Tag Archive for Center for the Humanities

Wesleyan Receives Challenge Grant for Humanities Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities with a $2 million challenge grant.

Wesleyan has received a $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help endow the Center for the Humanities. The grant requires Wesleyan to raise an additional $4 million in endowment funds over the next four years.

“This grant is a welcome acknowledgement of the Center’s leadership role in keeping humanities scholarship at the center of the most interesting trends in American intellectual life,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Scores of Humanities Centers across the country have adopted the Wesleyan model, and I am deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for affirming the importance of this work.”

The Center — since the establishment in 1958 of its forerunner, the Center for Advanced Studies — has a distinguished record of promoting interdisciplinary scholarship. Now, the Center will build on its tradition by refocusing its mission to support projects that not only advance scholarship but also connect research to pedagogy, and pedagogy to particular problems of culture and society. The Center will be an incubator for new courses as well as research, and it will be a resource for connecting humanities research to public life.

The Center will focus on collaborative projects that permit the sustained investigation of complex problems beyond the reach of a single scholar. For example, a project at the Center, “Fact and Artifact,”

CHUM Hosts (Your) Brain on Culture Workshop

Wesleyan faculty and students participated in the "(Your) Brain on Culture Workshop on Neuroscience and the Humanities" Sept. 23. The workshop provided an introduction to the principles and scientific status of contemporary cognitive neuroscience and an exploration of several theory models for neuro approaches to the humanities.

Matthew Kurtz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, speaks on "Neuroscience: First Principles and Mechanisms of Interaction with Culture" during the workshop. At Wesleyan, Kurtz developed programs designed to chromate change in brain function. "These cognitive exercises are carefully titrated for task difficulty to, presumably, engage underfunctioning neural systems for promotion of neural reorganization," he explained.

Duke’s Baucom Discusses Relationships Among War, Empire, Republicanism

Oct. 6, Duke University Professor of English Ian Baucom gave the first lecture in the English Department Lecture Series, titled "Reading a Letter: Republicanism, Empire, and the Archives of the Atlantic."

Baucom met with Wesleyan faculty and fellows on Oct. 7 to discuss his current book project, "The Disasters of War: On Inimical Life." Pictured at right is Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, who organized the event.

Humanities Hosts Conference on War Culture

The Center for Humanities hosted a day-long conference Oct. 8 in Russell House titled “Collateral Damage: Civilians and Civil Culture in War.” Pictured is guest lecturer Janet Halley, the Royal Professor of Law from Harvard University. Jill Morawski, professor of psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, organized the conference.

Wesleyan Offers 4 New Certificate Programs

This fall, students have the opportunity to work towards one of four certificates, in addition to their degree.

The new certificate programs include South Asian Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Writing; and Social, Cultural and Critical Theory.

“These are outstanding endeavors by the faculty to keep the curriculum fresh and innovative, and to help students study across the disciplines but with a road map for curricular coherence,” says Karen Anderson, associate provost.

South Asian Studies Certificate
Wesleyan already offers courses and resources for all students interested in studying the cultures of Bangladesh,

‘War’ Topic of Ongoing Humanities’ Lecture Series

Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English, spoke on “Rape Trauma, Combat Trauma, and the Making of PTSD: Feminist Fiction in the 1970s” Feb. 15 in the Russell House. Bachner's talk was part of the ongoing Center for the Humanities Spring Lecture Series on "War." (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English, spoke on “Rape Trauma, Combat Trauma, and the Making of PTSD: Feminist Fiction in the 1970s” Feb. 15 in the Russell House. Bachner's talk was part of the ongoing Center for the Humanities Spring Lecture Series on "War." (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

In the 1970s, veterans, activists and psychiatrists were hard at work getting the disorder that came to be called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) included in the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III. During the same period, feminists were building a successful anti-rape movement that crucially insisted that rape is a form of violence.

On Feb. 15, Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English, spoke on “Rape Trauma, Combat Trauma, and the Making of PTSD: Feminist Fiction in the 1970s” during the Center for the John E. Sawyer Spring Lecture Series on War.

The public is invited to all CHUM lectures. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

The public is invited to all CHUM lectures. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Bachner proposed that while both of these groups sought to bring suffering – of combat veterans and rape victims, respectively – into speech, many feminist novelists of this period instead turn to the figure of the soldier to figure rape as unspeakable. PTSD functions in these texts as a technology for figuring what was initially conceived of as suppressed speech about violence against women as a putatively “unspeakable” trauma.

Bachner, who is currently completing a book on violence in contemporary American fiction titled, The Prestige of Violence: American Fiction, 1962-2002, is among a dozen guests speaking in CHUM’s ongoing lecture series. Past topics this spring include robots and war, the war between international law and politics, U.S. foreign policy with Iraq and Afghanistan and war and the nation. Most recently, Trevor Paglen, artist and