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Image of Dexter Gordon on a bicycle carrying his saxaphone
January 22, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Ethelene Whitmire
School of Library & Information Studies, UW-Madison

While walking through a cemetery in Copenhagen in 2013, I noticed a name that seemed out of place. Hear about my discovery and the basis for my new book project about the transnational experiences of African Americans in Denmark.

I am a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison affiliated with the departments of Afro-American Studies, German, Nordic, and Slavic, and Gender & Women’s Studies. I received an American-Scandinavian Foundation fellowship and a Lois Roth Endowment grant to support this project. I was also a 2016-2017 Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Transnational American Studies. My first book is Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Image of man holding a live Christmas tree outdoors
January 29, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Neil Prendergast
History, UW-Stevens Point
International Studies

For nearly two centuries, millions of Americans have been celebrating Christmas with a tree and Thanksgiving with a turkey, yet despite that depth of experience, an enduring ambivalence remains: Which type of tree and which type of turkey should enter the home? Real or artificial? Heritage breed or factory farmed? “American Holidays, American Nature” tells the story of how these questions came to be asked in the first place. It’s a story of consumerism, but also of republican and progressive traditions in thinking about nature and society.

Neil Prendergast is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he teaches United States environmental history. His work has appeared in the Western Historical Quarterly and Environmental History. In 2015, he was awarded the University Award for Teaching Excellence.

February 5, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Elizabeth Hennessy
History, UW-Madison
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Since Charles Darwin rode on the backs of the Galápagos giant tortoises in 1835, the animals have morphed from a favorite food of pirates and whalers to conservation icons protected in a place often called a “natural laboratory of evolution.” My book manuscript tells the tortoises’ story to show that attempts to restore the islands to their pristine state as a living museum to Darwin actually jeopardize their prized nature. Instead, it reimagines how to conserve the islands as a laboratory of co-evolution where biological, economic, and social histories enmesh humans and non-humans alike in the web of life.

Elizabeth Hennessy is Assistant Professor of World Environmental History in the History Department and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. She is part of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and serves as the faculty advisor for CHE’s graduate-student-run digital magazine, Edge Effects. She is also affiliated with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program (LACIS) and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. Trained as a geographer, she works at the intersection of political ecology, science and technologies studies, animal studies, and environmental history. Hennessy was formerly a fellow of the SSRC, ACLS, and Rachel Carson Center at LMU in Munich, Germany. Her first book will be published with Yale University Press in 2019. 

February 12, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Melissa Charenko
History of Science, UW-Madison

My work explores the development of ecological ideas and techniques used to understand the changing dynamics of human-environment interactions over the last 12,000 years. I am particularly interested in the meanings and lessons that ecologists drew from this work, especially their proposals to use the deep past to address the present and future threat of anthropogenic environmental change. Yet this desire to create a "science of prophecy" did not always match the capabilities of methods in paleoecology. My work explores how these methodological limitations were used to challenge ecologists and their policy suggestions.

Melissa Charenko is a PhD Candidate in the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on deep time and the ecological sciences, approaching these topics using methods in history of science and environmental history. Melissa's work has been supported by the Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Science, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and a predoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She received an MA from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto.

Portrait image of Madelyn Detloff
February 15, 2018 4:00 PM
7191 Helen C. White
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Madelyn Detloff
English and Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University

In her study of the formation and spread of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt analyzed the political structures of both Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR. Perhaps because of her exhaustive critique of Nazi totalitarianism, fascism is often associated in the public imaginary with totalitarianism and dictatorships. While this was certainly the case in Nazi Germany’s brand of fascism, the common perception of a strong association between fascism and totalitarian dictatorship can serve to mask the presence of fascism in other political formations. Using Virginia Woolf’s life and political philosophy as a starting point, this paper traces the ascendency of biopower as a political and cultural formation in the early 20th century in three distinct but intertwined forms – 1.) the emergence of sexuality as a meaning making system that derived identities from seemingly intrinsic and categorizable desires, 2.) the intensification of psychological and medical reliance on eugenicist norms to mark (and often segregate) persons with “deviant” intellectual, physical, or psychological characteristics, and 3.) the justification of colonialism, conquest, and ultimately genocide through the practice and cultural dissemination of scientific racism. This essay therefore takes up the tools of queer, crip, and antiracist theories to analyze Woolf’s engagement with these three strands of biopower through her fictional, (auto)biographical, and critical writing. Can we trace the tinges of scientific racism in Woolf’s offhand comments about Jews or Indians or South Americans? How was Woolf herself treated by medical practitioners who upheld norms of mental and physical health to which Woolf did not conform? And how does Woolf’s own writing make meaning of the desires and bodily practices that are taken up and crystalized by the discourse of sexuality? The answers to these questions are not simple and not always flattering to Woolf. Given the complexity of Woolf’s art and thought, however, they yield a rich picture of how biopower worked in the early 20th century and how artists and intellectuals deployed and resisted its workings. This understanding of biopower provides impetus for speculation on the persistence of fascism into the 21st century under political guises that look more like neoliberalism than totalitarianism, yet still rely on the populist and eugenicist underpinnings of fascist ideology.

Madelyn Detloff is Professor of English and Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University (OH).  She is the author of The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the 20th Century (2008) and The Value of Virginia Woolf (2016), and co-editor of Queer Bloomsbury (2016).  She has written a number of book chapters and articles on queer theory, crip theory, modernist studies (especially Virginia Woolf and H.D.), and is a fierce advocate of social-justice-oriented teaching and research.

February 19, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Michael G. Titelbaum
Philosophy, UW-Madison

My project develops a constitutivist theory of normativity, on which rules for correct belief and action arise not from the external world, but from the nature of humans engaged in believing and acting. I seek a constitutivism that acknowledges the authority and objectivity of norms in deliberation—the sense in which norms guide our reasoning, and seem to be not entirely up to us. Yet constitutivism must also recognize the diversity of subjective points of view; an agent may only be guided by norms compatible with her standpoint on the world. The great challenge of normative theorizing is to incorporate appropriate subjectivity while maintaining authority. This balancing act is especially important in light of persistent normative disagreement among individuals and cultures, and the need to respect other points of view while retaining what's valuable about our own.

Michael G. Titelbaum is Associate Professor of Philosophy at UW-Madison.  He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley and an A.B. in philosophy from Harvard College.  He has had multiple visiting positions at the Australian National University; at UW-Madison, he has been a Vilas Associate and a Romnes Faculty Fellow.  His first book, Quitting Certainties: A Bayesian Framework Modeling Degrees of Belief, received the Council of Graduate Schools' Gustave O. Arlt Award for best book in the humanities, and an Honorable Mention for the American Philosophical Association's Book Prize.  He received the 2013 Sanders Prize in Epistemology for best essay written by a scholar within 15 years of the Ph.D., and has twice (2009 and 2016) been recognized by The Philosopher's Annual for publishing one of the ten best articles in philosophy in a given year.  His next book, Fundamentals of Bayesian Epistemology, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

February 21, 2018 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Lynn K. Nyhart
History of Science, UW-Madison

In the German-speaking states of the 1840s and 50s, revolution was in the air. While the political revolutions of 1848-49 are best known, the life sciences were undergoing their own revolutions, marked by radical new ideas about the organization and transformations of living beings. This talk focuses on a cluster of leading life scientists of the period to examine their participation in the events of this era, both political and intellectual. Through these disruptions, Nyhart argues, scientists came to articulate and enact new models for the relationship of the scientist to political action—models that continue to have force today.

Lynn K. Nyhart studies the history of biology in the modern (post-1789) era, as well as the relations between popular and professional science, and the politics of science, especially in nineteenth-century Germany. The author of Biology Takes Form and Modern Nature: The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany, she is most recently co-editor, with Scott Lidgard of Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives (2017). They are currently working on a history of concepts of biological part-whole relations in the nineteenth century.

February 26, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Mali Skotheim
Classics, The Warburg Institute

Mimes, pantomimes, magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers performed at ancient Greek religious festivals alongside actors of tragedy, comedy, and other stage performers. I focus on the role of pantomime in Greek, Roman, and early Christian culture. Pantomime, first attested in the first century BCE under Augustus, transformed the traditionally staged and acted drama that audiences were familiar with into an exciting new form, a masked, mimetic dance. At every stage in the history of the dance, pantomimes dancers negotiated complex relationships between verbal and bodily expression, high and low culture, tradition and innovation, Greek-ness and Roman-ness, and masculinity and femininity. I argue that these tensions must be understood in relation to the institutional context of the Greek festivals, where the dance was popularized throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

Mali Skotheim received her PhD in Classics from Princeton University in 2016, and her BA in Latin from Swarthmore College in 2005. During 2015-16, she was a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, where she completed her dissertation, The Greek Dramatic Festivals under the Roman Empire. Her work has been generously supported by fellowships at the Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies at The Ohio State University, the Warburg Institute in London, the Center for Ancient History and Epigraphy at the German Archaeological Institute in Munich, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Image of Marianne Fairbank's design work
March 2, 2018 10:00 AM
Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street
Burdick-Vary Symposium

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.

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

March 5, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Tomislav Longinović
German, Nordic, and Slavic, UW-Madison

Using theoretical apparatus of translation studies, I explore mechanisms of cultural exchange and ways in which they inform material and symbolic exchanges, persistent and emerging forms of ideological discourse and new forms of nationalism. This study will provide a model for understanding the value of cultural contact and exchange from the perspective of Slavic and East European studies. While based on the analysis of particular literatures and cultures, this project is conceptualized on a broader scale I plan to engage through extensive comparative analysis of the way imagination, gender and media are translated across cultures.

Tomislav Longinović is a Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at UW-Madison. His books include Borderline Culture (1993); Vampires Like Us (2005); co-edited and co-translated volume, with Daniel Weissbort: Red Knight: Serbian Women Songs (1992); edited volume, with 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 South Slavic studies. His research interests include South Slavic literatures and cultures; Serbo-Croatian language; literary theory; Central and East European literary history; comparative Slavic studies; translation studies; cultural studies.

March 12, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Kelsey Ihinger
Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison

Spain and England’s relationship during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was extremely volatile. While anti-Spanish sentiment grew under the reign of Elizabeth I and her Stuart successor, there is little evidence for a similar Anglophobia in the Iberian Peninsula. Yet many texts produced in Spain represented both contemporary events that brought these two countries into contact as well as recent English history. This dissertation explores Spain’s process of self-fashioning through its portrayal of the English outsider in texts that range from historical treatises and printed news to plays and poetry. In the early modern period, it was common for a nation to use the historical genre to represent its own glorious past in order to mold a common identity among its citizens. I seek to expand and question the traditional limitations of the historical genre both by examining texts that modern classifications would divide into separate categories of fiction and non-fiction and by delving into works that represent not Spain’s own history but rather that of another nation entirely. What does it mean to write about the execution of the Queen of Scots as a Spanish author in the seventeenth century, for example? Such questions are posed in this dissertation in order to examine how the historian, poet or playwright engaged in the task of redefining or rebuilding his own nation’s identity through the paradoxical use of another nation’s past.

Kelsey Ihinger is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the representation of England in early modern Spanish texts and the interplay between history and fiction in various literary genres. Her teaching interests include Golden Age drama, historical drama, sixteenth and seventeenth century Anglo-Spanish and European relations, and early modern historiography. Kelsey graduated magna cum laude with her BA degree in Spanish and International Relations from Carleton College in 2010, was subsequently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Spain, and earned her MA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. She is currently working to complete her dissertation, entitled “External Contemplation: The Anglo-Spanish Relationship (Re)Viewed from an Early Modern Spanish Perspective.”

March 19, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Melissa Vise
Italian Studies, New York University

What can words do? This project offers a historicizing twist to that question by asking what words could do in medieval Italy. I focus on the northern Italian cities, the nascent self-governing republics that arose in the midst of monarchic and seigniorial rule. The cities branded themselves as beacons of libertas, but dissimilar to the ideals of many modern republics, speech was far from free. I construct a cultural history of speech and its regulation by drawing together medical tracts, pastoral treatises, rhetorical manuals, contemporary literature, statute law, and civic, episcopal, and inquisition trial processes. This diverse source base has suggested that a narrative forefronting clerical or political persecution cannot fully explain medieval regulation of speech. Instead, I argue that the definition and prosecution of speech crimes were part of a larger and developing ethics of speech, one that identified the ability of words themselves to become weapons and that summoned all to guard against their violence. I work to identify the construction, geography, and cultural import of a moral order: the ephemeral and irretrievable yet determinative world of speech.

Melissa Vise is a historian of medieval Europe whose research focuses on religious, cultural, and legal history with an emphasis on the Italian peninsula. Most recently, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University in the Department of Italian Studies. She was a Presidential Fellow at Northwestern University (2012-14), a Fellow in the Mellon Academy for Advanced Studies of the Renaissance (2013), a Charlotte Newcomb Fellow (2014-15), and a winner of the Medieval Academy of America’s Olivia Remie Constable Award (2017). Her most recent article, “The Women and the Inquisitor: Peace-making in Bologna, 1299” is forthcoming in Speculum, 2018.

April 2, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Lynn K. Nyhart
Vilas-Bablitch-Kelch Distinguished Achievement Professor of History of Science, UW-Madison

What makes an individual, biologically speaking? This question stood at the center of European biological research in the middle four decades of the nineteenth century. My project (co-authored with Scott Lidgard at the Field Museum) seeks to explain why, on multiple levels. It proposes a new intellectual history of individuality as a fundamental problem underlying mid-nineteenth-century biology, a history of social relations within an international community of biologists, and a cultural history of the discursive relations between the languages of nature and society. In this way, I hope to provide a multilayered account of how science mediated questions of autonomy, interdependence, and hierarchy that preoccupied Europeans in an age of social modernization and state formation.

Lynn K. Nyhart is a Vilas Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Nyhart’s main research interests lie in the history of European and American biology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the relations between popular and professional science. Her 2009 book Modern Nature: The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany analyzes the pre-history of German ecology in popular and museum science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; it won the University of Chicago Press’s 2009 Susan E. Abrams Prize for best UCP book in the history of science. She is also the author of Biology Takes Form: Animal Morphology and the German Universities, 1800-1900 (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Nyhart received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011-12, which allowed her to begin archival research on her IRH project on biological individuality. She is the immediate past-president of the History of Science Society. She is at work on a book entitled The Biological Individual in the Nineteenth Century.

April 9, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Timothy Yu
English, UW-Madison
Asian American Studies

Asian American writers have historically been read as minority writers within U.S. national culture, responding to practices of exclusion, racism, and discrimination that have characterized American relations with Asian immigrants and their descendants.  Recently, the study of Asian Americans has moved toward diasporic frameworks that reject cultural nationalism in favor of an emphasis on the ongoing connections between Asian Americans and their countries of origin. Diasporic Poetics investigates diasporic Asian writing not through reference to origins, but through comparisons among “Asian” writers in majority-white Anglophone societies: the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  The perspective on diaspora that emerges from this study emphasizes intellectual and textual circulation among groups racialized as “Asian” in divergent national spaces. The panethnic racial category of the “Asian” is revealed as a traveling concept that has circulated and adapted in three different national contexts.

Timothy Yu is professor of English and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is the author of Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry since 1965 (Stanford UP, 2009), which won the Book Award in Literary Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies, and the editor of Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets (Kelsey Street, 2015).  He is also the author of a collection of poetry, 100 Chinese Silences (Les Figues Press, 2016).  His writing has recently appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Poetry.  He has served as director of the Asian American Studies Program at UW-Madison and as editor for Contemporary Literature.

Image from ‘Alī ibn Aḥmad al-Sharafī al-Ṣifāqsī’s 1571 atlas
April 16, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Jeremy Ledger
History, University of Michigan

Mapping Mediterranean Geographies is a study of the cultural encounter between Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin between the twelfth and sixteenth century. It approaches this subject from the vantage point of the circulation, transmission, and reception of geographical knowledge between Muslim and Christian geographical writers and cartographers who dwelled along the shores of the sea. The project begins with an acknowledgement of difference across the Mediterranean: geographical knowledge of the world and ways of representing it differed greatly between the Islamic world and western Europe. Based on Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, my research asks how these disparate knowledges crossed the Mediterranean and explores the ways in which geographers and cartographers received this ‘imported’ knowledge and incorporated it into their own descriptions and maps of the world. Through the lens of geography and cartography, this project assesses the different ways in which Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean understood their world and how cross-cultural exchange and reception of new knowledge altered those conceptions.

Jeremy Ledger received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 2016. His research and writing center on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of interfaith relations in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean. He is currently working on a book project entitled Mapping Mediterranean Geographies that explores how Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the western and central Mediterranean constructed the cosmos, globe, space, self, and others in geographical writing, cartography, and travelogues. His research has been supported by grants from the Fulbright IIE, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Fulbright Hays, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies.

April 23, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Stephanie Grace Petinos
French, Hunter College

Divine Touch and Relicization within Narrative, Hagiographical and Visual Representations from the Twelfth through the Fifteenth Centuries is an interdisciplinary investigation of specific moments in various Old French, Middle English and hagiographical texts, as well as visual representation, in which individuals—humans and non-human animals— are divinely touched. The individuals in question are often miraculously bodily restored, transforming them into living relics; a process that I refer to as relicization. As relicized bodies are at once living and holy material, functioning in and among the secular and sacred realms, what can they tell us about the hierarchy between humans, non-human animals, and objects?

Stephanie Grace Petinos received her PhD in French with a certificate in Medieval Studies in September 2016 from The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her dissertation was entitled “Seeking Holiness: The Contribution of Nine Vernacular Narrative Texts from the 12th to the 14th Centuries.” Her main research interests include medieval spirituality, medieval materiality, ecocritical theory and gender. She has several forthcoming articles related to these fields, including “The Ecology of Relics in Philippe de Remi’s Le Roman de la Manekine.” Ed. Heide Estes. Medieval Ecocriticisms (Amsterdam University Press); “Happiness via Spiritual Transcendence in a Selection of Old French Texts.” Ed. Bryan Turner, Yuri Contreras-Vejar, and Joanna Tice. Exploring Happiness; and “Leprosy as locus of divine touch in Ami et Amile.” Paroles Gelées.

April 30, 2018 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Andrey V. Ivanov
History, UW-Platteville

This book project evaluates the influence of Reformation and Enlightenment ideas on Eastern Orthodox Church during the age of great reforms under the reigns of Peter I (1672-1725), Catherine II (1729-1796) and Alexander I (1777-1825). During this period of time, Russia’s energetic empresses and tsars engaged the country’s Western-educated and liberal church hierarchs to reform the empire’s faith, society, political ideology and every day rhythm of religious life for millions of the country’s Orthodox inhabitants.  

Although most scholars view such ideas as being formative in the emergence of modernity in the Western Hemisphere (particularly in the Protestant and Catholic societies of Western and Central Europe), this manuscript argues, that they were crucial in the foundations of Russia’s modernizing empire. Reforms, inspired by the church, however, reached well beyond the boundaries of religion: in creating the new standards of social discipline and public hygiene, the new priorities in foreign relations, the celebration of reason, the rise of toleration, and the synergy of an enlightened faith with the pre-Darwinian science.  

How does the church become “modern”? What does the term “reformation/reformatio” mean in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant contexts? Why did Russia’s rulers need an “enlightened” religion in order to build an “enlightened” empire? These questions – and more - will steer the writing of this manuscript further in the course of the project’s interdisciplinary journey through the fellowship at the IRH.

Andrey V. Ivanov (Ph.D., Yale University, 2012) is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. During 2017-2018, he will be an IRH UW System Fellow, spending the spring of 2018 full time in research at the Institute.

Recent Events

Portrait Image of Peter Ribic outdoors
December 11, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Peter Ribic
English, UW-Madison

My dissertation research connects two genres of global writing that emerged in the immediate postwar period: development economics, which undertook to theorize and facilitate the transition from “traditional” to “modern” economies in the recently discovered “Third World”; and the postcolonial bildungsroman, which uses the coming-of-age plot to stage broader economic, political, and cultural transformations in countries that have suffered the experience of colonialism and imperialism. In this talk, I will survey the narrative politics that cohered in and around these two genres of growth during the Cold War and consider the implications of what I call “the development novel” for recent debates in postcolonial and world literature studies.

Peter Ribic is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. His research focuses on the twentieth- and twenty-first-century global Anglophone novel, literature and the social sciences, postcolonial theory, and world literature studies. Ribic has taught courses in modern literature and composition at Stockholm University and UW-Madison. His research has been supported by the Departments of English at Stockholm University and UW-Madison and the UW-Madison Graduate School. He is currently completing his dissertation, “The Development Novel: World Literature and the Political Economy of Growth.”

Image of Silver cup from Casa del Menandro in Pompeii
December 4, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Mira Green
History, University of Washington

Providing a distinct window into the social and political developments of the early Roman Empire, my research focuses on Roman attitudes towards the digesting body and the domestic practices associated with its needs in order to probe Roman notions of embodiment. While recent work in Roman social and cultural history has enhanced our knowledge about Roman attitudes toward sexuality, far less attention has been given to the role of the digesting body for the articulation of Roman social hierarchies. In this talk, I look at authors’ description of the digestive process and indigestion.  Next, I turn to the world of practice and consider the daily and repetitive exchanges between body and objects designed to assist in the preparation and consumption of food, focusing specifically on cooking benches and dining couches.

F. Mira Green is a Lecturer in Ancient History in the History Department at the University of Washington. She received her PhD in Roman History from the University of Washington and M.A. in Greek History from the University of Utah. Her research focuses on questions of hierarchy and power that are intertwined with a society’s ideas about daily life, food, slavery, sexuality, and the material expressions of mastery in the Roman world. She has published articles in the Journal of Roman Archaeology and Helios.

Image of cover of Novel "Tales of the City"
November 27, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Ramzi Fawaz
English, UW-Madison

In this talk, I analyze the content and reading experience of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, the most popular serialized gay fiction of the 1970s, which appeared in daily installments in the San Francisco Chronicle between 1976-1983. I argue that the serialized rhythm of the narrative—which followed the social and sexual misadventures of a cadre of queer friends in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood—modeled gay liberation’s conception of "coming out of the closet" about one’s sexuality as a process that unfolds over time through repeated encounters with new erotic possibilities. In its oscillation between immediate installments, and longer unfolding storylines, serial narrative provided an aesthetic avenue for exploring “coming out” as movement of declaration and duration—that is, as something one expresses in a single statement (“I’m gay”) but then must live out repeatedly in sexual and social acts across time. To provide evidence of this link between serial format and lived experience, I draw upon interviews I conducted with actual San Francisco readers of Maupin’s original text alongside close analysis of the rhetorical and literary modes of address that Maupin deployed to make "coming out" a widely accessible form for articulating one's sexual and social desires, regardless of one's specific sexual identity. Ultimately I show the story's unfolding narrative about 1970s queer social life and the actual experience of reading it daily alongside other San Francisco residents helped disseminate the radical sexual politics of gay liberation to both gay and straight audiences through the very act of repeated reading, and on-going engagement with each character’s sexual awakenings.

Ramzi Fawaz is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (NYU Press, 2016). The New Mutants won the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Fellowship Award for best first book manuscript in LGBT Studies and the 2017 ASAP Book Prize of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. His work has been published in numerous journals including American Literature, GLQ, Feminist Studies, Callaloo, and Feminist Review. He is currently co-editing a special issue of American Literature with Darieck Scott titled "Queer About Comics," and a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies with Shanté Paradigm Smalls titled "Queers Read This! LGBTQ Literature Now." His new book Queer Forms, explores the relationship between feminist and queer politics and formal innovation in the art and culture of movements for women’s and gay liberation. Queer Forms will be published by NYU Press.

November 13, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
River Encalada Bullock
Art History, UW-Madison

Extending from my dissertation research this talk attends to works of art that ask us to listen just as much as they ask us to look. This call to listen is crucial to the ethical and political aims of art of women and artists of color (beginning with the pivotal work of Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, and Pauline Oliveros in the 1970s) who take advantage of the space of the gallery and museum to alter sensory dynamics as a way of changing social power relations. Rather than recovering vocality as an object, this study offers a reading of voice and vocality as practice and verb that is materially vibrational and positions the spectator-as-listener.

River Encalada Bullock is a writer, curator, and PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at UW-Madison. River’s dissertation, “Listening to Contemporary Art: Vocality as a Technology of Relation” attends to artworks that call for a tactics of listening across the disciplinary intersections of Art History and Visual Studies, Sound Studies, and Cultural Studies. River’s recent curatorial projects include “Word is Bond” (The Curatorial Lab, 2014) which showcased the work of contemporary artists who use words and sound to configure narrative, material repetition, and queered tradition. River has guest curated exhibitions at Milwaukee Art Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Chazen Museum of Art.

November 6, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Joseph Dennis
History, UW-Madison

How did people form their attitudes towards law in early modern and Republican period China? How did mass legal education affect the uses of law in daily life? This talk will examine the publication, circulation, and performance of “songs to encourage the cessation of litigation” (xisongge 息訟歌) and their significance to Chinese legal culture.

Joseph Dennis is an Associate Professor of History at UW-Madison and a member of the local gazetteer research group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (MPIWG). He is the author of Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Gazetteers in China, 1100-1700 (Harvard, 2015), and former president of the Society for Ming Studies. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the National Library of France, the Vilas Trust, the MPIWG, and other institutions.

October 30, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Su Fang Ng
Clifford A. Cutchins III Associate Professor of English, Virginia Tech

Early modern European long-distance voyages had their impetus in the search for the source of spices, the Spice Islands of the Moluccas, or Maluku. When Europeans sailed to the East Indies, how did they communicate with locals? In archipelagic Southeast Asia where the lingua franca was Malay how did they navigate the new linguistic environment? Who were the interpreters who mediated such transactions? What was the nature of the relationship between interpreters and those for whom they translated? How did experiences of encounter inflect literary representation?

Su Fang Ng is Clifford A. Cutchins III Professor and Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech. She has published Literature and the Politics of Family in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and essays on medieval, early modern, and postcolonial topics. A second book, Alexander the Great from Britain to Southeast Asia, is under contract with Oxford University Press. She has held visiting fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, the National Humanities Center, the University of Texas at Austin, Heidelberg University, and All Souls College, Oxford.

October 23, 2017 3:30 PM
History, UW-Parkside
Sandra Moats
History, UW-Parkside

In 1793, the United States issued a Neutrality Proclamation to avoid involvement in a war between Britain and France, its principal allies. Neutrality confronted numerous challenges, particularly from American citizens eager to profit from European warfare as privateers. To remain neutral, the U.S. government needed to embrace its constitutional responsibilities and develop institutions capable of enforcing this policy. This seminar will address a book-length project examining the unexplored relationship between neutrality and the establishment of the American government.

Sandra Moats is an associate professor of history at UW-Parkside. Her research focuses on the governing challenges and political choices that confronted the American republic in its founding decades. Her first book, Celebrating the Republic, addressed the role of presidential ceremony in launching the American government. In 2013-2014, she was an Inaugural Fellow at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

October 19, 2017 6:00 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Christina Sharpe
English, Tufts University

In In the Wake, Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the “orthography of the wake.” Activating multiple registers of “wake”—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation. Initiating and describing a theory and method of reading the metaphors and materiality of “the wake,” “the ship,” “the hold,” and “the weather,” Sharpe shows how the sign of the slave ship marks and haunts contemporary Black life in the diaspora and how the specter of the hold produces conditions of containment, regulation, and punishment, but also something in excess of them. In the weather, Sharpe situates anti-Blackness and white supremacy as the total climate that produces premature Black death as normative. Formulating the wake and “wake work” as sites of artistic production, resistance, consciousness, and possibility for living in diaspora, In the Wake offers a way forward.

Christina Sharpe is Associate Professor of English at Tufts University and the author of Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subject and In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Her research interests are in black visual culture, black diaspora studies, and feminist epistemologies, with a particular emphasis on black female subjectivity and black women artists.

October 19, 2017 12:00 PM
212 University Club Building
Christina Sharpe
English, Tufts University
2017 Nellie Y. McKay Lecturer

In our changing climate, severe storms have become both aberrant and quotidian. Please join us for a conversation about “The Weather” and how the afterlife of slavery suffuses our present-day environment with Christina Sharpe, the 2017 Nellie Y. McKay Lecturer, and Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, IRH Senior Fellow. Light refreshments will be served, but feel free to bring along a bag lunch. RSVP to receive a copy of the relevant reading.

Christina Sharpe is Professor of English at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning In the Wake: On Blackness and Being and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects, both published by Duke University Press. Her research interests are in black visual culture, black diaspora studies, and feminist epistemologies, with a particular emphasis on black female subjectivity and black women artists. 

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies, and feminist theory.  Recent publications include: A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley 2015), Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color, “Insubordinate Islands and Coastal Chaos: Pauline Hopkins Literary Land/Seascapes” in Archipelagic American Studies (Duke 2017), and Vixen, a debut poetry collection forthcoming September 2017 from Autumn House Press.

October 16, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Jennifer Gaddis
School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison

Is caring for children a private or public responsibility? What (or whom) should be cared for collectively? Which activities count as care? How much is care worth and who decides? Why, in this political and environmental moment, is a new economy of care necessary and how can it be achieved? This talk addresses these questions by bringing the voices of frontline cafeteria workers, past and present, into an academic literature saturated with nutritionists, policymakers, and managers who rarely (if ever) come face-to-face with the children whose dietary fates they decide.

Jennifer Gaddis is an assistant professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at UW-Madison. Before joining the faculty at UW-Madison in 2014, she received her PhD in Environmental Studies from Yale University. As a transdisciplinary scholar, her research lies at the intersection of critical food studies, feminist economics, US political and social history, and environmental sociology. She has received fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, and multiple private foundations to support this work. Currently she is finishing her book manuscript The Labor of Lunch: A New Economics of Care in American Public Schools (under contract with University of California Press) while in residence at the Institute for Research in the Humanities.

October 9, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Daniel Hummel
History, Harvard University

Since the 1960s, American evangelical Christians have flocked to Holy Land sites in Israel and Palestine in ever-increasing numbers. In 2016, more than 380,000 American evangelicals visited Israel. Holy Land tourism has become a vital industry for Israel’s economy, as well as an important part of the story of modern Christian Zionism—the Christian ideology and movement to support the state of Israel. The rise of Holy Land tourism is a window into how evangelical Christians and Israelis have redefined Jewish-Christian relations after 1967 to serve state interests. It has also spurred a growing identification among evangelicals with Israel as their “spiritual home.” In this talk I will cover the origins of Christian political tourism in Israel, the religio-political ideology that has shaped modern Holy Land tourism, and the role of tourism in U.S.-Israel relations. I will contextualize Holy Land tourism within my forthcoming book studying the transnational history of Christian Zionism after 1948, A Covenant of the Mind: Evangelicals, Israel, and the Construction of a Special Relationship (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Dan Hummel received his PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. In 2016-17, he was the Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Public Policy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School. He has published his research in forums including Religion & American Culture, Religions, and Religion & Politics while also writing at the Washington Post and First Things, among other outlets. His forthcoming book, to be published with the University of Pennsylvania Press, is titled A Covenant of the Mind: Evangelicals, Israel, and the Construction of a Special Relationship. Recently he helped launch Voices & Visions, an online primary source reader for teaching U.S. foreign relations that combines academic scholarship with digital technology.

October 2, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Cindy I-Fen Cheng
History, UW-Madison
Asian American Studies

This talk looks at how U.S. Cold War immigration policies structured the marginalization of Central Americans. Unlike Southeast Asians, Central Americans did not flee communist countries but countries where the U.S. backed the ruling regimes. They were thus denied the legal designation of refugees, leading to their mass arrival as undocumented immigrants. While both groups resettled in California’s skid rows, the settlement of Southeast Asians in the Tenderloin saw the rise of federally funded social services for refugees whereas the residence of Central Americans in Los Angeles Skid Row demonstrated the “shadowed lives” of the undocumented. This contrast underscores the imprint of U.S. Cold War policies on lives of the displaced and how it intersected with the history of homelessness in the U.S.

Cindy I-Fen Cheng is Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at UW-Madison. She is the award-winning author of Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race during the Cold War (NYU Press, 2013) and editor of The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies (Routledge Press, 2016). Her articles have appeared in the American Quarterly, Journal of Asian American Studies, and other academic journals and anthologies. In spring 2018, she will be the next Director of Asian American Studies. Cindy is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, most recently the UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Award – Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award and The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Award for Service as Outstanding Mentor. She is a member of the 2017 American Studies Association Program Committee, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society Theodore Saloutos Book Award Committee, and the Organization of American Historian Liberty Legacy Foundation Book Award Committee.

September 25, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Yuhang Li
Art History, UW-Madison

What did lay Buddhist women actually do in order to forge a connection with the bodhisattva Guanyin after he underwent a sex-change and became a female deity during late imperial China? How did a shared gender identity between the worshipper and worshipped enable practitioners to establish a new type relationship through material practice? How are gendered skills connected to religious transformation? Why did laywomen use brush, human hair, jewelry and dance to reproduce the image of Guanyin and to embody of Guanyin in late imperial China? In my presentation, I will ask these questions to shed light on the intersections of gender, material practice and religion in late imperial China.

Yuhang Li is an assistant professor of Chinese art in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at the UW-Madison in 2013, she was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University and a Mellon Postdoc at the Grinnell College. She received a fellowship to be a research associate at the Women’s Studies in Religious Program at Harvard Divinity School during 2015-16.  Her primary research interests cover a wide range subjects and mediums, including gender, material and visual practice in late imperial China. Her articles on hair embroidery Guanyin, Empress Dowager Cixi dressing up as Guanyin in paintings and photographs and other essays have been published recently.  She is the co-editor of the exhibition catalog Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture. Currently she is finishing her book manuscript entitled Reproducing a Bodhisattva: Women's Artistic Devotion in Late Imperial China.

September 18, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Costica Bradatan
Humanities, Texas Tech University

Because of our culture’s obsession with success, we miss something important about what it means to be human, and deny ourselves access to a deeper, more meaningful layer of our humanity. A sense of what we are in the grand scheme of things, an openness towards the unknown and the mysterious, humility and reverence towards that which transcends and overwhelms us, the wisdom that comes from knowledge of one’s limits, the sense of personal redefining and self-fashioning that results from an encounter with a major obstacle – these are some of the rewards that a proper grasp of failure could bring about. In my talk I will sketch a phenomenology of failure, with a focus on a few prominent moments in the history of thinking about failure such as Gnosticism and Existentialism (especially E.M. Cioran). 

Costica Bradatan is a Professor of Humanities at Texas Tech University. He has also held faculty appointments at Cornell University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as at several universities in Europe and Asia. He is the author or editor of ten books, most recently Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (Bloomsbury, 2015), and has written for The New York TimesWashington PostThe New StatesmanAeonDissent, and Times Literary Supplement, among other places.

September 11, 2017 3:30 PM
Banquet Room, University Club Building (lower level)
Panel Discussion

Must the humanities be "relevant"? To what, or to whom? How have perspectives on these questions evolved since the heated debates of the 1960s and 1970s? Can research be "irrelevant," and if so, can it still be worth pursuing? Or, on the other hand, is all research in the humanities in some way relevant? Our six panelists will each speak for five minutes about the notion of relevance as it relates to their research and teaching, after which an hour will be devoted to general discussion.

All audience members are encouraged to propose approaches to this subject, and to reflect on their own experiences. Please feel free to bring up issues of “relevance” that you have faced in your own research and teaching.

Cindy I-Fen Cheng, Professor, History, UW-Madison (IRH Resident Faculty Fellow)
Ramzi Fawaz, Professor, English, UW-Madison (IRH Resident Faculty Fellow)
Stephen Kantrowitz, Professor, History, UW-Madison (IRH Senior Fellow)
Larry Shapiro, Professor, Philosophy, UW-Madison (IRH Senior Fellow)
Mali Skotheim, Research Associate, Classics, The Warburg Institute (IRH Solmsen Fellow)
Melissa Vise, Visiting Assistant Professor, Italian Studies, New York University (IRH Solmsen Fellow)

Refreshments will be available at 3:15 PM

May 11, 2017 9:00 AM
Banquet Room, University Club Building, 803 State Street
A. Naomi Paik
J. Daniel Elam
Toussaint Losier
Michael Farquhar
Golnar Nikpour
A.J. Yumi Lee
Anthony Fontes

Never before in  history have as many people around the world been confined in carceral sites — penitentiaries, prisons, interrogation centers, supermax facilities, military detention camps, labor camps, and more — as they are today. This exponential increase in prisons and imprisoned populations over the last several decades reveals a seeming paradox of modernity — that is, the modern era, in all its global diversity, has nonetheless been the era of the prison. The global history of the prison reveals a troubling alternative genealogy of political modernity, insofar as modern conceptions of citizenship, rights, and political emancipation have often been produced through their multiple entanglements with modern regimes of surveillance, policing, and incarceration. Yet too often studies of penal regimes or punishment practices remain limited in their regional or theoretical scope, seeking to answer questions about particular carceral, policing, or legal realities without making links between the global economies or interlinked histories or logics of punishment. This conference seeks to address this issue by encouraging a comparative and transnational investigation of carceral and policing practices across borders, eras, and academic disciplines by bringing together several leading scholars working in the emerging and interdisciplinary field of global prison studies.

May 8, 2017 3:00 PM
Banquet Room, University Club Building

Panelists are invited to reflect on the following questions; please come and share your ideas and memories on these as well:

How might your discipline or interdisciplinary research area contribute to the future direction of the Humanities? How has your discipline’s relationship to the Humanities changed over the last ten years? How has the Institute for Research in the Humanities enhanced your scholarly work or your understanding of your discipline? Do you have an IRH “ah-ha” or “eureka” moment to share? What role to you see for the IRH in the future of the Humanities?

Moderator: Steven Nadler, Philosophy

Panelists, UW-Madison:
Tejumola Olaniyan, English and African Languages and Literatures
Cindy I-Fen Cheng, History and Asian American Studies
Laurie Beth Clark, Art
Alex Dressler, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Michael Titelbaum, Philosophy

Following the panel, we invite all attendees to take up these questions at their tables with discussion facilitators:

Jonathan Pollock (Honorary Fellow, Madison College), Robert Wolensky (UW System Fellow, UW-Stevens Point), Max Harris (Honorary Fellow, IRH), Tina Chronopoulos (Solmsen Fellow, SUNY Binghamton), Jennifer Row, (Solmsen Fellow, Boston University), Nevine El-Nossery (Resident Fellow, UW-Madison) and Andrew Zolides (Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow, UW-Madison).

Closing remarks: Associate Dean Sue Zaeske, College of Letters and Science

May 1, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Aparna Dharwadker
English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, UW-Madison

The global turn in modernist studies has offered scholars of India the first significant opportunity to position modern Indian literature and theatre in the new time-space of modernism. However, the long premodern history of these cultural forms, and their embeddedness in a complex system of multilingual literacy outside the Europhone fold, raises a range of critical issues that need systematic articulation. What are the implications of using language as a specific vector of analysis in modernist interpretation, in addition to the spatio-temporal and vertical vectors of the new modernist studies? Are Indian modernisms more easily “readable” in plastic, visual, and visual-verbal forms such as architecture, painting, and cinema? This presentation takes up these questions in relation to post/colonial Indian modernisms in general, and the interlinked genres of drama, theatre, and performance in particular. 

Aparna Dharwadker is Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and works primarily in the areas of modern Indian and postcolonial theatre, comparative modern drama, theatre theory, and the global South Asian diaspora. Her book, Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947, received the Joe A. Callaway Prize in 2006 as the best book on drama or theatre published in 2004-05. Aparna’s articles and essays have appeared in journals and collections such as PMLA, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Research International, Studies in English Literature, Studies in Philology, South Central Review, English Postcoloniality, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has received fellowships from the NEH, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the International Research Centre (Freie Universistät, Berlin), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library, among others; at UW-Madison, she held the multi-year H. I. Romnes Fellowship for outstanding scholarship in the humanities. Aparna’s collaborative translation of Mohan Rakesh’s modernist play, Ashadh ka ek din (One Day in the Season of Rain, 1958) was published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2015, and A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present, an edited collection of source-texts in theatre theory from multiple Indian languages, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017.  

April 24, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Paola Hernández
Spanish & Portuguese, UW-Madison

Why do we see a renaissance of documentary practices in contemporary theatre? Where and how does the idea of the affective of a staged biography or the autobiographical enter the scene? And what is the place that this genre of documentary fictions take on different stages around Latin America? One way to tackle these questions could be through the understanding the personal stories affect us, the audience, in a very direct way. The need to return to the “real” or authentic could be a way to respond to many other forms of simulacra and virtual episodes of our times. However, I also believe that an effect of this type of implosion of this genre has been to give agency to those other voices that are rarely heard or considered. 

Paola S. Hernández specializes in contemporary Latin American theatre and performance. She has published numerous articles on Southern Cone theatre, performance, memory politics, sites of memory, and human rights. She is the author of El teatro de Argentina y Chile: Globalización, resistencia y desencanto (Corregidor, 2009), and co-editor (with Brenda Werth and Florian Becker) of Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-First-Century Theater: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2013). Hernández is the South American drama editor for the Handbook of Latin American Studies, Library of Congress, as well as Book Review editor for Latin American Theatre Review. Her current research project examines the role of the "real" in theatre and visual arts with an emphasis on contemporary documentary theatre and urban ethnography in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. 

April 17, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Nicholas Jacobson
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison

In the middle decades of the thirteenth century, Dominican and Franciscan missionaries established schools devoted to the study of “oriental” languages in the Christian-occupied regions of Arabic Iberia and North Africa. At these sites friars studied Arabic and Hebrew grammar as well as Arabic natural philosophy and Jewish law for use as weapons in a sort of spiritual warfare against their adversaries. Curiously, although the friars mastered the midrash to better challenge Jewish scholars in disputation, they rarely marshalled the Qur’ān or hadith in analogous conversion attempts among Muslims. Rather, they adopted the logical and mathematical techniques of analysis, which they called “natural reasons” (rationes naturales), in order to challenge their Muslim interlocutors. It might seem that the missionaries based anti-Muslim polemics on rational foundations as a way of creating a neutral epistemic space for argument. In fact, this was not the case. Rather the ideal Muslim whose authority they sought to challenge took the form of a deliberative philosopher almost as a religious or even ethnic stereotype, which they applied to elite Arab culture generally.  How did this ethnographic stereotype come to figure in the Latin missionary imagination, and what were its social consequences?

Nicholas Jacobson is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests focus on the interplay of mathematical and moral conceptions of civil society in the thirteenth-century Mediterranean world.  His research has been generously supported through two UW-Madison Global Studies’ FLAS Scholarships for the study of the Arabic language and two UW-Madison University Fellowships, as well as the William Coleman Dissertation Fellowship through the Institute for Research in the Humanities. His teaching interests include networks of cross-cultural scholarly exchange during the Global Middle Ages and the development of practical knowledge alongside the "religions of the book" and the theoretical sciences of the Medieval Mediterranean World. He received his BA in 2007 at Seattle Pacific University Summa cum laude, and his MA in 2011 from the UW-Madison. He is currently working on his dissertation, “The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Development of a Civil Theory of Proportion (1215-1315)."

April 10, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Mitra Sharafi
Law and Legal Studies, UW-Madison History

Corrupt British forensic experts undermined race-based narratives about truth-telling and corruption in colonial India, as well as ideological claims made for western science and the rule of law. This talk examines two such cases circa 1900 that threatened credibility claims made for the new field of Indian medical jurisprudence. Under Indian criminal procedure, the scientific expert differed from his counterpart in England in significant ways. What can this tell us about the perceived imperatives of colonial rule, and the heightened risk of corrupt experts going undetected?

Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia and Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (with History affiliation). Her first book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (2014) was awarded the Law and Society Association’s 2015 Hurst Prize. In addition to her second book project, she is also writing an article on abortion during the Raj and another on Asian and African law students who were expelled from the Inns of Court. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared resources for the historical study of law in South Asia. She is a regular contributor to the Legal History Blog.

April 3, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
John Boonstra
History, UW-Madison

The history of European imperialism in the Middle East tends to follow a familiar script: competing powers developed “spheres of influence” within the late-stage Ottoman Empire, furthering economic interests and building on national traditions of religious alliance and cultural association, before establishing formal colonial regimes after the First World War. The historic ties between France and Lebanon seem to exemplify this model, as commercial and political involvement followed from a legacy of French protection of Lebanese Christians allegedly dating back to the Crusades. But how did these idealized bonds appear on the ground, in interactions between individual French and Lebanese men and women, and at sites of supposed national interests and imperial influence? What tensions arose between languages of sentiment, imperatives of production, and structures of Orientalist knowledge? By analyzing everyday conflicts at a French silk factory and orphanage complex in early twentieth-century Mount Lebanon, this talk reasseses the formation of modern imperial ideologies, arguing in the process for a shift in scale in approaching questions of formal and informal colonial regimes.

John Boonstra is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at UW-Madison. His work focuses on sites of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European colonial encounters, particularly in ambiguously imperial contexts. Research for his dissertation has been supported by a Social Science Research Council IDRF, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the Mellon Foundation, among other sources. His teaching interests include European gender and colonial history and the modern Mediterranean. He received a BA with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 2007, and an MA in History from UW-Madison in 2012. An article based on previous research recently appeared in the December 2015 issue of German History. He is currently working on his dissertation, “A Mandate to Protect: Imperial Encounters and Affective Ideologies between France and Lebanon, 1900-1930.”

March 30, 2017 4:00 PM
HC White 7191
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Susan Schweik
UC Berkeley, English

"Dull Babies Made Normal By Feeble-Minded Girls’ Care: Increase of as Much as 40 Points in IQ Reported,” a science magazine headline trumpeted in 1939, describing an experiment led by psychologist Harold Skeels in which orphanage toddlers were transferred to the State Institution for “the Mentally Defective” in Glenwood, Iowa to be nurtured by women incarcerated there. Other “contrast” children left behind in the orphanage did worse by any measure. By 1940, this experiment came under scathing scholarly attack. But by the late 1960s, Harold Skeels’ work, which depended on these women, was credited as key inspiration for the development of Special Education and the notion of learning disability. This talk explores how that the systematic forgetting of what actually happened at Glenwood eroded the effectiveness of the various projects Skeels was praised for inspiring. Raising the children in tandem with the low-wage women workers who were their attendants, the women of Glenwood developed a radically interdependent kinship model that profoundly (but very briefly, and under conditions of domination) called the usual terms and stratifications of “intelligence,” “normal,” “cure,” “care,” and of “research” itself into question.

March 27, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Jennifer Pruitt
Art History, UW-Madison

The Ismaili Shi’i Fatimid dynasty is most famous for founding the city of Cairo in 969.  Generally considered a golden age of multicultural tolerance, the Fatimid era witnessed an efflorescence of art and architecture and a relative peaceful coexistence between the religious communities in their realm.  The single exception given to this tale of interfaith utopia is the reign of the “mad” caliph, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (r. 996-1021).  Al-Hakim is known as a psychotic destroyer of churches and synagogues; cruel persecutor of Christians, Jews, and women; killer of dogs, and God incarnate to the later Druze faith.  In this seminar, I ask: what do we find when we delve into the exception to this narrative of peaceful coexistence?  How can destruction play a productive role in medieval architecture?  How does medieval architecture operate as a stage and battleground in the quest for political legitimacy?  How are the contours of Shi’ism and Sunnism expressed in medieval architecture?  Is it true that Fatimid religious cooperation could only be disrupted by a mad man?

Jennifer Pruitt is an Assistant Professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her research interests include art and architecture in the medieval Islamic world; the role of the caliphate and sectarian identity in architectural production; the status of Christian art in medieval Islam; and cross-cultural exchange in the medieval world.  She is also interested in artistic production in the wake of the Arab Spring; the re-imagining of the “medieval” in contemporary arts in the Middle East; and architectural patronage in the Arabian Gulf.  She received her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University in 2009 and is currently completing her book manuscript, Building the Caliphate: Construction, Destruction, and Sectarian Identity in Fatimid Architecture (909-1031).

March 13, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer
History, Western Kentucky University

Differences between religious groups coexisting in the same nation remain one of the thorniest sources of controversy and violence in many regions of the world. The vital role of women in creating means of transmitting religious identity and arbitrating differences has been often noted. Beth's seminar examines how nuns of diverse confessional beliefs shaped their devotional lives and negotiated their everyday lives in non-coreligious monastic, parish, and political communities after the early German Reformation (c.1520-c.1745). The overlooked presence of Protestant nuns in the Holy Roman Empire is evidence of a more complex lived experience of religious change and confessional accommodation than traditional histories of early modern Christianity would indicate. Her research questions focus on the fluidity of devotional lives of these women, the interplay between peaceful and violent resolution of religious differences, and the role these women played in shaping official and popular attitudes towards religious freedom.

Beth Plummer is Professor of History at Western Kentucky University. Her research focuses on the impact of the reform movement on family, gender roles, and religious identity in early modern Germany. Her publications include From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (Ashgate, 2012), which won 2013 SCSC Gerald Strauss Book Prize, and articles on monastic marriage, concubinage, bigamy, historical memory, and Protestant nuns. She is also co-editor of Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort (Ashgate, 2009) and Archaeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformations, 1517-2017 (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book-length monograph on the experience of nuns and former nuns during the dissolution and reform of monastic life in early modern Germany.

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 10, 2017 9:00 AM
Elvehjem L140
Co-Sponsored Event
Department of Art History
Chazen Museum

Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Dean Karl Scholz
Bp. Demetrios of Mokissos

Thomas Dale
Historical Perspectives on Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism

Leonora Neville

Alice-Mary Talbot

Lunch Break

Stillness on the Holy Mountain: Sacred Topography, Sacred Space and Liturgy

Christos Kakalis

Derek Krueger

LauraLee Brott

Coffee Break

Icons from Mount Athos

Kristin Edwards

Michelle Prestholt

Mateusz Ferens

March 6, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Andrew Zolides
Communication Arts, UW-Madison

Doxing - the publicizing of private, identifying information about an individual without consent - is a fascinating cultural practice that has emerged in our digital culture. Relating to issues of surveillance, whistle-blowing, and battles over political ideologies, this talk presents doxing as a weapon of visibility, wherein the tools of online publishing and self-promotion like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media become the very same instruments meant to attack, threaten, or discipline. By approaching doxing as a larger social practice, my talk looks to take a more nuanced understanding of doxing and its role in larger political struggles and the changing nature of identity in the age of social media.

Andrew Zolides is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also currently a Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW. His research explores the influence economy, an economic framework for understanding the strategies celebrities and brands utilize through social media to generate audiences with significant value. Comparing these practices reveals how influence is generated and evaluated in contemporary neoliberal culture. Andrew has served as an editor for Antenna and The Velvet Light Trap, as well as teaching courses such as Survey of Contemporary Media, Critical Internet Studies, and Television Industries. His work appears in Persona Studies, Horror Studies, Antenna, and the forthcoming books Childhood & Celebrity and The New Television Industries. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Media Studies from the University of South Carolina and his M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University.

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 


February 27, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Larry Nesper
Anthropology, UW-Madison

This project began as an effort to problematize the legal permitting process by muddying up the chain of title to the Penokees of northern Wisconsin where Gogebic Taconite was proposing to build the largest open-pit iron mine in North America in 2014. It is becoming an account of the interaction between competing conceptions of belonging and difference in the dispossession of the Lake Superior Ojibwe mixed bloods, who had won a treaty stipulation in the mid-nineteenth century for 80-acre individual reserves of land in the areas ceded in two previous treaties, and the consequences of that dispossession for the Ojibwe polities.

Larry Nesper is Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at UW-Madison. His research focuses on the legal and political development of the tribes in the western Great Lakes Region. He is the author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Indian Spearfishing and Treaty Rights. He has worked closely with several tribal governments as well as the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Apart from this research project on the historical trajectory of Lake Superior Ojibwe mixed bloods, he researching the development of the tribal courts in Wisconsin.

February 22, 2017 5:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Louise Young
Professor of Japanese History, UW-Madison

Japan built a wartime empire in Asia in the 1930s, and after losing that empire in 1945 created trading imperium under the American cold war umbrella. What are the lessons that imperial Japan can teach us about the global moment of the twenties and thirties, when the rise of anti-colonial nationalism brought new pressures on longstanding imperial structures? After the cataclysm of World War Two shattered the foundations of colonial empires and divided the globe up into the first, second, and third worlds, what did this moment of rupture and the end of empire mean for Japan and Asia?

Louise Young is Vilas Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. Her work focuses on modern Japan, especially social and cultural history. She is the author of Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (winner of John K. Fairbank and Hiromi Arisawa prizes) and Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan. She is currently working on a history of the idea of class in nineteenth and twentieth century Japan.

February 20, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Samantha Herrick
History, Syracuse University

What can we learn about the past from sources long dismissed as worthless? Medieval legends recount a version of early Christian history starkly at odds with reality. They also repeat each other again and again. For these reasons, they have been branded as unreliable and unoriginal. But what happens if we take them seriously – not as sources for early Christian history, but as evidence of how medieval people constructed and used history? This talk explores the hidden value of these supposedly worthless sources.

Samantha Kahn Herrick is Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on medieval Europe and, in particular, the uses and significance of hagiographical legends. In addition to studying how and why medieval people fashioned and disseminated stories about the past, she is also interested in how historians can use problematic but abundant hagiographical legends to supplement the very limited number of more “reliable” sources. Her first book demonstrated the political significance of legends celebrating largely imaginary saints. She is currently writing a monograph about a neglected body of apostolic saints’ lives and co-editing a volume on history and hagiography. She has been a fellow at the Syracuse University Humanities Center (2014-15) and a Scruggs Faculty Research Scholar (2012-15), a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (2011-12), and Professeur invitée at the Université Paul Verlaine, Metz (France) (2007).

February 13, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Kristin Phillips-Court
Italian and Art History, UW-Madison

Machiavelli’s writings substantiate more than their distillation into a political theory that stripped morality from politics. This seminar focuses on Machiavelli’s frequent recourse to images of the Italian terrain as a means of communicating knowledge in The Prince and his other literary works. My driving questions regard how Machiavelli’s descriptions and figurations of the land reveal the liminality of his thinking, which combined reasoned observation with a singular poetic imagination. 

Kristin Phillips-Court is Associate Professor in the Departments of French and Italian and Art History at UW-Madison. She is the author of The Perfect Genre: Drama and Painting in Renaissance Italy (Ashgate, 2011), which was awarded the MLA Scaglione Prize. Her second book, Vasari’s Literary Art, provides close readings of seminal lives and episodes in Giorgio Vasari’s Vite (1550 and 1568) with attention to how Vasari negotiated the legacies of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Professor Phillips-Court’s work has appeared in the Sixteenth Century Journal, MLN, Renaissance Drama, Annali d’ Italianistica and other peer-reviewed journals. After completing her PhD at UCLA she was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to study 20th-c. Italian Visual Poetry, but has since focused primarily on 15th- and 16th- century Italian literature, visual art, and intellectual culture. Professor Phillips-Court currently holds a Vilas Associates Fellowship Award (2016-18) for her new research on Niccolò Machiavelli. 

February 6, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Anne Stiles
Department of English, Saint Louis University

Did you know that many well-loved children’s classics contain hidden Christian Science and New Thought messages? My book shows how classic children's fiction written around 1900 - works such as Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden (1911), L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (1908), Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna (1913), and Arthur Munk's The Little Engine that Could (1930) - helped spread awareness of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science and a related religious movement known as New Thought, which promoted positive thinking as a means to health and prosperity. While historians have ably discussed how New Thought and Christian Science principles permeate aspects of modern life, from corporate culture to talk shows, twelve-step groups, diet fads, and prosperity gospel, literary scholars have had little to say about the role played by popular fiction in diffusing these faiths. Recovering the New Thought Novel fills this gap by showing how beloved children's books have influenced us, our children, and our society, focusing especially on self-help and psychotherapy concepts like the inner child.

Anne Stiles is Associate Professor of English and Director of Medical Humanities at Saint Louis University. She is the author of Popular Fiction and Brain Science in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2012) and the editor of Neurology and Literature, 1866-1920 (Palgrave, 2007). She also co-edited two volumes published by Elsevier in 2013 as part of their Progress in Brain Research series. Stiles serves as Victorian section co editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal, Literature Compass. Her most recent work focuses on literary authors' responses to Christian Science and New Thought on both sides of the Atlantic.

February 3, 2017 12:00 PM
212 University Club Building
Co-Sponsored Event
Tina Chronopoulos
Ari Friedlander
Dana Oswald
Jennifer Row

When researching the history of sexuality, or thinking about past desires, erotics, and intimacies, what counts as evidence? What methods are crucial for some fields, and forgotten by others? Four scholars share their thoughts on their own unique approaches to interweave erotics, intimacies, and intensities from the past, cobbling together fragments, tracing sensations in literature, unearthing unexpected archives. The roundtable explores how sexualities in the past can be both incomprehensibly foreign and strangely familiar.

Sponsored by the IRH and the Center for Early Modern Studies

A light lunch/refreshments will be served; RSVP and questions may be directed to Jennifer Row (

February 2, 2017 4:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Co-Sponsored Event
Ari Friedlander
University of Mississippi, English

Ari Friedlander, assistant professor of English (University of Mississippi) and editor of the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies (JEMCS) special issue “Desiring History and Historicizing Desire” will lead a special seminar for any interested graduate students and faculty. The JEMCS special issue takes up the question of historicist and queer critical methodologies, and brings to the fore cutting-edge debates both in queer theory and in early modern studies.  Prof. Friedlander will also discuss the publication process with students (curating a special issue, editing, etc.) Refreshments will be served

Seminar participants should read the following:

The JEMCSspecial issue “Desiring History and Historicizing Desire” (especially the introduction and the roundtable discussion)

“Queering History,” Jonathan Goldberg and Madhavi Menon. PMLA Vol. 120 No. 5 (Oct. 2005)

“The New Unhistoricism in Queer Studies,” Valerie Traub. PMLA Vol. 128, No. 1 (Jan 2013)

Please e-mail Jennifer Row ( with any questions.

January 30, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Kimberley Reilly
Democracy and Justice Studies, UW-Green Bay
History Department, Women's and Gender Studies Department

How did a wife earn her keep? This was a question a wide range of American reformers and jurists asked in the late nineteenth century. As middle-class women agitated for a greater political voice and economic independence, they appeared to be more emancipated than ever before. At the same time, marriage remained a legal arrangement in which wives exchanged their bodies and labor for their husbands’ economic support. After a brief overview, my talk will examine how this contradiction played out in one area of the law, where courts employed a modern ideal of marital love to rethink wives’ household obligations.

Kimberley Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies; History; and Women’s and Gender Studies at UW-Green Bay. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council and the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, Reilly has published articles in Law and History Review and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

January 23, 2017 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Tina Chronopoulos
Classics and Medieval Studies, University of Binghamton, State University of New York

Have you always wondered what a discussion about the pros and cons of same-sex versus opposite-sex sex might have looked like in 12th-century France? In today’s talk I focus on just such a discussion which survives in the form of a debate-poem in Latin. Helen (of Troy) and Ganymede (water-bearer to the gods) are having it out, with Helen carrying away the prize. Why and how does she win? I’ll spend some time laying out the cultural and historical background, before delving into a close reading of a couple of stanzas from the end of the poem. I will argue that these stanzas contain some key concepts of/for the debate (both in the poem and the 12th-century context) and will suggest an interpretation that may or may not be as radical as it first appears.

Tina Chronopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Binghamton, State University of New York, where she teaches a range of courses in Latin language and literature, as well as in Classical civilization and medieval studies. She is a Medieval Latinist, with particular interests in twelfth-century Latin literature written in the Anglo-French cultural realm and the manuscripts in which these texts survive. Her past research has focused on the reception of Classical Latin literature in the medieval period and the medieval Latin legend of St Katherine of Alexandria. 

December 12, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Sukanya Banerjee
English, UW-Milwaukee

How is it that monogamy came to serve as one of the markers of “modern” marriage? Which nineteenth century literary genres did it play on? What kind of a transimperiality does conjugal loyalty, as defined along a register of monogamy, engender?

In addressing these questions, Sukanya Banerjee will draw from her current book project, “Loyalty and the Making of the Modern.” The project focuses on the under read category of loyalty, arguing for the centrality of loyalty to figurations of modernity. But rather than focus on political loyalty alone-a context in which loyalty gets most prominence-, Banerjee examines interlocking formulations of loyalty across three evolving sites of modernity in nineteenth-early twentieth century Britain and its empire (particularly in South Asia): that of the state, the family, and the economy. In querying how and why ideas of loyalty were idealized at a moment marked both by massive industrialism and high imperialism, she studies literary and cultural modes that stabilize the seemingly counterintuitive relation between loyalty and modernity. In so doing, she also identifies the “transimperial” as a heuristic for studying the expansive yet connected multilingual literary systems of empire.

Sukanya Banerjee is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She works at the intersection of Victorian studies, postcolonial studies, and studies of South Asia. She is the author of Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke, 2010), which was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies (2012). She is co-editor of New Routes for Diaspora Studies (Indiana, 2012), an her essays have appeared in journals such as Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Prose Studies, and Diaspora. A recipient of a previous fellowship at the IRH, she has also received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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.

December 5, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Sidnie Crawford
Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

When we think of "the Bible" in the 21st century, we usually think of a fixed text, in an ancient language, that is revered by one or more religious communities as "the word of God."  How did ancient Jews think about the texts that became the Bible?  How were those texts handed down by scribes?  How did communities preserve them?  The seminar will discuss the biblical manuscripts from the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls in order to answer those questions.

Sidnie White Crawford is Willa Cather Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches in the areas of Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, and Hebrew language. She is an internationally recognized scholar in the areas of Dead Sea Scrolls and Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Her most recent book, edited with Cecilia Wassen, is The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and the Concept of a Library, published by E. J. Brill (2016). Sidnie currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, the American headquarters for archaeological research in the Holy Land, and as a member of the Society of Biblical Literature Council. She is also a member of numerous editorial boards, including Hermeneia: A Commentary Series (Fortress Press), The Textual History of the Bible (Brill), and The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition (SBL Press). In her free time Dr. Crawford enjoys international travel, classical music, in particular early music and opera, and watching sports, especially Husker football and women’s volleyball. She usually lives in Lincoln, NE with her husband, Dr. Dan D. Crawford, and their cat, Mollie, but is delighted to be spending the year at the IRH and enjoying all that Madison has to offer.

November 28, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Julia Dauer
English, UW-Madison

How did transatlantic writers use “I” in their discourse?  When did “I” become the familiar protagonist of American letters?  What can first-person prose tell us about the category of the “person”?  My dissertation approaches these questions by considering the relationship between natural history, personhood, and first-person prose in the United States between about 1780 and about 1830.  In this talk, I’ll focus especially on John James Audubon’s Ornithological Biography and its account of flocking birds.  These flocks overwhelm first-person observational norms and threaten the boundaries of the human person.  I’ll suggest that the Biography’s first-person prose and its impersonal tendencies direct our attention towards the gaps in and alternatives to more masterful models of American individuality. 

Julia Dauer is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison.  Her research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature and the history science.  Her dissertation uses natural history to access a much larger crisis of personhood that characterized literary, scientific, and political discourse at the turn of the nineteenth century and continues to resonate in the contemporary United States.  Dauer has taught literature and composition courses at UW-Madison and worked as an instructor in the Writing Center.  Her dissertation research has been supported by fellowships from the Department of English, the Graduate School, and the Library Company of Philadelphia.  She is currently at work on her dissertation entitled “Natural History and Personhood in Early America.”  

November 21, 2016 3:30 PM

There will be no seminar this week. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 14, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Dana Oswald
English, UW-Parkside

What can we know about women's bodies when the only people writing about them were men, and those men were generally monks? In a culture that is largely silent about the lives and bodies of women, how can we understand their embodied experiences of the world? By looking at Anglo-Saxon medical texts that features remedies, charms, and diagnostics, some of which are superstitious, some learned, and some frighteningly ignorant regarding basic physiology, we can begin to understand how the real bodies of Anglo-Saxon women functioned in a world that often left them out of the literary record.

Dana Oswald is author of the book Monsters, Gender, and Sexuality in Medieval English Literature, as well as articles on Old and Middle English literature and translation, and gender and sexuality studies. Her focus on the embodied experience of life in medieval England is a means by which contemporary readers can connect to people, characters, and problems existing in an age that can seem very foreign.

November 7, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Pablo Gomez
Department of Medical History and Bioethics, UW-Madison
Department of the History of Science

How did early modern governments, and slave traders’ and their financiers’ quantify disease and risk? How did they develop tools that allowed them to trade and invest in human corporeality and its afflictions? In this presentation, coming from my new research project, I explore the emergence of ideas about corporeality in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Atlantic slave trading circuits that scholars have traditionally associated with the rise of the New Science and biomedicine in Western Europe. The appearance of a quantifiable, universal body, as the evidence I examine in this project shows, was intimately linked to the unprecedented rise in the size and complexity of the commerce of human bodies in the early modern South Atlantic.

Pablo F. Gómez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He holds a PhD from Vanderbilt university, a MD from CES University and did his residency in Orthopaedic surgery at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Pablo’s work examines the history of health and corporeality in the early modern Atlantic world. He has published numerous articles and book chapters. His forthcoming book, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), explores belief making and the creation of evidence around the human body and the natural world in the early modern Caribbean and black Atlantic. Pablo is currently working on a history of the universal quantifiable body and risk in the early modern world. 

October 31, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Jason Puskar
English, UW-Milwaukee

The pushbutton is one of the simplest mechanical interfaces in the modern world, and one of the most prevalent. But what accounts for its enormous appeal, and what kinds of effects does it have on the people who use it? In this talk, Jason Puskar will present part of his research on the cultural and political history of the pushbutton, a device that scarcely existed before the mid-nineteenth century, but that has proliferated wildly ever since. What happens when buttons mediate childhood, even infancy? How might they influence the process of subject-object differentiation? And to what extend do they inform people's perceptions of their own agency, freedom, or will? By looking at children’s toys, autistic gamers, and women typists, we can see that the button has an especially complex relationship to liberal subjectivity, and especially for children, women, and the disabled.

Jason Puskar is Associate Professor of English at the UW–Milwaukee, specializing on  late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and culture, with recent emphasis on business and economic history and the history of science and technology. He is the author of Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity and the Production of Chance (Stanford 2012), and he has published articles in journals including American Literary History, Daedalus, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, and Mosaic.

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 24, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Elizabeth Bearden
English, UW-Madison

Drawn from the forth chapter of her current book project, Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability, this talk analyzes European representations of the dwarfs, mutes, and eunuchs who served the Ottoman sultans. Accounts of these boon companions emphasize their relative privilege and mobility within and without the sequestered space of the seraglio. Their increased mobility, facility in communication through sign language, and overall access to Ottoman space contribute to imperial envy in Europeans’ accounts, limited as they were for being told by outsiders. The talk draws on a variety of travel texts, including works by Osier Busbecq (d. 1592), Otaviano Bon (1552–1623), and Paul Rycaut (1629–1700). The transnational presence of people with physical impairments, illustrated by the Ottoman court, reinforces European understandings of the alternative capacities that sensory impairment generates. Ultimately, people with physical impairments do not simply serve as marvels, but rather demand reassessments of European verbal and visual representational strategies and definitions of abnormality.

Professor Elizabeth B. Bearden is a scholar and teacher of early modern literature with training in Comparative Literature, Classics, the History of Rhetoric, Visual Culture Studies, and Disability Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from NYU in 2006 and her A. B. in Comparative Literature at Princeton in 1998. She is an Associate Professor in the English department at UW-Madison. Her first monograph, The Emblematics of the Self: Ekphrasis and Identity in Renaissance Imitations of Greek Romance, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012 and has been positively reviewed in leading journals. She has published articles in PMLA, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Ancient Narrative Supplementum, and Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Additionally, she directed a Digital Humanities project on Philip Sidney’s funeral, which appeared in a Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition in Washington, DC.

October 19, 2016 7:00 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Leslie Bow
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Mark and Elisabeth Eccles Professor of English and Asian American Studies, UW-Madison

How does the mundane object serve as a catalyst for exploring the relationship between aesthetics and political injury? Is race always bound to the circulation of negative feeling? We understand the harm embodied by the mammy cookie jar. Yet in the 21st-century, the anthropomorphic object has found new life: geisha cars, Harajuku Lovers perfume bottles, Chanel’s “China Doll” handbags, Alessi’s “Mandarin” juicer. Do these forms of racial kitsch—the Asian figure as salt shaker, decor, or toy—evade contextualization as racist kitsch? This lecture engages the Japanese style known as kawaii or cute style since the 1970s as it finds expression in a specific racial form. In looking at the feeling that the “cute” enables or forecloses, this talk explores the vacillation between pleasure and pain underlying Asian American spectatorship of racialized things. Exploring the convergence among theories of aesthetic form, affect, and stereotyping, this talk seeks to uncover the utility of fantasy and force of nonhuman actants. 

Presented in partnership with the Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: Asian Americans and the Pleasures of Fantasy.

Leslie Bow is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Mark and Elisabeth Eccles Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning, ‘Partly Colored’: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated SouthBetrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women's Literature; and editor of Asian American Feminisms. 

October 17, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Lori Lopez
Communication Arts, UW-Madison

For over 260,000 Hmong Americans living in the U.S., mobile media now play a key role in maintaining connections and identities.  Yet what role are Hmong women playing in shaping the use of these digital media technologies?  How are Hmong women able to use media to influence new cultural practices, or to challenge patriarchal conditions?  This research project is based on an ethnographic analysis of Hmong women and the groundbreaking ways that they adapt mobile phone technologies to their own specific needs.

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 10, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Jennifer Row
Romance Studies, Boston University

From “one’s ticking biological clock” to “grow up, be a man,” sex and gender norms are often seamlessly intertwined with temporality in our modern world. But did time always impact sexuality the same way?   I examine a mid-seventeenth-century moment in France when the appearance of precise minute and second hands on newly portable clocks revolutionized the very experience of time, offering a new texture to time passing, to haste, and to slowness.  Time calibrated sexuality in new ways: from certain socio-sexual tempos (paces of bereavement, reproduction) to the regulated speed of seduction onstage. The performing arts were in fact an essential cornerstone of Louis XIV’s glittering Absolutist spectacle. However, instead of analyzing the explicitly propagandistic uses of theater, I explore theater’s capacity to manage the population through its lived relationship to time. As Foucault argues, biopower, rather than deciding on the citizens’ right to live or to die, sought instead to manage bodies and lives through the controlled flourishing or strategic diminishing of life’s capacities. One essential component of biopower, I suggest, includes the management of speeds and slownesses.  My talk will focus on Jean Racine’s Andromaque (1667) and competing temporalities of mourning, strange animacies and queer object attachment.

Jennifer Row is an assistant professor of French at Boston University and affiliate faculty with BU’s Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature (2014) from Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include French and English early modern theater, queer and feminist theory, and affect theory. Her book project, Queer Velocities: Time, Sex and Biopower on the Early Modern Stage, looks at the impact of newly precise timekeeping technologies on queer erotics onstage in seventeenth-century France; a chapter stemming from this project will appear in Exemplaria (29.1) in 2017.  She has also published on masochism and nineteenth century commonplace books  in The Canadian Review of Comparative Literature (38.4)  and on early modern anal aesthetics, dance, disability and contemporary art (“The Adapted Anality of Versailles: Othoniel’s Les Belles Danses" forthcoming in ASAP/Journal, (2.2) May 2017). She has previously taught at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris-IV) and at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. 

October 10, 2016 12:00 PM
Banquet Room, University Club (lower level)
Publication Workshop
Ken Wissoker
Editorial Director, Duke University Press

PLEASE NOTE: this workshop is open to graduate students, faculty, and academic staff. Registration is required: The reservation deadline is 12:00pm on Wednesday, October 5.

Join us for a discussion of the state of academic publishing in the humanities and the process of working with a university press—from project to proposal to publication. The workshop will include a presentation from Ken Wissoker (Duke University Press and CUNY), who will talk about writing first and subsequent scholarly books at a time of significant changes in the academy, in publishing, and in the ways ideas circulate. Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman.

Sponsored by the UW-Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities and Center for the Humanities. Space is limited. Registration is required. RSVP to

Ken Wissoker is the Editorial Director of Duke University Press, acquiring books in anthropology, cultural studies and social theory; globalization and post-colonial theory; Asian, African, and American studies; music, film and television; race, gender and sexuality; science studies; and other areas in the humanities, social sciences, media, and the arts. He joined the Press as an Acquisitions Editor in 1991; became Editor-in-Chief in 1997; and was named Editorial Director in 2005. In 2014, in addition to his duties at the Press, he became Director of Intellectual Publics at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. He has published more than 900 books which have won over 100 prizes, and has contributed to the Cinema JournalChronicle of Higher Education, and Prof. Hacker.

Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman, Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Hilldale Professor in the Humanities, and Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at UW-Madison. Her most recent book is Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time from Columbia University Press in August 2015.

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. 

October 4, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
David Ebrey

Plato’s Phaedo is one of his literary and philosophical masterpieces, set on the last day of Socrates’ life. How should we understand Socrates’ reference to Pythagorean and Orphic religious views in the dialogue? Is this a separate feature of dialogue, independent of the detailed philosophical arguments? Instead of being religious window-dressing, I argue that Socrates gives these views precise accounts and an important role in the arguments, appropriating and transforming Pythagorean and Orphic views to present a radical new account of the soul, the good life, and the nature of reality. This reading allows us to see how the different elements of the dialogue fit together to form a cohesive philosophical vision.

David Ebrey (Ph.D., UCLA) works on ancient Greek philosophy, primarily on Plato and Aristotle. So far his research on Plato has focused on Socratic inquiry, the value of knowledge, moral education, and Platonic forms. His research on Aristotle has focused on matter in Aristotle's natural philosophy and syllogisms in his logic. He has published in journals such as Journal of the History of Philosophy, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, and British Journal of the History of Philosophy, and he has edited a volume, Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science (Cambridge, 2015). He has received a Mellon Postdoc (2007-2009), Alice Kaplan Humanities Institute Fellowship (2011-2012), and a Spencer Foundation Grant (2012-2013). He was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 2013. He is currently working on a book on Plato’s Phaedo.

September 26, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Anne Hansen
History, UW-Madison

Buddhist prophesies about the end of our time and the dawning of a new era tied to the enlightenment of the fifth buddha in our kalpa or “epoch” have circulated widely across the Buddhist world for nearly two millennia.  In Cambodia, these millenarian prophesies have also served as a powerful and pervasive response to and explanation for the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, one that is rarely acknowledged in scholarly interpretations of recent Cambodian history. This talk draws on interdisciplinary research investigating the Buddhist prophesies that have inspired millenarian Buddhism in Cambodia from the colonial era to the post-Socialism of the 1990s.  It will raise intertwined questions of whether and how Buddhist prophetic conceptions of temporality might serve as an alternative frame for understanding the Cold War in Cambodia as well as questions about the ethics of representing the suffering of others in scholarship.

Anne R. Hansen is Professor of History and Religious Studies at UW Madison in the Department of History and Program in Religious Studies, where she researches and teaches about the history and development of Theravada Buddhism, Southeast Asian religions, modern Buddhist reform movements, religion and colonialism, Buddhist ethics and moral history, and theory and method in the study of religion.  She received a PhD in religious studies from Harvard University and a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. Hansen is the author of How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930 (2007) and editor of At the Edge of the Forest: Essays on Cambodia, History and Narrative (2008).  She is currently working on two books, one on Buddhist conceptions of time, social change and millenarianism in Cambodia, and another on Buddhist ethics of care in Southeast Asian visual culture.  Her most recent article “Painting Ethics: Death, Love, and Moral Vision in the Mahāparinibbāna,” appears as part of a symposium on visual ethics in Journal of Religious Ethics 44.1 (March 2016): 17-50.

September 19, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Steve Stern
History, UW-Madison

This is an extraordinary true-life story.  It's a tale of murder, human rights, and social justice in the Americas.  It's about the power of music in tumultuous times – and also, the power of historical knowledge and the humanities in the wake of atrocity.  This is a traveling story – from the 1960s to our times, from a sports stadium in Santiago, Chile to a U.S. federal court in Orlando, Florida.  It is the story of Chile's iconic "New Song" artist, Víctor Jara.

Steve J. Stern is the Alberto Flores Galindo and Hilldale Professor of History at UW-Madison. He researches Latin American history, and recently published The Human Rights Paradox: Universality and Its Discontents (2014), co-edited with Scott Straus. Stern's research demonstrates the inventiveness of Latin American responses to unequal structures of power, with sometimes surprising impact on world history. Honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Bolton-Johnson Prize for best book in Latin American history, for Battling for Hearts and Minds: Memory Struggles in Pinochet’s Chile, 1973-1988; and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council. Stern is a founding editor, with Scott Straus, of the "Critical Human Rights" series at the UW Press, and has won a UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Award. He is at work on a project entitled "Between Human Rights and Social Justice: Latin America and the World in Film and History."

September 14, 2016 7:30 PM
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building room L140, 800 University Avenue
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Christine Yano
Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii

Pink globalization, the spread of cute goods from Japan to other parts of the world, has been a stronghold of consumption in various parts of the industrial world in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, particularly with Hello Kitty as its mascot. The Japanese icon that has gone global represents some of the most far-reaching aspects of kawaii (cute) soft power, creating what Yano calls an “empire of cute” that references the character’s global reach, as well as her broad power as a national (Japan) and ethnic (Asian American) icon. This presentation addresses ways by which kawaii (cute) presents a fraught regime in its infantilized familiarity, its unthreatening nature, and its “demand for care.” The critics’ voices rise from their own collective demographic of originary fans – Asian-American, female -- to complicate the picture. In short, the critics decry the stereotype that lives in part through the putative persistence of Hello Kitties in their midst, reinforced by the sexual politics of multicultural America. 

Presented in partnership with the Burdick-Vary Lecture Series: Asian Americans and the Pleasures of Fantasy.

Christine R. Yano, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii, has conducted research on Japan and Japanese Americans with a focus on popular culture.  Her publications include Tears of Longing: Nostalgia and the Nation in Japanese Popular Song (Harvard, 2002), Crowning the Nice Girl; Gender, Ethnicity, and Culture in Hawaii’s Cherry Blossom Festival (Hawaii, 2006),Airborne Dreams: “Nisei” Stewardesses and Pan American World Airways (Duke, 2011), and Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty and its Trek Across the Pacific (Duke, 2013). She curated a major exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, “Hello!  Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” which ran from 2014 to 2015, and continues to travel.  During 2014-2015, she served as Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University, resulting in a book project with Asian American undergraduates there entitled Straight A’s: Asian American Academic Achievement

September 12, 2016 3:00 PM
Banquet Room University Club Building (lower level)
Panel Discussion

What are the meanings of “agency” in various disciplines and interdisciplines of the humanities? To what extent is it theorized or assumed? Does agency mean the freedom to act? To think? To feel? Is agency individual or collective? Does agency imply autonomy? How does agency relate to structure? Institutions? Oppression? Political Activism? Subjectivity? Identity? Emotion? Morality? Religion? How does agency relate to victims, torture, human rights? Is agency inherent in all forms of creativity? Is agency exclusively “human”? Do (non-human) animals have agency? Plants? Microbes? Do machines have agency? (Remember, “Open the pod door, Hal,” from 2001!)?

“Agency” means something quite different across cultures, including the different academic cultures of the humanities and interpretative social sciences. Agency is also often hotly debated in such fields as feminist theory, race theory, and poststructuralist theory. Is “agency” a product of Enlightenment thought, a keystone of “liberalism”? Or do different cultures and times produce varying notions of individual and/or communal agency? Within the framework of a Foucauldian discourse theory, agency appears as a fiction; within the framework of social movement theory, agency is foundational for change. How do we negotiate the different meanings of agency in our fields and disciplines?

Ask yourself: in your own research, do you assume some form of agency to be at work in what you study? If so, what do you mean by it?  Panelists will make short presentations (6-7 minutes) on the meaning(s) of agency in their research for one hour. We will then have one hour of general discussion, so please bring your ideas about agency (especially in relation to your own work) to share with others.

Refreshments available by 2:45 PM. 


May 6, 2016 (All day)

Religion is omnipresent in modernity, and in spite of twentieth-century theorists who saw secularization as intrinsic to the process of modernization, shows no signs of disappearing. After discarding secularization as a plausible historical model, how do we understand the changes in religion that made way for the experience of modernity around the globe? From India to Ethiopia to Latin America to Safavid Iran, religion has remained a vital force in shaping the trajectories of non-Western modernities. And yet, no scholarship to date has provided an adequate model to account for changes that take place in religion around the world starting in the early modern period (ca. 1500-1800), which played a crucial role in shaping the varied experience of modernities that arose independently outside of the European Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment. In this conference, we aim to rethink global transformations in religion during the early modern centuries by raising the following questions in global perspective: Did religions across regions of the globe experience a synchronic series of reformations integral to their entry into the modern age? Do we witness any changes in the concept of religion or its place in society across continents as a result of these reformations?

Over the past few decades, scholars across disciplines have raised scrutiny to the singularity of the concept of modernity, such that the concept of multiple modernities has gained widespread currency across the humanities at large. As a result, recent scholarship has begun to lift the veneer of universalism once associated with the concept of a singular modernity: namely, the historical transformations experienced in Western Europe. And yet, the decline of religion—and the secularization of public space and discourse—stands out among metanarratives of European modernity that has left the study of religion today with a rather ambiguous legacy. In the contemporary Western world, observers have expressed considerable dismay at the apparent reversal of secularization, previously understood as an intrinsic aim of modernity itself. Many seeming anomalies of religion in the contemporary world—pluralism, communalist conflict, sectarian rivalry, the resurgence of religion in the public sphere—demand a more nuanced contextualization in both historical and global perspective.

We propose, succinctly, to center our inquiry on the following sub-themes of religion in global early modernity: 1) Religion and the Public Sphere, 2) Religion and Philology, 3) Sectarianism and Religious Conflict, and 4) Religion and the Concept of History. We aim to foster interdisciplinary approaches from across the humanities and social sciences and projects that cross geographical boundaries, as a diverse methodological toolbox will serve us well in addressing questions that defy the confines of disciplinarily and Area Studies. Our fifteen total participants examine the global reformations of diverse world regions of the globe and religious traditions, bringing together disciplinary perspectives including History, Religious Studies, Comparative Literature, the History of Science and Medicine, and Archaeology.

All conference presentations will be free and open to the public. For more information and conference program, click here.

May 2, 2016 3:00 PM
Panel Discussion
April 25, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Annie McClanahan
English, UW-Milwaukee

What does microeconomics—the study of small-scale consumer decisions—have to do with the modern novel? Microeconomics seems to have more to do with mathematical formalism than with literary form, and yet its emphasis on the desires and pleasures of the individual shares much with the modern novel’s increased fascination with psychological interiority. Taking microeconomics and the novel as concomitant developments in the theory of the individual in society, this talk explores the difference between humanist and anti-humanist individualism, turning in its conclusion to the problem of the individual in a period of capitalist crisis.

Annie McClanahan is an Assistant Professor of English at UW Milwaukee. Her book Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture will appear from Stanford University Press in fall 2016. Her new project, “A Cultural History of Microeconomics,” will explore the ways in which microeconomics has both drawn on and shaped critical theory and cultural production. Her work has appeared in Representations, The Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of American Studies, Post45, South Atlantic Quarterly, symploke, and qui parle.

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

In his famous second book on Egypt, Herodotus (ca. 484-425 BCE), the so called “father of history” and ethnographic writer from Halicarnassus (present-day Bodrum in southwestern Turkey), emphasizes that of all peoples, the Egyptians are “the most exceedingly religious/pious.” Yet what did the concept of “religiosity” mean at this time? And how did Herodotus translate his understanding of Egypt and its religious world for his Greek audience? By incorporating key concepts from religious studies, including aesthetics, psychology, and the sociology of religion, this talk explores Herodotus' narratives on foreign religion in his Histories and elucidates his method of narrating and understanding foreign religion.




Andreas Schwab is an Assistant Professor of Classics at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg in Germany. He published his first book on the sophisticated Late Antique (4th cent. CE) hexameter poetry and theology of Gregory of Nazianzus, Peri Pronoias On Providence: Text, Translation and Commentary, Classica Monacensia series (Tübingen 2009). In his second book, Thales of Miletus in Early Christian Literature,Studia Praesocratica series (Berlin/Boston 2012), he focuses on the reception of this early Greek philosopher, astronomer and sage of the 6th century BCE. 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 Le Travail du Savoir / Wissensbewätigung: Philosophie, sciences exactes et sciences appliquées dans l’Antiquité. He is also a co-editor of The Reception of the Homeric Hymns (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His current book project is on “The Translation of Foreign Religion in Herodotus.”

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.

April 11, 2016 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Devaleena Das
University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Department of Women's and Gender Studies

As Margaret Atwood writes, the female body has always seen as a “hot topic” in cultures across the globe. Thus regions throughout the world have employed standardized systems of mapping and dissecting the female body, and the Indian subcontinent in the twentieth century, with its diversity of religions and cultures, was no exception. Yet how did women writers themselves negotiate the tense relationship between their bodies, ascribed cultural values, and a sense of self? Devaleena Das will explore these issues by tracing the writings of 20th century writers from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

Devaleena Das was a former Assistant Professor of English and Gender Studies at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Currently she is teaching in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.  She received her Ph.D. from Calcutta University in 2012. Her dissertation examines postcolonial and gendered space in Australia and she works in the field of intersectional feminism.

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

In 1974, Joan Little, a young, impoverished, African American woman killed her white guard in a Southern jail after he sexually assaulted her. Indicted for first degree murder and facing a death sentence if convicted, her case quickly became a national and international cause celebre. During and after her murder trial, Little was imprisoned at the North Carolina Correctional Center for Women. There, women inmates organized a sit-down strike and, in a joint effort with the Triangle Area Lesbian Feminists and the North Carolina Hard Times Prison Project, they published a prison pamphlet: Break de Chains of U$ Legalized Slavery, a collection of inmate poems, exposes and illustrations. By examining women’s prison organizing in the 1970s on both sides of the prison walls this talk suggests a more expansive view of both the women’s liberation movement(s) and the “long civil rights movement.” 

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.

March 31, 2016 4:00 PM
L160 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Germaine Brée Lecture
Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Filmmaker and Activist

Jean-Pierre Bekolo (1966, Yaounde) is an avant-garde filmmaker and socio-cultural activist whose imaginative work overturns stereotypes of Africa and African cinema. His entertaining films operate on multiple layers, engaging viewers with thrilling stories, biting humor and dramatic aesthetics.

An advocate of artistic freedom, Bekolo is committed to realizing Africa’s philosophies and cultures. Quartier Mozart shows the hybridity, complexity and humor in urban Yaounde in a playful, hip-hop reinvention of a traditional tale about gender, power, magic and politics. Aristotle’s Plot parodies rules and definitions, action movies and ‘African’ cinema made for European audiences, while aesthetically reflecting on the nature of existence, its ambiguities and absence of rigid categories. Aiming to incite viewers to conceive an alternate reality, his fake documentary The President is a hilarious, biting satire on African leaders who cling to power, and his dystopian, sci-fi comic thriller with stunning surreal visuals, Les Saignantes, presents extreme corruption, feminism, social decay and intergenerational conflict for review.

Bekolo’s work on the re-representation of Africa also includes insightful documentaries that seek to educate, such as Grandmother’s Grammar on groundbreaking Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety, and Les Choses et Les Mots de Mudimbe on the renowned Congolese philosopher, multi-linguist and uber-polymath.

Part of a Screening and Lecture Series

Monday, 03/28:
2:25pm, 104 Van Hise : "Life after Life," for a discussion on the film "Les Saignantes" in Vlad Dima's undergraduate class

Tuesday, 03/29:
2:25pm, 483 Van Hise  : Visit with Prof. Névine El-Nossery's graduate course on Francophone literature and film.

Wednesday, 03/30:
12pm, 206 Ingraham Hall : Africa-at-Noon series, an informal interview with the director
Title: "Conversations: Jean-Pierre Bekolo and Cinema" (led by Prof. Dima) on various issues.

Thursday, 03/31:
4pm, L160 Elvehjem : A Germaine Brée Lecture Series : "Le Président: Africa for the Future"
Campus-wide presentation (in English) on the current state of African cinema, followed by a screening of one of the director's films and a brief Q&A

Friday, 04/01:
4pm at the French House : Informal presentation (in French) on Mr. Bekolo's general artistic process, reasons for making films, politics etc.
Reception to follow.

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

Narratives in which leather-winged demons or dragons face off against bird-winged angels and heroes have millennia of history behind them. In the nineteenth century, however, discoveries of fossil pterosaurs (flying reptiles) and Jurassic birds invited new interpretations of old tales. How did British paleontological texts and visual restorations treat these winged curiosities? By investigating these sources, Caitlin Silberman traces how restorations that place leather-winged, reptilian pterosaurs in conflict with ancient birds like Archaeopteryx lithographica provide an unexpected window into Victorian perspectives on progress, evolution, and humanity’s place in nature.

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." 

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

How can we begin to understand multi-ethnic community formation in contexts where there are no written records and only the faintest material traces of ancient lives have survived? What kinds of material practices, and the social, political, and ritual behaviors implicated by them, did people use to negotiate their differences? Based on archaeological research at the 13th century site of Jonathan Creek supplemented by work at other prominent sites across the southeastern United States that were variously occupied between the 11th and 14th centuries AD, and analogies drawn from later ethnohistoric and ethnographic documents, my presentation explores the ways in which the forms, aesthetics, and symbolism of perishable architecture connected with the social, political, and cosmological processes that helped shape 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 AntiquityJournal 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 11, 2016 9:00 AM
Fluno Center
Co-Sponsored by IRH and
Comparative US Studies

In the six years since the nadir of the Great Recession, debt has attracted scholarly attention across the humanities. Debt names not only student loans, underwater mortgages, and consumer credit but also, more significantly, a form of life molded by debt: the everyday practices, desires, virtues, and vices of the indebted. In other words, debt offers a way of exploring the concrete, lived experiences that result from neoliberal economic policies. Debt is not colorblind: in the United States, Blacks and Latinos are affected most severely. The foreclosure rate at the peak of the Great Recession for Blacks was 7.9%, for Latinos 7.7%, and for whites 4.5%. A significantly higher percentage of Blacks than whites take on student loan debt, and the credit card interest paid by Blacks makes up a significantly greater share of their income. Debt severely distorts the lives of people of color in the US.

Race and debt have long been connected, and together entwined with property. Classically, in The Merchant of Venice, it is the racial other, the Jew, who demanded repayment of debt in flesh when property was unavailable. Treating flesh as property was the principle animating the slave trade, a business sustained by debt secured by Black human “property.” Post-emancipation, Black sharecroppers remained tied down by debt and by lack of property ownership. The hyper-incarceration of poor Blacks today justifies itself by extracting a debt owed to society. Calls for reparations claim that society owes a debt to Blacks or to other communities that have suffered injustices. A variety of Black social movements for decades have called for property ownership as a means of Black empowerment.

This symposium will bring together a dozen senior and junior scholars of history, literature, anthropology, and law to reflect on the conjunction of race, property, and debt. Looking both at and beyond Black experience in the Great Recession, presenters will share their own research and place it in dialogue with the research of colleagues, clarifying the often elusive spider-web of concepts and practices that entangle, entrap, and ruin the lives of people of color in the US and beyond. Drawing on a variety of sites and methods, the symposium will encourage research cross-fertilization while featuring state-of-the-art scholarship on this timely and important set of issues.

All conference presentations will be free and open to the public.

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

The Food and Drug Administration’s number one job is to protect public health by ensuring the safety and efficacy of consumable products. And yet, pervasive financial relationships with industry often raise questions as to just how effectively the FDA safeguards the public. Accordingly my book manuscript, Conflicted: Tracing Industry Influence in Federal Pharmaceuticals Policy, investigates the systemic effects of pharmaceuticals industry relationships on patient health, FDA decision making, and public trust. In this presentation, I will investigate the adverse effects of conflicts of interest at FDA advisory committee meetings.

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.

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

Eating, we know, is both necessary for our survival and ecologically consequential: agriculture has profoundly altered our planet. Writing and reading, too, have human advantages and ecological consequences—and on a scale that we have not yet honestly admitted in our stories about the history of the book. In “Toward a Natural History of the Book,” I ask questions like: How might we write history of the book that accounts for negotiations among humans and non-humans in the act of creating material records of ideas? This talk explores the ecological materials that made Renaissance books possible, on the ecological choices that, by extension, made the writings of Shakespeare and his contemporaries possible.

Joshua Calhoun is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in Shakespeare, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry, and the history of media. As a Faculty Affiliate at the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE), he also teaches courses in the environmental humanities. His work has been published in PMLA, Shakespeare Studies, and Environmental Philosophy. He is currently writing a book about poetry, papermaking, and ecology titled The Nature of the Page in Renaissance England. Drawing on original archival research, environmental history, and the poetry of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the book tells a vibrant natural history of the ecological negotiations and technological contrivances used to store and transmit human ideas. 

February 24, 2016 3:00 PM
Banquet Room University Club Building (lower level)
Panel Discussion

Join us for a discussion of the state of academic publishing in the humanities and the process of working with a university press--from project to proposal to publication. The workshop will include brief presentations from Eric Zinner (NYU Press) and UW-Madison faculty members Ron Radano and Pernille Ipsen. Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman.

Refreshments available by 2:45pm.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to

Sponsored by the UW Institute for Research in the Humanities and Center for the Humanities. With support from the Scholarly Publishing Series, sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, the Graduate School, UW-Madison Libraries, and the Office of the Provost.

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

Are our bodies the sum of our (chemical) parts, or are we more than that, the products of our particular background and culture? This talk delves into the question by examining a debate between chemistry and medicine about how to provision troops during the U.S. Civil War. At issue was an 1864 proposal by the chemist Eben Norton Horsford for a condensed ration that purported to contain all of the nutrients needed by a soldier in an ultraportable format. Horsford’s plan was opposed by Union Army physicians, who held that tradition and culture were the only reliable guides to diet, not science.

Through examining this conflict, I explore the fraught relationship between science and medicine in the mid-nineteenth century. Can scientific discoveries reliably engender improvements in medicine? How can we harmonize a materialist, universal vision of the human body with a holistic and particular one?

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

Europe today is often described as ‘Christian’, at least in the cultural sense. But how did it get to be this way? Was the slow tide of Christianity that swamped indigenous European paganism ultimately irresistable, as medieval sources seem to present it? A starting premise of this talk is that the very notion of a Christian/pagan dichotomy is problematic. Medieval people had conflicting ideas about what ‘proper’ Christianity involved – and, just as important, what it didn’t involve. Christianity could take many different forms, especially when it became a new ingredient in old political conflicts. In this paper I will examine one especially fraught conflict in eighth-century Europe, and use a careful interdisciplinary approach to reveal the deep complexities and ambiguities of religious conversion. What was it to be 'Christian' in this context, and who got to define the term?

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

Contemporary observers of England’s burgeoning late-sixteenth century literary culture believed their country’s emerging canon of vernacular literature might help foster consensus around a collective cultural and political identity. But were they right? My talk relates this literary-historical question to a modern theoretical debate between Jürgen Habermas and Chantal Mouffe about the value of consensus as a political concept. To what extent could a shared literary culture foster consensus around common values and transcend the bitter religious divisions of the Reformation? To what extent did the literature of this period allow religious minorities to assert their non-participation in this putative consensus? As a poet writing in the wake of Reformation Europe’s bloody religious conflicts, Edmund Spenser offers a perspective with unique historical purchase on these questions, which still today factor into different rationales for the humanities.

Victor Lenthe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research focuses on early modern literary culture and post-Reformation Europe’s experience of religious difference. His dissertation is entitled “The Question of the Early Modern Public: Consensus and its Limits in the English Literary Renaissance.” It examines early modern writers like Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson for historical perspectives on debates between modern political theorists about the nature of pluralism and the role of literature in public life.

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

Scientific conferences are not known for their excitement, but what happens when large numbers of your constituency choose to boycott your meeting? And further, what can transpire when rowdy AIDS activists use your meeting as a stage to air their grievances with government and scientific inaction and disrupt business as usual? What is the appropriate relationship between science and politics, especially when people are dying at alarming rates? This presentation will consider these questions and more through analysis of the rhetoric of the boycotts of the 1990 and 1992 International AIDS Conferences, which are key turning points in the global history of HIV/AIDS.

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.

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

For more than 150 years, US black music has stood at the center of the American entertainment industry, frequently proclaimed to be the driving force in popular expression. Why has this been so? Why do so many people think black music is so entertaining, so important, so valuable? Why, moreover, has this perception been so widely embraced around the world? My presentation will tackle the problem head on, proposing that matters of black musical value are not simply musical matters. They are embedded in the very processes by which racially conceived musical forms have been constituted within and against the forces of capitalism, which, in turn, have given to black music a uniquely “animated” valuation.

Ronald Radano is a Professor of African Languages and Literature and 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, in print). His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Musical QuarterlyDaedalusCritical InquiryModernism/Modernity, and Radical History Review. His discussion of black musical value will also appear in the February 2016 issue of boundary 2. 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."

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

What was the function of royal genealogy in the early modern period? How did royal genealogy engage with debates on the ethnic and political identity of national communities? In Britain, more than in any other early modern European country, royal genealogies interwove the origins of the monarch and people through the use of mythical ancestors who were both the first kings and ethnic founders of national communities. With the help of genealogical rolls and prints, historical and literary texts, this talk explores the early seventeenth-century genealogical construction of a British kingship in racial terms, through origin myths linking the monarch to Adam, Noah, Troy, ancient Egypt, and Greece.

Sara Trevisan is a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities and will be Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick from May 2016, for three years. She earned a PhD in English Literature at the University of Padua, in Italy, and has held fellowships at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the University of Warwick, as well as a lectureship at Brunel University London. 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 the intersections between court and popular drama and poetry, and European intellectual history, geography, cartography, visual iconography, the history of the book, and theories of monarchical rule and nationhood. She is currently writing a book on royal genealogy, and discourses of national and ethnic identity in Britain between 1558 and 1640, provisionally entitled From Noah to King James: Genesis, Fabulous Genealogies and the Myth-Making of Kingship in Early Modern Britain.

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."

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.

November 23, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Emily Callaci
History, UW-Madison

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
Daniel Kapust
Political Science, UW-Madison

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
Xin Huang
Women's and Gender Studies, UW-Milwaukee

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
Elizabeth Freeman
English, University of California, Davis

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
Max Harris
Independent Scholar

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
Helen M. Kinsella
Political Science, UW-Madison

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
Vincent Lloyd
Religion, Syracuse University

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 12, 2015 3:30 PM
212 University Club Building
Theodore Martin
English, UW-Milwaukee

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
Jennifer Gipson
French and Italian, UW-Madison

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
Yongming Zhou
Anthropology, UW-Madison

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
Nathanael Andrade
History, University of Oregon

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
February 18, 2015 5:30 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Tejumola Olaniyan
English and African Languages & Literature, UW-Madison

Tejumola Olaniyan will look at literature, popular culture, and social and political practices to tell a cultural history of African politics, and a political history of African culture that re-frames our understanding of the modern state, and takes seriously the charge from African scholars that even humanities scholarship should propose "concrete solutions" to problems of the state.

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"

December 3, 2014 5:30 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building, 800 University Avenue
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Craig Werner
Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison

A scholar of literature, music, and cultural history, Craig Werner lays out a set of guiding principles for a new history of the nineteen sixties, a mythologized decade that is too often reduced to a set of contradictory ideological tropes.

October 30, 2014 4:30 PM
French House, 633 N. Frances St.
Simon Gaunt
French, King's College London

A roundtable discussion with UW-Madison faculty Vlad Dima, Névine El-Nossery, Jennifer Gipson, and Ullrich Langer. French and Italian Departmental Colloquium.

Free and open to the public.

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

October 29, 2014 7:00 PM
212 University Club Building
Germaine Brée Lecture
Simon Gaunt
French, King's College London

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

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

October 9, 2014 7:30 PM
L140 Elvehjem Building, 800 University Avenue
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Saidiya Hartman
Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Drawing from her new book project, the lecture examines the social upheaval and radical transformation of everyday life that took place in the American slums between 1890-1920.

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

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 24, 2014 7:30 PM
L160 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Anne Cheng
English and the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University

What do sushi, food, race, and anthropology have to do with each other? Taking a scene of sushi eating in David Wong Louie's short story "Bottles of Beaujolais" as a spring board into a larger meditation on the "nature" of human eating, this paper traces the often unspoken racial logic that subtends and connects the question of who is human and what is it that we eat.

Anne Anlin Cheng is Professor of English and of the Center for African American Studies. She specializes in race studies, aesthetic theory, film and psychoanalytic theories, working primarily with twentieth-century American literature with special focus on Asian American and African American literatures. She is the author of The Melancholy of Race: Assimilation, Psychoanalysis, and Hidden Grief and Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface. Recent articles by Cheng include: “Sheen: On Glamour, Race, and the Modern,” PMLA; “Skins, Tattoos, and Susceptibility,” Representations; “Psychoanalysis without Symptom,” Differences; “Skin Deep: Josephine Baker and the Colonial Fetish,” Camera Obscura; and “Ralph Ellison: Melancholic Visibility and the Crisis of American Civil Rights,” Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture.

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

October 31, 2013 (All day)
H.F. DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St.
Germaine Brée Lecture
Sahar Elmougy
Shereen Abouelnaga
Souad Halila
May Telmissany
Aili Tripp

Increasing confrontations with totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and Africa have prompted women to find new ways to cope with political expression and national disenchantment. The dynamics in these movements are complex and sometimes paradoxical. While revolutionary rhetoric celebrates women’s agency, post-revolutionary discourses often instrumentalize them as the bearers of national identity. On the one hand, women find new ways of becoming the subjects of their own history, on the other hand they are summoned to fulfill specific roles in the nation, such as reproduction and the protection of traditional (national) values.

This symposium proposes to reflect primarily on Arab and African women’s aesthetic and artistic forms of resistance, and to expand our understanding of the contemporary means of protest they deploy to subvert social constructions and barriers. The symposium also proposes to discuss the gender/feminist artistic and aesthetic strategies that advocate for new relational possibilities between genders, between citizens and the state, and across ethnic, classes, space and national divides.

September 25, 2013 5:30 PM
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Mary Louise Roberts
Professor of History and Senior Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison

We prefer to think of war as producing heroes, not corpses. Perhaps for this reason, military historians have rarely focused on the dead. In the Normandy invasion of 1944, the bodies of American G.I.s were often not visible. This is because, in an effort to maintain the morale of the troops, the U.S. military quickly removed corpses from the battlefield and kept them out of sight. At the same time, however, much can be learned about the war's meaning for its combatants by exploring how corpses were perceived by U.S. and German soldiers, as well as military officials, French civilians, and the American public.

Mary Louise Roberts is a Professor of History and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her most recent book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France, appeared with the University of Chicago Press in 2013. Her work has recently appeared in the American Historical Review, French Historical Studies, French Politics, Culture & Society, and l'Histoire. She is working on a narrated collection of memoirs, D-Day through French Eyes: Memoirs of Normandy 1944, which will appear with the University of Chicago Press for the seventieth anniversary of the landings in June 2014.

March 7, 2013 4:30 PM
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Eddie Glaude, Jr.
William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Princeton University

In his lecture, Glaude explores how "whiteness" continues to distort American democracy, disfiguring our precious ideals into unsightly and dangerous justification for ugly practices that ultimately cast away democratic principles, and eventually, people. This distortion requires a response, specifically from those who are disproportionately affected by the unseemly machinations of whiteness in our politics. Those who suffer injury, in part because they are not white, must give voice to the distinctiveness of their experiences in order to expand democratic possibility. Black politics, at its best, has done precisely this. No matter the specific demands of the black freedom struggle throughout our history, the one constant has been a complete and unequivocal rejection of the oxymoronic idea of "white democracy." But the public expression of black suffering has become increasingly difficult today, because "white democracy" trades in the language of color-blindness and the political idea of Black America has collapsed in the face of internal differences unleashed in what can be called a post-soul era.

Galude confronts a possible paradox: that the current expression of "white democracy" requires a response in the form of black identity politics, but the political idea of Black America has collapsed in the face of fragmenting black communities, where the once powerful ideal of black solidarity crumbles under the weight of internal class and generational differences. Glaude answers the paradox with a call for a more robust form of black identity politics attuned to the differences within black communities and rooted in a grassroots democratic ethos that exposes the continued political and moral work of "whiteness" in America.

Professor Eddie Glaude's research interests include American pragmatism, specifically the work of John Dewey, and African American religious history and its place in American public life. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2002 Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize for his book Exodus! (2000). He has also co-edited, with Cornel West, African-American Religious Thought: An Anthology (2004).

February 13, 2013 5:30 PM
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 North Orchard Street
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Gregg Mitman
Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, UW-Madison

Forty years ago, in The Columbian Exchange, and a few years later, in Plagues and Peoples, Alfred Crosby and William McNeill advanced grand historical narratives on a global scale driven by the movement of plants, people, and parasites across space and time. The appearance of disease as an agent of empire in the writing of global environmental histories is deeply entangled with ecological and evolutionary understandings of disease that emerged in the service of capital in the early twentieth century. In his talk, Mitman examines how American military and industrial expansion overseas—witnessed firsthand by doctors in the American occupation of the Philippines, on the coffee plantations of the United Fruit Company, in the trenches of the Great War, and on the rubber plantations of Firestone in Liberia—helped bring into being new views of nature and nation that would, in turn, become the scientific foundation upon which later historical narratives of ecological imperialism relied.

Gregg Mitman's teaching and writing interests span the history of ecology, nature, and health in American culture, and are informed by a commitment and hope to build a more equitable and just environment. Reaching across the fields of environmental history, the history of science and medicine, and the visual culture of science, his research seeks to understand the ways in which political economy, cultural values and beliefs, and scientific knowledge intersect in shaping the interactions between people and environments over time. He served as the founding director of the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History and Environment, and is also curator of Madison’s popular environmental film festival, Tales from Planet Earth. His current research explores the role of science and medicine in America’s changing relationship to the tropical world through the lens of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia.

November 29, 2012 5:00 PM
French House, 633 N. Frances Street
Germaine Brée Lecture
Azouz Begag
Writer, CNRS Researcher, Equal Opportunity Minister (2005-2007)

Azouz Begag, an internationally acclaimed French writer, has published more than twenty books, most of which are subject to various problems faced by the youth of North African origin, caught between two cultures as well as between tradition and modernism: poverty, racism, unemployment, self-destruction, and despair. Originally Algerian, Azouz Begag was born in the suburbs of Lyon in France in 1957. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University Lyon 2 and leads from the front three careers: novelist, sociologist and politician. Researcher at the CNRS and the House of Social and Human Sciences in Lyon since 1980, he is a specialist in socio-urban economy: his work is largely on the mobility of immigrant populations in urban areas.

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 30, 2012 5:00 PM
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Germaine Brée Lecture
Azouz Begag
Writer, CNRS Researcher, Equal Opportunity Minister (2005-2007)

This talk will be followed by a screening of Le gone du Chaâba.

Azouz Begag, an internationally acclaimed French writer, has published more than twenty books, most of which are subject to various problems faced by the youth of North African origin, caught between two cultures as well as between tradition and modernism: poverty, racism, unemployment, self-destruction, and despair. Originally Algerian, Azouz Begag was born in the suburbs of Lyon in France in 1957. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University Lyon 2 and leads from the front three careers: novelist, sociologist and politician. Researcher at the CNRS and the House of Social and Human Sciences in Lyon since 1980, he is a specialist in socio-urban economy: his work is largely on the mobility of immigrant populations in urban areas.

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 7:30 PM
Chazen Museum of Art, Room L160
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Thadious Davis
Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

In this talk, I am using a term, chaining, to signify the tight links, but open spaces in conceptualizing and articulating person and in recollecting and representing past in a grouping of African American texts, such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, Cane by Jean Toomer, Jazz by Toni Morrison, Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa, and The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. Chaining is an active way of constructing the working of space in the African American imaginary. The links form connective tissue carrying ideas both forward and backward along a time-space continuum, and the open space within each link forms the contained and shaped ideas that are pushed or pulled along with the motion of the links, or that remain static when the links are unmoving and stable. Within the structure of the chain, within the openings between the metal pieces functioning as fastenings and as restrictive bondage, there is what I am calling “black space,” encircled and partly determined in terms of referential shape by being enclosed, yet at the same time open and operative. This encircled opening is the part of the chain that is overlooked, ignored, obscured, because like air it is essential, crucial, and necessary, but unobtrusive and unseen. I derive black space from conceptualizing chaining and its three dimensionality as organic to a mechanism that touches the body, that is intimate and portable, moving with the body and reverberating with a multiplicity of bodies and bodily experiences, both material and psychological, and that carries through the tangible representation of the public past a wider or broader access to the multiple and vexed aspects of black life in the United States.

Davis's teaching areas include African American literature and Southern literature with an emphasis on issue of race, region, and gender. Her research interests are interdisciplinary: geography and African American writers; photography and Southern women; film and literary modernism; visual culture and the Harlem Renaissance; civil rights law and narrative fiction. Active in American Studies and Southern Studies, she has taught and lectured in Europe and Asia; most recently, she delivered papers in Tokyo, Japan, at Chuo University and at International Faulkner Symposium, sponsored by the Faulkner Society of Japan. As the Walt Whitman Chair in American Civilization, a Fulbright Distinguished Chair, at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, she participated in American Studies programs throughout Western and Central Europe. She has also held tenured professorships at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Brown University, and Vanderbilt University where she was the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English. Invested in contemporary archival work, she has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the Huntington Library in California where she held the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellowship.

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.

March 24, 2011 7:30 PM
Mills Hall, Mosse Humanities Building
Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University

Professor Gates' talk will deepen the community-wide discussion of ethics and race launched this fall through the Go Big Read! program. Sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, the Office of the Provost, and the General Library System.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is a literary critic, cultural historian, writer, editor, television producer, and public intellectual. He is the director of Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research, and co-edited "The Norton Anthology of African American Literature" with Nellie McKay. In addition to his extensive scholarly publications, he has helped call attention to African American experiences through projects like his 2006 PBS documentary “African American Lives,” the first documentary series to employ genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of African American history. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American Studies and Africana Studies, and of "The Root," an online news magazine dedicated to coverage of African American news, culture, and genealogy.

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

November 5, 2008 5:00 PM
Pyle Center
Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Lecture
Lee Palmer Wandel
History, UW-Madison

Lee Palmer Wandel is Professor of History, Religious Studies, and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is the author of Always Among Us: Images of the Poor in Zwingli's Zurich (Cambridge University Press, 1990); Voracious Idols and Violent Hands: Iconoclasm in Reformation Zurich, Strasbourg, and Basel (Cambridge University Press, 1995); and The Eucharist in the Reformation: Incarnation and Liturgy (Cambridge University Press, 2006). She is the co-editor of Facing Death (Yale University Press, 1996), which won the Will Solimene Award for Excellence in Medical Communication; and the volume from the Burdick-Vary conference at the Institute, Early Modern Eyes, which is forthcoming. Wandel received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Her work has been supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, Yale University, and, at the University of Wisconsin, fellowships at the IRH, a Vilas Associate Fellowship and the Kellett Mid-Career Award.

February 7, 2008 7:00 PM
Wisconsin Historical Society
Nellie Y McKay Lecture in the Humanities
Frances Smith Foster
Charles Howard Candler Professor of English & Women's Studies and Associated Faculty in African American Studies and in American Studies, Emory University

Would it surprise you to learn that "Dear Abby" has an African American ancestor; that Freedom's Journal was the earliest African American newspaper but it was not an abolitionist newspaper; or that love, marriage and sexual morality were regular topics in the Antebellum Afro-Protestant Press? Foster will discuss these themes. Among Frances Foster's most recent publications are Love and Marriage in Early African America; Race, Region and the Politics of Slavery's Memory; African Americans, Literature, and the Nineteenth Century Afro-Protestant Press; Written By Herself; and Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892. She has co-edited Norton Critical Edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (with Nellie Y. McKay), Norton Anthology of African American Literature (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Nellie Y. McKay, et al), and Oxford Companion to African American Literature (with William L. Andrews and Trudier Harris).