and translated into verse and onto the stage, rested on views of genealogy as a structure that can be manipulated to define shared origins, ethnic and national identity, and hierarchical preeminence.
Sara Trevisan is Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature at Brunel University London and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick starting in May 2016. She has published on early modern literature and culture in journals such as Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance Studies and The Seventeenth Century. She is particularly interested in European intellectual history, court and civic festivals, literary geography, iconography, theories of monarchical rule and nationhood. She is currently writing a monograph on the use of genealogy as a tool for royal celebration in early Stuart literature and culture, entitled From Noah to King James: Genesis, Genealogy and the Myth-Making of British Absolutism, 1598-1642.
My project explores the quality of aliveness ("animation") that listeners world-wide commonly experience in US black music. Whereas animation is typically theorized as an inversion of the economic processes of reification (an alienated, reified person/laborer gives way to an animated, sentient thing), I argue that black music's origin as a product of slave labor introduced a unique set of animated properties that underlies its immense cultural value. Originating as an audible extension of an ambiguous, living property-form under the regime of US slavery, black music—a veritable property of a property—became imbued with fleshly presence, carrying forward into the global modern a racially anachronistic sense of livingness-in-sound.
Ronald Radano is a Professor of Music at UW-Madison. He is the author of two award-winning books, New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (Chicago, 1993; Italian translation, forthcoming) and Lying up a Nation: Race and Black Music (Chicago, 2003), and coeditor of Music and the Racial Imagination (Chicago 2000) and Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique (Duke, forthcoming). His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Musical Quarterly, Daedalus, Critical Inquiry, Modernism/Modernity, and Radical History Review. He is coeditor of two book series, Refiguring American Music (Duke) and Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology (Chicago). Radano has held research residencies and fellowships at numerous institutions, including the Du Bois Institute (Harvard), the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Pennsylvania (as a Rockefeller Fellow). He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1997-1998. He is at work on a project entitled "The Secret Animation of Black Music."
AIDS Knows No Borders shows how activists constructed diverse coalitions to confront and alter U.S. health and immigration policy and politics as well as to engage and strategize with afflicted immigrant and migrant communities from the start of AIDS in 1981 until the lifting of the ban on HIV positive immigration to the U.S. in 2010. This monograph will offer a perspective on AIDS activism in the U.S. that does not center the experiences of white, gay, citizen men, and it will intervene in the racialized ways narratives of AIDS activism are recounted in historical, media and rhetorical research, which has focused only on either U.S. citizen communities of color or non- U.S. contexts such as Africa, Haiti or Latin America. This book will illuminate how activists interceded and participated in the racist, nationalist, and xenophobic discourses that impacted those immigrants living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Karma R. Chávez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and affiliate in the Program in Chican@ and Latin@ Studies and the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at UW-Madison. She is co-editor of Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices (with Cindy L. Griffin, SUNY Press, 2012), and author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (University of Illinois Press, 2013). Karma is also a member of the radical queer collective Against Equality, an organizer for LGBT Books to Prisoners, and a host of the radio program, "A Public Affair" on Madison's community radio station, 89.9 FM WORT. She is at work on a project entitled AIDS Knows No Borders: AIDS Activism and the Rhetoric of Immigration.
My dissertation investigates irresolvable disagreement in the literary culture of the English Renaissance (for me, ca. 1579-1625). Against other scholars, who have argued that poems and plays at this time fostered a post-Reformation public sphere in which people could communicate their opinions and debate matters of common concern, I instead see the literary production of this society as testing the limits of discursive interaction between disagreeing parties. Even as my work focuses most directly on attempts by a Puritan publisher, a Catholic playwright, and a female satirist to navigate a public hostile to all three of these groups, it also speaks more broadly to the role of literary culture in creating public spaces in which empathetic engagement is possible even when consensus is not.
Victor Lenthe is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. His dissertation focuses on the hostile public spaces that characterized post-Reformation England and on the tools early modern literary culture afforded writers and readers attempting to navigate them. In addition to poems and plays by Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, and Mary Wroth, his research interests include theories of the public from Hannah Arendt and Jürgen Habermas to Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, and Michael Warner. Victor is a regular participant in the English Department’s Renaissance Colloquium, the Political Theory Workshop, and UW-Madison’s interdisciplinary Center for Early Modern Studies. He is currently at work on his dissertation entitled "Agonistic Poetics and the Question of the Early Modern Public: Irresolvable Disagreement in the Literary Culture of the English Renaissance."
Northern Germany's conversion to Christianity is one of the most infamous episodes of medieval history. Through a series of brutal wars that lasted from 772 to 804, the Carolingians subdued the pagan Saxons, converting them by fire and steel. This is the standard narrative, at least. In this project I regard conversion not as a simple process of 'Christians' converting 'pagans'. Rather, Christianity was a shared 'symbolic resource' in the messy middle ground of cultural and political interaction that characterised Carolingian expansion, and no one party had a monopoly of it. Different bishops and missionary groups could have conflicting aims; the Carolingian military sought to use religion for its own ends; some Saxons were more than willing to convert; and even diehard pagans used Christianity as a means of redefining their own pagan identity. Through analysing these interactions I will reveal the full complexity and ambiguity of the conversion process.
John-Henry Clay is a Lecturer in Medieval History at Durham University (UK). There, his teaching focuses on the history of western Europe from the end of the Roman empire to 1000 AD. His particular interests include the end of Roman Gaul, the origins of monasticism and Europe's conversion to Christianity. His first monograph, In the Shadow of Death: Saint Boniface and the Conversion of Hessia, 721-754 (Brepols, 2010) drew together history, archaeology, and landscape studies in a detailed exploration of an early medieval missionary community in Hessia, and he has published numerous articles and book chapters in related areas. A secondary interest is the relationship between academic history and the creative imagination, especially with respect to wider public engagement and education, which has led to two published historical novels: The Lion and the Lamb (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013) and At the Ruin of the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015). He is at work on a project entitled "Bringers of Light: The Christianisation of Early Medieval Germany under the Carolingians."
This project is an intellectual history of dietetics in the nineteenth century. I focus on a trans-Atlantic network of chemists, physiologists, physicians, and social reformers who created a new conceptual underpinning for dietetics and, in the course of doing so, formed a new consensus about the social value of scientific ideas. Collectively, their work changed dietetics from a discourse of individual self-management, where one ate to maintain one's own moral and physical health, to a universal science that would link an individual's dietary choices to the health of the society they inhabited. Through an excavation of the conceptual roots of dietetics, my project documents the development of universal standards for healthy eating and the shifting ethical valence of diet from the personal to the social.
Molly Laas is a PhD Candidate in the Program of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at UW-Madison. Her work explores the intellectual cultures of science and medicine in the nineteenth century, focusing on the trans-Atlantic circulation of ideas about chemistry, physiology, health, and the interplay between science and social thought. Her work has been supported by a University Fellowship and a Chancellor's Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, a research assistantship from UW-Madison Center for German and European Studies, and the History of Science Department's Lindberg, Coleman, and Richardson fellowships. She received her B.A. in comparative literature from Smith College in 2004, and worked as a science journalist before receiving a Master's degree in the history of science from UW-Madison in 2012. She is currently at work on her dissertation entitled "From Regimen to Regime: The Social Meaning of Nutrition, 1840-1910."
Toward a Natural History of the Book: Animals, Vegetables, and Media in Renaissance England, my in-process first book, explores the rhetorical interplay of words and matter in media, particularly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century printed books and manuscripts on paper and parchment. Made of recycled clothes, slaughtered animals, and felled trees, media in Renaissance England are filled with visible traces of ecological matter. The project traces the natural history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century media objects while asking broader questions—questions that often go unasked in media scholarship—about ecology, poetics, and the "raw materials" that fund the history of book making. The period-focused research of this book offers just one example of the intriguing, poetic, and vital stories a natural history of media can reveal. The questions I ask of paper and parchment might be just as productively asked of millennia-old Eastern palm-leaf books or the newest iPhone.
Joshua Calhoun is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He specializes in Shakespeare, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry, and the history of media. He also teaches courses in the environmental humanities and is a Faculty Affiliate at the Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE). His work has been published in PMLA, Shakespeare Studies, and Environmental Philosophy. His current book project, Toward a Natural History of the Book: Animals, Vegetables, and Media in Renaissance England, which considers Renaissance media and media-making within its historical ecosystem, is a book about making poetry not just about, but also with, nature.
Scholars in medical humanities have produced volumes of literature documenting the pernicious effects of industry influence on pharmaceuticals marketing, physician prescription practices, and health policy. Yet, unfortunately, this work has had minimal impact on those involved. It is widely believed in medical and health policy communities that there is no evidence of harm arising from financial conflicts of interests. To address this perceived paucity of information, new research must be conducted and presented in ways that are more persuasive to regulators and the medical community. To that end, I am using a combination of humanistic, statistical, and big data methodologies to investigate the prevalence of conflicts of interest and the impact of those conflicts on pharmaceuticals policy. In combining the insights of humanistic scholarship with the forms of quantitative evidence more likely to have an impact in policy spheres, I hope to be able to bridge the communicative gap between critical/cultural inquiry and the medical community.
S. Scott Graham is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Director of the Scientific and Medical Communications Laboratory at the UW-Milwaukee. His work is primarily devoted to investigating the role of argument and communication in scientific and medical boundary spaces (e.g., interdisciplinary science and science-policy). Graham's The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry (Chicago, 2015) chronicles the work of interdisciplinary pain management specialists to found a new science of pain and a new approach to pain medicine grounded in a more comprehensive biopsychosocial model. He is currently working on a second book entitled Conflicted: Tracing Industry Influence in Federal Pharmaceuticals Policy.
The recent trend toward favoring the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines over the humanities is a manifestation of a centuries-long struggle between quantitative fields of inquiry like physics and mathematics and qualitative fields like art and literature. In his monumental cycle of novels, The Human Comedy, Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), one of the greatest of all French writers, brilliantly dramatizes this struggle, as his portrayal of humanity owes much both to qualitative notions of character, morality, and psychology and to quantitative notions like that of the “average man” (l’homme moyen) developed by his contemporary, Belgian statistician and sociologist Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874). This talk will delve into one of Balzac’s most thought-provoking novels, The Search for the Absolute, the story of a chemist who sacrifices his marriage, his children, his place in society and ultimately his humanity to the failed quest for what he believes to be the single chemical component common to all materials. In this love story between a once-devoted husband and father and his adoring but ultimately disabused wife and daughter, the conflict between two fundamentally opposed notions of human values brings out compelling and surprising truths that help us to understand what is at stake today as we attempt to balance these opposing schools of thought.
Richard Goodkin has been a member of the Department of French and Italian since 1988. He previously taught at Yale University. He has published monographs on seventeenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century French literature, including The Tragic Middle: Racine, Aristotle, Euripides (1991), Around Proust (1991), Birth Marks: The Tragedy of Primogeniture in Pierre Corneille, Thomas Corneille, and Jean Racine (2000), and How Do I Know Thee? Theatrical and Narrative Cognition in Seventeenth-Century France (2015), this most recent book having been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also edited two collections, Autour de Racine: Studies in Intertextuality (Yale French Studies, 1988) and In Memory of Elaine Marks: Life Writing, Writing Death (2007), and recently published his first novel, Les Magnifiques Mensonges de Madeleine Béjart (2013), a historical novel about Molière’s mistress and collaborator. The present talk is taken from a book project entitled Connecting the Dots: The Calculus of Personality in French Fiction and Film, for which he received a Senior Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities (2009-2014).
In the eleventh through sixteenth centuries AD, the midcontinental and southeastern United States was the scene of considerable population movement as premodern indigenous peoples of disparate backgrounds, collectively called Mississippian by archaeologists, abandoned their homes and agricultural fields and migrated, sometimes great distances, to join together and form new communities in new places or move into existing towns in foreign areas. In seeking to understand how people successfully formed these multi-ethnic communities, I focus on architectural practices, particularly the ways in which aesthetics and symbolism of the built environment connect with the social, political, and cosmological processes that shaped these communities.
Sissel Schroeder is a Professor of Archaeology in the Anthropology Department at UW-Madison. Her research intersects with the humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences, and includes the investigation of ancient architecture, ecological and agency-based considerations of emerging sociopolitical complexity, historical ecology, and the history of archaeology. Her research has been published in edited volumes and journals, including the American Antiquity,Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Antiquity, Southeastern Archaeology, Journal of Biogeography, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, and served as the Director of the College of Letters & Science Honors Program in 2012-2015. She is at work on a project entitled "Building Place and People: Materiality, Hybridity, and Community Formation among Ancient Native Americans in the Midcontinent, AD 1000-1600."
Expanding upon the current scholarly turn towards mining the history of the unstable boundaries between human and non-human animals, my research considers visual responses to Darwinism and other challenges to interspecies difference in nineteenth-century Britain. Through a focus on the figure of the bird, my project reveals a Victorian visual culture which participates in two projects: one anthropocentric, justifying human dominion; the other more egalitarian, allowing that boundaries between "us" and "them" may be less secure than once imagined. Considering a range of visual media, from painting and illustration to cartoons and taxidermy, my project examines the complex, often contradictory relations between ourselves and the many species with whom we share our world.
Caitlin Silberman is a PhD candidate in Art History at UW-Madison. Her research centers on intersections between art, visual culture, and the sciences in nineteenth-century Britain. Her dissertation considers Victorian strategies for visualizing difference between humans and non-human animals. Silberman has taught Art History and History of Science at UW-Madison and worked at a variety of museums, archives, and libraries, including the Stanley Kubrick Archive, London's Natural History Museum, and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. Her Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellowship is bracketed by two semesters as a 2015-16 CIC/Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, where she is based at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. She is at work on her dissertation entitled "Thinking with Birds in British Art and Visual Culture, 1840-1900."
In 1974, Joan Little, a young, impoverished Black woman, fatally stabbed her white male jailer after he sexually assaulted her in a North Carolina jail. If convicted, she would face a mandatory death sentence. The case quickly became a national and even international cause célèbre, attracting a wide array of Black Power, civil rights, feminist and prisoner rights activists. Based on archival research as well as recent interviews with both Joan Little and her attorneys, I use the rape-murder case, the Free Joan Little campaign, and Joan Little's story to probe larger questions surrounding the history of African American women, 1970s social movements and mass incarceration politics.
Christina Greene is an Associate Professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning book, Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina, 1940-1970 (University of North Carolina Press, 2005). She has been published in Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Journal of Southern History, and Journal of African American History. She has also been published in several edited collections: Hidden Histories of Women in the New South (1994); From the Grass Roots to the Supreme Court: Brown v. Board of Education and American Democracy(2004); and The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980 (2011). Greene is also a contributor to Civil Rights in the United States (2000) and Oxford Research Encyclopedia in American History (forthcoming), and a contributor and subject editor for African American National Biography (2008). She is currently working on a book-length monograph of the 1970s Free Joan Little Rape-Murder Campaign.
The discourse on the female body has been the predominant terrain of contest, debate and challenge in Women and Gender Studies. As a "disciplined" and allegorised body, the female body is seen as the metaphor of various social, cultural and political spaces of possession, annexation and transgression. My project intends to explore a comparative study of the female body as portrayed in the literary overture of American and Indian women writers of the twentieth century. Irrespective of innumerable similar and diverse racial, cultural and social predicaments, multiple fragmented or conflicting forms of hegemonies, I hope to unleash through this comparative study that these women of the twentieth century have asserted the female body as the dynamic revolutionary space of "feminine power." With a postmodernist and multicultural approach, the purpose of my project is to trace a "place of unity" in the "space of diversity." I would like to explore how the plethora of female bodies represents the reservoir of "denied history" withstanding the test of time. My comparative approach in this context will be to find out the similar and different "antecedent female bodies" across race, identity and nation.
Devaleena Das is a faculty member teaching English Literature over the last seven years in the two most prestigious universities of India: University of Calcutta and University of Delhi. She received her Ph.D. from University of Calcutta in 2012 and her area of specialisation is Women and Gender Studies, Postcolonial Literature and Australian Literature. As a course designer, she has been associated with the Post Graduate Department of Women and Gender Studies at Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. Recipient of various awards, including the Endowment Foreign Travel Fellowship, Travel Grant from De Paul University, Chicago, Das has presented papers at various national and international conferences. She has written extensively on race, gender and sexuality in various international journals and books. Her recently published book Critical Study of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter by Atlantic Press is a comprehensive critical study of Hawthorne’s magnum opus from interdisciplinary perspectives. Oxford University Press will be bringing out this year her book on 19th and 20th Century American Women Poets. Her edited collection of essays on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple will be published in September 2014 by Pencraft International. In addition, she is co-editing the book Unveiling Apocalyptic Desire: Fallen Women in Eastern Literature. She has also delivered lectures and talks at various institutions and has been among the juries at various literary debates and book discussions. She is at work on a project entitled "Female Body: The Cartography of Desire and Transnational Feminism."
In my book project on the translation of foreign religion in Herodotus' Histories, I deal with narratives about foreign peoples, cultures, and their religions, that – in Antiquity as well as today – have been delicate subjects. At the intersection of Classical Studies, Ancient History, and Religious Studies, my investigation explores Herodotus' narratives about foreign religions in the Histories in order to reconstruct his method of describing and understanding foreign religions. The close, systematic analysis of Herodotus' narratives on Egypt and Persia will be directed by a multidimensional concept of 'religion' and by key questions raised by scholarship of the modern studies of religion (e.g. aesthetics, psychology and sociology of religion).
Andreas Schwab is an Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He published his first book on the sophisticated Late Antique hexameter poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus, Peri Pronoias. On Providence. Text, Translation and Commentary, Classica Monacensia (Tübingen 2009). In his second book, Thales of Miletus in Early Christian Literature, Studia Praesocratica (Berlin/Boston 2012), he focuses on the reception of the early Greek philosopher and sage. He has written articles on the hermeneutics and the reception of ancient Greek philosophy, Herodotus, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and early Christian literature. In 2015 he co-edited a volume entitled Philosophie, sciences exactes et sciences appliquées dans l’Antiquité, Le Travail du Savoir / Wissensbewätigung. He is also a co-editor of The Reception of the Homeric Hymns (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His current book project is entitledThe Translation of Foreign Religion in Herodotus.
This project begins by proposing a "microeconomic century" that begins in 1873 and continues through the present. In the wake of the “marginalist revolution” of the late-nineteenth century, economic thought shifted decisively from the generally "macroeconomic" modes of thought common to classical economics to the "microeconomic" principles of an emerging neoclassical school. The microeconomic turn marked the systematization of the field of economics and its effort to establish itself as a mathematical discipline. With that systematization came resistance to the interdisciplinarity that had once characterized political economy as a form of thought. Against economics' own emphatic narrowing of scope, I want to think about the relationship between the microeconomic turn and twentieth-century culture and critical theory. This book thus explores the parallel destinies—and periodic collisions—of social theory, narrative form, and microeconomics in the long twentieth century.
Annie McClanahan is an Assistant Professor of English at UW-Milwaukee. She received her Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley in 2010. She has recently completed a book manuscript, titled Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture. Her work has appeared in Representations, Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of American Studies, Post-45, South Atlantic Quarterly, and elsewhere. She was a 2012-2013 Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellow and a 2013-2014 Center for 21st Century Studies Faculty Fellow. She is at work on a project entitled "The Cultural History of Microeconomics."
Earl Lewis is President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A well-regarded social historian, he has been a champion of the importance of diversifying the academy, enhancing graduate education, re-visioning the liberal arts, exploring the role of digital tools for learning, and connecting universities to their communities. Before joining the Mellon Foundation, he served as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies at Emory University, and as vice provost and dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan. He held faculty appointments at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Michigan. The author and co-editor of seven books including the eleven-volume Young Oxford History of African Americans, he has written numerous essays, articles, and reviews on different aspects of American and African American history. His recent books include The African American Urban Experience: Perspectives from the Colonial Period to the Present (2004), and Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan (2004).