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November 30, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Ali Humayun Akhtar
Ph.D. History/Middle Eastern Studies, New York University
Religious Studies/Classical and Medieval Studies, Bates College

How did pre-modern empires negotiate imperial boundaries while facilitating inter-imperial trade? What was the political place of transimperial diplomat and merchant communities in this trade? This talk highlights the Iranian Armenian community of Esfahan and the Ottoman Latin-rite community of Istanbul, examining comparatively how their fluid legal status in Ottoman and Safavid lands played an important role in shaping the Eurasian silk routes to Venice.

Ali Humayun Akhtar is an Assistant Professor at Bates College and is 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 Central Asia in the medieval and early modern eras. His first book traces the political debates over Graeco-Arabic philosophy and Sufism from Cordoba to Cairo (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 law and economy along the Safavid and Ottoman silk routes to Venice (16th-17th centuries). 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.

December 7, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Laura Jo-Han Wen
East Asian Languages & Literature, UW-Madison

What is cinema and where was cinema? How might the ontological inquiries of the cinema be unpacked in a colonial context? Inspired by transmedia archaeology, this talk explores early cinematic modernity through the magic lantern activities in colonial Taiwan. Among the missing puzzle pieces in the visual culture of colonial Taiwan, the magic lantern show (gentō-kai) is a crucial yet less-discussed event of seeing that provokes issues concerning optical modernity, images of colonial edification, and the projection of empires. On the surface, the magic lantern show seemed to be an extension of colonial power, yet, the process of its projection and mediation also revealed the disintegrated temporality between the colony and the imperial screen.

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 entitled, "Screen Culture, Visual Power, and the Beyond: A Transmedia Archaeology of the Cinema in Colonial Taiwan, 1895–1945."

December 14, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Sara Trevisan
Arts and Humanities, Brunel University London

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.

January 25, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Ronald Radano
Music, UW-Madison

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 QuarterlyDaedalusCritical InquiryModernism/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."

February 1, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Karma Chávez
Communication Arts, UW-Madison

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.

February 8, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Victor Lenthe
English, UW-Madison

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." 

February 15, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
John-Henry Clay
History, Durham University

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."

February 22, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Molly Laas
History of Science, UW-Madison

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."

February 23, 2016 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Earl Lewis
Historian, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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).

February 29, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Joshua Calhoun
English, UW-Madison

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.

March 7, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
S. Scott Graham
English, UW-Milwaukee

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.

March 9, 2016 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Richard Goodkin
French, UW-Madison

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).

March 11, 2016 9:00 AM
March 14, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Sissel Schroeder
Anthropology, UW-Madison

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 ArchaeologyAntiquitySoutheastern ArchaeologyJournal 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."

March 28, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Caitlin Silberman
Art History, UW-Madison

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." 

April 4, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Christina Greene
Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison

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.

April 6, 2016 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Henry Drewal
Art History and Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison

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.

April 11, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Devaleena Das
English, Jesus & Mary College and University of Delhi

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."

April 18, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Andreas Schwab
Classics, Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg

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.

April 25, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Annie McClanahan
English, UW-Milwaukee

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 EconomyJournal of American StudiesPost-45South 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." 

May 2, 2016 3:00 PM
Panel Discussion

Recent Events

November 23, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, after the initial euphoria of African national independence and before the era of market liberalization, hundreds of thousands of young East Africans left their rural homes and became the first generation in their families to make lives in the city. This demographic shift occurred in the absence of economic growth and far exceeded the interventions and visions of urban planners and policymakers. What kind of city did these urban sojourners envision and create? How did they reconcile the promises of decolonization and political liberation with the realities of inequality, scarcity and urban infrastructural collapse? Based on research in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this talk explores Africa’s urban revolution as encountered by popular artists and intellectuals including investigative journalists and newspaper gossip columnists, songwriters and musicians, Christian women’s advice writers, nurses and social workers, and Swahili underground pulp fiction publishers. It examines how migrants in the city theorized the postcolonial predicament based on their urban experiences, using the urban landscape they encountered as the raw material with which they pose broader questions about African liberation, gender roles, adulthood, community and social justice.

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 is spending 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.

November 16, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

Fear is one of the most salient political emotions. The philosophers Hobbes and Lucretius each considered fear in their writings on civil war. Lucretius argued that the fear of death led to civil war. Although Lucretius deeply influenced Hobbes, Hobbes promoted a fear of death, arguing that this fear prevented civil war. What are we to make of the place of the fear of death in Hobbes' and Lucretius' philosophies? And how does this difference shape their eirenic projects—their work to ensure peace?

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 ReviewJournal of PoliticsPolitical TheoryHistory of Political ThoughtEuropean Journal of Political TheoryPolitical 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.

November 9, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

What new things can personal digital photography tell us about gendered lives? Does digital photography provide a wider range of gendered activities and gendered images? What can we learn about women's lives and senses of self as "photographers"? How to process and make sense of digital photography collections? How to (and who gets to) determine the biographic relevance and significance of the photos? Using the personal photos I collected in China from women who lived through the Mao era, I discuss how the changing materiality of digital photography affects women's auto/biographical photo practices, the opportunities and challenges this brings to the study of women's lives, and the challenges in collecting (scanning and copying), categorizing, and analyzing the digital photographs.

Xin Huang is an Assistant Professor in Women's and Gender Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Huang received her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Women'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. She has recently finished a book project entitled "The Gendered Legacy of Mao: A Study of Women's Live Stories in Contemporary China." The talk 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.

November 5, 2015 4:00 PM
6191 Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St.
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture

The lecture analyzes how Tino Sehgal's museum installation "Kiss" establishes the normative temporal scheme of contemporary heterosexual sex, and how a series of performances by Brennan Gerard & Ryan Kelly (who work as Gerard & Kelly) comment upon and transform that scheme. Especially at issue is the role that the rhythms established by synchrony, reciprocity, and endurance play in the discourse of "good" sex gay and straight, and the role of arrhythmia in fostering queer sexual possibilities.

Elizabeth Freeman is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Duke University Press, 2010) and the co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. In 2007 she edited a special issue of GLQ on "Queer Temporalities." Her first book, The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture was published by Duke University Press in 2002.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Art History Department, Center for Visual Culture, Communication Arts Department, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies Department, Digital Studies Program, English Department, Gender and Sexuality Caucus, and the Gender and Women's Studies Department.

November 2, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

How did Charlemagne confuse Palm Sunday processions and triumphal entries? Why was the early Quaker leader James Nayler charged with blasphemy for riding a horse into Bristol? Was he imitating Christ or mocking Oliver Cromwell? Why were life-size processional images of Jesus on a donkey vandalized both by sixteenth-century Protestant iconoclasts and by eighteenth-century Roman Catholic archbishops? My presentation 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.

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. 

October 26, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

How does war affect every day life for those involved? I analyze the role of sleep in the United States-led counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001, which was part of the larger U.S.-led overseas contingency operations. 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. 

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). 

October 19, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

It is not only activists and public intellectuals who are concerned about the injustice of mass incarceration in the United States. Incarcerated men and women have examined the "justice" of the American criminal justice system as well, often through memoir. Incarcerated writers do intellectual work, advancing understandings of justice that run counter to the justice system incarcerating them. Further, incarcerated writers often structure their writing using religious themes, such as sin, guilt, and redemption. Reading together the religion and politics implicit in prison memoirs, I argue that a dramatic shift took place in this genre over the past half century. Expansive visions of social justice have contracted into tales of personal suffering and redemption.

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 TheologySainthood 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." 

October 14, 2015 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture

This lecture has been postponed. New date April 6, 2016.


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 DescentYoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and ThoughtBeads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba UniverseMami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its DiasporasDynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient NigeriaSoulful 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.

October 12, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

What do we mean when we call something—art, culture, history—"contemporary"? While scholars tend to refer to the contemporary as if it were the name for a clearly demarcated historical period, the contemporary isn't really like other historical periods—for the simple reason that, as something ongoing and open-ended, it is not yet historical. This talk considers how the not-quite-historical category of the contemporary first emerged as a framework for literary studies in the mid-twentieth century, and how it has challenged some of the basic methodological assumptions of the discipline in ways that are still being reckoned with today. What would it mean, I ask, to think of the contemporary not as a stable period but as a conceptual problem? And what it would mean to see certain forms of contemporary fiction as a vital resource for resolving that problem?

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. 

October 5, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

What does folklore have to do with literature? The usual answer would involve shared content: writers borrowing song, stories, or motifs from traditional materials. However, the history of folklore study or discourses surrounding it—what people thought folklore was and why it mattered—can be just as important for literature, indeed for how the very notion of the literary evolves at certain historical junctures. Considering the example of nineteenth-century France, I ask how failed efforts to document or collect popular traditions actually made questions of tradition, orality, and cultural preservation all the more important for French writers of the day and what this means for our own concepts of literary history.

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."

September 28, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

What are the functions of roads, both "materially" and "symbolically"? Since 1950, several highways have been built to connect Tibet with the rest of China. These roads' meanings are subject to constant construction and reinterpretation, being understood variously as heroic, monumental, liberating, mysterious, exotic, purifying, splendid, and having the ability to incite pilgrimages. This talk contributes to a broader study of "roadology," to which the speaker has been collaborating with a group of interdisciplinary scholars over the past several years. 

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 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.

September 21, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building

Can we trace the social pathways that ancient Christianity followed as it traveled from the Roman Mediterranean to India? Evidence of these pathways is laden with epistemic baggage. Likewise, numerous societies have produced their own testimonies for Christianity’s movement, but it is often hard to establish the relationship among such testimonies and thus their referential value. How might this evidence be navigated?

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. 

September 16, 2015 3:00 PM
212 University Club Building
Panel Discussion

"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)

  • Henry Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor, Art History and Afro-American Studies
  • Christine Garlough, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Robert Glenn Howard, Professor, Communication Arts
  • Steven Hutchinson, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, Merle Curti Associate Professor, History
  • Michael Schatzberg, Professor, Political Science; African Studies Program
  • Steve Stern, Alberto Flores Galindo and Hilldale Professor, History