Tag Archive for Center for the Humanities

Scholars Explore the Theme of “Dirt” Through Center for the Humanities Series

During the Center for the Humanities Lecture Series, nine scholars explored the theme of “Dirt” throughout the fall 2020 semester. The theme explored the material ecologies and symbolic currencies of filth, waste, toxicity, and contamination alongside ideas of purity, hygiene, and cleanliness to address and reframe a range of contemporary environmental and cultural urgencies.

Through various topics, the scholars discussed uses and abuses of dirt and its various political, religious, sexual, ethnic, racial, and ecological significations.

The topics and speakers included:

Projected Resonances: Intersections of Sound, Performance, and Tourism Underground at Mammoth Cave” by Paula Matthusen, associate professor of music; “Getting Our Hands Dirty: Manual Labor Schools, Abolition, and the Empire of Benevolence” by Khalil Johnson, assistant professor of African American studies; “Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures” by Yu-ting Huang, assistant professor of East Asian studies; “Anthropogenic Forms in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being” by Amy Tang, Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of English and American Studies; “Lust Area” by Greg Goldberg, associate professor and chair of sociology; and “Queer Erotic Archives in Franco’s Spain (1954-1979)” by Javier Fernandez Galeano, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow.

Other speakers included “Detention Operations” by Angela Naimou of Clemson University; “Soil, The Black Archives” by Marisa Solomon of Barnard College and Columbia University; and “Histories of Dirt in Lagos” by Stephanie Newell of Yale University.

The series was hosted by Natasha Korda, professor of English and director of the Center for the Humanities.

The spring 2021 Center for the Humanities theme is ephemera.

Natasha Korda, professor of English and director of the Center for the Humanities, explained how the theme "examines the material ecologies and symbolic currencies of soil, filth, waste, and contamination to reframe a range of contemporary environmental and cultural issues bearing on bodies and borders.” Korda also acknowledged that the land on which Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities stands once belonged to the indigenous Wangunk Indian tribe.

Natasha Korda, professor of English and director of the Center for the Humanities, explained how the theme “examines the material ecologies and symbolic currencies of soil, filth, waste, and contamination to reframe a range of contemporary environmental and cultural issues bearing on bodies and borders.” Korda also acknowledged that the land on which Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities stands once belonged to the indigenous Wangunk Indian tribe.

Amy Tang

On Oct. 19, Amy Tang, Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of English and American Studies, presented a talk titled “Anthropogenic Forms in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being.” “[The novel] vibrantly juxtaposes multiple timescales specifically working between the scale of the human and the scale of the planet. Moreover, Ozeki’s novel highlights the narrative’s own temporal plurality as a way of locating ourselves within the geological epochs of the Anthropocene.”

On Oct. 26, Yu-Ting Huang, assistant professor of East Asian studies, presented a talk titled "Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures."

On Oct. 26, Yu-ting Huang, assistant professor of East Asian studies, presented a talk titled “Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures.”

Johnson noted that in the 1800s, liberal arts colleges and Protestant theological seminaries across the United States had integrated manual labor into their educational programs. At Andover Seminary in Massachusetts, students labored together 30-45 minutes before meals, and at Oneida Institute in New York, students were required to labor three hours a day.

On Nov. 9, Khalil Johnson, assistant professor of African American studies, spoke about “Getting Our Hands Dirty: Manual Labor Schools, Abolition, and the Empire of Benevolence.” Johnson noted that in the 1800s, liberal arts colleges and Protestant theological seminaries across the United States had integrated manual labor into their educational programs. At Andover Seminary in Massachusetts, students labored together 15 minutes before meals, and at Oneida Institute in New York (pictured at left), students were required to labor three hours per day. “Initially, requiring students to labor in farms or workshops served purely practical purposes. Manual labor provided physical exercise that improved general health and well-being, and in contributing labor toward the maintenance of institutions, growing foodstuffs, or producing commodities, students got to offset the cost of their tuition.”

goldberg

On Oct. 5, Greg Goldberg, associate professor and chair of sociology, presented a talk titled “Lust Area,” which focused on progressive support for all-gender public bathrooms in contrast to progressive silence surrounding the surveillance and policing of men who have sex with men in public bathrooms (also called “cruising”). Goldberg argued: “some of the contemporary support for all-gender bathrooms on the Left is motivated, probably unconsciously, by a discomfort with the homoerotics of the bathroom, and more specifically with the possibility of cruising. All-gender bathrooms can alleviate this discomfort insofar as they foreclose opportunities for cruising, whether through designs that eliminate opportunities for discrete exposure and contact, or by the installation or conversion of single-user bathrooms.”

Paula Matthusen presented "Projected Resonances: Intersections of Sound, Performance, and Tourism Underground at Mammoth Cave" on Nov. 23 as part of the Fall 2020 Center for the Humanities Lecture Series.

On Nov. 23, Paula Matthusen, associate professor of music, presented “Projected Resonances: Intersections of Sound, Performance, and Tourism Underground at Mammoth Cave.” With Projected Resonances, Matthusen explored the acoustic space in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave and its intertwined histories of musical performance and tourism.

On Sept. 14, Javier Fernandez Galeano, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. "Queer Erotic Archives in Franco's Spain (1954-1979)"

On Sept. 14, Javier Fernandez Galeano, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, presented “Queer Erotic Archives in Franco’s Spain (1954–1979).” Galeano explained that under Francisco Franco’s regime (1939–1975) in Spain, the authorities incinerated heterosexual pornography while they preserved, curated, and restored queer pornography. The study of the confiscated materials “suggests that queer and trans communities embodied in their photographs a reading of their own desires that differed from the authorities’ views,” he said.

8 Undergraduates Make Presentations at Arts and Humanities Symposium

Eight Wesleyan students participated in the CTW Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities held at Trinity College in November.

Eight Wesleyan students presented papers during the inaugural CTW (Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University) Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities on Nov. 10.

This symposium, hosted at Trinity, provided undergraduate students from the three partner institutions, as well as other institutions in the region, an opportunity to present their original scholarly work in a professional setting. Topics included languages and literatures, philosophy, theater and dance, art history, women’s studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, film studies, and more.

Paper submissions were accepted by a committee of faculty members.

During a panel on The Construction of Spaces, Teresa Naval ’19 spoke on “Corrugated Cartographies: Performing the Balikbayan Box” and Asa Spurlock ’20 presented his paper titled “Nature and Stone: A Mythology of Central Park.”

Aviv Rau ’19 presented his paper titled “Queering the ‘Quails’: The Making of White Womanhood at Wesleyan University 1872–1912” during a Considering Gender panel.

Visiting international student Victoria Bianchi spoke on “Sicily and the Dar-al-Islam: Multiculturalism in the pre-Crusading Mediterranean,” during a panel on Culture, Identity, Nation, and State.

As part of a panel on Negotiating Identity in France and the Francophone World, Sophie Tulchin ’20 presented her paper titled “Performing Diaspora: Mohamed Kacimi’s Babel Taxi (2005).”

Tomas Rogel ’19 presented a talk on “These Are Not People, These Are Animals: An Analysis of the American Perception of Salvadorans” during a panel focusing on Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

Lizzie Whitney ’19 spoke on “Refugee Crisis in German Literature” during a panel on The Production of Culture across Borders.

And during a panel on Ancient Texts, Benjamin Sarraille ’19 shared his paper titled “Measure for Measure: Translating the Illiad of Homer.”

In addition to sharing their own work, the students had the opportunity to participate in 16 different panels and attend a keynote lecture by Maurice Samuels, the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French at Yale University.

Support for this symposium was provided in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Submission guidelines and further information are online here.

A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience Premiered at Zilkha

A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience was a creative collaboration of Wesleyan students, artist Ernesto Cuevas Jr., and Associate Professor of Science in Society, Sociology, and African American Studies Anthony Hatch (center right). It opened in the south gallery at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Feb. 22.


This exhibition was co-sponsored by the Center for African American Studies, the Center for the Humanities and the Center for the Arts’ Creative Campus Initiative, made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The projects began in Hatch’s fall 2017 seminar, Black Phoenix Rising, during his fellowship semester at the Center for the Humanities. Working with the Center’s theme of Rethinking Necropolitics, the class explored—through a collaborative process—the methods that African Americans used in order to resist material and symbolic death in American life and culture.

Grounded in the black radical tradition, each of the works in this multimedia exhibit was collaboratively conceived and produced through the power of collective memory and the medium of storytelling.

In the Shadows of Tomorrow brochure that accompanied the exhibit, the artists explain, “Our goal for this work is to embody the Black Phoenix by envisioning life cycles that do not end with . . . death. Instead, we utilize vignettes . . . to tell a story of religion, healing, and spirituality as sites of communal resistance.”

The opening provided a reunion for the class, as well as an invitation to have conversations with friends and community members about the issues raised in the artwork and displays.

The exhibition was on display Feb. 22-25.

Refugees’ Art Featured at Student-Run “Art in Crisis” Exhibit

The student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled "Art in Crisis" through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. Student organizers, faculty, members of the administration and artists gathered for the exhibit's opening May 4.

The student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled “Art in Crisis” through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. Student organizers, faculty, members of the administration and community members gathered for the exhibit’s opening May 4.

“Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za'atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. These artists range from professionals who taught art in Syria to youth who were studying modern art to those who newly developed their passion in exile. The work was recently displayed at the Mission to the United Nations in New York City, and will be sold in a silent auction format.

“Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za’atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. These artists range from professionals who taught art in Syria to youth who were studying modern art to those who newly developed their passion in exile. The work was recently displayed at the Mission to the United Nations in New York City, and will be sold in a silent auction format.

The Wesleyan Refugee Project is a volunteer initiative which centers around three central community outreach efforts, including online tutoring with Syrian refugee students in Turkey and Jordan, helping Connecticut-based refugees fill out subsidized housing and energy assistance applications, and aiding Iraqi refugees in finding U.S. employment via the International Refugee Assistance Program. Pictured is volunteer Elisabeth Arslanoglou '16.

The Wesleyan Refugee Project is a volunteer initiative which centers around three central community outreach efforts, including online tutoring with Syrian refugee students in Turkey and Jordan, helping Connecticut-based refugees fill out subsidized housing and energy assistance applications, and aiding Iraqi refugees in finding U.S. employment via the International Refugee Assistance Program. Pictured is volunteer Elisabeth Arslanoglou ’16.

NEH Supports Research, Writing Projects by Tucker, Curran

#THISISWHY
Two Wesleyan faculty received NEH Public Scholarships to encourage new research and support their upcoming publications. Only 36 writers in the country received the award.

The Public Scholar program, a major new initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is designed to promote the publication of scholarly nonfiction books for a general audience. On July 29, the NEH awarded a total of $1.7 million to 36 writers including Wesleyan’s Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, and Andrew Curran, the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities and professor of French.

Tucker received a grant worth $50,400 to support her book titled Caught on Camera: A History of Photographic Detection and Evasion.

Faculty, Students Discuss Risk at Symposium

On May 2, the Wesleyan Symposium on Risk brought together faculty and students for an interdisciplinary discussion of risk. The event was sponsored by American Studies, the Center for the Humanities, the College of Letters, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, the Science in Society Program, and the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies support funds. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

Brian Stewart, professor of physics, professor of environmental studies, spoke on "The Metastasis of Risk."

Brian Stewart, professor of physics, professor of environmental studies, spoke on “The Metastasis of Risk.”

Center for the Humanities Explores “Mobilities” in Fall Lecture Series

Meritocracy and Mobility, Intertwined Histories of the South Indian Dance Revival, and What Do Mobile Phones Mobilize are just three of the topics to be discussed during the Center for the Humanities' fall lecture series.

Meritocracy and Mobility, Intertwined Histories of the South Indian Dance Revival, and What Do Mobile Phones Mobilize? are three of the topics to be discussed during the Center for the Humanities’ fall lecture series.

Over the past decade, a new approach to the study of mobilities has emerged involving research on the combined movement of peoples, animals, objects, ideas and information. This can be viewed through the lens of complex networks, relational dynamics, and the redistribution or reification of power generated by movement.

This fall, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities will offer 10 lectures on the theme of “Mobilities” as part of its lecture series. Five of the speakers are from Wesleyan.

All talks begin at 6 p.m., are open to the public, and are held at Daniel Family Commons. The dates, topics and speakers are:

Sept. 8
Ecological Poetics, or, Wallace Stevens’ Birds
Cary Wolfe, professor of English, Rice University

Sept. 15
Beyond Synthesis: The Return of Micro History in Global Contexts and the “Relationing” of History
Angelika Eppel, professor of history, Bielefeld University, Germany

Sept. 22
The Roma Question in France and the Return of Race
Éric Fassin, professor of sociology, École Normale Supérieure, Paris

Faculty, Students Discuss Milgram’s “Shock” Experiment Research at Humanities Theory Salon

Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, along with Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14 (not pictured) presented “Body Resistance: Mapping Power and Defiance in the Milgram Experiments”, their research on the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments, on May 9 at the Center for Humanities’ last theory salon of the 2013-2014 school year.

Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, along with Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14 (not pictured) presented their research on the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments, May 9 at the Center for Humanities’ theory salon.

On Friday, May 9, the Center for Humanities held its last theory salon for the 2013-2014 academic year. The intimate faculty-student presentation revealed ground-breaking research on the Stanley Milgram “shock” obedience experiment, led by Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and assistants Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14.

Stanley Milgram, a psychologist from Yale University, is known for his experiment on obedience to authority figures. In the 1960s, Milgram measured the willingness of participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their conscience. In the experiment, a subject is asked to deliver painful electric shocks to a learner, who is actually and actor. The subject believes the learner was receiving shocks, however there was no physical pain inflicted on the learner.

“Body Resistance: Mapping Power and Defiance in the Milgram Experiments” re-imagines the ways in which dissonance, power, and human behavior are taught and thought about. Rather than challenge the extent of Milgram’s contributions and their applications, the team was more interested in using archival information—largely based on Milgram’s observational notes and recordings—to analyze previously overlooked nuances. Much of the research draws on the construction of agency and, as suggested by Hoffman, Milgram’s own suspicions.

“Milgram did a lot of double-talk,” Hoffman explained, “and this led us to believe that he was attentive to the problematic nature of the work.”

Interest in these classic findings has been persistent throughout the years and, recently, is becoming more interdisciplinary. Milgram’s findings have extended outside of the realms of social psychology and have incited studies in cognitive psychology, neuroscience and legal theory.

“There is great demand for understanding behavior in terms of implicit attitudes,” Morawski said.

“Audience(s)” Theme of Humanities’ Spring Lecture Series

The Center for Humanities will host 11 lectures this spring, featuring Wesleyan faculty and guest speakers.

The Center for Humanities will host 11 lectures this spring, featuring Wesleyan faculty and guest speakers.

“Audience(s)” is the theme of the Center for the Humanities’ Spring 2014 lecture series.

“Audience(s)” asks us to explore the phenomena of the audience from multiple perspectives. How does audience shape the form and function of our work? Is the desire to reach a wider audience consistent with our academic or artistic goals? How should we reflect on the relation of intellectuals to their audience or audiences in general? What can the audience tell us about past or present works of scholarship, theater, music, politics or art?

Speakers also will explore the ways in which audience behavior is changing in the new media environment and the ethical and social ramifications associated with measuring audience behavior on new media platforms.

All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and are held in the Daniel Family Commons. The first lecture, delivered by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, professor of modern culture and media at Brown University, is Feb. 3.

Topics include Habits of Leaking, Politics of Forgivin;, Escape Strategies and the Art of Non-Pragmatic Thinking; Disinterested Interest: Toward A Theory of Political Publics; Empress Jingū’s Magical Conquest of Korea: A Legend of Multiple Uses; The Afterlives of Edgar G. Ulmer: Rediscovering a Filmmaker at the Margins; The Readers’ Eye and the Land of Godlessness: How Atheism Changed the Spiritual Life of Soviet Society; The Black Circuit: Race, Performance, and Spectatorship in Black Popular Theater; Shakespeare’s Audients; and Auto-Tune, The Earth, and the Politics of Frequency.

Several Wesleyan faculty will lead the discussions including Javier Castro-Ibaseta, Jonathan Best, Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, Rashida Shaw and Natasha Korda.

View the full schedule online here.

Kleinberg Speaks with Former Humanities Director White about History, Theory

In this video, Ethan Kleinberg, director of the Center for the Humanities, professor of letter, professor of history, talks with Hayden White, professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, about history, theory and the humanities. White is the former director of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan. Watch this video and many more on the Video @ Wesleyan website.

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#THISISWHY

Political Theorist Hannah Arendt Discussed at Recent Conference

On Sept. 26-28, Wesleyan hosted a conference titled “Exercising Judgment in Ethics, Politics, and the Law: Hannah Arendt’s 'Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,' 50 Years Later." The event honored the 50th anniversary of political theorist Hannah Arendt's publication, 'Eichmann in Jerusalem,' a work she completed while she was a fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Advanced Studies (now the Center for the Humanities).

On Sept. 26-28, Wesleyan hosted a conference titled “Exercising Judgment in Ethics, Politics, and the Law: Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,’ 50 Years Later.” The event honored the 50th anniversary of political theorist Hannah Arendt’s publication, ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ a work she completed while she was a fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Advanced Studies (now the Center for the Humanities).

Humanities Secures Endowment with Matching Funds from Mellon Foundation

Funding for the Center for the Humanities will support engagement with the undergraduate curriculum, scholarly research, work with scholars and organizations outside Wesleyan, and the connection of humanities research to public life.

Funding for the Center for the Humanities will support engagement with the undergraduate curriculum, scholarly research, work with scholars and organizations outside Wesleyan, and the connection of humanities research to public life.

Thanks to a matching grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and substantial gifts from generous supporters, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities has secured $6 million in endowment as it celebrates 54 years of scholarship.

The $2 million Mellon grant was announced in October 2011 (see story here); Wesleyan succeeded in raising the $4 million required for the match in two years, less than half the time required by Mellon when the grant challenge began in 2011. Fifteen Wesleyan alumni, parents and friends supplied leadership gifts to win the matching funds.

“At a time when one hears so much rhetoric about the humanities in retreat, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities is pressing forward,” said Ethan Kleinberg, director of the CFH. “The case for the importance and relevance of the humanities in the 21st century will not be made by pointing backwards to that which has been done, but instead by pointing to that which we are doing.”

The CFH funds, raised as part of Wesleyan’s $400 million “This is Why” campaign, will support engagement with the undergraduate curriculum, scholarly research, work with scholars and organizations outside Wesleyan, and the connection of humanities research to public life.

Since the establishment of its forerunner, the Center for Advanced Studies, in 1959, the Center for the Humanities has a distinguished record of promoting interdisciplinary scholarship. Collaborations with the College of Social Studies, the College of Letters, the Science in Society Program and the recently adopted Certificate in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory will continue that tradition. Yet Kleinberg said the center also will pursue work reflecting the changes and influence of the digital age.

“Support from the Mellon grant and the matching funds has certainly allowed us to build the best of our longstanding traditions … while also reinventing ourselves as a virtual and actual hub for experimentation in new media and the digital liberal arts,” he said.

The signature CFH event this year will take place Sept. 26-28, as the Center hosts a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. The influential and controversial work was completed by political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) while she was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies. The conference will reflect on the reverberating repercussions of Arendt’s work, which asks important and abiding questions about personal responsibility under dictatorship, the moral judgment of evil, and the historical conditions that shape our understanding of the Holocaust. Read more about the conference in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

For more information about the Center for the Humanities, visit its website.