Panel Discussion

September 8, 2014
3:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M., Banquet Room, University Club Building

Guillermina De Ferrari, Spanish and Comparative Literature, Center for Visual Cultures, UW-Madison
Sara Guyer, English, Center for the Humanities, Center for Jewish Studies, Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, UW-Madison
Caroline Levine, English, UW-Madison
David Loewenstein, English and the Humanities, Religious Studies, UW-Madison
Daegan Miller, Institute for Research in the Humanities, Center for the Humanities, History, Center for Culture, History, and Environment, UW-Madison
Lynn Nyhart, History of Science, Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, Center for German and European Studies, and Gender & Women’s Studies, Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison

'What’s the Value of Humanities Research?'

We in the humanities face widespread clamor for STEM fields, public demand for measurable and monetary value for research and majors, and rapidly changing landscapes of knowledge in the unfolding Digital Revolution and globalized Information Age. With the humanities “in crisis”—yet again—many are effectively defending the importance of the humanities for a college education.

But what about research in the humanities? Does it matter? How and why?

Visit the panel page for more information.


September 15, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Bethany Moreton
History and Women's Studies, University of Georgia

'White-Collar Discipline and the Theology of Work'

The "revenge of God"—the broad failure of the secularization thesis after World War II—is in part the story of religious responses to the feminization of work; the commodification of reproductive labor; the restructuring of the household; and the growth of "occult economies" whether they involve witchcraft, Ponzi schemes, or mortgage-backed securities. Rather than a zero-sum showdown between "jihad and McWorld" theorists of alternative modernities suggest that we have been witnessing their recombination in unexpected ways. Emphasizing the apparent contradiction of liberal, secular economic policies embraced by orthodox adepts of demanding Catholic spiritual disciplines, for example, Chilean intellectual Arturo Fontaine Talavera has asked whether Latin America "will develop an alternative modernity that is morally conservative and family oriented, but at the same time free and open in its economics."

This research into a specific transnational combination of professional training, economic liberalism, and Catholic devotion seeks to understand how the labor of service—whether white-collar, pink-collar, or domestic—is consciously practiced as spiritual discipline and, in turn, how that spirituality has cultivated the virtues demanded by the postindustrial workplace and the social networks in which it is embedded, virtues like concentration, detail-orientation, self-discipline, and cheerful "people skills." Given the extraordinary psychic demands of post-industrial labor, what kinds of spiritual practice have been effective for those coping with the high-tech, "high-touch" stretch-out in offices, hospitals, schools, and cyberspace? How have these practices articulated with a religious worldview that combines moral traditionalism and economic innovation?

Bethany Moreton is an Associate Professor of History and Women's Studies at the University of Georgia and a series editor for Columbia University Press’s Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism. Since receiving her doctorate in history at Yale University in 2006, she has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge and at the Harvard Divinity School. Her first book, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, 2009) won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in U.S. history and the John Hope Franklin Award for the best book in American Studies. She is a founding member of the Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas and a founding faculty member of Freedom University, which offers college coursework without charge to qualified Georgia high school graduates regardless of immigration status.

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series

September 17, 2014
4:00 P.M., Banquet Room, University Club

Atina Grossmann
Humanities & Social Sciences, Cooper Union

'Distance and Intimacy: Close Encounters between Jews and Germans in the Aftermath of Catastrophe'

Part of the War and Intimacy Series. Convened by Lou Roberts. Click here for full program.


September 22, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Alexander Dressler
Classics, UW-Madison

'Art and Life in Latin Literature: Emergences of a Dualistic Structure in an Ancient Archive'

Dressler's current project argues that, from an early "pagan" comic playwright to a subsequently sainted Christian poet, through "classic" Classics of the early Empire, Latin literature presumes a dialectic of "Greek" idealism and "Roman" materialism; while neither tendency adequately describes or determines social practice, their very inadequacy opens a space for under-determined and spontaneous, even countercultural activity: materialist demystification (Plautus), aesthetic autonomy (Horace, Ovid), sexual revolution (Ovid), and altruism (Seneca, Paulinus). While the results of the Romans' "social aesthetics" are partly inadvertent, their very inadvertence proves their spontaneity and makes them instructive models for enduring explication of the interrelation of aesthetics and politics.

Alex Dressler is an Assistant Professor of Classics at UW-Madison. He teaches the Greek and Roman Classics as an evolving canon rooted in European tradition but aimed at redefining the modern sense of past and present, life and art, politics and personal flourishing. Publications include articles in journals such as Helios, Ramus, and Classical Antiquity on feminism and the ancient novel, exemplarity and ancient rhetoric, deconstruction and the sociology of literature, and aesthetic thought and psychoanalysis. His first book, entitled Personification and the Feminine in Roman Philosophy, currently undergoing final revisions, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. This book argues that the Roman philosophers Lucretius, Cicero, and Seneca, use metaphors and other forms of figurative language to "do philosophy by other means," thereby integrating problematic conceptions of personhood, gender, and property into philosophical texts aimed at transforming the reader's emotional, social, and aesthetic existence. He is at work on a book project entitled Art and Life in Latin Literature: Emergences of a Dualistic Structure in an Ancient Archive.


September 29, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Aida Levy-Hussen
English, UW-Madison

'Reading African American Literature Now: History, Fiction, and the Problem of Desire'

Since the late twentieth-century decline of the modern Civil Rights Movement, African American literary studies has been consumed with an increasingly contentious debate about whether the task of black literature is to memorialize the slave past, or to put it behind us. Levy-Hussen puts this debate in new perspective, by foregrounding the questions of how critical fantasies of memory and forgetting are constituted, and why they have accrued such powerful currency in contemporary black literary discourse.

Aida Levy-Hussen is an Assistant Professor of English at UW-Madison. Her areas of specialization include twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature, trauma and memory studies, and feminist and queer theory. Her scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in African American Review, South Atlantic Quarterly, and Modern Fiction Studies. She is currently completing a book about the post-Civil Rights proliferation of black historical fiction and the critical idiom of historical memory. She is at work on a book entitled Reading African American Literature Now: History, Fiction, and the Problem of Desire.

Burdick-Vary Symposium

October 3, 2014
9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M., DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St.

Faisal Abdu'Allah, UW-Madison
Lynda Barry, UW-Madison
Peter Bovenmyer, UW-Madison
Sonya Clark, Virginia Commonwealth University
Tom Dale, UW-Madison
Kathryn Linn Geurts, Hamline University
Marvin Gutierrez, UW-Madison
Mary Hark, UW-Madison
Darryl Harper, Virginia Commonwealth University
Marguerite E. Heckscher, UW-Madison
Ray Hernández-Durán, University of New Mexico in Albuquerque
David Howes, Concordia University
Chris Walker, UW-Madison
Sheron Wray, University of California, Irvine

'Embodied Knowledge: Sensory Studies in the 21st Century'

Convened by Henry Drewal. Click here for the conference program.


October 6, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Benjamin Marquez
Political Science, UW-Madison

'Legalizing a Social Movement: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Evolution of an Ethnic Identity'

This project examines the role of cause lawyers in the history of Mexican American identity politics by analyzing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Created in 1968, MALDEF has emerged as the legal voice of Latino rights, yet little is known of this elite organization and its impact on the working class groups and individuals it represents. Marquez analyzes the way its cause lawyers and community activists understood and negotiated their relationship. This research locates that negotiation within the confines of the judiciary, limited social assimilation, anti-immigration politics, and the influence of MALDEF’s financial supporters.

Benjamin Marquez is a Professor of Political Science at UW-Madison. His research interests include social movements, urban politics, and minority politics. He has published numerous articles and books on the relationship between race, political power, social identities, and public and political incorporation. He is the author of Power and Politics in A Chicano Barrio: A Study of Mobilization Efforts and Community Power in El Paso (Lanham: The University Press of America, 1985), LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization (Texas 1993), and Mexican-American Political Organizations: Choosing Issues, Taking Sides (2003: University of Texas Press), which won the 2004 Best Book Award by the Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) Section of the American Political Science Association. His recent book, Democratizing Texas Politics: Race, Identity, and Mexican American Empowerment, 1945-2002, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2014. He is at work on a book entitled Legalizing a Social Movement: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Evolution of an Ethnic Identity.

Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities

October 9, 2014
7:30 P.M., Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160, 800 University Avenue

Saidiya Hartman
Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

'A Serial Biography of the Wayward'

This lecture explores themes from Hartman's current book project, entitled Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, which examines the social upheaval and radical transformation of everyday life that took place in the slums in the years between 1890-1920.

Saidiya Hartman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and has served as the director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality. She is the author of Lose Your Mother (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2007) and Scenes of Subjection (Oxford University Press 2007.) She has published several articles on slavery, including "Venus in Two Acts" and "The Time of Slavery."

The Nellie Y. McKay Lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities.


October 13, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Shelly Chan
History, UW-Madison

'Tricky Business: Divorce and Diaspora in Mao's China'

This seminar draws on a larger book-in-progress and forthcoming article in The Journal of Asian Studies to rethink "diaspora" conceptually as a series of moments, rather than as a set of communities. In Chinese history, "diaspora moments" emerged whenever emigrants and their kin were recognized as key players, positively and negatively, in China's restructuring vis-à-vis others in the world—a process that often revealed the depth and politics of global connections and their impact on China. The seminar will focus on one such moment in the early 1950s when the new Communist Party-state promoted free marriage and divorce rights to women living in transnational marriages with overseas men. Portrayed as hopelessly dependent on remittances and too oppressed to realize their feudal conditions in the archival record, these rural women seemed to stand in the way of China's transition to socialism. Surprisingly, the campaign quickly backfired, revealing how the women and their villages had been thoroughly embedded in global circulations, as well as how China itself was also dependent on them for socialist constructions.

Shelly Chan is an Assistant Professor of History at UW-Madison, holding the new position of Asian diasporas since 2011. Her work focuses on diaspora in the Chinese experience, asking how it created and transformed Chinese history, culture and identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With articles soon to appear in The Journal of Chinese Overseas and The Journal of Asian Studies, Chan is also the recipient of a Junior Scholar Grant from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange in 2014-15. Chan received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2009, where she trained in modern Chinese, East Asian and world history. Her other interests include gender, ethnic, postcolonial and cultural studies, as well as Southeast Asia. Before coming to UW, she was Assistant Professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria in Canada. She is at work on a book entitled Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration.


October 20, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Scott Trudell
English, University of Maryland, College Park

'Song and Mediation in Early Modern England'

Trudell’s current book project traces the development of verse with a musical dimension in the poetic and theatrical cultures of early modern England, beginning with the renewed interest in musical humanism among Sidney and his peers, and continuing through Milton’s fascination with musical language and experience. Song was an essential part of the literary canon, and it circulated ubiquitously in written format. Yet it was also highly performative, inseparable from the rhythmic, vocal and instrumental conditions of its recital. As such, song brings out the extensive interaction between writing and sound in sixteenth- and seventeeth-century literary culture. Song resists the notion that literature can be confined to a particular media format, subject as it was to a constant series of feedback loops between scriptive, acoustic, visual and other media. Persistently understood as poetic yet irreducible to script, song invites us to re-imagine literature as a process of mediation, adapted and redefined by the competing influences of technologies, formats, authors and performers.

Scott A. Trudell is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where his research and teaching focus on early modern literature, media theory and music. In addition to his current book project about song and mediation from Sidney and Shakespeare to Jonson and Milton, he has research interests in gender studies, digital humanities, pageantry and itinerant theatricality. His work has been published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Studies in Philology and edited collections. He is at work on a book entitled Song and Mediation in Early Modern England.

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series

October 23, 2014
4:00 P.M., Banquet Room, University Club

Lucy Noakes
Arts and Humanities, University of Brighton

'Burying the People of "the People's War": Death, the State and Intimacy in Second World War Britain.'

Part of the War and Intimacy Series. Convened by Lou Roberts. Click here for full program.


October 27, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Alexander Angelov
Religious Studies, The College of William & Mary

'Conversion and Empire: Byzantine Narratives and Imperial Christianity across the Frontier, 300-900'

The work of Byzantine missionaries between 300 and 900 extended Christianity into such disparate regions as the Caucasus, Nubia (modern Sudan), Himyar (modern Yemen), and the Balkans. According to modern tradition, these foreign conversions brought about Eastern Orthodoxy’s largest expansion to date. In order to understand the nature of the Byzantine contribution, therefore, this project focuses on the imperial perspectives and puts the foreign conversions in a comparative framework. The cross-regional approach also makes clear how and why modern historians and politicians have selected certain episodes of conversion to turn them into monumental events with ethnic and nationalistic overtones.

Alexander Angelov is an Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and a faculty member in the interdisciplinary programs in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the College of William & Mary. He specializes in Byzantine history, medieval Christianity, the modern Balkans and Eastern Orthodoxy. His work has been published in the Journal of Medieval History, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, as well as in edited volumes. In addition to his current book project on conversion, he is researching the relationship of Eastern Orthodox national churches with the Communist ideology and apparatus in the Balkans.

Germaine Brée Lectures

October 29, 2014
7:00 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Simon Gaunt
French, King's College London

'French Literature Abroad: Towards an Alternative History of Literature in French'

Traditional literary histories tend to be centrifugal, tracing trajectories that move outwards from a strong and identifiable center towards peripheral zones. This lecture suggests an alternative history of medieval literature in French, one that is centripetal rather than centrifugal. Focusing initially on three key places and epochs in the development of literature in French outside France (England in the 1130s and 40s; Flanders in the 1200s; Italy in the late thirteenth century), this lecture will ask how the traditional cannon looks different when a more diverse geographical arena and a less Franco-centric optic is taken into account.

Simon Gaunt has taught at the University of Cambridge and King's College London, where he has been Head of French and Dean of Arts and Humanities. His books include Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (1995), Martyrs to Love: Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature (2006) and Marco Polo's Le Devisement du Monde: Narrative Voice, Language and Diversity (2013). He is co-editor of The Troubadours: an Introduction (1999), Marcabru: a Critical Edition (2000) and The Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature. He is currently working on the cultural value and contours of French outside France in the Middle Ages.

Event contact: Marion Vuagnoux, Department of French and Italian.

Germaine Brée Lectures

October 30, 2014
4:30 P.M., French House, 633 N Frances St.

Simon Gaunt
French, King's College London

'French Outside France'

A roundtable discussion with UW-Madison faculty Névine El-Nossery, Ullrich Langer, Vlad Dima, and Jennifer Gipson and UW-Madison graduate student Redouane Khamar.

Simon Gaunt has taught at the University of Cambridge and King's College London, where he has been Head of French and Dean of Arts and Humanities. His books include Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (1995), Martyrs to Love: Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature (2006) and Marco Polo's Le Devisement du Monde: Narrative Voice, Language and Diversity (2013). He is co-editor of The Troubadours: an Introduction (1999), Marcabru: a Critical Edition (2000) and The Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature. He is currently working on the cultural value and contours of French outside France in the Middle Ages.

Event contact: Marion Vuagnoux, Department of French and Italian.


November 3, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

James Bromley
English, Miami University

'Style, Subjectivity, and Male Sexuality in Early Modern Drama'

This book project examines the representation of clothing in early modern plays set in London. Plays by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, and other writers of city comedy offered audiences queer forms of male embodiment and eroticism. By tracing early modern theater’s relationship to humoral psychology, to the cloth trade, and to urbanization, I reassess the historical value of superficiality for a time period commonly associated with interest in the inner life and psychological depth. I also attend to the potential political value of dissident style, as these plays provoke us to reimagine modes of being and social relations outside of the frameworks of subculture and identity that dominate current politics of sexuality and urban space.

James M. Bromley is an Associate Professor of English at Miami University. He is the author of Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare (Cambridge, 2012) and the co-editor of Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England (Minnesota, 2013). He won the 2011 Martin Stevens Award for the Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society. He is currently working on a book project entitled Style, Subjectivity, and Male Sexuality in Early Modern Drama.


November 10, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Louis Betty
Languages and Literatures, UW-Whitewater

'Spiritism and Progress: A Study in Otherworldly Utopia'

The Spiritist movement that emerged from the work of Hippolyte Rivail in 1850’s France is not the typical fodder of scholars interested in the utopian and progressive spirit of the nineteenth century. Relying on the revelations of “spirits” speaking through mediums to make its philosophical and “scientific” claims about afterlife, reincarnation, and the peopling of other worlds, Spiritism tends to strike observers as perversely fascinating at best and absurd at worst. However, Dr. Betty’s contention is that Spiritism’s relegation to the margins of the occult ignores the affinities that the movement shares with less metaphysical but no less progressive or utopian concerns of the nineteenth century, and that this seemingly aberrant movement represents a kind of “hypermodernism” wherein Progress is understood to operate not only through human history, but also through multiple incarnations on multiple worlds. The project also addresses the practice of Spiritism in contemporary Brazil, which since the end of the nineteenth century has served as a laboratory for the viability of Spiritist beliefs.

Louis Betty is an Assistant Professor of French at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches courses in French and Humanities. He has written extensively on French novelist Michel Houellebecq, with articles appearing in Nottingham French Studies, Literature and Theology, and L'Érudit franco-espangol. He has also recently completed a book-length manuscript on Houellebecq and is awaiting decisions on several other articles. In addition, he has published opinion pieces in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed as well as reviews of Houellebecq’s recent fiction and poetry. He received his Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University in 2011. He is at work on an article entitled "Spiritism and Progress: A Study in Otherworldly Utopia," which focuses on the Spiritist movement in Second Empire France and its relation to other religious-utopian philosophies of the nineteenth century.


November 17, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Stephen Pierce
History, UW-Madison

'Charity, Cosmopolitanism and Culture in coastal East Africa, 1750s to 1940s'

My dissertation examines the historical role played by Islamic charitable endowments in Swahili cities during the late precolonial to early colonial period (roughly late 1700s to early 1900s). Specifically following the development of wakf (Islamic endowments) in the burgeoning capitol port of Zanzibar and its cosmopolitan competitor Mombasa, my research argues that over time inhabitants of Swahili towns articulated notions of charity both deeply rooted in African social discourse but also responsive to a variety of trans-oceanic strains of Islamic morality. These intersections demonstrate how centrally charitable behavior was inscribed upon Swahili ideas about moral citizenship in their world and how they imagined the topography of the city in moral terms. Tracing the changes ushered in by successive Omani and British regimes also challenges the problematic ways modern historiography has linked the western notion of caritas with philanthropy, which effectively envisions charity as a modern concept. Rather, my project opens up the possibilities of investigating African altruism prior to European intervention.

Stephen Pierce is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UW-Madison. His research explores the historical development of Islamic institutions of charity, especially along the East African coast, but also focuses on how cosmopolitanism, the multiple trajectories of Islam among its many adherents, and the intersection of culture and religion with these histories challenge traditional definitions of charity and philanthropy. His doctoral work has been funded by a Mellon-Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, a UW-Mellon Summer Dissertation Fellowship, a UW Chancellor’s Fellowship and the Dana-Allen Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. He received a B.A. in history and social studies from Cedarville University and an M.A. in world history from Northeastern University in Boston. He is at work on a dissertation entitled "Charity, Cosmopolitanism and Culture in coastal East Africa, 1750s to 1940s."

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series

November 20, 2014
4:00 P.M., Room 212, University Club

Terry Peterson
History, UW-Madison

'Fighting For Intimacy: Counterinsurgency, Gender Politics, and Colonial Utopianism in the Algerian War'

Part of the War and Intimacy Series. Convened by Lou Roberts. Click here for full program.
Please note the updated lecture date.


November 24, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Yongming Zhou
Anthropology, UW-Madison

'Chasing Happiness: The Unhappy Life of a Western Ideal in China, 1890-2010'

This project 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.


December 1, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Adam Mandelman
Geography, UW-Madison

'The Place With No Edge: Boundaries and Permeability in the Mississippi River Delta, 1845-2010'

Even after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana residents have struggled to make the problem of subsidence and land loss in the Mississippi River delta a visible, national crisis. My research examines the history of both that crisis and its invisibility by focusing on the uncertain boundaries of the region’s watery terrain. Created over several thousand years by the muddy Mississippi, the delta is defined by flood, sediment, and muck. Yet the ambiguity of the landscape—a "place with no edge"—has often been interpreted as an invitation to eliminate environmental uncertainty in pursuit of rigid, impermeable boundaries. Since the early 18th century, Euro-American attempts to inhabit, rationalize, and render profitable this messy "wetlandscape" have left residents mired in unintended consequences. By following the flow of water through river levees, swamp logging frontiers, oil and gas canals, a subsiding city, and even human skin, my research suggests the perils of pursuing edges in a deltaic environment. More broadly, the project examines the changing social and ecological values at work in places where land and water meet. I argue that understanding how people negotiated the watery places of the past is essential for confronting the drowned worlds of the future.

Adam Mandelman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at UW-Madison. His work draws from scholarship in environmental history, cultural and historical geography, political ecology, ecocriticism, and science studies. His research has been supported by a Wisconsin-Mellon Summer Dissertation Fellowship; the Department of Geography's Whitbeck and Trewarth Awards; a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; and a University Fellowship from UW-Madison. He received his M.S. in 2008 from UW-Madison’s Department of Geography for research on indigenous identity and historic preservation in Hawai'i. He received his B.A. in 2003 from Sarah Lawrence College. He maintains a blog about watery places and other themes in nature-society geography. Adam is completing a dissertation entitled "The Place With No Edge: Boundaries and Permeability in the Mississippi River Delta, 1845-2010."

Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture

December 3, 2014
5:30 P.M., Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140, 800 University Avenue

Craig Werner
Department of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison

'For What It's Worth: Towards a New History of the Sixties'


December 8, 2014
3:30 P.M., 212 University Club Building

Luke Whitmore
Philosophy, UW-Stevens Point

'Mountain, Water, Rock, God: Shiva's Abode of Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century'

In June of 2013 early monsoon rains of unexpected intensity hit the Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Floods and landslides washed away thousands of lives and decimated the economic landscape of the state. One public face of this disaster has been the near-destruction and ongoing rebuilding of the Hindu sacred place of Kedarnath. I am writing a book that situates what is unfolding in Kedarnath today relative to factors critical for life in the twenty-first century: environmental change, religion, nationalism, development, tourism, local-translocal connections, virtual networks, embodiment, and the perennial human need for orientation in the face of tragedy.

Luke Whitmore received his M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School in 1999 and his Ph.D. in West and South Asian Religions from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University in 2010. He also studied for two years at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Broadly, his research and teaching interests include South Asian and Himalayan religions, Shaivism, Judaism, theory and method in religious studies, pilgrimage, myth, visual culture, network theory, phenomenological anthropology, and the study of place and space. His research focuses on the Hindu pilgrimage place of Kedarnath, and the mountainous region of Garhwal (located in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand) in which it is found. He is at work on a book entitled Mountain, Water, Rock, God: Shiva's Abode of Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century.

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series

December 11, 2014
4:00 P.M., Room 212, University Club

David Harrisville
History, UW-Madison

'Holding the Hands of Dying Men: Wehrmacht Chaplains on the Eastern Front, 1941-45'

Part of the War and Intimacy Series. Convened by Lou Roberts. Click here for full program.

Faculty Development Seminar

Fall 2014

Mario Ortiz-Robles
English, UW-Madison

'Representing Animals: Philosophy, History, Film'

Scientific, artistic, political, and philosophical descriptions of animals have accompanied human history from its beginnings, but it is only relatively recently that these various ways of representing animals have been troubled by the question of animal representativeness; that is, the rights of animals. Animal Studies, a vibrant new field of interdisciplinary inquiry across the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences can be said to be located at the point at which these two seemingly incompatible ways of representing animals intersect.

In this seminar, we will be guided by two interrelated questions that lie at the heart of this new discipline: 1) “What is an animal?” and 2) “How should animals be treated?” We know an animal when we see one, but we are hard pressed to account for the fact that the word “animal” stands in for an enormous variety of living beings all of which are as different from one another as we supposedly are from every one of them. Even so, when we use one single term to name all non-human animals we arrogate to ourselves the right to determine their fate. From the traditional use of animals in sacrifice and ritual, hunting and fishing, transport and labor, the development, over the last two centuries, of biological forms of knowledge has permitted the technological exploitation of the animal at an unprecedented scale. Animals have become objects of human manipulation in factory farms and pharmaceutical laboratories, but have also become the subject of a broad range of cultural representations, including zoos, circuses, natural history museums, Broadway musicals, television shows, and animal films. By pairing philosophical and historical readings with documentary films, this seminar will allow us to address these key questions as well as consider more generally the aesthetic, intellectual, ethical, and political implications of our inevitable anthropocentrism.

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities. For more details on the seminar, click here.

Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture

February 18, 2015 - February 18, 2015
5:30 P.M., Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140, 800 University Avenue

Tejumola Olaniyan
English, UW-Madison

'Enchantings: Modernity, Culture, and the State in Postcolonial Africa'
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