Brown Bag Colloquium Series
The following talks are scheduled for the fall and winter semesters of the 2004-2005 school year. (Note: subject to change.) All Brown Bag talks will take place at 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Faculty and Administration Building, unless otherwise noted.
September 14 (3339 FAB)
George Galster, Dean of CULMA
“Sprawl and Pornography”
A Supreme Court Justice once remarked that, indeed, pornography was hard to define precisely, but “you knew it when you saw it.” Sprawl has been viewed in much the same manner: a vague but implicitly negative term that has been used as a noun, verb, or adjective. Unfortunately, such ambiguity is unsuitable for the scientific analysis of sprawl: its nature, causes and consequences. This talk will discuss results of a long-term research project in CULMA funded by the US Geological Survey. I will explain how sprawl can be conceptualized as a multifaceted phenomenon and present new information about how major US metropolitan areas rank on these various aspects of sprawl. Be prepared for some surprises!
September 21 (2339 FAB)
Brendt Ostendorf, Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich
“Conspiracy Nation: Conspiracy theories in American History and Culture”
The lecture identifies five “conspiracy fears” that run through American political and cultural history and that have provided fertile soil for conspiracy theories. The first such fear is a “fundamentalist” fear of losing the Christian character of the United States to secular, liberal, hedonist influences. This fear of falling away has been present in American culture ever since the Puritans, and is shared by fundamentalist Catholics, Mormons, and other conservative religious groups. Secondly, there is a “patriotic” fear of the dissolution of the exceptionalist character of the American nation as well as the United States’ status as a superpower. American exceptionalism has been a central part of American thought from colonial times through the American revolution to Manifest Destiny and beyond. A third fear is the “communitarian” fear of the atomization of civil society and of the loss of community. While there is a strong American tradition of celebrating individualism, there is an equally strong belief that community is crucial but also embattled. The fourth fear is a “local populist” one. Throughout American history, marginalized groups (and those in fear of marginalization) have feared elitist concentration of power either in the federal government, an economic elite, or – more recently – international organizations or, as in the case of the militias, Zionist Occupational Governments (ZOG). These fears were a major source of Anti-Federalism, Jacksonianism and the states’ rights movement; the rise in centralist power in post-WWII American has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories which often target central organizations such as the CIA or FBI. Finally, the fifth fear addressed is a “racist-biological” concern that America is endangered by the radically different. Practically every minority group in the United States has been subjected to nativism or racism; Robertson mirrors this fear in his concerns about satanic evil and his somewhat veiled anti-Semitism, or more currently anti-Islamism. In recent times, Ostendorf adds, the fear of the “Other” has made its way into conspiracy theories also in the form of alien abductions stories and theories about the origin of the AIDS virus. Conspiracy theories are the daily bread of Hollywood and TV, from the Manchurian Candidate in 1962 to the X-Files. Looking back to the first conspiracy theory in the young Republic directed against the Society of the Cincinnati the lecture ends with some thoughts on why the “American experiment” is so susceptible to conspiracy theories and why they have multiplied in the digital age.
September 23 (2339 FAB)
Herb Granger, Philosophy
“What Ails the Humanities?”
What I find of value among the programs at the Humanities Center at Wayne State is the Brown Bag Colloquium Series. This Series permits a point of vantage upon the intellectual practices of the wide variety of humanists at Wayne, not only upon the kinds of papers they may present, but upon the way in which they discuss their presentations with their audience. I am disappointed in much of what I have been able to observe. Many humanists at Wayne appear to be satisfied with remaining within the confines of their ‘study’ and the peculiar standards of assessment they claim for it. These humanists are skeptical of any unified field of assessment, in which the same fundamental critical standards may apply (with the appropriate changes) across all disciplines. This intellectual provincialism from what I may gather has something to do with the “theoretical” dispositions that emerge from what many today call “postmodernism”. For my presentation I shall initiate an analysis of this “postmodernism” and try to identify its nature and its outstanding weaknesses. My hope is to make a presentation of twenty minutes so that considerable time will remain for discussion. I look forward to a hearty exchange.
September 28 (2339 FAB)
Robert A. Sedler, Distinguished Professor of Law and Gibbs Chair in Civil Rights and Civil liberties.
Professor Sedler maintains that as a matter of policy and constitutional law, same-sex persons should have the same right to marry that the law provides for opposite-sex persons. The constitutional argument is presented in The Constitution Should Protect the Right to Same-Sex Marriage, Vol. 49 Wayne Law Review 975 (2004). The argument is based on Supreme Court decisions invalidating as arbitrary and irrational legal discriminations on the basis of sexual orientation, such as a Texas law prohibiting oral or anal sex by same sex-persons and a Colorado state constitutional provision prohibiting the inclusion of sexual orientation discrimination in state and local anti-discrimination laws. These cases hold that governmental discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation cannot be justified on the basis of societal prejudice or morality, and Professor Sedler argues that once these purported justifications are removed, there can be no valid or rational justification for denying same-sex persons the right to marry that the law provides for opposite-sex persons. Therefore, he maintains that state laws denying same-sex persons the right to marry violate the Fourteenth Amendments guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
From a policy standpoint, Professor Sedler maintains that the societal interests advanced by providing legal recognition to committed intimate relationships between opposite sex-persons are equally advanced by providing legal recognition to committed intimate relationships between same-sex marriage. This may be described as a pro-marriage argument for same-sex marriage. Professor Sedler will also respond to the PIB argument - if we allow same-sex marriage, we also have to allow polygamy, incest, and bestiality - by showing its irrelevance to the issue of entitlement to same-sex marriage. In this context, he will also discuss the question of whether the state has valid reasons for prohibiting polygamy, incest, or bestiality.
October 7 (3339 FAB)
Kathleen McNamee, Classics, Greek & Latin
The books we accumulate around ourselves (if any) are an index of our educational level, our preoccupations and pastimes, and our cultural sophistication or lack of it. Ancient authors like Cicero and Plutarch have plenty to say about the authors who influenced them most. But their reading lists, or those of other prominent intellectuals, give a poor indication of the tastes of the rest of the literate population. It would be useful if we could identify the contents of actual libraries from antiquity, to get a better understanding of the kind of person that the ancient educational curriculum turned out.
Primary evidence about the contents of ancient Greek and Latin libraries in fact survives in the form of papyrus book fragments from Egypt. There the arid conditions of the desert preserved the written materials in towns abandoned for two thousand years but rediscovered in the late nineteenth century. In the treasure hunt of the Victorian age, however, no one thought much about applying scientific method very rigorously in the process of excavation. As a result, although we have more than five thousand literary texts, not a single collection has hitherto been reliably identified as a personal library. Even Herculaneum, which Vesuvius brought to a much more violent end than the Graeco-Egyptian cities ever suffered, did better than this: the extensive personal library of a philosopher of middling fame, one Philodemus, survived. It gives an idea of the man’s own intellectual interests and of the state of Stoic philosophy in the early days of the Roman empire. Greek Egypt still awaits its Philodemus.
Even without him, however, I think it is possible and useful to identify the personal libraries of a few of his Graeco-Egyptian contemporaries. This paper uses the evidence of handwriting and the few remaining scraps of archaeological information to identify as many as half a dozen personal libraries among surviving Egyptian texts. These collections belonged, evidently, to an assortment of readers. They include scholars and people possibly engaged in public life but also a number of ordinary readers. In different ways, these ‘libraries’ raise interesting questions about the extent of literacy, the prevalence of book ownership, and the principles that informed the educational curriculum in antiquity.
October 12 (2339 FAB)
Ken Jackson, English
“Shakespeare's Richard III and our Pauline Moment”
Richard III is the only Shakespearean character to invoke Saint Paul (and he does so no less than five times). The anomaly has been noted as something of a side topic for sometime, of course, but this essay attempts to show that Shakespeare's understanding of Pauline subjectivity determines the play (*Richard III*) as a whole. This new look at the play is made possible in part by what I call our own "Pauline moment." While it has not been fully recognized in the circles of critical and cultural theory, Saint Paul has become a major figure for such thinkers as Agamben, Badiou, Derrida, Lyotard, and Zizek (among others).
October 14 (2339 FAB) *Please Note the time change- 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m
Robert Arking, Biology
“Extending Longevity: Implications”
In 1900, the mean life expectancy at birth in the US was ~48 years. Over the ensuing 100 yrs, this value increased to ~80 years. More and more people are now living to advanced (85+) ages. There are two outcomes of this change. First, one of the great triumphs of the 20th century is presented to us as a major problem justifying certain solutions such as rationing of health care (e.g., Daniel Callahan, Leon Kass, et al.). These critics see only increased despair, loneliness, and financial costs in any further reduction of premature mortality. Second, there exists the false perception that this represents the triumph of medicine over aging. In truth, this ~60% increase in mean life expectancy is the outcome of deploying various public- and individual-health measures which decreased the inherent risks of the environment so that people would not die prematurely but would rather have a high probability of living a normal lifespan. The biological aging process was not affected by these activities. However, over the past quarter-century, basic research has uncovered the mechanisms controlling the aging process. Aging arises because of an organism's need to both maintain itself and its need to reproduce within a fixed energy budget. The need to reproduce generally trumps the need to maintain oneself, and so we age due to a lack of repair. There is no aging program; we are not required to age. We therefore age not because we must but because there is no biological reason not to age. Which means, of course, that if science can supply the necessary reason(s), then we should be able to stop - or at least slow - aging. Present genetic, physiological, and pharmecutical interventions have shown that laboratory animals can be induced to double their health span (the equivalent in current human terms of ages ~20 to ~55 years) without affecting the length of the senescent span (ages ~55 - ~85). This effect probably extends to primates, including humans. Doubling the health span from its current ~35 year length to a ~70 year period will have profound effects, such as giving us longer, healthier, more productive, and more interesting lives. The popular critics have not foreseen this future, and their pessimism is not justified. This talk will focus on the nature of the biological mechanisms involved, the nature of the present and future interventions, and some thoughts as to how this will play out. There are many uncertainties, but I believe it likely that the ability to extend healthy longevity will radically transform our age-structured society whether we wish it or not.
October 19 (2339 FAB)
Kate Paesani & Catherine Barrette, Romance Languages & Literatures
“A Theoretical Model of Program Articulation: Implications for Curriculum Development”
Program articulation, the coherent planning and implementation of a program of study within and across instructional levels, is an issue of concern for departments across the university. In this presentation, we use the specific context of foreign language programs to present a three-dimensional model of articulation developed from survey data. The survey data were analyzed to investigate the relationship between the curriculum and 10 additional factors relevant to articulation. Results indicate that the curriculum is a decidedly central factor in achieving overall articulation, but is not the sole consideration. Other factors, such as faculty expertise, student characteristics, and institutional context, interact with the curriculum factor to contribute to articulation.
After an introduction to the topic of articulation and an overview of our empirically-based model, we focus on the role of the curriculum within the model and its importance in achieving a coherent program. Curricular decisions help establish and maintain well-articulated programs by ensuring the efficient and effective development of skills and content knowledge from one instructional level to the next. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of the model for curricular policies and practices within the foreign language context and its potential application to other disciplines.
October 21 (2339 FAB)
Marsha Richmond, Interdisciplinary Studies
“The Darwin 1909 Celebration at Cambridge: Re-evaluating Evolution in Light of Mendel, Mutation, and Meiosis”
In June 1909, more than two hundred scientists representing 167 different countries gathered in Cambridge to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Charles Darwin’s the birth and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species. The event was perhaps the most magnificent commemoration in the annals of science, and, with political tensions already mounting, also the last to display "all the pomp and dignity of learning" of prewar Europe. Within the cloisters of Cambridge University delegates gathered to honor the “hero” of evolution, and also to re-assess Darwinism at a critical juncture. With natural selection increasingly under attack, evolution theory was in disarray. Against this backdrop biologists weighed the impact of several new developments--the re-discovery in 1900 of Mendel’s laws of heredity, the mutation theory of Hugo de Vries, and the new hypothesis that linked the mechanics of sex cell division (named meiosis in 1905) to heredity. By 1915, the new Mendelian Chromosome Theory had resolved some of the apparent contradictions. The 1909 Darwin Celebration thus was a significant watershed in the history of modern biology, illustrative of a period of “cognitive dissonance” in biology. This paper will highlight some of the events and activities of the celebration with the aim of evaluating the status of evolution theory on the eve of the “new genetics.”
October 26 (2147 Old Main) *Please Note Change in Location
Nira Pullin & Mary Copenhagen, Theater and Dance
“Victorian Secrets-Underneath it all: Dress, Deportment, and Dance of the Late Victorian Age for the Stage”
The late Victorian/Edwardian time period, better known as Fin de Sicle in France and the Belle Epoch or Gilded Age here in the United States is a period of great interest to those of us in the theatre. Many of our most famous playwrights such as Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw wrote numerous plays set in this era and they have become a mainstay in the repertoire of most educational as well as professional theatre companies. Therefore this time period is of special interest to actors, directors, designers, choreographers and movement specialists. In order to depict the time period accurately on stage it is necessary to know some of the general etiquette and fashions of the period as well as popular dances and pastimes. Through the use of slides, costume pieces and actual dance exhibition this talk will cover many of the fashions, mores, manners and taboos as well as the deportment and dance of the period which we have discovered through our research. Come join us for a brief look at a gentler time. Tea and light snacks will be served.
November 2 (Hilberry B, Student Center, 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m) *Please Note Change in Location and Time
Kimberly Campbell & Donyale Griffin, Communication
“Un’Rappin’ Hip Hop: Language and Culture”
Hip-Hop is undoubtedly a popular phenomenon. From music and fashion, to literature and language, the impact of hip-hop has gone from being a microcosm of New York’s African-American and Afro-Caribbean cultural community to a pop cultural phenomenon that transcends race, class, and geographic location. Torn between consciousness-raising rhetoric and capitalistic gain, hip-hop is becoming one of the most controversial socio-cultural movements of the 21st Century. Inherent to this discussion are three key elements that this panel will address. First, we seek to narrow the discussion on defining hip-hop by exploring it as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Here, we will look at hip-hop’s roots in New York’s South Bronx and Queens boroughs, classical messages expressed through hip-hop music in response to US hegemony and marginalized politics, and the influence of hip-hop on identity formation in the Black community. Second, we seek to promote the systematic study of hip-hop culture by academics and review recent examples of this critical area scholarship. And third, we seek to explore manifestations of the hip-hop identity in rap lyrics that expound upon the nature of male-female relationships. Here we are interested in describing central characteristics of hip-hop relationships as frames for understanding relationship issues among urban youth. During the end of our presentation we will initiate lyrical analyses of popular hip-hop songs that focus on male-female romantic relationships and discuss the merits of lyrical analysis as a valid method for understanding tenets of hip-hop culture. A short group participation exercise will be incorporated into the presentation and at least ten minutes for questions and answers will be planned. We look forward to an engaging interaction and dialogue with the audience.
November 4 (2339 FAB)
Thomas Abowd, Anthropology
“The Spatial Construction of Identity and Difference in Contemporary Jerusalem”
This lecture will explore the spatial construction of identity and the politics of difference in contemporary Jerusalem. I trace some of the multiple ways in which space, identity, and alterity are experienced, produced, and contested by Palestinians and Israelis who reside and toil in this divided urban center. Throughout, I detail many of the complexities of a national-religious order that has beset, shaped, and defined relations between competing communities over the last several decades. How is the past produced in a city vigorously characterized by a set of myths and mythic representations? How have particular urban spaces and places come to take on national meanings in a city both Palestinians and Israelis consider as their capital? My work looks at the politics of Israeli-state segregationist schemes and seeks to examine how particular communities in the city are affected in diverse ways by what I argue is a distinctly colonial form of racism and administration.
November 9 (2339 FAB)
Elizabeth Dorn, History
“Temperance and the Modernization of Japan”
Following its opening and subjugation by unequal treaties with five Western powers in the mid-1800's, Japan underwent a phenomenal transformation as officials and citizens strove to modernize the country. Their efforts were shaped by the belief that the West represented the apex of civilization and thus that to modernize meant to Westernize. That conviction led to intense study of American and European institutions, ideas, and customs and the subsequent adoption of many of the same. Two practices that took root were consumption of beer and wine and abstinence from all alcoholic beverages. In this paper, I will discuss both in light of Japan’s drive to gain a position of equality with the West. I will pay particular attention to temperance and will examine arguments its advocates gave and activities they undertook to make Japan a sober yet modern nation.
November 11 (4339 FAB)
James Tucker, Chair, Biological Sciences
“Understanding the Human Genome: What Should I Know and Why Should I Care?”
The complete DNA sequence of the human genome has now been established. What does this mean to you and to me? The amount of information encoded in our genes is vast and highly complex, yet the actual number of genes is much less than anticipated. Scientists will be working hard for many years to understand what the DNA sequence means, how the genome functions and how to apply this knowledge to improve human health. Even though the average person may never understand the human genome in all its complexity, knowledge about our genome has already begun to affect our lives. It is reasonable to expect that physicians will be incorporating genomics into their medical practice on a routine basis. The mystery concerning differences among people in susceptibility to medications is already yielding to the power of diagnostic tests which are designed to predict individual responses to those drugs and to improve therapies. However, the sensitivity and specificity of these tests also open the possibility of misuse. Ethical concerns exist about access to personal genetic information, including how that access should be controlled and by whom. Beyond the DNA sequence of the human genome lies the proteome, the complete set of proteins encoded by the genes. Scientists once thought that each gene made a single type of protein. We now know that several mechanisms exist whereby one gene may make many related proteins. This diversity may explain in part the paucity of genes while simultaneously providing cells with exquisite control over their metabolic processes. The nascent field of proteomics offers additional intriguing possibilities for medical interventions. Deciphering the genome has opened many doors. It is now up to us to explore and use these scientific riches in a responsible and ethical manner.
November 16 (2339 FAB)
Mame Jackson, Art & Art History
“Handing it on: The Legacy of African American Art in Southeast Michigan”
A rich legacy of cultural achievements of Detroit’s African American citizens is manifest in the poetry, music, and visual arts that have helped to shape the culture of the city and earn for Detroit its national and international reputation as a crucible for culture as well as industry. Black Detroiters achieving prominence in music and literature are legendary – Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, other Motown artists, great jazz musicians as well as poets and writers such as Robert Hayden, Dudley Randall, and Wayne State’s Bill Harris and Melba Boyd. Equally important are Detroit’s African American visual artists who, since the era of slavery, have lived and worked in Detroit and contributed richly to the culture and the artistic life of the city. This presentation is designed to accompany and contextualize an exhibition, Reverberations –Contemporary Art by African American Artists in Southeastern Michigan, at Siena Heights University, November 9- December 10, 2004. The focus will be on the work of seven artists whose recent paintings, sculptures, prints, and digital animation comprise this lively exhibition: Robert Martin (Professor of Art, WSU); Lester Johnson and Gilda Snowden (College for Creative Studies faculty); Al Hinton and Marianetta Porter (University of Michigan faculty); and independent Detroit artists, Charles McGee and Tyree Guyton. The work of these artists will be examined in historic and cultural context, with an emphasis on the heritage and connections that support their work and sustain a vibrant arts community in Southeastern Michigan.
November 18 (2339 FAB)
Rayneld Johnson, Fashion Design and Merchandising
“Corsets and Culture”
Throughout the ages dress and adornment concealed and embellished the human body but also revealed the soul of culture. Items of apparel and practices of adornment are partly a result of the interrelationship of social factors such technology, polity, moral patterns, economy, class structure, rituals, religion, symbolism plus others. Social factors can be used to explain the appearance of different cultures, time periods, trends and various styles. One garment style, the corset has been worn for the last four hundred years. This discussion will explore the influence of social factors on styles and in particular, the corset. The various past and present social meanings of this controversial, alluring, restrictive and artistic garment in western dress will be discussed. Additionally, historic garments will be presented from the Dorothea June Grossbart Historic Costume Collection that will visibly show corseting in garment construction that created the corseted silhouette.
November 23 (2339 FAB)
Tony Crowley, Chair, Art & Art History
“Finding Visual Form in John Milton’s L’Allegro and Il Penseroso”
Every artist has a point of departure when he or she begins a new work. It may be a desire to meticulously reproduce the landscape or an impulse to capture the power of an emotion in a gesture. In this slide lecture, I will describe the process I used to find shape, pattern, and rhythm in John Milton’s companion poems and then translate my discoveries into visual form. I will discuss several examples of the art works I created during more than a year’s work on this project.
November 30 (2339 FAB)
Anca Vlasopolos, English
“Crossing the Equator and Other Maritime Rituals: Gender Bending on the High Seas”
This lecture will present the results of my research into 19th-century whaling culture. Of necessity and, later, by choice a homosocial group, whalers often engaged in “female” endeavors such as sewing, mending, laundering, and spinning yarn needed for the lines that were constantly frayed with wear. What is less known is that the sailors developed entertainments as well as followed rituals that destabilized gender and were distinctly homoerotic. I will be presenting two major instances: the events surrounding ships “speaking” one another on the high seas; and the initiation rites celebrated upon the ship’s crossing the equator. One seemed to be more spontaneous and contingent on the nationality and nature of the ships encountering one another. The other followed a tradition dating at least as far back as the 18th-century. Adopted from the British Navy, it continues to the present day.
December 2 (2339 FAB)
Sandra Van Burkleo, History
“Gender, State Paternalism and the Invention of Modern Citizenship in the Pacific Northwest 1879-1912”
Professor VanBurkleo will talk informally about her work in frontier Washington as it moved from the status territory toward statehood, with particular emphasis upon the 'invention' in the Pacific northwest of the notion of a manly republican citizen -- a notion, she argues, that came to inform conversations elsewhere about the merits of woman suffrage, female jury service and office holding, and the alleged 'failure' of western experiments in political and economic equality. There will be no paper in advance of or during the session. So come prepared for an extended discussion regarding civic participation in modern American and the role of the frontier west in forging our conceptions of such participation.
December 7 (3339 FAB)
Stephen Spurr, Economics
“The Practice Boundaries of Nurse Anesthetists:An Economic and Legal Analysis”
This talk examines the features of a labor market in which there are two professional groups that both cooperate and directly compete with each other: certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and anesthesiologists (MDAs). We examine how the relative numbers of these two types of anesthesia providers, and differences in State regulation, affect the earnings of CRNAs, and the extent of supervision of CRNAs by MDAs.
December 9 (2339 FAB)
William Lynch, Interdisciplinary Studies
“How the West was Won...Starting in Ireland”
Frederick Jackson Turner famously identified the frontier as the defining feature of American history. But where did westward expansion begin? And what were its characteristic features? In an attempt to answer these questions, I examine the massive transfer of Irish land following the Cromwellian suppression of the 1641 Irish rebellion. The English Parliament, in the midst of its conflict with Charles I, had financed troops for reconquest by offering Irish land to private investors and later confiscations were called for to satisfy army arrears. The Down Survey of land confiscated from those judged disloyal (with maps laid "down," 1654-59), was directed by William Petty, physician general to the army and later Royal Society fellow, and carried out with the help of a pool of Commonwealth Army soldiers. The Down Survey set important precedents for future land surveys in America. Both the Down Survey and the U.S. Northwest Survey employed remarkably similar techniques of surveying and mapping, as well as similar organizational forms. Both took place in the context of ongoing colonial settlement, displacing the native population following a century of demographic expansion of the colonizing society. Both involved cash-strapped governments emerging from civil war who transferred land to soldiers, settlers, and investors to pay off governmental debts and manage internal tensions. Likewise, the effective control of expanding territory and population was facilitated by settling land upon those familiar with English custom and property law, who would (usually) share the “habit of subordination” (Adam Smith) to the central government even as they settled the frontier. Finally, both processes led to a recognition of the need to understand how governmental policies can help or hinder economic improvement in a context where land was plentiful and labor scarce.
December 16 (4339 FAB)
John Corvino, Philosophy
“Preference and Discrimination"
People "discriminate" for a variety of reasons: some rational, some not; some admirable, some deplorable. Recently I have become interested in the issue of discrimination on the basis of "bare" or "basic" preferences--that is, preferences that are not instrumental to satisfying some other preference. In this talk I intend to explore, in a rather informal way, what the moral limits on such preferences might be, and why.
January 11 (2339 FAB)
Richard Grusin, Chair, English
“DVDs, Video Games, and the Digital Cinema of Interactions”
Borrowing from the idea that electronic textuality marks what has been called the late age of print, I argue that digital cinema marks our cultural moment as the late age of cinema (or perhaps phrased differently, the late age of celluloid film). In describing the current cinematic moment in this fashion, I do not mean to suggest that film will disappear, but that it will continue increasingly to be engaged with the social, technological, and aesthetic forms and practices of digital media. This engagement will not be marked (as many digital enthusiasts contend) by the emergence of a distinctively new digital medium (and the concomitant abandonment of the technologically outmoded medium of celluloid film), but rather by the emergence of multiply networked, distributed forms of cinematic production and exhibition. Indeed I am convinced that in this sense we already find ourselves with a digital cinema--not as a distinctively new medium but as a hybrid network of media forms and practices, what the title of my paper, alluding to Tom Gunning's paradigmatic conception of a "cinema of attractions", characterizes as a "cinema of interactions". In this brown bag I will focus on the idea of digital cinema at the present historical moment, to look at the questions of convergence and hybridity in our contemporary cinema of interactions.
Industry and media discussions of digital cinema have tended to focus on the digital production and screening of conventional films like Attack of the Clones, while academic discussions of interactive cinema often indulge in the desire for a radically new cinema along the lines of hypertext fiction and other new media art. I want to depart from both of these portrayals of digital cinema, to suggest that by looking at the relation between cinema and new media, we can see that we already find ourselves with a digital cinema of interactions. My argument has both a social and an aesthetic dimension. I will first look at the social and economic distribution of cinema across a number of different digital media, including DVDs, video games, and the Web. I will then suggest briefly how this cinema of interactions has manifested itself aesthetically and formally in a couple of recent and forthcoming film projects.
January 18 (2339 FAB)
J. Vander Weg, Associate Dean, CFPCA
“Publishing Your Research: An Editor’s Perspective"
- Acquisitions Editor
- Production Editor
- Managing Editor
- Manuscript Editor
- Copy Editor
Who are all these people, and why should I care? Join an experienced editor for an informal presentation on academic journal and book publishing. Intended for graduate students and untenured faculty early in their careers, the presentation will focus on moving from ideas to manuscripts to published work. Among the topics to be discussed will be the effective marketing of research for publication, what journals and publishers expect of authors, and what authors should expect of publishers.
John Vander Weg currently serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. He has been the editor of In Theory Only, an associate editor for the University of Michigan Press, production editor for the Institute for Music Research Press (San Antonio, TX), manuscript editor for Public Opinion Quarterly, and a designer and editor for UMI Research Press and AR Editions (Madison, WI). Dr. Vander Weg previously served on the faculty at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, DePauw University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
January 20 (2339 FAB)
Laura L. Winn, Communication
“Rise of the Moorlocks: Voices of Working Class Academics and their Import for Diverse Pedagogy”
This paper explores themes within the family stories of academics from working class backgrounds, as presented in a series of edited volumes dedicated to this topic. In negotiating a new identity for themselves as academy members, working class academics must balance higher education’s denial of their working class roots with their own desires to succeed in their chosen profession--often resulting in a disconnection from their families of origin and a challenge to their working class identity. This dynamic has the impact to greatly affect the process of higher education in that working class teacher may bring different insights and strengths into the classroom, and also may face different challenges than their non-working class peers. Because “class” within the U.S. is often a less salient identity than are other cultural identities, students from the working class may not naturally connect their own differntial classroom experiences with this identity. Thus, the reflections of working class academics may also pose a valuable opportunity for all teachers to gain a better understanding of the challenges and strengths involved with being a working class origin student.
January 25 (2339 FAB)
Allen Goodman, Economics
“Can Medical Treatments that Shorten One’s Life be Efficacious?”
For medical treatments that address life-threatening diseases, the medical community typically defines efficacy in terms of extending the lives of those treated. Therefore, treatments that do not extend the lives of those treated are often deemed to be ineffective. Economic analysis suggests, however, that improved quality of life while alive may justify treatment, even when length of life is not extended. Following this logic, it may follow that treatments that shorten one’s life can be justified if the improvement in quality of life, while alive, is sufficiently large. In this talk, I discuss the economic analysis and its implications.
January 27 (2339 FAB)
Robert Elsie, Anthropology: Olzheim, Germany
“Modern Albanian Literature and its Reception in the English Speaking World”
The lecture endeavors to introduce contemporary Albanian literature. It focuses on the prose and poetry of Albanian writers, some internationally known like Ismail Kadare and many authors currently being discovered. It also provides insight into the difficulties faced by a small literature in gaining the attention of the Western reader.
Dr. Robert Elsie is a leading specialist in Albanian affairs, in particular on Albanian literature. He is the author of over twenty-five books on Albania and its culture, including a History of Albanian Literature (Boulder 1995) and literary translations from Albanian, and of many articles and research papers. On Robert Elsie, see www.elsie.de and www.albanianliterature.com
February 1 (2339 FAB)
Rodney Clark, Psychology
“Racism and the Health Divide: Effects across the Life Span”
Perceptions of inter-ethnic group and inter-ethnic group racism are disproportionately higher among Blacks in the United States. As an added stressor for many Blacks, perceptions of racism may influence psychological, social, and physiological functioning in this group, and help account for between-ethnic group and within-ethnic group disparities in health. Although the mechanistic pathways by which racism influences health have yet to be determined, conceptual models have recently been forwarded to facilitate systematic investigations of the relationship between perceived racism and health processes in Blacks. Dr. Clark’s presentation will 1) examine the major tenets and components of these models, and 2) review studies examining the empirical unity of these models.
February 3 (2339 FAB)
Donald Schurlknight, Chair, Romance Languages & Literatures
“Power and Politics: Larra and the Death Penalty in Romantic Spain”
With the death of Ferdinand VII in the fall of 1833, the Queen Regent María Cristina found herself embroiled in a civil war begun by ultra-conservative forces determined to have Carlos, the king’s brother and pretender to the throne, inherit the crown, instead of the king’s infant daughter Isabel. To counter the Carlists, the Queen Regent was impelled to seek help from moderates and liberals, who, in return, demanded an end to the absolutist state and reforms that would usher in a parliamentary form of government. The civil war itself, in conjunction with a new government headed by a new prime minister who many hoped would produce a democratic form of government, created a scenario of competing voices, competing authorities. Metaphorically, a door had been opened, a new terrain had appeared in which the orthodox still dominated but in which other liberal and subversive voices began to be heard.
Despite Spain’s slow movement away from despotism, remarkably arbitrary power remained in the hands of the few, and these same few nourished the appearances of an emerging parliamentary state. In this climate of progress but also deceit, reforms but also false appearances Mariano José de Larra, a young writer profoundly interested in politics and in the changes sweeping over Spain, and who was already making a name for himself in the literary world, begins to achieve a significant political voice. His is the power of the written word, and one of his major objectives is to uncloak both the mechanisms of power and those responsible for creating these illusions of progress toward freedom.
In this presentation I explore how Larra exposes the power relations that exist between the classes that form society. His essay “Un reo de muerte” is seen as his own subversive discourse opposing the official discourses of truth. In his efforts to unmask these official discourses and to make his readers understand his own “truth,” the writer, fearing censorship, employs a discourse that suggests much more than it seems to state at first glance. Hired primarily as a theater critic, Larra describes a public execution as if it were theater, i.e., as a world of fictionality. He draws attention to the fact that “performance” is what is occurring on the real stage of life: there are created illusions, fictions, masks, disguises. We see too that his discourse masquerades as an “artículo de costumbres” [article on customs] in order to make heard a dissonant political voice that indicts the ruling establishment.
February 8 (2339 FAB)
Osaumaka Likaka, History
“Talking Under One’s Breath: Praise Nicknames as Voices of Protest”
The literature on peasant societies of Africa and Southeast Asia indicates that under conditions of unequal power relations and exploitation the simultaneous use of praise of and insults to authorities, seemingly a contradictory political behavior was a form of resistance motivated by a need for safety. From the outset of colonial encounters, Africans gave derogatory nicknames to despised colonial government officials. They also gave praise nicknames to express appreciation to colonial officials who were less brutal in collecting taxes, recruiting labor, and checking cash crops production. However, some of these nicknames apparently suggesting genuine praise articulated as much protest as those overtly insulting colonial officials. The oppressed used praise to keep “A smile on the lips and war in the heart.”
February 10 (2339 FAB)
Juanita Anderson, Media Arts and Studies
“Race, Culture and the American City”
During the past quarter-century, many American cities began to undergo the process of re-invention in the wake of such trends as suburbanization, the transformation of previous minorities into majority populations, new waves of immigration, and, concomitantly, the decline of the manufacturing and industrial complexes which were once a central raison-d’etre of both their economic strength and identity. Detroit in many ways epitomizes these efforts as much as it has come to epitomize America’s urban crisis in the wake of a post –industrial society.
Race, Culture and the American City is the title of a new television documentary series that I am currently developing. This series will examine the constructs of race and the dynamics of culture in the physical, economic and political evolution of Detroit during the 20th Century. The project takes a holistic view at the complex and interwoven factors and relationships that impact upon the rise, fall, and efforts at renewal of a city whose 20th Century history, until now, has largely been viewed in economic and political terms, and in stark terms of black and white.
In contrast to several emergent studies that focus primarily on the role of race in the politics and economics of the city, this project views the city as an organic entity—comprised of people, neighborhoods, industry, schools, churches, cultural institutions, retailers, services, and centers of recreation and leisure—that changes over time. The project places the African American experience in the broader context of the city’s evolution, and in concert with the stories of the city’s other long-standing ethnic communities, including Italian, Polish, Jewish, Armenian, Asian American, Mexican American and Middle Eastern communities whose histories in Detroit span much, if not all, of the 20th Century. The series will focus attention on the people of this city, their ways of life, aspirations, attitudes, identities and socialization as it examines the constructs of power and privilege that contributed to both the rise and fall of this industrial capital.
For this presentation, I will discuss my preliminary approach to the humanities themes that will underlie the series, as well as my approach to personal narrative and cultural artifacts in documentary filmmaking. I look forward to the input of this colloquium’s participants in helping to refine the themes and in contributing insights that may help guide by research.
February 15 (2339 FAB)
Ron Brown, Political Science
“Seek and Ye Shall Find: Thomas Gray, Nat Turner, St. Augustine and Rebellion”
On November 5, 1831, six acting Justices of the Peace in Southampton County, Virginia, sentenced Nat Turner to death for leading a slave insurrection, which resulted in the estimated death of fifty-six white Virginians. Turner and his co-conspirators violated Chapter 42 of the Code of Virginia, enacted on January 15, 1801, which stated that it was a criminal offense for blacks to plot, conspire, or make insurrection. The fear of black uprisings led the Virginian General Assembly to allocate appropriations annually for the deportation or execution of black Americans. Why would Nat Turner and his co-conspirators select insurgency knowing that their odds of success were extremely low?
This essay, relying primarily on Amartya Sen’s theoretical discussion of “maximization and the act of choice” and Thomas Gray’s, pamphlet, The Confessions of Nat Turner, 1831 maintains that the felt need for personal and collective autonomy, as well as the belief that God was guiding his choices significantly influenced Nat Turner’s selection of political violence. The essay attempts to increase our understanding of the relationship between a quest for human freedom and autonomy and menu selection in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831 by discussing the following issues. First, a brief accounting of the limits placed on black political participation in 1831 will demonstrate that political violence was one of the few available menus for blacks willing to risk their lives for freedom. Second, the essay will show specific passages from St. Augustine’s Confessions and The City of God that help frame Thomas Gray’s portrayal of Nat Turner. This evidence will support the contention that Thomas Gray frames Nat Turner as a normal, deliberate, religious person, with a corruptible scheme who misinterprets God’s holy word. Thirdly, the essay attempts to demonstrate that Nat Turner’s selection of political terror from the political violence menu is deliberate; socialization within the black enslavement community, listening to an inner voice over a three-year period, and a strong believe that his sense of individual autonomy is interwoven with the collective autonomy of the racial group structures the decision to rebel The fourth and last section of the paper attempts to show that political marginalization may lead to the selection of a political violence menu when rebels are willing to risk their lives. Hence, political violence, when selected from a full or restricted menu is often a cry for individual and collective autonomy or recognition of one’s humanity.
February 17 (2339 FAB)
Vanessa Middleton, Library & I.S. *****THIS LECTURE HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS******
“International Librarianship: Building an International Online Learning Community”
Advanced technologies have enhanced individuals’ ability to communicate, interact, exchange ideas and participate within society. However, many disenfranchised individuals have not been empowered by these advances. This lecture will review varying levels of access to information and technology, often referred to as the digital divide; including findings from a recent study examining the impact of technology on the urban poor. There will be a demonstration and discussion of a recent grant funded project that supports the development of an online international learning community of librarians and faculty with research interests related to how Africa, the Caribbean, and other countries are addressing issues related to the digital divide and the role of libraries.
Bio: Vanessa Middleton is a Librarian at Wayne State University. Her research interests include information literacy, comparative and international librarianship, equity of information access and technology. She earned her Master’s of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University and Bachelor’s of Business Administration from The University of Michigan. She recently attended The Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries Conference in Trinidad and Tobago.
February 22 (2339 FAB)
Leon Wilson, Chair, Sociology
“Fatherhood in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities”
Debates about the status of Caribbean males in familial affair abound in the extant literature. More often than not, males at worst are considered absent and at best marginal. Yet such characterizations are constructed without understanding the cultural or structural contexts of familial relationships. Additionally, such claims are seldom buttressed by adequate empirical data. This study offers a critique of the concept of matrifocality, a term developed to describe the nature of Caribbean paternal and conjugal relational structures. It provides an empirical challenge to the idea of the marginal male and provides a framework for understanding the roles males adopt in Caribbean families. Empirical results suggest that given specific contexts, the Caribbean male is not as marginal as thought and thus the need to further investigate the nature of cultural arrangements that determine relational structures in the Caribbean.
February 24 (2339 FAB)
Norah Duncan IV, Music
“A Comparative Discussion of African and African American Spirituality”
As a scholar of African-American spiritual music, Norah Duncan IV often is called upon to compare the music of various Christian churches in America with the sacred music of African-Americans. In September 2004, Duncan spent time in Eastern and Northern Nigeria, in the Igbo and Hause regions, studying the religious music of these African peoples as well as teaching various Nigerian choirs the music of African-Americans. His Brown Bag lecture will be a discussion of his experiences in Nigeria and a comparison of the spiritual music of Nigeria with the music of African-Americans, paying particular attention to the similarities between the two.
March 1 (2339 FAB)
Karl Braunschweig, Music
“Master Metaphors of Musical form: Language, Architecture, Organicism, Drama”
The concept of musical form is a paradox: music itself has no physical substance yet has been described as having structure since the time of Beethoven; it has a limited capacity for representation yet has been described as a language for the past four centuries; and it has been analyzed as a fixed object yet personified with traits of an organic life force or subject as inspired by literary romanticism. An adequate theory of musical form must therefore be able to address these fascinating paradoxes without reducing them to simple formulae, as has been all too common. This is particularly important because music analysis and criticism typically reads aesthetic truths in musical "works"—truths that originate in several powerful metaphors. In this lecture, I make the argument that a complete theory of musical form must recognize the presence of a complete economy of "master metaphors" as the foundation of musical coherence—the coexistence and interaction of several underlying models. These "master" metaphors inform the analysis of music from the level of the motive and phrase to that of the complete work. In the analytic/critical writings of such important musicians as Reicha, Marx, Schumann, Riemann, Schenker, Schoenberg, Tovey, Cone, Dahlhaus, and Rosen there have been primarily four of these master metaphors: language, architecture, organicism, and drama. Tracing the historical sources and cultural values of these master metaphors, and exploring their unique interactions and resulting analytic insights, this lecture reveals how existing approaches to musical form elucidate hidden meanings, insightful paradoxes, and theoretical blind-spots. Deciphering and decoding our interpretive structures and categories in the theory of form broadens our interpretations of musical meaning in the realm of abstract instrumental forms and allows us to rediscover what cultural concepts and aesthetic values we have placed in these works.
A special presentation by The Humanities Center and CULMA Research:
March 2, 12:00pm (3339 FAB)
Francis Shor, Interdisciplinary Studies
“The Question of Whiteness Among White Supporters of SNCC”
Emerging out of the wave of black-led student sit-ins, in early 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) became one of the key organizations in the black freedom struggle of the sixties. SNCC also attracted the attention of white students and adult supporters of efforts to de-segregate American society. This talk will examine the levels of white support for SNCC and determine the ways in which questions of “whiteness” were articulated and enacted from the Founding of the organization in April, 1960 through 1966 when SNCC turned towards “black power”.
March 3 (2339 FAB)
Marvin Zalman, Criminal Justice
“The Literature and Film of Wrongful Convictions”
At the present time the subject of wrongful conviction is the subject of active scholarship in criminal justice, law and a variety of disciplines. Well over 500 miscarriages of justice have been documented since 1989 in the United States and informed speculation estimates that several thousand may occur each year. Wrongful conviction, as an area of inquiry, is sprawling and multi-disciplinary, encompassing psychology (eyewitness identification, lineups, child witnesses, interrogation, false confessions, recovered memory, the effects of suffering a wrongful conviction), the natural sciences and technology (DNA, forensic testing, laboratory standards), criminal justice (police investigation practices, prosecutorial misconduct, tunnel vision, use of informants and the like), sociology (the satanic ritual/sex crime hysteria of the 1980s-1990s), public policy (innocence commissions and reform legislation), law (trial practices, prosecutorial withholding of exculpatory evidence), and comparative law (relative ability of common-law and inquisitorial trial systems to assess truth).
Wrongful convictions have also been the subject of more popular literature, including journalism, popular books and films. At least two famous mystery writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Erle Stanley Gardner, applied their talents to exonerate wrongly convicted persons. More recently, wrongful conviction has been the focus of celebrated documentaries (Thin Blue Line; Capturing the Friedmans) as well as a number of more straightforward documentaries, and a number of books that fall more or less into the “true crime” genre.
My talk will focus on the latter form of literature. I will briefly describe and compare some of these books, and discuss the value of this sub-genre for the scholar who is interested in the issue of wrongful conviction.
March 8 (2339 FAB)
Aaron Retish, History
“Contesting Hegemony: Peasant and State Relations During Russia’s Civil War, 1918-21”
This paper will examine the dialogue between the state and its population through a case study of an early Soviet judicial experiment, the Revolutionary Tribunal. During Russia's Civil War the Soviet state attempted to press the peasant population for conscripts and resources while building a hegemonic authority in the countryside. The Revolutionary Tribunal was a crucial nexus between state control over social and political norms, and peasant resistance and accommodation to the new elite. Representatives of the government strove to exhibit their power over the population by defining proper conduct. However, the peasantry could use the courts to achieve, sometimes, their own victories over the dominant elite. An examination of cases from the Viatka province Revolutionary Tribunal reveals the relationship between peasant political criminals and the state, and how the provincial Bolshevik government understood and categorized peasant actions. The peasantry's challenges to the legal and social order reveal the diverging views on social norms and justice between state and peasant. At the same time, Revolutionary Tribunal cases also show one of the few methods of direct communication between state and society. The peasants used the Soviet state apparatus to contest the hegemonic control of their rulers.
March 22 (2339 FAB)
Mary Garrett, Communication
“Confessions of an Orientalist”
Deep structures of knowledge and power condition scholars to see and not to see. What leads a scholar to self-reflect on these structures and processes and to embark on a journey of unlearning? These questions are especially significant when they involve pernicious doctrines such as racism or sexism. In my own case, my training in Chinese studies led me to Orientalism, that is, the complex of negative projections described by Edward Said. Using myself as a case study, I will analyze how I came to Orientalism and how I am trying to move beyond it.
March 24 (2339 FAB)
Mary Cay Sengstock, Sociology
“Multi-Culturalism: Who Counts and Who Doesn't?”
The United States is often described as a "multi-cultural" society. Yet there is ample evidence that only certain kinds of multi-culturalism are acceptable. If you are in the "wrong" group or have the "wrong" culture, you may not be acceptable. Furthermore, multi-culturalism tends to focus on the presence of a wide variety of different groups in society. However, individuals are expected to ally themselves with one or another of these several groups. Individuals who cross group lines are often ostracized by both groups. This lecture will report on a study of 30 individuals with multi-cultural origins. Typically, their parents were of different racial, religious, or nationality groups. In the interviews, they discussed their experiences growing up in a multi-cultural world -- which often was not very accepting of their multi-cultural origins.
March 29 (2339 FAB)
Lisabeth Hock, German & Slavic Studies
“The Gendering of Melancholy in Nineteenth-Century German Psychiatry”
The term "melancholy" has straddled the mind-body divide throughout the course of its two-and-a-half millennia history. While the Hippocratic writings of the fifth and fourth centuries BC were the first to describe melancholia as a distinct disease caused by an excess of black bile, we find in Aristotle's Problemata the origins of the association between artistic production and the melancholic temperament. Present-day clinical research pursues the causes of melancholia's descendent, clinical depression, in a combination of genes, hormones, and brain chemistry, while books that explore the spiritual meaning of depression and movies about the sorrows of young (and not-so-young) artists continue to appeal to wide audiences.
Feminist scholars Juliana Schiesari and Jennifer Radden contend that the split between melancholic inspiration and melancholic illness reveals a gender gap: whereas the melancholic temperament is often associated with male artists, the melancholic body is often female. My paper will test their hypothesis against the depiction of melancholia in psychiatric textbooks of the nineteenth-century. Although much recent scholarship has focused on neuraesthenia and hysteria as gendered illnesses, German doctors, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts as Johann Christain Heinroth, Ernst von Feuchtersleben, Wilhelm Griesinger, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Emil Kraepelin, and Sigmund Freud maintained a strong interest in melancholia as a separate condition throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. This paper will explore the extent to which and the manner in which they distinguished between melancholia in men and women, as well as the causes and cures that they propose for female melancholia. I will then discuss how this understanding of psychiatric texts might contribute to readings of the manner in which nineteenth-century German women writers represented melancholia in their texts.
April 5 (2339 FAB)
Chris Rhomberg, Associate Professor of Sociology: Yale University
“Action Motown: The Detroit Newspaper Strike, 1995-2000”
Along with union density, the incidence of strike activity in the United States has fallen dramatically in recent decades. Yet, unlike nations with more corporatist or tripartite institutions, in the U.S. the right to strike is a cornerstone of the legal system of voluntary collective bargaining under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA.) What has happened to the strike? How have structural and institutional changes affected workers’ right to strike, and what are the implications for the future of American labor relations? I propose to address these questions through the analysis of a strategic case: the 1995-2000 Detroit Newspapers strike, one of the largest and longest strike mobilizations of the 1990s. This paper will outline the significance of the case, and present initial findings from archival research and dozens of original interviews with participants in the events, including strikers, union leaders, management, non-strikers, government officials, and local community leaders.
April 12 (2339 FAB)
David Moxley, Social Work & Olivia Washington, Nursing
“How the Humanities Can Help Us Understand Homelessness Among Older Minority Women”
While quantitative and highly structured approaches to understanding homelessness among older minority women are quite useful in representing this social issue, its causes, dynamics, and consequences, there are other deeper approaches to gaining insight into how women come to see their experience as homeless individuals. In this seminar, the presenters will examine some of these approaches, ones they have tested out through the Telling My Story Project in which both the investigators and percipients come to construct the meaning and texture of the process of becoming, staying, and emerging out of homelessness. Humanistic approaches help characterize the experience of homelessness in its many textures: the pain of trauma inherent in becoming and remaining homeless, the excitement and anticipation of emerging out of it, and the anxiety inherent in staying out of homelessness.
The experience of homelessness is situated in a very complex social location, which justifies multiple approaches to representation. The Telling My Story Project experiments with developing and using these multiple representations in partnership with formerly homeless older minority women who act as guides to the investigators, and as mentors helping them construct richer insights into the tragedy of homelessness and the triumph of emerging out of it. While homelessness is arduous for anyone, it is particularly difficult for older minority women, for a variety of reasons. But the representations the women produce indicate that they are not victims but authors of their own experience in which strengths, resilience, being and becoming interact to make them active, purposeful, and deliberate in their efforts to emerge out of homelessness and leave it behind. The methods themselves help the investigators structure a model of inquiry into vulnerability they call humanistic action research (HAR).
The investigators refer to the participants in HAR as percipients since it is through active involvement in their own perceptions and the sharing of these that the investigators and percipients come to a more grounded and collaborative view of homelessness and its personal, social, emotional, and cognitive realities. The understanding process can include representations derived from active self-structuring performances such as art work, oral histories, scrapbooks, photography, poetry, and essays. The understanding process yields catharsis as the women revisit old wounds and losses as well as traumatic experiences. Women emerge from catharsis willing to frame and reframe what works and useful actions that facilitate recovery from the trauma of homelessness. Framing and reframing can yield action. Supporting HAR are basic assumptions of the percipient: She is in search of self-efficacy, wholeness, and new directions and these stimulate hopes and dreams for a different life. In addition a sense of responsibility for others emerges: the idea that by “telling my story” the percipient can help others as guide and mentor. Thus HAR has led to the building of intentional community.
In this brown bag presentation, the investigators seek to share the “lived experience” of homelessness among older African American women by amplifying various themes they (meaning the investigators and percipients) derive from multiple representations of the homeless experience including descending into, moving through, emerging from, and staying out. Understanding and framing these themes offer hope for the discovery of new ways of taking action and building communities of support in collaboration with those women whose first person experience informs, enriches, and empowers action.
April 19 (2339 FAB)
Jerry Herron, English
“Readings from the Fieldtrips Project: The Deep Structure of Target, Home Depot and Taco Bell”
How do you understand contemporary Americans? That’s the question I want to consider. Specifically, how to understand us in relation to the things we are supposedly living after in some kind of perpetual post-it culture – post-historical, post-modern, post-urban, etc.
I want to propose that it’s not so much the times that are different, but the spaces we live in. We’ve become a culture of neo hunter-gatherers, dispatched on various fieldtrips, in search of spaces that provide the kind of nostalgic coddling that makes us feel at home, even though real homes are the places we wish collectively not to be in, most of the time.
Taco Bell provides the theoretical basis for my inquiry, specifically the three primary iterations of the “make a run for the border” campaign. Based on crucial insights garnered there, “thinking outside the bun,” I want to investigate the cartographic deep structure of Target and Home Depot, as sites of fieldtrip hunting and gathering, and the nostalgias that motivate our post-it goings and comings.
April 21 (2339 FAB)
Frank Wu, Dean, Law
“Race in America: Beyond Black and White”
Dean Frank Wu, who testified in the Michigan Affirmative action litigation before the U.S. District Court, will discuss the importance of considering race in remedying racial disparities. He will discuss the constitutional rules and policy concerns.
Sergio Rivera Ayala, "Race and Power in XVII Century Colonial Mexico"
1692 was a devastating year for the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Floods and heavy rains destroyed most of the wheat crops which were an important food source for the Spanish population in Mexico. This natural disaster caused an agricultural crisis and consequently severe food shortages. In response to the scarcity of food, the colonial authorities diverted corn stocks, an important food source for the popular classes, especially the Indian population, to the rest of colonial society. This choice of policy, instead of solving the crisis, aggravated it even more, generating an increase in grain prices and a shortage of food. Some government officials were implicated in the elevated prices and shortages. As a result, the popular classes revolted in Mexico City, center of the Spanish colonial empire. Plebeians took control of the Vice regal palace and burned it, clamoring “death to the gachupines” (derogatory expression for Spaniards). Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, a prominent Creole, (American-born Spaniard) wrote a report on the riots. He was well known for his passion for indigenous history and culture. The author appropriated and incorporated elements of the native in his writing and these became part of the emerging Creole identity and a foundational part of Creole ethos. Because the Spanish-born “gachupines” from all walks of life believed themselves superior to Creoles, their American-born counterparts, in reaction, showed pride in things native to Mexico. Sigüenza y Góngora not only spoke Nahuatl, the main indigenous language of Central Mexico, but his personal library contained a great number of indigenous codices. It was one of the best libraries of the Americas. However the position he took in his report about the 1692 riots is very problematic. He blamed the Indians for the entire emergency and absolved the colonial authorities, praising them instead for all the efforts they made to control the crisis. Creoles like Sigüenza y Góngora perceived this revolt, which had more characteristics of a spontaneous event resulting from the accumulated anger and unjust situation endured by the lower classes, as an example of the behavior of the “treacherous Indians”. What made Sigüenza y Góngora take a position in defense of the colonial powers and condemn the indigenous population? How can we read his position in the text in relation with the antagonism between Creole and gachupines? What kind of challenge did the voice of the indigenous population present in the Creole’s mind? The purpose of this talk is to explore Creole identity and its relationship with the power of the colonial state as well as other ethnicities.
John Corvino, "How to Be a Humean Moral Realist"
Moral realists hold that there are moral truths that are (to some extent) independent of our beliefs about them: our moral beliefs should answer to these truths, and not the other way around. Anti-realists, by contrast, see moral truths as a (largely malleable) human construct wherein we project our feelings out onto the world. Although moral realism is attractive for its attempt to provide objective moral standards, realists often have a hard time explaining both the source and the normative authority of such standards.
The eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher David Hume, whose moral theory is based on human sentiment, is often claimed as an ally of the anti-realists. In this paper I defend a somewhat controversial realist (or at least quasi-realist) reading of Hume. I argue that Hume's sentimentalism is a promising route for providing objective standards while avoiding some of the familiar pitfalls of realism.
Renata Wasserman, “The Color of History: Black Brazilian Writers Machado de Assis and Lima Barreto”
Machado de Assis and Lima Barreto are major Brazilian writers, of African ancestry, who lived and worked at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, through the period of the abolition of slavery and its aftermath. Though they are both counted as realists, their approach to the social, political, and economic circumstances around them—including the fate and position of Brazilians of African ancestry—marks the range of possibilities within the scope of realism and fuels a lasting controversy about the responsibility of the writer toward his environment and about the implications of different styles of approaching this environment. As I trace the careers and reception of Assis and Barreto, brief references to African (North) American literature will illustrate, by contrast, the different possible relations between text and context, text and reception.
David Moxley and Olivia Washington, “Narratives of Recovery: How Older African American Women Emerge from Homelessness”
The experience of homelessness is situated in a very complex social location, which justifies multiple approaches to representation. The Telling My Story Project experiments with developing and using these multiple representations in partnership with formerly homeless older minority women who act as guides to the investigators, and as mentors helping them construct richer insights into the tragedy of homelessness and the triumph of emerging out of it. While homelessness is arduous for anyone, it is particularly difficult for older minority women, for a variety of reasons. But the representations the women produce indicate that they are not victims but authors of their own experience in which strengths, resilience, being and becoming interact to make them active, purposeful, and deliberate in their efforts to emerge out of homelessness and leave it behind.
The presenters will examine several narratives of homelessness they obtained through in-depth and intensive interviews of eight older African American women who emerged from homelessness successfully but who still face numerous issues and threats that can induce setbacks. The emergence process was not easy and, in some cases took a considerable toll on mental and physical health. The presenters will examine the themes of recovery and emergence imbedded within each story and they will offer frameworks that capture the process two women negotiated. These frameworks illuminate the deficiencies in contemporary communities, and the weaknesses in the safety net of social welfare. In addition, the narratives reveal a stark reality: even though the women achieve some success they face numerous challenges to recovery, to staying out of homelessness, and to gaining the resources they need to achieve independent living and some semblance of stability.
Joe Calarco, "The Modern Poet as Mage and Musician: From W. B. Yeats to Dylan Thomas and Beyond"
It is hardly surprising that the first volume of R.F. Foster’s recent monumental W. B. Yeats: A Life is subtitled The Apprentice Mage. Almost from the beginning, Yeats’ poetic enterprise is a departure from naturalism and an effort to transform the natural world and man himself in the image of a magical, transcendent order. In one of his poems, The Song of Wandering Aengus, the wanderer and his finally-achieved beloved will “pluck till time and times are done/ The silver apples of the moon,/ The golden apples of the sun.” It is only a step from this vision to the later Byzantium of Yeat’s imagination, where he aspires to the artifice of a golden bird upon a golden bough, singing “to lords and ladies of Byzantium/ Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”
When Yeats performed his poems, it was in a sonorous, elevated style unpopular with his harsher critics. It was not until the American tours of Dylan Thomas that such a style was to be immortalized. For both poets, there are impermeable chains binding the sound and sense of a poem. To speak of them being “read” or “spoken” seems an insult to the experience of a performance; say instead that they are sung, though not in the conventions of the diatonic system; or say that they are chanted, like the spells Yeats actually cast as a mage of the Order of the Golden Dawn.
It is remarkable that these Yeats poems, so antique in some of their references, resonate so profoundly in a world caught in the war of cultures. Or that the poems of Thomas, so obscure in some of their references and metaphors, dance on the tympanum in a place beyond sense but not beyond passion.
Ken Jackson, "Is it God or the Sovereign Exception?: Giorgio Agamben and Shakespeare’s King John"
Shakespeare’s infrequently staged (and read) King John opens with the familiar problem of the history plays: a disputed claim to the throne. The play stands out in how quickly and directly it addresses the problem of sovereign legitimacy. The French Ambassador about to challenge John’s kingship in favor of John’s young nephew, Arthur, refers to John’s position as “borrowed majesty” in the fourth line. This insinuation immediately elicits an irritated reaction from Eleanor, John’s strong willed mother: “A strange beginning: ‘borrowed majesty’” (1.1.5). But the scene quickly reveals that even Eleanor has some doubts about King John’s legitimacy. While John believes his “strong possession” and “right” argue for him, his mother secretly cautions that “Your strong possession much more than your right,/ Or else it must go wrong with you and me (1.1.40-41). The implication is clear. John has “strong possession” certainly, and perhaps some right (“more than your right”), but certainly not absolute right. As King Philip of France points out to King John, “Geoffrey was [John’s] elder brother born” and therefore Geoffrey’s young son, Arthur, rightfully claims the throne (2.1.104). Indeed, Shakespeare puzzles throughout the play, if Arthur’s claim is right, how can a king find himself on a sacred throne without divine authority? For the modern audience, of course, the answer is simple. Divinely determined authority is a myth or, to borrow Montaigne’s phrase, a “mystical foundation” for authority. “Strong possession” or violence alone determines sovereignty. But, lo and behold, that steely-eyed, secular, modern perspective has not stopped us one bit from conjuring other equally mystical foundations for authority to distinguish the legitimacy of one violent sovereign from another. Giorgio Agamben insists, for example, that our various modern declarations of the rights of man – our respect for the “sacredness” of bare life (homo sacer) – now grounds a state’s legitimacy and sovereignty. This essay attempt to use Shakespeare’s King John, and its stunning treatment of Arthur in particular, to illuminate the tenacious connections Agamben displays between the “religious” desire for a divinely determined sovereign, and our “secular” desire for a just and legitimate government.
Haiyong Liu, "The Initial Stage and Parameter-resetting in Second Language Acquisition of Chinese"
According to the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz and Sprouse, 1996), both first language and universal grammar play a role in second language acquisition, the former as the initial stage and the latter triggering parameter-resetting through learning. My experiments show that language learners, in addition to language transfer from their native language, also have access to universal grammar at the initial stage. For example, although English reflexives allow only local antecedents, as can been that himself can only refer to Tom in 'John says that Tom likes himself', English speakers learning Chinese do show signs of the awareness of the possible long-distance antecedents that are possible in Chinese; i.e. himself in 'John says that Tom likes himself ' refers to either John or Tom. On the other hand, English speakers tend to allow both subjects and objects as antecedents for Chinese reflexives in their learning, a transfer from their native English, as can be seen from the ambiguity of himself in 'John gives Tom a picture of himself', when Chinese allows only subject antecedents. Similar asymmetry can be seen from the acquisition the pro-drop (optional-subject parameter) of Chinese, which is not allowed in English. I conclude that it is harder for a speaker speaking a language with a certain marked (less common) feature to acquire a feature in a foreign language that is unmarked (more common), but not the other way around.
Jeff Rice, "Digital Detroit"
The city of Detroit has become emblematic of digital culture. Even the idea of a “Digital Detroit” has become the topic and title of an annual city-based conference. Calling the city “digital,” though, evokes a significant question: Whereas Industrial Detroit produced an assembly line logic of equal parts in the system, uniformed structure, and concentration of work and knowledge in one space, how does Digital Detroit lead to a new media logic? This talk will explore the notion of Digital Detroit, but it will not do so in terms of instrumental reasoning. By that, I mean the concept of a Digital Detroit does not depend on software, hardware, financial investment, or any other “grand narrative” of recovery Detroit embraces and most of us recognize as familiar. Instead, this talk will explore Digital Detroit in terms of new media logic and rhetorical production. How do Detroit’s empty spaces contribute to - as well as generate - a new media logic of speculation, conjecture, juxtaposition, appropriation, and assemblage? How has assembly line thinking yielded to assemblage thinking?
Nancy Christ & Vance Briceland, "Research Collaborations: How to Find Partners and Funding"
Shrinking budgets have prompted both government and private funders to re-think their grant eligibility policies. To make the best use of available money, many funders now require that grant applicants collaborate with other researchers either within their own institution or with other public or private institutions, in order to be considered for funding.
How do you locate these collaborative grant opportunities, and where can you find others who share your research interests?
This seminar will present strategies and resources for finding research partners and funding, and will provide a current list of funding opportunities for collaborative research.
Bob Sedler, "Freedom of Speech: United States vs. The Rest of the World"
The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech very expansively, and the constitutional protection afforded to freedom of speech is perhaps the strongest protection afforded to any individual right under the Constitution. It is also fair to say that the constitutional protection afforded to freedom of speech in the United States is seemingly unparalleled anywhere else in the world, and that in the United States, as a constitutional matter, the value of freedom of speech generally prevails over other democratic values, such as equality and privacy. For this reason, the American view of freedom of speech is not always consistent with international human rights norms and the protection of freedom of speech in other democratic countries. These norms and the constitutional law of other democratic countries treat freedom of speech as an important right, but one that must be balanced against other democratic rights.
Professor Sedler explains why it is that the American Constitution provides so much protection to freedom of speech. He maintains that this is because in our constitutional system, constitutional law develops on a case-by-case basis through the process of constitutional litigation. As the Court has decided First Amendment cases over the years, it has promulgated concepts, principles and doctrines and has established precedents. The sum total of these concepts, principles, doctrines and precedents comprise what he calls the “law of the First Amendment,” which provides a great deal of protection to freedom of speech. For this reason, in actual First Amendment litigation, there is a very good likelihood that the First Amendment claim will prevail.
Nowhere is the difference between the constitutional protection of freedom of speech in the United States and the rest of the world more apparent than with respect to laws prohibiting “hate speech.” Most other democratic nations, including Canada, the neighbor to our north, and international human rights documents, such as the International Covenant on Civil Rights, prohibit the expression of “hate speech” and take the position that “hate speech” is not a part of the guarantee of freedom of speech. Thus, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits the “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” In contrast, when the United States Supreme Court was faced with constitutional challenges to laws that prohibited “hate speech” or “incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” the Court applied two principles that had emerged from its First Amendment cases over the years. Under the principle of protection of offensive speech, the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society itself finds the idea offensive or disagreeable. Under the principle of content neutrality, the government may not prohibit any speech because of its content or the message it conveys. Following the Court’s application of these principles, it was clear that “hate speech” laws were unconstitutional.
Much of the strong protection that the Court has afforded to freedom of speech results from the Court’s application of the content neutrality principle. The underlying premise of this principle is that the First Amendment establishes a marketplace of ideas, that all ideas, good and bad, must be able to compete in this marketplace, and that the remedy for bad speech is more speech, not enforced silence. It is this underlying premise that is subject to strong attack by critics of the Court’s current First Amendment jurisprudence, and that it rejected by other democratic countries and by international human rights norms. The critics insist that there are bad ideas, like genocide, and racism, and sexism, and homophobia, that find their way into the marketplace, and maintain that the government should be able to prohibit the expression of bad ideas because of the harm that they cause to society and to “victim groups.” It is this view that is reflected in the constitutional law of other democratic nations and international human rights norms.
Professor Sedler proposes that this colloquium explore the greater constitutional protection provided to freedom of speech in the United States, in comparison to the rest of the world, in light of humanistic values. Can humanistic values provide guidance as to how strongly we should protect freedom of speech when it takes the form of “hate speech” and of what most of us would consider to be “bad ideas”? Can humanistic values be relied on to support strong constitutional protection to freedom of speech?
Robert P. Holley, "You CAN Always Get What You Want and Usually Pay Much Less than You Expected: The Out-of-print Book Market in the Internet Age"
Are you looking for an out-of-print book in the Humanities? The good news is that your odds of finding it are high. The even better news is that you’ll pay significantly less than you would have before the arrival of Internet booksellers. Bob Holley will report on his research that used a sample of advertisements to buy and to sell out-of-print books from the pre-Internet days (1982 and 1992). A high percentage of the items (75%+) were in the Humanities. Using the meta-search engine, used.addall.com, he discovered 95% availability in all four samples. In inflation adjusted dollars, prices had dropped around 45% from pre-Internet days. He attributes the changes to the efficiencies of large databases and the ability of the Internet to match buyers and sellers. Scholars and libraries now have much better chance of finding older books.
Bob Holley is Professor in the Library & Information Science Program. He not only teaches collection development but also continues to buy library materials for the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures.
Terese M. Volk, "Congdon’s Early Music Education Materials"
Music educators have been creating materials for classroom use since the late 1800s. One of the earliest to develop such materials was Charles Congdon. These materials were so successful that he published, advertised and promoted his materials for sale. This presentation focuses specifically on his song books, music scrolls, and his new chromatic pitch pipe.
Monte Piliawsky, “An Invisible Voice of the New Left: Life Cycle Political Socialization of a White, Working-Class Radical Woman”
The paper tells the story of 57-year-old Molly Rose Morgan's odyssey--political, ideological, and personal--through virtually every revolutionary movement of the last four decades. Molly evolved through the following political stages: student New Leftist (at Wayne State University in 1968), socialist feminist, Maoist-communist for seven years, and for the past 30 years, a seamstress and militant union organizer with UNITE HERE in Southern textile factories.
Molly is en exemplar of a largely unrecognized group: white, working-class, sixties New Left women who have participated in disproportionately middle-class social movements. Molly's journey demonstrates how the power of class oppression and gender hegemony in American society and paradoxically even in the supposed egalitarian New Left made an indefatigable leftist fall into two traps: feeling intellectually inferior to her middle-class, college-educated peers, and internalizing traditional sexist gender roles.
Loraleigh Keashly, “Aggression at the Service Delivery Interface: The Evolution of Patient-Staff Hostility”
The delivery of healthcare services is characterized by a number of social, situational and psychological factors that are associated with the onset of aggression. Much of what we know about aggression in healthcare and other organizational settings is based on cross-sectional survey data—which tells us little about the underlying dynamics within specific aggressive incidents. Describing the connections and sequencing of behaviors within an incident in detail allows us to articulate the various pathways an incident can take and their resultant outcomes (constructive or destructive). Such knowledge has important implications for the prevention and management of such incidents specifically and for the quality of healthcare delivery more generally.
In the current project, my colleague Joel Neuman and I sought to gather such detailed information by interviewing people in detail about their thoughts and feelings during the course of a specific incident. Specifically, we conducted interviews with U.S. military veterans and VA staff and focused on specific hostile and upsetting incidents within veteran-staff encounters during the delivery of healthcare services. In this presentation, which is based on preliminary data from this ongoing project, I will focus on causal attributions for the incident as perceived by the interviewees and explore how differences in attribution by parties to the event link to subsequent responding and hence the escalation or de-escalation of the incident.
Anca Vlasopolos, “Intercourse with Animals: Feminized Nature and Sadism in Balzac, Melville, Whaling Journals, and 1920’s Footage of Albatross Hunts”
Male writers/explorers//hunters in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century documents view nature as feminized and/or subaltern. Hence, animals in a Balzac story, in Moby Dick, and in journals and early film documentaries become subject to sexualized torture and extermination. In loci of military and commercial-industrial exploitation animals are used in modes that replicate Western-male dominance. What makes the texts and documents in question interesting is the authors’/actors’ unease with their roles as oppressors and their tortuously ambivalent emotions toward a feminized nature.
Bruce Russell, “Against Relativism”
I will talk about three sorts of relativism: about truth, about justification, and about morality. Some claim that there are no truths, but this view is self-defeating. If it is true, then there is at least one truth, and so it is false. Others claim that to say that something is true is just short for saying that it is true for some person, culture, epoch, or the like. I will argue that the “true for S” locution just means “believed true by S,” and so is uninteresting.
When it comes to justification, some claim that we are not justified in believing anything. This claim, like its counterpart denying truth, is self-defeating. If we are justified in believing it, then it is false, for then we would be justified in believing something. A slightly more interesting claim is that evidence is subjective: what is evidence for you need not be evidence for me. An even more interesting claim denies the following: if two people have exactly the same evidence for some proposition, then one of those persons is justified in believing that proposition if, and only if, the other is. I will also argue against the slightly more interesting claim, and the denial of the much more interesting, claim. Justification is relative to evidence, but evidence is not subjective Evidence requires that everyone who possesses it, and only it, take just one of three possible epistemic stances toward the relevant proposition: believe it, suspend judgment, disbelieve it.
Finally, some people think that morality is relative in the sense that “it’s just a matter of opinion” whether some action is right or wrong and whether some types of person are good or bad. However, this seems obviously false. It is wrong to torture innocent children to death just for the fun of it; it is wrong to enslave people; it is wrong to rape someone; and it is wrong to deny someone her liberty if she poses no danger to herself or others, and has not committed any crimes. Also, rapists and hitmen are bad people. That we do not know the moral status of all types of actions and people does not mean that we do not know the moral status of some of them. Moral relativism is false because we do, and so morality is not “just a matter of opinion.”
Alvin Saperstein, “Science and Religion: the Two-Brain Student”
There has been much popular discussion, in recent years, of a two-brain basis for human intelligence: a left-brain and a right-brain, one responsible for analytical behavior, the other for holistic and language activity. I am in no position to comment on the usefulness or validity of this basis set. But, as a result of many years of teaching physics and astronomy at the introductory college levels, I am convinced of an alternative two-brain basis for student behavior: an "in-school brain", and an "out-of-school life brain", with very little, if any, connection between the two.
Too often we physicists teach science as if the two components of this orthogonal basis set did not exist. We teach to one axis and ignore the strong transition to the other, which occurs soon after the student leaves our classrooms. As a result, our own academic "turf" is increasingly under attack as a growing fraction of our population, many college-educated, urge the substitution of religion for science in our schools and public life. Consequently, ignoring the appropriate sciences, our society pays a heavy price: decaying cities; snail's space transportation systems: air, water and land which are challenges to our health rather than supports for our well-being; and, increasingly, competition, and even battle, over shrinking resources and space. Hence it would be useful to have some clear notions as to where, if any, there are necessary conflicts between religion and science, and where they may coexist.
Robin Boyle, "Plenty of Emptiness: Cities and Vacant Land"
This talk examines the phenomenon of the empty city, using examples from the US and from Europe (where the moniker 'shrinking city' is more commonly used). It begins by identifying the dimension of the issue and the impact that urban decline and emerging emptiness has on different urban audiences: residents, business, potential visitors and, critically, policy-makers. The paper then offers a critique of the expansive literature that presents solutions to emptiness, in particular examining the concept of 'block-filling'. Case studies from a large Midwestern city, Detroit, are employed to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to overcoming contemporary urban decline. The paper concludes with a discussion of traditional and alternative policy solutions for the empty city.
Danny Postel, "Reading Habermas (and Lolita) in Tehran: Iran's Intellectual Encounter with Modernity"
A profound intellectual upheaval is taking place in Iran today. At its core is an engagement with the work of European thinkers like Hannah Arendt, Jürgen Habermas, Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, and Leszek Kolakowski. Why is it that figures and motifs associated with the liberal tradition speak to Iranian intellectuals and dissidents in a way that ones associated with radicalism do not? What can we in the West learn from what one Iranian philosopher calls the “renaissance of liberalism” happening in Iran today? How do the ideas of European political philosophers appear when refracted back to us through the prism of its contemporary Iranian interpreters? Danny Postel, Senior Editor of the online journal openDemocracy.net, will offer some provocative thoughts on these and related questions.
Danny Postel is a contributing editor to the London-based magazine openDemocracy.net, a contributing editor to Dædalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a member of the editorial board of The Common Review, the magazine of the Great Books Foundation. He has been a professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, a staff writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, and an editor at Britannica.com, the online publication of Encyclopædia Britannica. His work has appeared in Philosophy & Social Criticism, Left History, Radical Society, New Politics, The Washington Post Book World, The Chicago Tribune, The Nation, The American Prospect, In These Times, The Progressive, and Exquisite Corpse, among other publications. He is the editor of the book The Shadow of Kosovo, to be published later this year.
Bill Harris, “Reading from a Work in Progress”
"Birth of a Notion, Or, The Half Ain’t Never Been Told: A Narrative Account With Entertaining Passages Of the State of Minstrelsy & of America & the True Relation thereof (from the Ha Ha Dark Side) as written by Bill Harris" is a work in progress. It is to be a long (long) blank verse poem. Its subject is the parallel paths taken by the U.S. and popular culture, particularly blackened faced minstrelsy, as they strove to find their form in the mid to late 19th Century.
In 1841 P.T. Barnum, with profits from his exhibition of Joice Heth, advertised as a 161 year old slave woman who had been George Washington’s nanny, opened the American Museum on lower Broadway in New York City. Its five floors were crammed with freaks, fakes and various phenomena that over its twenty four years of existence drew multitudes of curiosity seekers. I propose that the Museum set the standard for the giving-the-people-what-they-want branch of popular culture then and now.
I will read the section of the poem that signifies on Barnum’s museum, its influence on the image of American, and Americans, black and white. I will also discuss the process of the writing of the poem and its form’s connection to the Museum.
Frances Ranney, “Making Good on Our Promise(s): Women’s Studies across Feminisms and Disciplines”
Women’s Studies programs have grown out of a range of feminist perspectives. Liberal feminist beliefs have influenced many programs to focus on women’s voices on the assumption that those voices, once heard, would be accorded value that would in turn facilitate inclusion and rights in established institutions. Another assumption grounding Women’s Studies programs, growing out of cultural or relational feminism, was that women’s unique values could usefully inform and potentially transform the many fields in which their voices would speak. In keeping with such assumptions, Wayne State’s Women’s Studies co-majors and minors pair a disciplinary major with a focus on issues of gender or sexuality so that they may both participate in and potentially alter fields of endeavor traditionally unavailable to them.
The purpose of my talk is to question whether Women’s Studies programs generally have made good on the promises implied by our assumptions. Through a brief case study, I will consider how postmodern feminism can supplement liberal and cultural assumptions to provide a fuller picture of the struggles of one woman to find a voice—and her ultimate success in doing so—during the Progressive Era. I will then suggest the significance of postmodern feminist insights for the development of our own program.
Christopher J. Peters, “Constitutional Rights and Disagreement”
Constitutionalism is usually understood as the practice of entrenching certain norms, including norms of individual rights, so that current political majorities cannot easily reject or change them. But people of good faith inevitably disagree about the rights they and others have. Some constitutional theorists, most recently Jeremy Waldron, have argued that the inevitability of disagreement about rights makes problematic the idea of constitutional rights, particularly judicially enforced constitutional rights. Waldron contends that the only fair way to resolve political disagreements, including disagreements about rights, is through a democratic process of full and fair participation by contemporary citizens, not by an elite cadre of unelected judges interpreting centuries-old text.
I’ll argue, contra Waldron, that the fact of persistent disagreement supports rather than undermines the case for constitutional rights. The key, I’ll contend, is to understand constitutional law as a process of acceptable dispute resolution rather than a set of entrenched norms. A political community might reasonably choose to resolve its disputes about democratic participation by means other than democratic participation. More broadly, a community might choose to resolve its disputes about political justice – about the community’s authority to impose its moral views upon dissenters – through procedures that are relatively impartial with respect to those moral views. A constitution, interpreted by an independent judiciary, can resolve questions about rights through procedures that are meaningfully external to everyday democracy and its moral and political controversies; those resolutions then might be generally acceptable in a way the products of ordinary politics could not be.
Brad R. Roth, “State Sovereignty and International Legality”
For those who impute to the international legal order an inherent purpose to establish a universal justice that transcends the boundaries of territorial communities, the legal prerogatives associated with state sovereignty represent impediments to the global advance of legality. Sovereignty thus appears as the unconquered domain: a realm of lawlessness that must recede for international law to advance. This view, however, tends to neglect persistent and profound, albeit bounded, disagreement within the international community as to the requirements of justice. An alternative conception of international order predicates peace and cooperation on continued respect for each political unit s capacity to make and enforce the ineluctably contentious decisions needed to structure social life.
Janine Marie Lanza, “Sharing the Wealth: Families and Inheritance in Early Modern Paris”
In early modern French society, common and royal law were meant to shape inheritance practice in order to respond to the social needs of families and communities. For example, in certain regions of France primogeniture governed the logic of distributing wealth after a father’s death and eldest sons assumed ownership of family property leaving their siblings with very little to claim from the natal family. Elsewhere all children, male and female, shared in their family’s wealth at the death of their parents. Families and individuals also used mechanisms like loans, annuities, and life-use clauses in various contracts to channel wealth to favored heirs even when such actions betrayed the intent of legal customs. One of the most common ways families skirted the intentions of the law was to specify widows’ rights to use family property after their husbands’ deaths, even when such clauses prevented rightful heirs from claiming their property. This paper will explore ways in which families used contracts to manipulate the transfer of property in ways that did not conform to law in order to assert the primacy of their own interests above those of the kingdom’s legal system.
Sarika Chandra, "The Body and the Global Documentation of Identity"
There has been a recent upsurge in television and film narratives that focus on the documentation of people’s identity. Historically, an identity card--usually issued by an agency of a particular nation-state--serves as proof of one's identity and simultaneously grants rights and protection under the legal system of the state. Films such as Minority Report, Code 46, and Dirty Pretty Things, imagine the body as its own identity card. These narratives often serve as a warning of the ways in which our lives are rapidly changing. Fingerprints and eye-scans instantly provide information about a person’s DNA, bank accounts, criminal activities, and so forth. Though Minority Report and Code 46 are set in the future, bodily methods of documentation are either already in operation or well on their way towards implementation. I will discuss how contemporary narratives explore the implications of the body-as-identity-document in relationship to the nation-state and the question of rights in a global context.
Arthur Marotti, “The Personal Anthologizing of Poetry in Manuscript in Early Modern England”
In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England the manuscript system of literary transmission continued to thrive, despite the growing importance of print as a medium for the publication of poetry. Within manuscript culture, particular individuals, in a practice resembling the habit of “commonplacing” or the keeping of commonplace books of valued information and quotations, sometimes assembled personal anthologies of verse. Participating in a system of literary transmission that allowed compilers and scribes to alter, supplement, and answer the poems they collected, as well as to add their own compositions to the collections, these anthologists, within particular social environments (such as the university, the Inns-of-Court, the royal court, and aristocratic households), left to us a large number of poetical anthologies that represent a wider field of writing than that usually covered by traditional literary history, which has been based mainly on the products of print culture. This paper will consider some of the larger cultural-historical and literary issues involved in this practice and use as examples three different manuscript collections from the period. Finally, it will offer a series of reasons why it is important to study these documents and others to be found in the archives that preserve them.
Margaret E. Winters & Geoffrey Nathan, “The Semantics of ‘Applied’ in Linguistics and Elsewhere”
As a designation of certain academic disciplines, the adjective ‘applied’ (‘applied linguistics, physics’ etc.) often carries negative connotations which are not part of the semantics of the word in other domains, nor in the original sense. Used as a prefix, it is frequently interpreted as implying a lack of intellectual rigor with, often, a definite connotation of inferiority compared to the ‘pure’, theoretical study it is related to. However, what may be labeled ‘applied’ varies both within and across areas of scholarship. Within the language sciences some aspects of linguistics, like the study of second language acquisition, are probably considered ‘applied’ by the majority of linguists, while other endeavors are less clearly categorized (is language planning 'applied linguistics'?) and still others are very occasionally thus designated (historical linguistics as an applied field, for example). The directionality in the development of the field (from ‘pure’ to ‘applied’ or vice versa) may be an issue too; there are what might be called markedness reversals in disciplines which start as completely applied (language teaching itself, for example) which then develop a “purer” side through an increased emphasis on theory and research.
This paper is an exploration, both synchronic and diachronic, of the meaning of ‘applied’ in an academic setting, particularly as it appears in Linguistics. The paper is couched in the framework of Cognitive Semantics. We use both the notion of the radial set and the tool of scalarity in discussing this meaningful unit which, even within the domain of universities, is polysemous semantically or at least pragmatically. With various functions of the prefix come varying connotations within different disciplines and subdisciplines, hence the advantage of looking at a prototype configuration as well as the location of any given use along a continuum of positive and negative value judgments. The differences in directionality and in location on the continuum constitute alternative construals, depending on discipline-specific central points or prototypes.
Non-Sententials Working Group, "Telegraphic Talk: The Syntax of Nonsententials"
Ellen Barton, Linguistics; Eugenia Casielles, Romance Languages; Walter Edwards, Linguistics; Kate Paesani, Romance Languages; Ljiljana Progovac, Linguistics; Patricia Siple, Psychology; Nicola Work, Romance Languages
The humor in the cartoon above turns on the use of several utterances that consist of a single phrase. Traditionally, utterances like these have been called fragments, thought to derive by ellipsis from full sentence sources within the discourse. In our work, we argue that such phrases are actually derived directly, rather than via a sentential source, and thus we call them nonsententials. Our central claim is that the universal human grammar generates not only sentences but also nonsententials – directly derived Noun Phrases, Verb Phrases, Adjective Phrases, Adverb Phrases, Prepositional Phrases, and small clauses (e.g., Me first, Him worry?) – with propositional content. Using the current linguistic theory of Minimalism, we argue that speakers have access to both a sentential and a nonsentential grammar, and that the nonsentential grammar is the basis for the use of independent phrases and small clauses in conversation, in first and second language acquisition, in special registers (e.g., recipes, headlines), and in processes of pidginization and creolization. We are editing a volume (forthcoming from John Benjamins) that brings together researchers from syntax, semantics, philosophy of language, language acquisition, agrammatism/aphasia, and pidgin and creole studies to describe the structure and interpretation of nonsententials in a variety of languages and contexts. In this Brown Bag presentation, we will present cross-linguistic data from a variety of chapters in the volume that support and extend this argument.
Julie A. Washington, “Language and Literacy: When the two don’t intersect for Minority children”
The gap in reading achievement between minority children and their majority peers is well-documented. Difficulty with reading impacts academic achievement in all content areas, and ultimately undercuts employment and other life choices in adulthood. The role of language in this “epidemic” has received renewed interest among educators and language specialists alike as a potentially explanatory variable. The focus of this colloquium will be the “reading problem” in the United States as it relates to African American children and the purported contribution of language differences.
Michael Scrivener, “Habermas and Literary Theory”
Among the major writers associated with the Frankfurt School, Jürgen Habermas is not ordinarily associated with developments in literary theory. Unlike Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno, for whose critical theories of society the realm of aesthetics was essential, Habermas seems to have relegated aesthetics to a less exalted role in his own social theory. The literary and aesthetic are nevertheless important to the thinking of Habermas, who has had a significant impact on literary theory, first with his innovative concept of the public sphere, a conceptual breakthrough that has been enormously productive in the humanities and social sciences. He has also played a productive role in theoretical discussions of the Enlightenment, post-structuralism, and postmodernism, debating the ideas of Foucault and Derrida, and becoming the defender of modernity in the postmodernism debate with Lyotard. More recently Habermas has participated in the conversation on cosmopolitanism, as he has dealt extensively with issues of communitarianism, globalization, and multiculturalism. I will touch upon some of the things that have made Habermas’s writing distinctive in relation to literary theory, especially his ideas on the public sphere.
Marilyn Zimmerman, “People of Detroit: A Living Project”
The People of Detroit: A Living Project is a photographic and interview document of the citizens of Detroit regarding healthcare and their urban environment. This is a collaborative effort of the School of Medicine and the Departments of Family Medicine, Computer Science, Sociology and Art and Art History at Wayne State University to illustrate the many challenges Detroiters face as they access health care, focusing on health care disparities. This project magnifies the human condition across age, race, class and gender. The People of Detroit exhibit and narrative of first person testimonies will be shown. We will describe extending the project through visual sociology and the empowerment of respondents to tell their own stories through photographic narratives. Both faculty and students are invested in this project whose vehicle is core factual first person stories, told through an empathetic context and photographic lens of compassion. The final project will be presented to a variety of stakeholders including politicians, healthcare providers, and insurers with the goal of eliminating health care disparities.
Ronald Aronson, “Living without God”
Is it possible to live without God today while at the same time seeing the world as alive with meaning, being morally centered, and being guided by a world-view that is self-confident as well as coherent? This would have seemed a ridiculous question two generations ago during the high tide of secularism, agnosticism, and atheism. Indeed, the famous Time Magazine cover of April 8, 1966, worried: “Is God Dead?” Not long after, John Lennon’s "Imagine" reached the top of the charts by expressing a utopian vision of a society without religion:
Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people living for today. . .
How times have changed—today the most famous critic of religion in America is Bill Maher, a comedian! We live in a time of religious revival, a time when non-believers have been very much on the defensive. Those who affirm God no longer see themselves swimming against the current. Poll results have been proclaiming this loudly: 64 percent of Americans now describe themselves as religious, and the same number pray daily. An even greater percentage believe in an afterlife, and more Americans accept the Bible’s creation story than do evolution. Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between church and state has been growing more porous, discrimination against homosexuals is public policy, and abortion rights have been narrowed. It has become a commonplace, even in the White House, to hear people say, reverentially, that they have been “chosen” for their life path, or that everything is “meant to happen,” both presumably by God.
As religion has been regaining strength, secularism, agnosticism, and atheism have been losing their appeal. Why? What has become of their once-persuasive secular world-view? Why have tens of millions of individuals who do not live by religion been losing confidence in their onetime answers to many of the issues now addressed so forcefully by religion? Beginning by acknowledging the historical experiences that have diminished human confidence in a secular life, I will then explore the question: What does it mean to live without God today?
Juanita Anderson, “African Cinema”
Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene once remarked, “Cinema is a conversation that I hold with my people.” Since 1960, when Sembene became the first indigenous African filmmaker to direct a film on the African continent, African filmmakers have fashioned a cinema and aesthetic that has been a vehicle for addressing some of the most pressing political, economic and social concerns confronting post-colonial African societies. Yet today, audiences of African cinema in the United States far outnumber those on the African continent. This presentation explores the financing and distribution of African Cinema in the context of a global economy and competing global media interests.
R. Khari Brown, “Racial Differences in the Social Service Provision of Black and White Religious Congregations”
The current study builds from Harris’s (1998) theory of congregations as voluntary associations by suggesting that the social service programs in which congregations decide to invest resources likely has much to do with their racial experiences. Black congregations remain less likely than white congregations to provide emergency (e.g. food, clothing and cash assistance) programs even when both congregations have an equal resource capacity. This likely suggest that black congregational bodies are less willing than are their white counterparts to provide programs that seemingly provide a short-term fix for human needs. To the contrary, black congregations place greater priority on educational programs than do white congregations. This finding may serve as an indicator of the greater willingness of black congregations to invest resources in programs that have more of a long-term impact. Both black and white congregations, however, invest a similar amount of resources into housing-related programs. This may suggest that both groups have similar conceptions of the importance of housing to social-economic betterment.
Victor Figueroa, “A Kingdom of Black Jacobins: Alejo Carpentier and C.L.R. James on the Haitian Revolution”
This paper establishes a dialogue between two of the most important works on the Haitian Revolution produced within the Caribbean: Alejo Carpentier's novel, El reino de este mundo, and C.L.R. James's historical-political interpretation, The Black Jacobins. Although both of these works are considered classical Caribbean approaches to the events in Haiti, their approaches are dramatically different. Specifically, Carpentier's novel foregrounds the religious dimensions of the revolution, and a careful reading of the text shows how all of the important events of the Revolution are in fact linked to, and "explained" in terms of, the cosmogonical powers of Haitian Voodoo. James, on the other hand, while acknowledging the role of voodoo in the Revolution, is more interested in the use that the rebellious slaves make of the "enlightened" ideas and movements of the French Revolution. I suggest that, besides differences of genre and personal inclination, the differences between Carpentier and James are better explained by the fact that neither of them is writing only, or even mainly, about Haiti, but rather using Haiti as an emblem or illustration of other political and cultural struggles.
Stanley Shapiro, “Charles Lindbergh’s Image and Celebrity”
All the biographers of Charles Lindbergh, despite different assessments and conclusions, pursue one overarching theme: the aviator lived in the relentless glare of publicity, unhappy with a public persona alien to his "real" self. He was misunderstood and misrepresented, forever captive to an American audience in need of cultural heroes or scapegoats. What these biographers do not consider is how Lindbergh became a likeness of that media image or how reality compared to the unfolding myth. My talk examines those questions in order to put the credible elements of Lindbergh's story in a more truthful light.
Donyale Griffin, “Hip-Hop's Messages and Images in the 21st Century: Commodity, Conflicts, and Contradictions”
While historically, hip-hop's socio-political significance is undeniable, the genre is often relegated to "booty music", which dilutes the organic messages that have challenged the status quo and served as a part of hip-hop's history since its inception in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Today, rap music leads as the primary defining element of hip-hop culture and drives its marketability. This marketability is seen through music videos, partnerships between corporate entities and hip-hop artists like Nelly and Snoop Dog, and sales of hip-hop music and fashion across cultural and geographic boundaries. This begs the question “Is hip-hop’s commodification a sign of the continued selling and ‘pimping’ of Black culture to the masses?”, or, as hip-hop critic Greg Tate writes, is it “an African American response to the consumerization and disposability of people” (Tate, 1999, p. 386).
Hip-hop culture has been described as the most explosive, engaging, and controversial form of (black) American pop culture to find global circulation and acclaim in the last quarter century (Dyson, 2004) and arguably so. Deemed as a passing fad, the music of hip-hop has permeated not just American culture, but has touched the lives of individuals all over the world. But are the images and messages projected through this genre hegemonic and ultimately self-destructive to the African American community?
During this talk, I will argue that the hip-hop phenomenon in American culture, specifically the music that delivers its message, is worthy of a more critical examination. It is important to explore the key messages and images that are shared and understood by members of the hip-hop culture and the implications these messages and images have on the formation and maintenance of cultural identity.
Hip-Hop music is no longer limited to the ghetto poor, but its major themes and styles continue to be drawn from the conflicts and contradictions of black urban life. Through an analysis of music videos, we will explore these conflicts and contradictions in hip-hop’s key messages and discuss major images, particularly of African American women that are represented in music videos and artists lyrics.
Jorge Chinea, “Transatlanticism: Re-Historicizing Puerto Rico and Cuba from a Global Perspective”
Too often the history of the Caribbean, as can be the case of other regions, is written from a narrow local perspective. When approached from this angle, the specific historical trajectories of individual island-nations or countries tend to emphasize internal developments considered noteworthy of their evolution, cultures, and place in the world. In this paper, I examine recent scholarship on Cuba and Puerto Rico that challenges the dominant “local-internal” model by exploring several historical events involving both islands that can be equally (and profitably) understood through a broader, transatlantic lens.
Ollie Johnson, “Afro-Brazilian Politics: Challenges and opportunities”
The paper offers an explanation of pro-Black public policies over the last 20 years in Brazil. The first section describes and classifies these policies by issue area, date implemented, government sponsor, and duration. The educational, housing, health, informational, cultural, affirmative action and other policies have been implemented by government agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The second section argues that recent affirmative action policies should be conceptualized as a continuation of earlier pro-Black government initiatives and not a new and completely unprecedented policy program. The third section proposes a political process model of pro-Black policies that places them in the context of democratization. The dynamic interaction between opposition Black political activists and newly elected opposition leaders creates the political space for the formulation and implementation of these policies. This model emphasizes the leading roles of Black activists and politicians over those of White politicians who may have formally approved these policies. The conclusion examines the prospects for more comprehensive pro-Black policies in Brazil and other countries in Latin America.
A Special Book Signing Event and talk: Durrenda Nash Onolemhemhen, "A Social Worker’s Investigation of Childbirth Injured Women in Northern Nigeria"
A Social Worker's Investigation of Childbirth Injured Women in Northern Nigeria investigates Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), a childbirth injury commonly found among younger adolescent wives in northern Nigeria. Women with fistulae continuously drip urine. Their offensive odor often leads to life as social outcasts. Millions of women across Africa and the developing world suffer from this condition, but it is preventable and curable. This work examines the problem from the perspective of a social worker. It is not intended as a medical treatise, but instead deals with the condition from an ecological perspective using a systems approach. Its focus is on VVF as it relates to the social environment of the affected women.
The author defines and describes VVF as it manifests itself in Africa, along with the history and epidemiology of the condition and its treatment. It describes the life course of Hausa women who are most affected by VVF in northern Nigeria and how their position in society predisposed them to childbirth injury. Testimonials of the victims about their struggles of survival and their road to a cure are narrated. Short and long term preventive measures are given. The empowerment of northern Nigerian women for the eradication of this condition is a fundamental and underlying theme of this work. [From the book jacket of A Social Worker’s Investigation of Childbirth Injured Women in Northern Nigeria.]
Norah Duncan IV, “Organ Recital with Commentary on African and African-American Music”
Like the great European composers of past and present generations, composers of African and African American descent have also turned to the pipe organ, the acknowledged “King of Instruments” as the vehicle through which they have expressed their distinct cultural heritage. Little is known about their compositions for organ, and rarely are there forums to showcase the genius expressed through them. Inspired by African chants, Gregorian chant, American hymn tunes, the African American Spiritual and “Traditional” Gospel melodies, they give voice to the myriad facets of the musical life of Black people. Hopefully this organ recital with commentary will offer the listener another perspective of their rich and diverse artistic gifts.
|Prayer||Fela Sowande (1905-1987)|
|Impromptu||Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912)|
|Prelude and Fugue for Organ||Leslie Adams (1932 -)|
|Variations on “Nettleton”||Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989)|
|Jacob’s Ladder||Ralph Simpson (1933 -)|
|Let us Break Bread Together||J. Roland Braithwaite (1927 - )|
|Spiritual: Round About the Mountain||Noel Da Costa (1929-2002)|
|Gospel Fantasy on “He Knows How Much We Can Bear”||Raymond Henry (1935 -)|
|Toccata on “Veni Emmanuel”||Adolphus Hailstork (1941 -)|
Jeff Rebudal, “Traditional and the Post-Contemporary in Dance: Filipino Indigenous Dance Forms in Contemporary Modern Dance”
Seminal choreographers of early American modern dance each respectively had a unique philosophy and approach to creating their own movement expression. Modern dance has evolved dramatically since its inception in the early 1900s, with its strength in individuality and freedom of expression through movement. Choreographers subscribing to this philosophy include Denishawn’s interpretations of East Asian dances; Martha Graham’s Americana and Greek tragedy themed dances; Merce Cunningham’s abstract chance choreography influenced by Chinese I Ching philosophy and Japanese minimalism; and Alvin Ailey’s soulful blend of African American themed ballets. Present day choreographers examining the fusion of ethnic forms with modern dance are Mark Morris and his use of European folk dance themes and ideas; Doug Elkin’s African-American Hip-Hop influenced movement; and Sean Curran’s Celtic choreography. Although each is dissimilar in movement quality, visual design and intention, the common thread that weaves these choreographers is their strong individual artistic voice through dance.
Philippine folk dances have a long-standing history of remaining relatively stable in form, structure and presentation that represent these archipelago islands in the southeast. Dances originating in the most Islamic region of the country reflect the Hindu-Malayan-Arabic influences. In Mindanao, these are the Maranao, Magindanao and Sanggil groups. Adding to this diversity of Philippine dances are the Igorot, Ifugao, Bontoc, Kalinga and Apayao tribes. These indigenous dance forms together with contemporary modern dance are another means to explore a unique and innovative choreographic voice. This lecture-demonstration will present the movement relationships and infusion of traditional Filipino regional dances with contemporary modern dance.
Jeffrey Abt, “Returns of the Repressed: Museums and Religion”
A funny thing happened to the museum on its way from classical antiquity to modernity: It evolved from a cult center to a secular institution. However, the worldwide surge of religious fundamentalism is challenging modernity’s secular ethos as expressed in a host of social structures ranging from governments to school curricula. The museum too, as one of modernity’s more prominent institutional forms, has become a site where secular systems of learning and display are being reshaped to accommodate the tenets of religious faith.
If, as many have argued, the post-Enlightenment museum represents the triumph of modernity, it does so by rendering a distinction between showing religious objects to produce knowledge and showing them for pious devotion. Beginning as early as the Louvre’s formation in the crucible of the French revolution, this meant neutralizing a sacred object’s religious potency by emphasizing its place in art history. More recently, however, as museums strive to broaden their public service by inviting potential constituencies to participate in exhibition planning and collections management, the uses and interpretation of religious objects have received special scrutiny. As results stemming from the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or the creation of the American Bible Society’s Gallery in 1998 show, sacred objects are posing unforeseen challenges to the museum’s function as a secular site for the production and dissemination of knowledge.
This paper surveys the museum’s evolution into a secular institution, its efforts to cultivate various constituencies, and how those efforts are inadvertently bringing to the surface long-suppressed religious content in collections, thus provoking a fundamental challenge to the museum’s secular ethos.
Peter Riley Bahr & Porsche VanBrocklin-Fischer, "Online Survey Research: Expedience at the Cost of Validity?”
Online (internet and email) surveys are increasingly common in social research, due, in part, to the growing accessibility of the internet and, in part, to the cost, difficulty, and time required to execute traditional paper, telephone, and interview surveys. While online surveys hold significant promise as a means of data collection, strong objections have been raised concerning the external and internal validity of findings based on data collected via these methods. Drawing upon a critical review of the literature, this presentation will discuss (a) the strengths and weaknesses of online survey research techniques and (b) matters to consider in preparing and executing a successful and valid online survey.
Kypros Markou, “Nationalism in Music in a Globalized World”
The term “nationalism” in music usually refers to a phase of the romantic movement whereby composers sought inspiration and material in the folk music, folk art and culture of their home country or region. Some of the most prominent composers that come to mind are Dvorak, Smetana, Grieg, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov. It would be a mistake to assume that their “nationalism” had political implications or that it was the result of “a rebellion against foreign music.” As A. J. B. Hutchings points out in the Pelican History of Music, Dvorak (who was Czech) regularly sent his scores to the great German composer Brahms who was his friend and great supporter. Generally “nationalist” composers celebrate and represent the spirit, culture and special characteristics of their people. As a matter of fact there are many composers who are not classified as “nationalists” but who also incorporated or sought inspiration in the folk music and culture of their country. Furthermore, perceptions about a given composer differ from place to place. A striking example is the case of Tchaikovsky who in his homeland was not considered to be writing “Russian” music whereas everywhere else we think of him as one of the most important and characteristically “Russian” composers whose music reflects the Russian character and soul.
Globalization generally refers to the process whereby many experiences, products, ideas etc. become standardized throughout the world. While this process may result in certain efficiencies and increased productivities and perhaps even a certain understanding and bridging of differences between people of various races and nationalities, it would indeed be tragic if composers lost their individuality even when that individuality may stem from the use of “national” or regional culture as a source of inspiration. On the other hand the free exchange of ideas and knowledge among composers from different countries can be a source of continued inventiveness while each composer maintains his/her individuality as an essential element of artistic creation. Indeed, if we look at the history of musical evolution, this form of “globalization” has existed for many centuries.
Sandra Hobbs, “Nationalist Discourse and the Colonial Subject in Noel Audet's 1992 novel L'eau blanche (Whitewater)”
The nationalization of hydro electricity One of the most important events in Quebec’s Quiet Revolution (1960-1976), a movement in which Quebec took control of its economic and social development after centuries of economic control by the English and social control by the Catholic Church. Since that time, Hydro Quebec has been one of the mainstays of the Quebec economy, and indeed its modern industrialized identity. L’Eau blanche, which translates as White Water, recounts the development of the first big hydro-electric project in northern Quebec during the 1960s. The main character, a Quebecois engineer, is portrayed as a pioneer of the new Quebec, but his ability to persuade the Natives to support the Hydro project is as significant as his ability to overcome engineering obstacles. This novel was written in 1992, shortly after the Oka crisis which pitted Quebecois against Natives in an armed standoff over land claims issues. It is therefore significant that this novel go back some 30 years to an important moment in Quebec’s history to re-examine these same issues. In this paper, it will be my contention that the direct conflict between Native and non-Native rights to Quebec’s resources is resolved in the novel through the use of nationalist Quebec discourse that forecloses Native subjectivity. Specifically, I will use Gayatri Spivak’s concept of the colonial subject to analyze the novel’s representation of Native characters. Spivak contends that bourgeois subjects of previously colonized societies such as Quebec actively suppress the rights of subaltern populations in the postcolonial territory in an effort to advance their own nationalist interests. Indeed, in this novel the white characters, who are important figures in are involved in an heroic effort to harness the land’s energy to the Quebec national cause. In order to succeed in this endeavour, however, it is necessary to both acknowledge the Native presence in the north and to suppress the opposition that their land claims represent.
Hans Hummer, “Lay Literacy in Early Medieval Europe”
Professor Hummer will present a case for widespread literacy among the laity in early medieval Europe. Although the period between the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century and the emergence of European states in the twelfth century has been seen as an era of orality and cultural decline (hence the Dark Ages in the public imagination ), in reality early Europe was deeply dependent upon the written word. Controversial is the extent of the penetration of writing beyond the ranks of the clergy into lay society. A close examination of the evidence, in particular monastic charters (i.e. property contracts between monasteries and their lay patrons), reveals the extensive use and preservation of documents among lay people.
Anne Rothe, “Beyond Halbwachs: Collective Memory and/as Counter-Memory”
Memory is becoming one the leading concepts in literary and cultural studies. Originally developed within cognitive and social psychology (and simultaneously but relatively independently from these fields of academic psychology and with a different focus, in psychoanalysis) the concept was developed in order to understand individual minds. However, as early as the 1920s French social psychologist Maurice Halbwachs explored an analogous use of ‘memory’ to describe a collective phenomenon, namely the shared memory of social groups such as families or villagers. Within the last 20 years Halbwach’s ideas were rediscovered and greatly expanded on. This paper will a) review Halbwachs’ groundbreaking ideas on collective memory; b) discuss two recent theories of collective memory by German cultural historian Jan Assmann and French historian Pierre Nora; and c) try to create a systematic model of collective memory based on Halbwachs, Assmann, Nora and a wide variety of other research on the subject while also integrating some of the major criticism of collective memory studies (particularly those by German historian Wulf Kansteiner).
Jacalyn Harden, “Dark Mouth, White Breast: Race, Nature, Motherhood, Technology”
This Brown Bag talk is part of a larger project in which I discuss the quotidian realities as well as the relatively unexplored—but super-charged—theoretical implications of adoptive breastfeeding and how it fits within contemporary debates surrounding race, motherhood, and technological change in the United States. The contemporary adoptive breastfeeding done by white adoptive mothers for their non-white (usually black, "biracial," Central American, Chinese, or Korean) infants and toddlers is part of an ongoing longer history of transracial wet nursing in the U.S. This current moment places individual adoptive mothers who choose to breastfeed their children of color using supplementary devices herbs and "legal drugs" into a history of relationships of power and privilege among white mothers and poor mothers both white and of color. Such relationships have both literally and theoretically been about raced and classed reproductive labor and the inequalities that such arrangements turn upon. Thus I also argue that adoptive breastfeeding of non-white children by their white adoptive mothers combines technology, race, biology, and parenting in ways that are just as telling as the “sexier” and more commonly discussed developments in reproductive technology.
Peter Riley Bahr, “Postsecondary Remedial Mathematics: What Is It, What Do We Know, and What Do We Need to Know?”
Postsecondary remediation holds a significant and increasingly high profile position in higher education in the United States. This growing attention is not without cause, as the sheer scale of postsecondary remedial need is as daunting as it is disturbing. Mathematics skills are of particular interest within the topic of postsecondary remediation, in part because more students enroll in remedial math than in any other remedial subject. Drawing upon a combination of my own research and a critical review of the literature, this presentation will (a) situate remedial mathematics within the larger postsecondary agenda, (b) discuss the current state of research on postsecondary remedial mathematics with particular attention to remedial outcomes, and (c) recommend directions for future empirical inquiry on the topic.
Joe Rankin, “Families and Crime”
Because the family plays a critical role in the socialization of children, parents presumably play a critical role in determining whether or not their children misbehave. However, after over half a century of research and opinions, findings and interpretations remain contradictory. Despite these divergent views, most researchers have found at least small, significant associations between some dimension of family context and delinquency. In fact, a considerable body of research evidence suggests that delinquency is related to various indicators of problematic family characteristics, either structural (e.g., broken homes) or relational (e.g., parent-child attachment; discipline) in nature.
Various theoretical perspectives which relate various dimensions of the family to crime and delinquency will be discussed, followed by a brief, historical review of the family and delinquency research literature. Finally, my current research on the effect of living arrangements (e.g., live at home vs. a dormitory vs. off-campus housing; students who live with a spouse/partner vs. live alone) and self-reported crime will be discussed.
Sarah Bassett & Brian Madigan, “The numinous image in the ancient Mediterranean world, being a collaborative investigation into the design and function of holy images in the polytheistic and monotheistic cultures of the Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Byzantium, Part II: Greece, Rome, Byzantium”
From antiquity to the pre-modern period painting and sculpture have given shape and meaning to the concept of the divine, and the visual image regularly has appeared as the focus of religious activity. At no time was this tradition of representation more vital than in the ancient world where the numinous image and its attributed powers were of particular concern in the overlapping and interpenetrating polytheistic religious systems of the Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome and the monotheistic cultures of ancient Judaism and Christianity that grew up beside, borrowed from, and came to supersede them.
In modern scholarship, antiquity's numinous images have been the subject of longstanding and lively inquiry, but that inquiry has been limited in its results because each of these cultural traditions has been considered in isolation. As a result there is as yet no clear understanding of either the similarities or the differences among these cultures on such matters as basic as the physical forms of images, their spatial or architectural settings, or the patterns of decorum regulating the interaction with and response to them. Further, while all ancient societies acknowledged the power of the sacred image, they did not necessarily agree upon the nature of that power, its legitimacy or appropriateness of use.
This project proposes a comparative approach to the study of antiquity's sacred images by a group of collaborating historians of art and religion with the goal of establishing a more refined understanding of the power of the numinous. The presentation here will involve the Wayne State participants in this collaboration, who are responsible for the Greek, Roman, Early Christian and Byzantine sections of the project.
Bob Yanal, “Hitchcock's Vertigo and the Tristan Legend”
“Isn’t dreaming precisely the state, whether one is asleep or awake, of taking something to be the real thing, when it is actually only a likeness?”
— Plato, Republic
“Bad faith … has in appearance the structure of falsehood. Only what changes everything is the fact that in bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. … It follows first that the one to whom the lie is told and the one who lies are one and the same person, which means that I must know in my capacity as deceiver the truth which is hidden from me in my capacity as the one deceived. Better yet I must know the truth very exactly in order to conceal it more carefully — and this not at two different moments, which at a pinch would allow us to reestablish a semblance of duality — but in the structure of a single project."
— Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness
Vertigo (1958) is based on D’Entre les Morts by Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau. Hitchcock not only changed the novel’s story line significantly; he produced a masterpiece of cinematic tragedy from a piece of French pulp fiction. Interestingly, many of the changes from the novel parallel the medieval legend of Tristan and Iseult. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Hitchcock was referring to this story. But why? In part to establish “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) and Madeleine/Judy (Kim Novak) as repeating this archetypal romantic tragedy. But even here Hitchcock adds a modern concern absent both in the Tristan story and the Narcejac/Boileau novel. Vertigo describes Scottie’s romance as a kind of self-deception.