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Burdick-Vary Events

Each year the Institute sponsors 1-2 Burdick-Vary Symposia organized by Senior Fellows on topics related to their research or on issues of broad significance to the humanities. These events may take the form of lectures, symposia, or workshops for the university community. Burdick-Vary events honor Marjorie B. Vary (University of Wisconsin, Class of 1915), whose family bequeathed a generous donation to the Institute in 1977.

Recent Burdick-Vary Events

Multicolored diagram with various language names appearing in different sizes within a circle
April 4, 2019 9:15 AM
3070 Grainger Hall
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Multiple Speakers (see below)

This multidisciplinary symposium brings together scholars and practitioners from social sciences and humanities who research the impact of linguistic diversity on European politics, identity, and culture. Starting from diverse methodologies and disciplinary postulations, the participants will examine the way in which European politics and cultures are affected by multilingualism, foreign language use, and translation, both inside and outside the institutional framework of the European.

Check back closer to the event date for more information on speakers and schedule. Event runs from 9:15 AM to 5:15 PM.


Welcome and Introduction (9:15am)

Toma Longinović and Nils Ringe

Multilingualism in the Institutions of the European Union (9:30-10:45am)

Liana Muntean: Persuasiveness and Power at the CJEU. The Case of the Advocate General's Opinions after the 2004 ‘Linguistic Reform’ 

Nils Ringe: The Language(s) of Politics: Multilingual Policymaking in the EU

Foreignness in Translation (11:00am-12:15pm)

Boaz Keysar: Living in a Foreign Tongue 

Natasa Kovacevic: Transnationalism on the Margins: Translating Migrant Experiences in the New Europe

Lunch (12:30pm)

Steenbock's on Orchard

Multilingualism: The Theoreticians’ View (2:00-3:15pm)

Jacobo Lezra: No Untranslatability, Not Now 

Dragan Kujundzic: TR (Trace, Translation, Deconstruction)

Multilingualism: The Practitioners’ View (3:30-4:45pm)

Francis Jacobs: Evolving Practice on the Use of Languages in the World's Most Multilingual Parliament 

Ellen Elias-Bursac: How Translation and Interpreting Shaped the Work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague

Wrapping Up and Taking Stock (4:45-5:15pm)

Arthur Goldhammer and Toma Longinović

Organized by:

Nils Ringe, Professor of Political Science, Jean Monnet Chair, and Director of the Center for European Studies. His research and teaching interests are European Union politics (in particular the institutions of the EU), legislatures, political parties, social networks, and elections. He published "Bridging the Information Gap: Legislative Member Organizations as Social Networks in the United States and the European Union" (University of Michigan Press) with Jennifer N. Victor (George Mason University), a book that examines voluntary, issue-based, cross-partisan groups of legislators (such as caucuses in the U.S. Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament) in a comparative perspective. His previous book, "Who Decides, and How? Preferences, Uncertainty, and Policy Choice in the European Parliament," was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. Ringe is currently working on a book on multilingualism in the institutions of the EU, tentatively titled "The Language(s) of Politics: Multilingual Policy-Making in the European Union," as well as various papers on social networks in legislative politics.

Tomislav Z. Longinović (PhD, MFA), Professor of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently Visiting Professor at Harvard University. His books include Borderline Culture: The Politics of Identity in Four Twentieth Century Slavic Novels (1993), Vampires Like Us (2005), Red Knight: Serbian Women Songs (1992, co-edited and co-translated with Daniel Weissbort), and the edited volume: David Albahari, Words are Something Else (1996). He is also the author of several books of fiction, both in Serbian (Sama Amerika, 1995) and English (Moment of Silence, 1990). His new book Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary was published by Duke University Press in 2011 and was awarded the 2012 Mihajlo Miša Đorđević prize for best book in Serbian studies. His research interests include South Slavic literatures and cultures; literary theory; Central and East European literary history; comparative Slavic studies; translation studies; cultural studies. He is currently working on the book manuscript entitled The Secret of Translation, which features a theory of culture based on relational structures rather than ethnic or national ones.

Image of Marianne Fairbank's design work
March 2, 2018 10:00 AM
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Theresa Kelley
IRH Senior Fellow and English, UW-Madison
(as well as members of the symposium Organizing Committee)

This symposium proposes to bring together artists, scientists and scholars across several disciplines for whom color matters in quite different registers, across the globe and across modernity. From the Early Modern era to the present, color theory and practice cross disciplines and sponsor debates about what color is. This 21st century symposium looks forward and back in time to invite collective thought about color’s modernity. The symposium invites scholars, artists and participants to think about how their research addresses two questions: crossovers between color theory and material practices now, among artists and scientists, and as part of the global exchange of color, pigments and artifacts.

For more information on the symposium and the schedule of speakers, see event website.

Organizing Committee: Theresa Kelley, English (IRH Senior Fellow), UW-Madison; Karen Schloss, Psychology, UW-Madison; Kevin Eliceiri, LOCI, Morgridge, Biomedical Engineering, UW-Madison

March 10, 2017 9:30 AM
Pyle Center
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Organized by Louise Young

How has the history of imperialism and colonialism brought us to the current conjuncture? This symposium brings together specialists from different fields to rethink possibilities for a critical history of the East Asian present within the larger context of the postimperial world. We plan morning and afternoon sessions for a one-day symposium. Each session will be composed of five speakers making short (15-20 minute) presentations.  

March 3, 2017 1:15 PM
Burdick-Vary Symposium

 In conjunction with: “Martha Glowacki’s Natural History, Observations and Reflections”
(Chazen Museum of Art)

“Natural History : Natural Philosophy: An Exhibit in Special Collections”
(Memorial Library, Room 984)


This symposium brings together contributors to a newly burgeoning mode of work that sits at—and defies—the boundaries between scholarly research and creative art related to nature and the history of science.  How does research on past scientific ideas and practices inform art? How do present-day scientific, historical, and experiential methods help us understand the relations between artistic and scientific practices of the past and open new relations in the present? Just how does work that bridges science, history, and art, or that merges scholarship and creative production, disrupt the traditional conventions of artistic and scholarly spaces? Conversely, what sorts of spaces can provide suitable homes for such work? Scholars, artists, and scholar-artists at all career levels at the UW-Madison will join invited external speakers to present their responses to these questions and engage in group reflection on how we might advance this work in all its forms. 


Friday March 3: (Memorial Library Special Collections) 

1:15-1:30: registration and viewing of Special Collections exhibition

1:30: Welcome and Introduction to Symposium: Lynn Nyhart, Professor, History of Science, UW-Madison

1:45-3:15: Part  1: Interdisciplinary Spaces

Sarah Anne Carter, Curator and Director of Research, Chipstone Foundation (Milwaukee), “Apparent Categories: Material Stories for the 21st Century”

Carin Berkowitz, Director, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia), “Anatomy Folios and Dissection Rooms as Spaces of Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Conflict”

Discussion moderator: Ann Smart Martin, Professor, Art History and Director, Material Culture Program, UW-Madison 

3:15-3:45: Break (look at Special Collections exhibit!)

3:45-5:15: Keynote Lecture (Memorial Library Special Collections): 

Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History and Director, Center for Science and Society, Columbia University: “Making Art and Knowing Nature in Early Modern Europe: The Making and Knowing Project”

Abstract: Through large scale interdisciplinary collaboration and "expert crowd sourcing," the Making and Knowing Project explores the history and nature of craft knowledge and its relationship to art and science. The Project reconstructs in a laboratory the instructions and "recipes" for technical procedures contained in a sixteenth-century French compilation of artistic and technical recipes. This lecture will introduce the structure, activities, and aims of the Project, highlighting the insights into materials, techniques, pre-modern understandings of nature, and craft knowledge that have resulted from the Project since its founding in 2014.

Introduction and Discussion moderator: Florence Hsia, Professor and Chair, Department of the History of Science, UW-Madison

Dinner (on your own)

Saturday, March 4: Part 2: Making Interdisciplinarity Between Scholarship and Art (Pyle Center 313)

9:00: Continental Breakfast (Pyle Center 313)

9:30-11:30: Single-Scholar Interdisciplinarity

Shira Brisman, Assistant Professor, Art History, UW-Madison, “The Inside of Art”

Gregory Vershbow, Lecturer, Art, UW-Madison, “Inventing Folly”

Helen J. Bullard, Interdisciplinary Special Committee Ph.D. candidate, UW-Madison, “Hard Lines”

Discussion moderator: Robin Rider, Curator of Special Collections, Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

11:30-1 pm: lunch on your own

1-2 pm: Martha Glowacki, Gallery talk, Chazen Museum 

2-2:15: Break: make your way back to the Pyle Center!

2:15-3:45: Interdisciplinary Collaboration 

Catherine Jackson, Assistant Professor, History of Science, UW-Madison, and Tracy Drier, Master Glassblower, Dept. of Chemistry, UW-Madison, "Glass in the Flame of a Proper Lamp" 

3:45-4:00: Break (Snack available at Pyle Center)

4:00-5:15: Final discussion: Panel: Lynn Nyhart, Martha Glowacki, Shira Brisman (7 min. ea.) and then lead discussion 

6:00: Dinner for presenters and moderators 


December 8, 2016 7:00 PM
6191 Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St.
Burdick-Vary Lecture Series
Lori Kido Lopez
Communication Arts, UW-Madison

Studies of fandom and fan culture have always centered on the complex feelings of fascination and frustration that motivate audiences.  When we consider the way that race is represented in beloved texts, there are clearly political consequences to these emotional connections.  But what about texts that are ambiguously racialized, such as cartoons and animated imagery?  How have fans of animated worlds been able to convert their racialized fandoms into political actions, and what does this engagement with “racebending” reveal about race and the media?  This talk explores the fan-activism surrounding The Last Airbender and connects it to the broader politics of Asian American representation.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Lori Kido Lopez is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also an affiliate of the Asian American Studies Program and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.  She is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship(2016, NYU), and co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Asian American Media.  She is the founder of the national Race & Media Conference, and was a recipient of the Outstanding Women of Color Award in 2015.

October 27, 2016 7:00 PM
6191 Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St.
Burdick-Vary Lecture Series
Charles Yu
Author and Screenwriter

What do cowboy robots, hapless yeomen, time machine repairmen, and third class superheroes have in common?  

They all issue from the imagination of Charles Yu. Charles Yu is the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero, and was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. His work has been published in The New York Times and Slate, among other periodicals. He is currently a screenwriter for HBO's Westworld.

Presented as part of the Burdick-Vary Lecture Series Asian Americans and the Pleasures of Fantasy.

October 7, 2016 (All day)
Elvehjem L140 and Vilas 4070
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Pamela Tom
Tad Nakamura
Yizhou Xu

Join us for a weekend celebrating brand new Asian American documentaries and filmmakers, brought to you by the Asian American Studies Program at UW-Madison. All films are free, open to the public, and followed by Q&A.

BAD RAP - Friday Oct. 7, 7pm at Elvehjem L140 followed by Q&A with Producer Jaeki Cho.  This documentary follows the careers of four Asian American rappers – including Dumbfoundead, Awkwafina, Rekstizzy and Lyricks -- who must literally and figuratively battle for a space in a hip hop culture that fails to acknowledge their existence.

TYRUS - Saturday Oct. 8, 2pm at Vilas 4070 followed by Q&A with Director Pamela Tom.  This documentary reveals the epic achievements of 104-year old Chinese American painter Tyrus Wong, whose watercolors provided the inspiration for Disney’s animated feature BAMBI.

MELE MURALS - Saturday Oct. 8, 7pm at Vilas 4070 followed by Q&A with Director Tad Nakamura. This documentary by Tad Nakamura tells the story of Native Hawaiian youth who are combining indigenous forms of spirituality with the contemporary art of graffiti in order to build community.

PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF LOVE - Sunday Oct. 9, 2pm at Elvehjem L140 followed by Q&A with Producer Yizhou Xu. Produced by University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student Yizhou Xu, this documentary examines the cultural, economic, and political implications of contemporary love in China. 

April 15, 2016 9:00 AM
212 University Club Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Daniel Garber
Gideon Manning
Rebecca Wilkin
Tad Schmaltz
Harold Cook
Susanna Berger
Shira Brisman

In 1633, the French philosopher René Descartes, living in self-exile in the countryside of the province of Holland, was putting the final touches on what was supposed to be his first published treatise. For some years he had been working on a variety of scientific topics. These included grand cosmological questions about the origin of the universe and the forces governing its phenomena, and more particular topics, such as the trajectory of comets, the operation of the magnet, the dynamic behavior of fluids, and the causes of the tides. Descartes was especially interested in resolving a number of geometrical problems in optics and the science of light. He investigated the colors of the rainbow and the material and mental processes involved in visual sensation. Writing in 1629 to his friend, the Minim friar Marin Mersenne, who operated a far-flung intellectual network from his rooms in Paris, Descartes boldly said that his treatise will contain nothing less than “all the phenomena of nature.” Its title, appropriately, was Le Monde, or The World.

Descartes was certainly concerned about how the planned work—which was to include an essay on the human being, titled L’Homme (Treatise on Man)—would be received by religious authorities. In his speculations on the origins of the cosmos, he was afraid of being drawn into debates about whether the universe is created or eternal, finite or infinite, theologically dangerous terrain that had doomed many an earlier thinker. Descartes also knew that what was likely to strike contemporary theologians as the most problematic feature of The World, should he publish it, was his rejection of the Ptolemaic or geocentric model of the universe in favor of the Copernican heliocentric model.

Still, by autumn, Descartes decided that The World was ready for publication. And then, just when everything seemed set, Descartes learned about the condemnation of Galileo in Rome for defending the Copernican system. Descartes was now scared. He claimed that the heliocentric model “is so closely interwoven in every part of my treatise that I could not remove it without rendering the whole work defective.” He decided “not to publish the treatise I have written and to forfeit almost all my work of the last four years in order to give my obedience to the Church, since it has proscribed the view that the earth moves.” This was, in fact, not so much an act of faithful obedience by a devoted Catholic but a defensive tactic within his general strategy to preserve his “repose and peace of mind.  

The first part of The World, the physics and cosmology, would eventually be published in 1664, fourteen years after Descartes’s death. As for the second part, the Treatise on Man, it too would appear only posthumously, in 1662 (in a Latin edition) and 1664 (a French edition). It was this latter work, a thoroughly mechanistic account of the human body, devoid of any Aristotelian “forms” or “qualities” and functioning, like any natural body, solely through the motion and rest of minute parts of matter, that would turn out to be truly revolutionary. It was perhaps Descartes’s most influential book in the seventeenth century.

The Treatise on Man ushered in a new era of philosophy. The latter half of the seventeenth-century was dominated by Cartesian thought, but a Cartesianism that had been supplemented, modified, and “corrected” by Descartes’s latter-day followers. The Treatise on Man was also highly controversial, especially insofar as Descartes seemed to some readers to be saying that the human soul played no role in the operations of the human body. If the human body really does function as a purely mechanistic device, then what need is there of the immortal soul so dear to the Christian religion? His theological critics regarded it as a book that could only foster materialism and atheism.

January 29, 2015 (All day)
University Club
Burdick-Vary Symposium
John Hall
Tara Zahra
Daniel Ussishkin
Dan Healey

The Institute for Research in the Humanities is proud to sponsor a year-long series of lectures exploring the intimate bonds fostered by the experience of war in the twentieth century.

January 29, 4:00 pm
John Hall, UW-Madison: "The Intimacies of Ethnocide: Preserving Male Honor in the 'Unholy' Wars of Indian Removal"

February 26, 4:00 pm
Tara Zahra, University of Chicago: "Exodus from the East: Emigration and the Making of the Free World, 1889-Present"

March 12, 4:00 pm
Daniel Ussishkin, UW-Madison: "War Stories: The Military and the Social in Modern Imperial Britain"

April 9, 4:00 pm
Dan Healey, St Antony's College: "Thinking Again about Love and Death in Russia, 1914-1922"

October 3, 2014 9:00 AM
DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St.
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Faisal Abdu'Allah
Lynda Barry
Peter Bovenmyer
Sonya Clark
Tom Dale
Kathryn Linn Geurts
Marvin Gutierrez
Mary Hark
Darryl Harper
Marguerite E. Heckscher
Ray Hernández-Durán
David Howes
Chris Walker
Sheron Wray

Featuring a series of tasty "sound bytes" and short, pithy multi-media presentations exploring the senses in trans-disciplinary research. 

A 5-minute video, filmed and edited by Aaron Granat, was released in December 2014. Click below to view the video of the symposium.

September 17, 2014 (All day)
University Club
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Atina Grossmann
Lucy Noakes
Terry Peterson
David Harrisville

The Institute for Research in the Humanities is proud to sponsor a year-long series of lectures exploring the intimate bonds fostered by the experience of war in the twentieth century.

September 17, 4:00 pm
Atin Grossmann, Cooper Union: "Distance and Intimacy: Close Encounters between Jews and Germans in the Aftermath of Catastrophe"

October 23, 4:00 pm
Lucy Noakes, University of Brighton: "Burying the People of 'the People's War': Death, the State and Itimacy in Second World War Britain"

November 20, 4:00 pm
Terry Peterson, UW-Madison, "Figthing for Intimacy: Counterinsurgency, Gender Politics, and Colonial Utopianism in the Algerian War"

December 11, 4:00 pm
David Harrisville, UW-Madison: "Holding the Hands of Dying Men: Wehrmacht Chaplains on the Eastern Front, 1941-45"

April 11, 2014 (All day)
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Dudley Andrew
Glen Close
Kelley Conway
Vlad Dima
Richard Goodkin
Patrick Rumble

The phenomena of individual mourning and collective mourning have both attracted a good deal of critical attention in literature and film studies, but what are the similarities and differences that link and separate these two very different forms of bereavement? The central goal of this conference will be to examine the articulation between two types of cinematic representations of mourning and the critical approaches associated with them, the corpus of works discussed to be be drawn from a number of different cultural traditions. The speakers, specialists in disciplines ranging from film studies to history and literature, will study both films in which individuals experience the mourning process as a solitary, intimate experience and films that present characters whose losses are shared by an entire society or segment of society. Of particular interest will be films that encompass both aspects of mourning and suggest to viewers how the two might be related. The speakers will seek out meaningful mediations between, on the one hand, psychological approaches to mourning, viewed in the context of how loss affects and shapes the course of individual lives, and on the other hand, sociologically inflected approaches to collective mourning, considered in the context of patterns of immigration as well as other forms of social upheaval.

Convened by Richard Goodkin, IRH Senior Fellow, French & Italian, UW-Madison.

Dudley Andrew (Film Studies and Comparative Literature, Yale University): “Mourning and West African Cinema”

Glen Close (Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Madison):“Mourning Medellín: Schroeder’s La virgen de los sicarios

Kelley Conway (Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison): “Mourning in the French Documentary”

Vlad Dima (French and Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison): “Singing Voices: Collective Mourning in Sembène’s Black Girl and Faye’s Mossane

Richard Goodkin (French and Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison): “The School for Mourners: Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar

Patrick Rumble (French and Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison): “Mourning [and] the Italian Art Cinema: Nanni Moretti’s Dear Diary

November 1, 2012 6:00 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Kathleen Ryor
Professor of Art History and Director of Asian Studies, Carleton College

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: New Constructions of the Past in the Art History of China

Scholarship on art collecting, art production and the broader world of elite cultural practices during the Ming dynasty has focused on the role that wealth and social status has played in the formation of taste and style, and the ways that anxieties about fluidity in social boundaries in the late Ming led to more vocal attempts to distinguish those who possessed "genuine" aesthetic sensitivity and cultural refinement. Much of this discussion has centered on various strata of the educated elite, which include landholders and government officials with degrees, and merchants. Conspicuously absent from such examinations of social position and its relationship to art and material culture is any discussion of the elite members of the hereditary military class. Yet, during the sixteenth century, Ming China was engaged in several military campaigns of enormous importance to the empire. Not surprisingly, military generals and commanders formed social as well as political relationships with civil officials and other members of the educated civil-degree-holding literati. This lecture will show that military men often participated broadly in activities typically closely associated with educated elites who engaged in civil-service examination culture, in areas such as scholarship, poetry-writing, painting, calligraphy, and collecting antique artifacts. Furthermore, it will be argued that this phenomenon is not merely another example of a one-way flow of cultural influence from the elite arbiters of taste in civil society. On the contrary, high-ranking or influential civil literati who were seriously involved in military matters often engaged actively in pursuits commonly associated with men from hereditary military families, such as archery, swordsmanship and other martial arts, the study of the military classics, writing of military strategy and the collecting of swords.

October 11, 2012 6:00 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Jerome Silbergeld
P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, Princeton University

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: New Constructions of the Past in the Art History of China

Every study of later Chinese painting history tends to establish two overarching categories into which all paintings are expected to fit: literati and not literati, the latter including court, ecclesiastical, and popular works. All modern viewers are charged with comprehending how this rubric of "literati painting," peculiar to China and tied to its civil service system, accounts for style. Yet the birth of literati painting has confused historians, for in its first few hundred years it exhibited a highly unstable visual identity that must prove baffling to anyone today expecting to see there a clear-cut differential between it and not-it. Why this confusion, and how should we deal with this uncertainty about such a fundamental historical issue?

September 20, 2012 6:00 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Maggie Bickford
Art History (Emerita), Brown University

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: New Constructions of the Past in the Art History of China

Chinese emperors of the 12th and 13th centuries created a new body of masterworks to stand in for lost famous paintings by the early Great Painters of China. The measure of their success is that we still use these Song-Dynasty creations as touchstones in our history of early Chinese art. How did this happen? Professor Bickford will consider these imperial initiatives and their consequences for the History of Art in China today.

September 11, 2012 6:00 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Jerome Silbergeld
P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, Princeton University

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: New Constructions of the Past in the Art History of China

Every study of later Chinese painting history tends to establish two overarching categories into which all paintings are expected to fit: literati and not literati, the latter including court, ecclesiastical, and popular works. All modern viewers are charged with comprehending how this rubric of "literati painting," peculiar to China and tied to its civil service system, accounts for style. Yet the birth of literati painting has confused historians, for in its first few hundred years it exhibited a highly unstable visual identity that must prove baffling to anyone today expecting to see there a clear-cut differential between it and not-it. Why this confusion, and how should we deal with this uncertainty about such a fundamental historical issue?

April 26, 2012 (All day)
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Convened by Tejumola Olaniyan

The symposium aims to bring into close systematic interaction three composite entities that traditionally are the objects of different study areas and therefore are studied together most often casually or rarely: contemporary African cultural and social forms and practices, the postcolonial African political state, and the larger modern context that subtend the two. The goal is to help us better understand in a multi-sided way:

  1. the sociopolitical underpinnings of African cultural and social forms and practices
  2. the cultural and social determinations on the character and performance of the African state as a genre
  3. the modern context that is the generative canvas of the interactions.
March 22, 2012 4:00 PM
6191 Helen C. White Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Pablo Mukherjee
English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, UK

Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: International Perspectives on the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences

The Victorian period saw the growth and consolidation of the science of tropical medicine. Driven by the imperative of maintaining and restoring the health of European settlers, the language of tropical medicine offered a vision of the tropics as a zone of proliferating and contaminating diseases, as well as the possibilities of containing and defeating these. Thus, against the tropics as a zone of contagion grew the idea of palliative empire – empire as a force of medicine, science and restorative care. Particularly important here was the role played by a group of English doctors whose texts formed the core of the first tropical medical canon. Unsurprisingly, such ideologically charged language of contagion, infection, medical care and palliative empire crossed disciplinary boundaries and became a part of popular Victorian ‘commonsense”. Writers concerned with representing the reality of Britain’s global empire found this language of diseased tropicality to be rich and suggestive. This paper will look at how one such writer, Rudyard Kipling, used the ideas of disease and medicine in his shorter fiction to explore the possibilities and limits of empire.

Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee is an Associate Professor (Reader) at the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick University, U.K.  He was born in Kolkata, India and educated there, and went on to do further degrees in Oxford and Cambridge.  He has taught at Newcastle and Warwick Universities in the U.K., and is the author of the books Crime and Empire (2003) and Postcolonial Environments (2010). Dr Mukherjee is currently working on a number of research projects, including a monograph provisionally titled 'Fevers and Famines: Natural Disasters and Victorian Empire' and with a Warwick Research Collective on 'Aesthetics of Peripheral Modernity'.  Dr Mukherjee's other interests and specialisms include contemporary film and media, sports, travel, and popular music.

March 15, 2012 4:00 PM
AT&T Lounge, 106 Pyle Cente
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Andrew Ross
Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Part of the Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: International Perspectives on the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences

Thoughtful people look to cities for evidence that progress is being made in the fight to avert climate change. The “sustainable cities” movement is thriving all across the world, and mayors compete for the title of “greenest city in America.”

In this lecture, drawing on his own research in the metro Phoenix area, Andrew Ross shows that the key solutions are more social than technical in nature. Marketing a green lifestyle to affluent residents will create showpiece sustainable enclaves, but will not alter the patterns of “eco-apartheid” that afflicts most large U.S. cities. Ross’s book, Bird On Fire, based on extensive interviews in the region, looks at some of Phoenix’s biggest challenges–water management, urban growth, immigration policy, pollution, energy supply, and downtown revitalization–in light of his arguments for policies that promote environmental justice.

Andrew Ross is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. He is the author of twelve books, including Nice Work if You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, Fast Boat to China--Lessons from Shanghai, Low Pay, High Profile: The Global Push for Fair Labor, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs, and The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town. He has also edited six collections, including No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers, Anti-Americanism, and The University Against Itself: The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace. His most recent book is Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City. Professor Ross is a contributor to the Nation, the Village Voice, and Artforum.

October 28, 2011 9:30 AM
Banquet Room, University Club Building
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Rachel Feldhay Brenner
Hebrew Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Holocaust experience reaches us through testimony, and consciousness of the event has invaded the post-Holocaust cultural and educational Weltanschauung. This symposium explores the post-Holocaust reception of Holocaust testimony with special emphasis on the issue of empathy. Are responses to the Holocaust motivated by an indelible ethical need to penetrate the incomprehensible world of the Final Solution and to restore the humanity of the dehumanized victim? Or, are they shaped by a reluctance to face the horror? What do such responses tell us about the steadfastness of empathic capacities and about their limits?

The Holocaust experience reaches us through testimony, and consciousness of the event has invaded the post-Holocaust cultural and educational Weltanschauung. This symposium explores the post-Holocaust reception of Holocaust testimony with special emphasis on the issue of empathy.

Are responses to the Holocaust motivated by an indelible ethical need to penetrate the incomprehensible world of the Final Solution and to restore the humanity of the dehumanized victim? Or, are they shaped by a reluctance to face the horror? What do such responses tell us about the steadfastness of empathic capacities and about their limits?

The participants include faculty and graduate students engaged in the exploration of the ethics and politics of cultural and educational responses to atrocities. While the symposium focuses on the Holocaust, it is my hope that the discussions will be relevant to studies of post-Holocaust catastrophes which expose the tenuousness of humanistic values.

The purpose of the pedagogical aspect of the symposium is to discuss the objectives and challenges facing teachers and students of the ethical meaning of histories of atrocity and terror. Participants are expected to read ahead the relevant texts, which are provided in the zip files above. The various perspectives and voices, which the materials represent, will provide a basis for the discussions. Excerpts from films and documentaries will be shown in the course of the discussions.

September 21, 2011 (All day)
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Cóilín Parsons
English Literature
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Part of the Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: International Perspectives on the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences

Wednesday, September 21

12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Room 202, Bradley Memorial Building, 1225 Linden Drive

"A Full-face Portrait of the Land: Reading Modernity in the Irish Ordnance Survey Maps"

In the 1830s and 1840s the entire island of Ireland was mapped by the Ordnance Survey on a scale of six inches to the mile, which called for detail that was unprecedented in the history of British surveying. One of the results of the decision to map on this scale was that the Survey established a historical division--which included antiquarians, Gaelic language scholars, and a drunken poet--for the purposes of determining which toponymic and archeological features to include on the maps. This work constituted one of the most sustained and extensive state-sponsored historical surveys in the nineteenth-century empire, with surprising effects: the Survey’s maps, far from inscribing colonial power as most historians of cartography argue, represent profound political ambivalences, and tend more to highlight and reconstruct the Gaelic past than provide an accurate representation of British colonial settlement. Reading the Surveys maps and its archive of official letters through the lens of recent theoretical writing on colonial archives, I argue for a reading of the cultural work of the Ordnance Survey that significantly reshapes our understanding of the Survey. This paper reveals the Survey as, above all else, an experiment in the representation of the troubled emergence of modernity of the Irish landscape in the 1830s.

Thursday, September 22

4:00 P.M. - 5:30 P.M.
Room 7191, Helen C. White Hall (College Library), 600 N. Park Street
A reception will follow the lecture.

"The Scale of Modernity: John Millington Synge, Maps, and the Modernist Everyday"

Synge's The Aran Islands documents five summers spent on an island off the west coast of Galway, one of the "most primitive" in Europe. Despite his attempts to constantly highlight the traditional nature of the islands, Synge’s narrative is interrupted at key moments by glimpses of the modern and the global—of emerging modernity on the colonial fringe. Drawing principally on the work Fredric Jameson, I argue in this paper that Synge is searching for a narrative form that will accommodate the scale of colonial modernity, and that he looks to surveying techniques in order to find a model for his writing.

Cóilín Parsons is an assistant professor of English Literature at the University of Cape Town, South Africa since 2009. He completed his PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Cóilín has published on the origins of literary study in Ireland and India, Sydney Owenson’s Indian novels, Irish literature, and postcolonial theory. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the cartographic origins of Irish modernist literature.

November 4, 2010 6:00 PM
4151 Grainger Hall
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Susan Friedman
Frank Salomon
Stephen Houston
Christiane Clados
Gary Urton
Elizabeth Boone
John Chuchiak
David Tavarez
Kathryn Burns
Sabine Hyland
Margaret Bender
Carlo Severi
Germaine Warkentin
Nicholas Ostler

New World peoples had already invented a huge range of graphic systems when Europeans brought the alphabet to America. Colonial letters interacted with Amerindian pictography, glyphs, cord-writing, and other graphic arts for centuries. This symposium brings together foremost researchers familiar with deeper and more varied meanings of “writing” in the Americas. How did graphic pluralism affect American arts of literacy? 

Convener: Frank Salomon

John V. Murra Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, November 4,  Evening 

6:00 Welcome Reception at the University Club

Friday, November 5,  Morning

8:30-9:00. Continental breakfast

9:00 Susan Stanford Friedman, (Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Director, Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison): Opening remarks

9:15 Frank Salomon (John V. Murra Professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison): "Homage to Cockenoe-de-Long Island"

9:30 Stephen Houston (Brown University, Dupee Family Professor of Social Sciences): "The Living Sign: Maya Hieroglyphs and the Vital Nature of Writing"

10:15-10:30 Coffee break

10:30: Christiane Clados (University of Wisconsin, Visiting Scholar): "New Insights on Nasca Imagery: A Nasca Graphic System?"

11:15 Gary Urton (Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies): "What we (think we) know about how the Inka khipu encoded meaning"

12:00-2:00 Lunch (on your own)

Friday November 5, Afternoon 

2:00 Elizabeth Boone (Tulane University, Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art): "Aztec Pictography in European Frames: The Pictorial Translation of Ideology in Sixteenth-century Mexico."

2:45 John Chuchiak (Missouri State University, Associate Professor of History): "Caught In between the "Lettered City" and the 'Glyphic Hinterland': Indigenous Maya Nobility and Continued Graphic Pluralism in Colonial Yucatan, 1550-1750"

3:30-3:45 Coffee break

3:45 David Tavarez (Vassar College, Associate Professor of Anthropology): "Literate Idolatries: Rethinking Word and Time in Colonial Oaxaca"

4:30-5:00 DISCUSSION

Saturday November 6, Morning

8:30-9:00 Continental breakfast 

9:00 Kathryn Burns (University of North Carolina, Associate Professor of History): "Toward understanding the khipu/paper interface: the Andean notaries of Cuzco (ca. 1600)."

9:45 Sabine Hyland (St. Norbert's College, Associate Professor of Anthropology): "Confessions and Khipu Boards: Diversity in Khipu Evangelization in the Andes"

10:30-10:45  Coffee break

10:45 Margaret Bender (Wake Forest University, Associate Professor of Anthropology.): "Can you hear me now?  Good!  Shifting communicative participant structures reflected in 19th-century Cherokee literacy practices"

11:30-12:00 DISCUSSION

12:00-2:00 Lunch (on your own)

Saturday November 6, Afternoon

2:00 Carlo Severi (Directeur  d'Etudes, Chaire Anthropologie de la Memoire, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris): "Panamanian Kuna picture-writing: interpretation and comparative perspectives"

2:45 James Howe (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor of Anthropology): "Kuna scribes and the political uses of literacy in Panama"

3:30-3:45 Coffee break

3:45 Germaine Warkentin (University of Toronto, Professor Emeritus of English): "The Farthest Shore of All: Rethinking the Origins of Writing"

4:30 Nicholas Ostler (Chairman, Foundation for Endangered Languages, UK 


The Institute for Research in the Humanities cordially thanks the following for their support: The American Indian Studies Program, the Anonymous Fund, the Center for Early Modern Studies, the Department of Anthropology,  the Department of English, the Department of Linguistics, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Global Studies Program, the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program, and the Cyril W. Nave Fund.

April 9, 2010 (All day)
Burdick-Vary Symposium
David Morgan
Peter Jackson
Timothy May
Uli Schamiloglu
Anne Broadbridge
Morris Rossabi
Reuven Amitai
Angus Stewart
Andre Wink
FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 9:00 a.m. David Morgan, University of Wisconsin-Madison Welcome

9:15-10:00 a.m. David Morgan, University of Wisconsin-Madison "Persian and Non-Persian Historical Writing in the Mongol Empire"

10:00-11:00 a.m. Peter Jackson, University of Keele "It is as if their aim were the extermination of the species: The Mongol devastation in Western Asia in the first half of the 13th century"

11:00-11:15 a.m. Refreshment Break

11:15-12:15 a.m. Timothy May, North Georgia College & State U. "The Battle of Chakimaut and the Transformation of Steppe Warfare"

12:15-2:00 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:00 p.m. Uli Schamiloglu, University of Wisconsin-Madison "The Golden Horde in World History: From the 13th Century to the 21st Century"

3:00 -3:15 p.m. Refreshment Break

3:15-4:15 p.m. Anne Broadbridge, U. of Massachusetts "Imperial Women and Political Alliances in the Early Mongol Empire"


SATURDAY, April 10, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Morris Rossabi, CUNY & Columbia University "Mongolian Influence on the Ming Dynasty"

10:30-11:00 a.m. Refreshment Break

11:00-12:00 p.m. Reuven Amitai, Hebrew University of Jerusalem "The Impact of the Mongols on the History of Syria: short-term effects and the longue duree"

12:00-2:00 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:00 p.m. Angus Stewart, University of St. Andrews "Armenians, Mongols and Crusaders"

3:00-3:15 p.m. Refreshment Break

3:15-4:15 p.m. Andre Wink, University of Wisconsin-Madison "Mongols of the Indo-Afghan Frontier"

4:15-5:00 p.m. Open discussion

Saturday, April 10 Dinner: Lowell Center, Lower Lounge Cash Bar: 6:30 p.m. Dinner: 7:00 p.m.

Buffet Dinner Selections: Sliced Baked Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce, Grilled Chicken Breast, Herbed Baked Cod; Sour Cream Potatoes, Wild Rice, Glazed Carrots and whole Green Beans, Salad bar, fresh fruit salad, Relish Tray, fresh Dinner Rolls, Beverages

For Dinner Reservations: Call Loretta Freiling at 262-3855 or e-mail: Cost $30.00. Make check payable to Loretta Freiling; send to Institute for Research in the Humanities, University Club Building, 432 E. Campus Mall, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706

April 17, 2009 (All day)
Pyle Center
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Robert E. Bjork
Antonette diPaolo Healey
Kathleen Davis
Nicole Discenza
Roberta Frank
Joseph C. Harris
Karl Reichl
Elaine Treharne

The effort to understand the inherited ideas that are operative in a society other than one's own can require a historian's patience, a linguist's precision, a philosopher's finesse, and an anthropologist's tact. How did the people of the earliest period of English history and culture (the Anglo-Saxon period, ca. 500-1100 ad) conceive of their place in the world that they inhabited? To what extent do the textual records from that era reflect underlying assumptions that may have no exact equivalents today, and that require explication if those records, and hence this historical era in general, are not to be misunderstood? And what evidence from non-textual sources, or from other times and places, can help to promote this inquiry?

Robert E. Bjork, Arizona State University. "Representations of Anglo-Saxon Mentality in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Scandinavia."

Antonette diPaolo Healey, University of Toronto. "Probing the Anglo-Saxon Mind: DOE Tools as Exploratory Instruments"

Kathleen Davis, University of Rhode Island. "Modes of Temporality in Old English Poetry."

Nicole Discenza, University of South Florida. "Places and Spaces."

Roberta Frank, Yale University. "A Poetics of Euphemism: Dangerous Propinquity in Beowulf."

Joseph C. Harris, Harvard University. "Mentalities and Monstrosities."

Karl Reichl, University of Bonn. "Words, Voice and Memory in Anglo-Saxon England."

Elaine Treharne, Florida State University. "On the Same Page: Anglo-Saxon Responses to the Book."


December 5, 2008 (All day)
226 Pyle Center
Burdick-Vary Symposium
Susan Friedman
Partha Chatterjee
Sanjay Subrahmanyam
Vinay Dharwadker
Chris Chekuri
V. Narayana Rao
David Shulman
Satya P. Mohanty
Charles Hallisey
Aparna Dharwadker
Rama Sundari Mantena

9:00 Keynote address: Susan Friedman, Director: The Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison: "Planetary Modernism and the Modernities of Empires and New Nations".

10:00 Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University: "Rammohan Roy and Early Modern Anti-Absolutism in India."

11:00-11:15 Coffee break

11:15 Sanjay Subrahmanyam, University of California, Los Angeles: "Historian-Scribes and the World of Early Modern South Asia."

Friday December 5. Afternoon

2:00-3:00 Vinay Dharwadker, University of Wisconsin-Madison: "Modernities, Modernisms, and Postcolonial Literatures: Some Theoretical Issues in the Indian Context"

3:00 Chris Chekuri,  San Francisco State University: "Reliable and 'Spurious' Inscriptions: Modernity, History, and the Precolonial Past of Vijayanagara."

4:00- 4:15 Coffee break

4:15 V. Narayana Rao, University of Wisconsin-Madison: "Something was different in 16th century Andhra. Was it Modernity?"

Saturday: December 6. Morning

9:00 David Shulman, Hebrew University, Jerusalem: "Rethinking the Imagination in Sixteenth-century South India: Notes on Ratnakheta Srinivasa Diksita's Bhavana-purushottama."

10:00 Satya P. Mohanty: "Alternative Modernities and Medieval Indian Literature: The Oriya Lakshmi Purana as Radical Pedagogy."

11:00-11:15 Coffee break

11:15 Charles Hallisey: "The Familiarity of the New:  Literary Cultures and the Modern in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Sri Lanka."

Saturday,  December 6. Afternoon

2:00 Aparna Dharwadker, University of Wisconsin-Madison: "Pre-Modern, Modern, Anti-Modern: The Contested Teleologies of Indian Theatre."

3:00 Rama Sundari Mantena, University of Illinois at Chicago: "Conceptualizing Modernity in Nineteenth-century Andhra."

4:00-4:15 Coffee Break

4:15 Roundtable: General Discussion, Thongchai Winichakul, Teju Olaniyan, Donald Davis, Jr., All participants