Wayne State University

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Humanities Center has scheduled talks to be held during the Fall and Winter semesters. These talks are held mainly on Tuesday and Wednesday, but occasionally on other weekdays as well. All lectures will be held in 2339 FAB from 12:30 - 1:30 unless otherwise announced.

Since the inception of the weekly Brown Bag Colloquium Series, literally hundreds of Wayne State humanities and arts faculty and students have participated either as speakers or as members of the audience. Each new year brings an increase in the number of faculty volunteering to present talks. As a result, the Center regularly hosts talks twice a week throughout the academic year. Brown Bag talks are free and open to the public. We are inviting junior and senior scholars in the humanities and arts as well as those working in the natural and social sciences whose work overlaps with the humanities.

Please click here for the schedule

September 12 - Stephen M. Lanier Research, Professor of Pharmacology and Vice President for Research Integrative Sciences and Engagement

Bio: Stephen M. Lanier (SML) received his doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences (Mentor – K. U. Malik) and received postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Charles Homcy and Robert Graham at Harvard Medical School in the Cardiac Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, which was under the direction of Edgar Haber. SML was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and continued his research in the Cardiac Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1991, he was recruited to the Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Lanier accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans in 2001. He served as the Chief Scientific Officer, Associate Provost for Research and Professor of Pharmacology at the Medical University of South Carolina December 1, 2006 to June 15, 2014. On June 16th 2014, SML was appointed as Professor of Pharmacology and Vice President for Research at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

In each of his various institutional leadership roles, SML has enhanced research support operations, augmented entrepreneurial initiatives, developed new research infrastructure, nurtured growth in extramural research funding, developed strong community ties and developed significant inter-institutional collaborations and partnerships involving the public and private sector.

SML is recognized as a leading investigator in the area of cell signaling and signal integration in health and disease and his work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health for almost 30 years. His work has led to the development of new concepts in the field of cell signaling and has resulted in the generation of a number of new concepts in the field as well as a range of tools and resources that are widely used in the research community.

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September 13 - Ollie Johnson
African American Studies, Chair and Associate Professor

New Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Politics

Abstract: This presentation highlights new scholarship on Afro-Latin American Politics. The recent passing of Fidel Castro and expected retirement of his brother Raul Castro have raised expectations that a new political opening may soon emerge in Cuba. The recent political coup in Brazil and the conviction of popular former president Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva on corruption charges have created a much more pessimistic feeling regarding Brazilian politics. I will explore the prospects for increased Black activism in Cuba, Brazil, and throughout the region. Recent research suggests that there is an Afro-Cuban racial identity and consciousness that could be mobilized politically if the system allowed it. In Brazil, Black political activists and politicians have been central to the critique of the myth of racial democracy and the emergence of affirmative action and other policies of social inclusion. What do recent political developments in Latin American tell us about contemporary politics in Afro-Latin America?

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September 19 - Mary Herring
Political Science, Associate Professor

Gender Dynamics of Political Conversation: A Comparison of Face-to-Face and Online Discussion

Abstract: Despite the stereotype that women are more talkative than men, when the topic involves political matters, women are less likely to engage in discussion with family, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers. This gender gap is found in a wide variety of settings including state legislatures and congressional hearings. Scholars point to the nature of classroom discussion as an important causal mechanism in perpetuating and intensifying this gender gap, arguing that where men dominate classroom discussions, both sexes internalize the social standing of the sexes. With the emergence of the Internet and social media as forums for discussion and with the rising popularity of online and blended instruction, my colleagues and I ask whether the relative anonymity of online conversations diminishes the gender disparity observed in face-to-face settings.

Using volunteers drawn from a student research participation pool, this study compares the dynamics of online discussion, which are treated as the experimental condition, with the control condition of face-to-face discussion. Analysis focuses on “voice” variables, such as mean words spoken or posted, number of turns taken, and proportion of discussion contributed by each participant. Frederic Vultee (Department of Communication, WSU), Jennie Sweet-Cushman (Chatham University), and Elizabeth Prough (Madonna University) are co-investigators in this research.

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September 20 - Elena Past
Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Associate Professor and Associate Chair

Fire and Ice: Northern Nature, Southern Neighbors, and the Environmental Humanities in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth

Abstract: Paolo Sorrentino, an award-winning director from Naples, has twice left Italy to film on location in Alpine Switzerland, once to make the film The Consequences of Love (2004) and later to make the film Youth (2015). The Swiss Alps happen to be a landscape of global financial power (the World Economic Forum is held each year in Davos, Switzerland, setting of Youth), and these Swiss films seem, at first glance, to be about privileged, isolated individuals experiencing existential crises. In an ecocritical reading of Youth, I suggest that this quirky film can also help us trace anxieties about the future of the planet, about climate change, and about cinema’s possible role in a climate-changed future. I think through the back-and-forth between elemental, social, and political forces, focusing on the petroleum fires that fuel cinema and the melting ice of the Alpine glaciers. Ultimately, I propose that we can follow our contemporary environmental crisis through all kinds of art forms. In the age of the Great Acceleration, it is time to change everything, as Naomi Klein urges: even the way we read media that may not intend to say anything at all about climate change.


September 26 - Jaime Goodrich, English, Associate Professor; Graham Hukill, University Libraries, Digital Publishing Librarian; Cynthia Krolikowski, University Libraries, Librarian IV and Special Collections Librarian:

Dividing the Kingdoms: Interdisciplinary Methods for Teaching King Lear to Undergraduates

Abstract: In academic year 2016-17, an interdisciplinary team of Wayne State University faculty, staff, and students produced “Dividing the Kingdoms: Interdisciplinary Methods for Teaching King Lear to Undergraduates” (http://guides.lib.wayne.edu/folgerkinglear). This digital suite of teaching resources for college instruction of Shakespeare was Wayne State’s contribution to “Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates,” a micro-grant sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the National Endowment for Humanities. “Dividing the Kingdoms” consists of modules showcasing five different methodologies for teaching Shakespeare (adaptation, cultural studies, performance, philosophy, textual studies). To complement these modules, the WSU Libraries digitized early printings of King Lear, Shakespeare’s sources, and a later dramatic adaptation. An additional set of activities showcases digital humanities approaches to these texts. The site also houses footage of acclaimed Chicago actor Larry Yando, who filmed a 30-minute master class on performing Lear and a 45-minute Q&A about Shakespeare and acting. Finally, the site features sample syllabi and examples of student work, including a series of short videos where Yando coaches undergraduates from Wayne State’s Theatre program. This presentation provides an overview and discussion of the project.

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September 27 - Barry Lyons
Anthropology, Associate Professor

Using Film to Communicate Climate Change

Abstract: About half of Republican voters are white evangelicals who do not believe the earth’s climate is in crisis. A small but growing movement of evangelicals is working to change this, calling on evangelicals to “care for creation”. In consultation with “creation care” advocates, I am developing a film project to present stories of evangelical Christians in the global South and the United States who are grappling with climate change and its effects. I filmed this summer in a region in highland Ecuador where North American missionaries began to convert Kichwa-speaking indigenous people in the 1960s. Evangelical indigenous farmers showed me how excessive rains had rotted their fava beans and damaged their potato fields. Indigenous pastors drew on Genesis in calling for good stewardship of the earth. Villagers on the slopes of Mt. Chimborazo showed how they are caring for their water supply as the glacier recedes. In this talk, I will present some Ecuador film clips and reflect on how perspectives from anthropology and studies of climate change communication can help shape a film that will effectively reach an audience that has been resistant to ‘mainstream’ environmentalist media.

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September 28 - Brandon Hensley, Communication, Lecturer, Nicholas D. Hartlep, Early Childhood/Elementary Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN:

The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education

Abstract: In this Brown bag session we will discuss The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education (Routledge). Capturing the voices of Americans living with student debt in the United States, this collection critiques the neoliberal interest-driven, debt-based system of U.S. higher education and offers alternatives to neoliberal capitalism and the corporatized university. Grounded in an understanding of the historical and political economic context, this book offers auto-ethnographic experiences of living in debt, and analyzes alternatives to the current system. Chapter authors address real questions such as, Do collegians overestimate the economic value of going to college? and How does the monetary system that student loans are part of operate? Pinpointing how developments in the political economy are accountable for students’ university experiences, this book provides an authoritative contribution to research in the fields of educational foundations and higher education policy and finance.

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October 3 - Bruce Russell
Bruce Russell, Philosophy, Professor
Solving the Abortion Problem

Abstract: A central anti-abortion argument goes as follows: (1) It is always wrong to kill an innocent person; (2) the fetus is a person from the moment of conception onwards (and it is innocent); (3) Abortion involves killing the fetus; (4) therefore, abortion is always wrong. Most discussions by philosophers focused on (2) before Judith Thomson offered her now famous example of a violinist with failing kidneys who has been hooked to your kidneys to save his life. I will discuss to what extent Thomson’s example counts against (1) and will also discuss (2). In the end, I will defend the view that a normal fetus that is conscious has the same moral status as a normal infant, provided that it would be born as such a fetus if it were not aborted. At that point, the mother’s responsibility not to abort is a function of both the burdens she must bear to bring the fetus to term and the degree of responsibility she has for the pregnancy. I will present my Rap on Abortion for your entertainment.

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October 4 - Kenneth Jackson
English, Professor and Chair
Shakespeare in the Age of STEM

Abstract: I teach "soft skills." Or so I am told. Up until a few years ago, I considered myself a Professor of English and, even more specifically, a Shakespearean scholar or critic. But in the "Age of STEM" we are working with new language, language that can seem, well, Orwellian. In this presentation I take up the question of "Teaching Shakespeare in the Age of STEM" because that is, in fact, what Professors of literature and language once did: analyze and explain the language and narratives used to shape lives. I will consider how and why this acronym ("STEM") has come to organize so much in academia, from pre-K to Graduate Programs and what it means for those in the humanities and the university as a whole, including science itself.

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October 10 - Joseph Fitzgerald,
Psychology, Professor
The Well-Being of Gen X: A Developmental Examination

Abstract: This research was stimulated by a report by Case & Deaton (2015) on declining life-expectancy among white non hispanic Americans over the past decade. “Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings,  an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases.(2015, pp. 15078). No other developed nation has shown a similar phenomenon. An excess of nearly 100,000 deaths took place between 1999 and 2013. Many will be familiar with the impact of the opioid crisis in the United States, but the phenomenon is more widespread and predates the current surge in deaths. Our focal point is the cohort of individuals referred to as Generation X. In fact, some have suggested that we rename Generation X as Generation Despair. We found distinctive patterns of self-perceptions of development in happiness, the impact of stress, relationship quality, and satisfaction with well-being. These clusters can be thought of as dramatic arcs and I look forward to help from my humanist colleagues in understanding their history. These patterns were found to predict a number of characteristics related to stress and well-being including a lifetime history of drug abuse and recent frequency.


October 11 - Steven L. Winter
Steven L. Winter, Law School, Walter S. Gibbs Distinguished Professor
The Liturgy of Dissent

Abstract: Dissent is a social act that comes freighted with a cultural and historical logic. It has its own iconography, mythology, and liturgy. The icons of dissent serve as paradigms for those whom they inspire. The myths of dissent offer the faithful reassuring stories of struggle and eventual triumph. The liturgy of dissent, in contrast, provides ritualized texts of remembrance, solace, and defiance. Commitment and community, empathy and identity, solidarity and sacrifice are its central themes. Though the liturgy of dissent bears a strong affinity to what Robert Cover identifies as the “texts of resistance,” the two are not the same. Texts of resistance expound the law by which a dissenting community defines the legitimacy and justice of its struggle. The liturgy of dissent, in contrast, proposes community rather law. More importantly, the liturgy of dissent is the social mechanism by which a community transmutes suffering and sacrifice into normative triumph and, even, joy. This commentary examines this liturgy from the Book of Jonah though Socrates, Debs, Mandela, and the civil rights movement. Dissent, these paragons teach us, always comes with a heavy price. But their greatest lesson is that true dissenters prove their bona fides in accepting those costs with uncommon grace.

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October 12 - Mohamed El-Sharkawi
Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Associate Professor
The Ecology of Case in Modern Arabic

Abstract: This lecture aims to shed a multi-disciplinary light on language evolution in general and the interaction between Arabic and its milieu in particular. Arabic exhibits unique evolutionary features that can be ascribed to the work of both linguistic and social elements. The article reports on the relationship between internal linguistic and external socio-demographic factors and the development of Arabic. The lecture identifies relevant factors, determines the types of influence and discusses the processes of language evolution. The lecture will then move to discuss the evolutionary status of the case system in modern Arabic.

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October 17 - Marc W. Kruman
Center for the Study of Citizenship & History, Director and Professor
Confederate Monuments

Abstract: In his Brown Bag talk, Marc Kruman will discuss the causes of the Civil War, the history of the Confederacy, the timing and purpose of the construction of Confederate monuments, the decisions that white southerners made about whom to memorialize, and the uses of Confederate symbols in the United States and globally in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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October 18 - Alisa Moldavanova, Political Science, Assistant Professor; Nathaniel Wright, Political Science, Assistant Professor, Texas Tech University

Arts and Culture Nonprofits and Community Sustainability: Examining the Role of Organizational Strategy

Abstract: This article investigates the relationship between elements of organizational strategy and arts and culture nonprofits’ engagement in community sustainability. We ask the following research question: What are the drivers of the various roles associated with cultural nonprofits’ engagement in community sustainability? Drawing on data collected from the survey of 175 nonprofits in the State of Michigan, the article reports findings about the arts and culture organizations’ engagement in community sustainability, and factors that foster or inhibit such engagement. The article also discusses how these findings inform broader scholarly discourse on the role of culture and arts nonprofits in a society, and what organizational factors are likely to foster the positive effects of the arts and culture organizations on sustainable development in local communities.

Key words: community sustainability, arts and culture nonprofits, organizational strategy, human resource capacity, performance measurement.

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October 19 - Norah Duncan IV **Cancelled**
Music, Chair
Music in Israel

October 24 - Billicia Hines
Theatre, Assistant Professor & Director of the Black Theatre Program
August Wilson : The Power of Language, Characters and Storytelling
Hilberry Rehearsal Room 4402, Old Main

Abstract: August Wilson, one of the best playwrights, wrote a ten-play cycle (Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf) that encapsulates the African-American experience for every decade of the 20th century. In the words of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Wilson's plays are about "the frustration and the glory of being black". Informed by the blues, Africa and black nationalism, Wilson's plays can be studied like King Lear, Hamlet and others. His work has the same rigor and consciousness of heightened language as Shakespeare. His texts are an ongoing wealth of information with always more to discover. In this presentation, The MFA Acting students of the Freedom Players will be assisting me as we explore his rich language, characters, and stories through discussion and performances of selected scenes.

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October 25 - Clay Walker, English, Lecturer; Adrienne Jenkens, English, Senior Lecturer; Nicole Varty, English, Lecturer,

Leveraging Personal Relationships with At-Risk Students

Abstract: This panel considers the ways that nontraditional students use relationship building to navigate writing courses and more traditional students and instructors experience relationship building that supports students’ learning and agency. The presentations, which examine instructors’ and students’ reflective attention to rhetoric in relationships, the emergence of interpersonal connections through course activities, and the ways institutional spaces support relationship development, highlight how such attention can translate into student engagement and comprehension.

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October 26 - Fran Shor
History, Professor Emeritus
Trumpism, Culture War, and the White Working Class. (Co-sponsored by the Emeritus Academy)

Abstract: Donald Trump's surprise victory over the Republican and Democratic political establishments in 2016 was the result of many factors, including structural trends in economic dislocations and electoral politics, along with deeply-rooted ideological and cultural currents.  This powerpoint presentation will explore the degree to which Trump's electoral and governmental projects are a consolidation of right-wing populist politics and its appeals to white nationalism, xenophobia, and racial resentment.

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October 30 - Kypros Markou
Music, Professor and Director of University of Symphony
Performing Baroque music on modern instruments

Special Location, Day and time: Schaver Music Recital Hall, Monday at 5:30 p.m.*

Abstract: Thurston Dart in his book “The Interpretation of Music” points out that Music is one of the arts “which need re-creation on every occasion that they are experienced; thus each performance of a play or a dance or a piece of music is a unique phenomenon….” Over the last hundred-plus years musicians and scholars have become more mindful of the necessity to incorporate knowledge about the sounds, performance traditions, styles, and aesthetics that were part of Baroque Music.

     During the 19th and 20th century musicians performed music from the Baroque era using instruments that were different from the ones used during the life of the composers. During the second half of the 20th century and even earlier musicians and scholars began to promote the idea of performing baroque music on baroque instruments. They researched the performance traditions, aesthetic and styles of performance adhered to during the Baroque era. In recent years there has been a tremendous growth both in numbers and quality of ensembles that specialize in performing baroque music on baroque instruments. Still, the reality is that there are thousands of musicians, from High School ensembles to fully professional orchestras who continue to perform music by Handel, Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, Lully and many others on modern instruments because they do not have baroque instruments.

    Being pragmatic about the situation one must still explore possibilities to emulate the sound and to reflect the aesthetic of Baroque music even when performing on modern instruments. It may  not be ideal for presenting “historically accurate” performances, but it can lead to performances that are much closer to the spirit of the music than the often romanticized performances that have been common for many years. In our efforts we can be guided both by the writings of Francesco Geminiani, Leopold Mozart, Johann Quantz and other authors from the 17th and 18th century but also from scholars of our time such as Thurston Dart, Christopher Hogwood, Stanley Ritchie and many others. We can also listen to today’s outstanding baroque performers who use original instruments. This will enable us to present performances that reflect the aesthetic of baroque and come closer to the original performance ideals. In the end we hope that the listener will enjoy the essence, nature and true character of the music.

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November 1 - Dominic P. Nanni
English, GTA
Students as Citizens: Encouraging Civic Engagement on College Campuses

Abstract: Questions concerning the civic and political implications of education have long preoccupied democratic theorists. Aristotle famously declared that citizens should be “educated to suit the constitution of their state” and Montesquieu echoed Aristotle in asserting that “the laws of education must be relative to the principles of government.” At present, American education is marred by a crisis this paper describes as neoliberal universality — in which students are defined by educational institutions solely by their staying power as consumers utilizing a service and all difference(s) and disagreement(s) are actively discouraged. This configuration makes civic education thus near impossible because an essential foundation of democratic life is denied: the persistence and pervasion of ideological conflict and disagreement. Building on the work of Chantal Mouffe, this paper attempts to construct a model for the university as an agonistic space of “democratic contestations.” Attempts to transcend conflict and disagreement are futile — since they are naturally embedded in democratic societies. By using controversial issues in the classroom as touchstones for discussion, deliberation, and disagreement, this paper envisages a model of education that can adequately prepare students to be productive and effective citizens.

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November 2 - Zachary W. Brewster, Sociology, Associate Professor, Gerald Nowak, Sociology, Junior Author

Racialized Workplaces, Modern Racist Attitudes, and Racial Stereotypes: A Recipe for Race-Based Restaurant Service.

Abstract: Black American consumers have been shown to be vulnerable to discriminatory treatment in full-service restaurants, or what is colloquially dubbed “tableside racism” or “dining while Black.”  This enhanced vulnerability is assumed to stem from restaurant servers’ economic concerns about Black customers’ tipping practices. In this talk we present preliminary results from a recent study that we conducted to further explore the dining while Black phenomenon. The average server in our study is found to not only overstate the Black-White tipping differential but also to endorse racial stereotypes that depict Black customers as uncivil, demanding, and opportunistic in their complaining behaviors.  Stereotypes about Black customers’ tipping and dining behaviors are in turn found to mediate the effects of customers’ race on severs’ prospective reports of service quality. That is, all else being equal servers in this study report that they would give Black customers lower quality service because they perceive these customers  to not only be  poor tippers but also to be more likely to exhibit problematic consumer behaviors (e.g., incivility, demandingness, and opportunistic complaints).  Finally, our results indicate that the indirect effects of customers’ race on service quality through the endorsement of these stereotypes are most pronounced among study participants that work in a racialized restaurant environment and/or harbor contemporary racist attitudes.  Our results underscore the limits of economic based explanations for racially discriminate restaurant service and highlight the “anything but race” cliché that is epitomized in much of the contemporary discourse surrounding racial inequities in America. 

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November 7 - Ewa Golebiowska**CANCELLED**
Political Science, Professor
Reexamining the link between education and political tolerance: Why are the well educated more tolerant?

Abstract:Based on the amount of confirmation that this finding has received, it is a truism to say that education promotes tolerance, whether political, racial, ethnic, religious, or tolerance of sexual minorities.  There has also been a good deal of theorizing about why that is so.  Yet, existing analyses tend to focus on single explanations and, therefore, raise red flags about their findings and cannot speak to the relative importance of different explanations.  We need to identify the mechanisms responsible for the relationship between education and tolerance properly because it can strengthen our confidence that education is the cause and tolerance the effect.  Using data from the 2014 General Social Survey, I simultaneously evaluate the relative roles of cognitive sophistication, authoritarianism, and political interest in mediating the link between education and political tolerance.  The mediation analysis I conduct demonstrates that the effect of education on political tolerance is transmitted through all three mediators, with cognitive sophistication reigning supreme.

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November 8 - Natalia Rakhlin, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Associate Professor, Feng Tao, Biological Sciences, Ph.D. candidate, Chuanzhu Fan, Biological Sciences, Assistant Professor and the members of the WSU interdisciplinary working group “Languages and Genes”

Languages and Genes "Can typological differences between languages be related to genetic differences between their speakers?"

Abstract: Although the role of the human genome in language evolution and language acquisition is no longer controversial, the precise contribution of “nature” in the phylogeny and ontogeny of language is still debated.

We have pursued a novel avenue for discovering genetic underpinnings of the capacity for human language, focusing on the broad variation in sound systems and grammatical organization found in world languages. We hypothesized that some of this diversity has genetic bases, as it plausibly arose from subtle but detectable differences between members of human populations with respect to the functioning of the perceptual/articulatory and cognitive systems rooted in the human genome. We characterized 416 languages in relation to 20 features of phonological, morphological, and syntactic structure. For each respective population, we retrieved allele frequency information from a public web-based database and compared populations with positive and negative values for each feature on the frequency of the ancestral versus derived alleles of informative SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in candidate “language genes” identified in previous research. We found significant differences between languages that morphologically mark verbs for past tense and those that do not. The differences involve SNPs located in genes DCDC2 and KIAA0319, involved in neuronal migration during development of the cerebral cortex and previously found to be associated with language-related phenotypes. We will discuss implications of our findings for the relationship between biological factors and linguistic diversity.

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November 9 - Joshua Duchan
Music, Associate Professor
Billy Joel and the Beatles

Abstract: American singer-songwriter Billy Joel (b. 1949) has openly acknowledged that his 1982 album, The Nylon Curtain, was inspired by and patterned after The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).  As the Grammy-winning artist told Rolling Stone magazine, he had hoped to “go back and pick up” where The Beatles left off.  Indeed, several of the album’s tracks take musical cues from The Beatles and Joel’s efforts to fashion The Nylon Curtain as a concept album is, itself, indebted to The Beatles’ pioneering efforts on Sgt. Pepper’s.  This talk examines the connections between the two albums by offering close literary and musical readings of selected tracks.  Close attention is paid to features such as instrumentation, harmony, vocal setting, timbre, lyrical themes, and the use of studio effects such as delay, double-tracking, and additional non-musical sounds. Of course, despite their similarities, these two albums—separated by a mere fifteen years—also bear striking differences.  Thus, the talk concludes with a discussion of the biographical, historical, and musical circumstances that help explain how The Nylon Curtain remains inspired by Sgt. Pepper’s without becoming a parody of it.

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November 14 - Ronald Aronson**Rescheduled for the WINTER semester**
History, Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Social Hope Under Trump

Abstract: The election of Donald Trump has exposed American society’s profound crisis of hope. It occurred against the background of a generation of shrinking employment, rising inequality, attacks on public education, and shredding of the social safety net. The tumultuous first months of the Trump presidency have set the stage for a stunning insurgency of resistance. Against this background, and drawing on generations of political struggle as well as philosophy,  in “We: Reviving Social Hope (Chicago, April 2017),” Ronald Aronson argues for a unique conception of social hope. Hope, he argues, is not a form of dependency---neither a religious faith nor the belief in an authoritarian strongman who proclaims "I alone can fix it." Hope is not a mood or feeling, and it is not passive. It is the very basis of social will and political action. it entails acting collectively to make the world more equal, more democratic, more peaceful, and more just. Even at a time when false hopes are rife, Aronson argues, social hope persists in the anti-Trump activism. Its philosophical basis can be found underlying all our experience—even if we completely ignore it: the fact of our social belonging, which can be reactivated into a powerful collective force, an active we.


November 15 - Leonidas Pittos
Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Senior Lecturer
Mythology, Typology, and History in the Fiction of Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911)

Abstract: The history of Greek-speaking people spans many over three millennia, and is overlaid by many continuities, discontinuities, transitions, conversions, and turning points. Consequently, the heritages of the Modern Greeks are as varied and diverse as the civilizations and societies that lived, ruled, were ruled, worshipped, and produced art and literature in Greece and the greater Greek world of the Eastern Mediterranean. Yet, with cultural synthesis comes tension and debate, and for much of the modern era Greeks have debated the place of their varied and often conflicting heritages in their modern identity. A major contribution to this conversation was Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos’s Istoria tou Ellinikou Ethnous, a multivolume history of the Greek nation published between 1860 and 1877. In this work Paparrigopoulos proposed a synthetic model of Greek history, which emphasized the diachronic unity of Greek culture despite major transitions and transformations. The first literary figure to engage with Paparrigopoulos’ historical model was Alexandros Papadiamantis (1857-1911). Born on the island of Skiathos to a Greek Orthodox priestly family, Papadiamantis is considered one of the most significant prose writers in Modern Greek literature. This paper will examine how Papadiamantis explores the possibilities and limitations of Paparrigopoulos’ model through a syncretistic form of typology that relies as much on Byzantine Greek biblical exegesis as it does on Platonic interpretations of Ancient Greek mythology. By examining the way Papadiamantis interweaves Christian and Pagan threads to form his characters and emplot his short stories, I hope to suggest the general lineaments of Papadiamantis’ own contribution to and critique of the national discourse on continuity and discontinuity of his own time.    

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November 16 - John Gruda
Independent Scholar
Tahirih: 19th Century Iranian Women’s Activist and Poet

Abstract: The Persian people of the 19th Century are somewhat different than they are today, but some key features still remain. One of these is the veiling of woman, For women in 19th Century Iran was far more restrictive than one might think. Abdul Baha, speaking once to a Western audience tried to explain how extensive this practice was in the Iran of his day. He said: “All women in Persia are enveloped in veils in public. So completely covered are they that even the hand is not visible. This rigid veiling is unspeakable…So excessive and compulsory for veiling is in the East that the people of the West have no idea of the excitement and indignation produced by the appearance of an unveiled women….

Yet this restriction in 19th Century Iran meet with resistance that would change the world of women throughout the world.  At the very same time that women in America and Europe were beginning to demand change that that would give them equal rights to men, a lone woman in 19th Century Iran braved a social and religious firestorm that would throw off centuries of outdated customs and beliefs regarding the role of women in society. 

This woman, known through out the world as Tahirih --would help begin a spiritual revolution for her daring to challenge the social hierarchy of male leadership in 19th Century Iran consisting in religious clerics, including the political, social and cultural leaders of the time.  Today she is mostly known for her poetry which also known for its audacity and fearlessness in asserting a new day in which women would have equal rights alongside men.  Translations of her poetry exists in English--some even done during her lifetime by British historian Edward Granville Browne,

Today this history is suppressed and almost forgotten in the land of its birth, as members of the Baha'i community still suffer from discrimination, harassment and even prison time simply for their beliefs.

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November 28 - Richard Raspa
English, Professor
Shakespeare’s King Lear and the Rhetoric of Death and Dying

Abstract: When Shakespeare’s King Lear announces that he will abdicate and divide the kingdom, characters are left struggling with the meanings abdication might have for them.  In this presentation I will use Bruner’s notion of narrative to argue that Lear’s abdication “subjunctives” or hypothesizes social arrangements of early modern English society, disrupting cultural imperatives and traditional practices, like belief in absolute monarchy regarded as necessary for maintaining civil society. Moreover, for the protagonist King Lear, subjunctivizing pertains to his way of denying death, reversing expectations, and situating himself as well as other characters on the boundary between possible and actual states of being, and, ultimately, driving the descent toward the tragedy that ensues.

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November 29 - Nicole Varty
English, Lecturer
What is an Ecological Model of Writing and How Can it Help Students Make Use of Their Knowledge?

Abstract: This talk considers the ways that an ecological model of writing can help students develop writing knowledge that benefits them beyond their work in a First Year Composition (FYC) course. The presentation will define the concept of an ecological model of writing and describe research findings that map whether and how this model can promote student writing knowledge transfer into and out of a First Year Writing course.  This talk will also examine pedagogical strategies found to support knowledge uptake, as well as students’ experiences of writing before and after taking FYC courses at WSU, with particular attention to student awareness and activation of knowledge gained in their writing courses.

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November 30 - Beth Fowler
Irvin D. Reid Honors College, Senior Lecturer
Billboard crossover hit songs in the 1950’s in the context of civil rights campaigns

Abstract: This paper considers how crossover and cover songs on the Billboard charts between 1953 and 1958 reflected and reinforced adolescent views on racism and desegregation campaigns during the U.S. civil rights movement. Although many studies have approached the relationship between rock and roll music and civil rights during this time period, I use archival materials, recent accounts of race in the 21st century, and Google Fusion Tables created with Billboard chart listings to show how post-civil rights concepts of diversity without justice and white innocence were formed as the mainstream music industry expanded to assimilate African-American music into established corporate structures. 

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December 5 - Donyale Padgett, Associate Professor, Communication; Kevin Hardges, Graduate, Organizational Communication; and Taneá Menifee, Graduate, Organizational Communication

Communication and the Flint Water Crisis

Abstract: When a community experiences crisis it often impacts the most vulnerable populations. Lower-income and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards, callous decision-making, structural racism, and the devaluation of human life. This article aims to take a critical look at the events of the Flint Water Crisis, using restorative rhetoric to bring a humanistic approach to this event, which we call a “social crisis”. Flint, Michigan took the stage as one of the greatest domestic public failures related to modern water supply in 2014, when citizens began to blow the whistle on lead exposure stemming from corrosive drinking water. This story quickly escalated into a full-blown crisis after numerous regulatory failures revealed systematic and structural flaws in decision-making that was detrimental for the citizens of Flint. Seeing this event as a social crisis allows us to focus on the issue-oriented public debate and dialogue in the aftermath of an event that is still unfolding today. Through this analysis our goal is to extend crisis research beyond issues of effectiveness of response to discussions of social responsibility, blame and marginality.

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December 6 -Jonathan Flatley**CANCELLED**
English, Associate Professor

Like David Bowie


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December 7 - Daphne Ntiri
African American Studies, Professor
Literacy, race and gender: The growing presence of female African immigrants in Sweden’s transforming landscape

Abstract: Recently immigration has assumed a new meaning for women in countries in the Horn of Africa. For instance, a new immigration order has created unique opportunities for mass relocation of families from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia to continents of the West (namely Europe, Australia and North America), where the families are allowed to establish settlement. In Sweden, particularly — a country with no prior colonial ties to Africa — we see an unprecedented growth of immigrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa. Already, these foreign populations are transforming the once homogenous Swedish landscape, where African women are creating gendered structural institutions that are helping them advance educationally and economically. Dr. Daphne Ntiri‘s recent invited faculty scholar residency to the University of Uppsala, Sweden provided a unique opportunity to examine pathways to access literacy and educational proficiencies as well as show how operative gender is within this population of African immigrant women in Sweden. This inquiry is especially eye-opening considering the fact that the country has been described as “the most egalitarian, humanitarian and democratic country in the world”.

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January 16 - Janet Hankin, Sociology, Professor

Donald Trump’s Health Care Reform

Abstract: Donald Trump pledged to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare.”  What has Obamacare accomplished and what has happened to health care under the Trump administration?  The impacts of Obamacare include: 1) A drop in the number of persons without health care insurance from 19% to 12.5%. 2) The ability of those under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan. 3) An expansion of Medicaid coverage by one-third, as 31 states have expanded the program. 4) Affordable and available insurance coverage irrespective of pre-existing conditions.  5) Free preventive health care and screenings. On December 27, 2017, President Trump tweeted, “Based on the fact that the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate has been terminated as part of our Tax Cut Bill, which essentially Repeals (over time) ObamaCare, the Democrats & Republicans will eventually come together and develop a great new HealthCare plan!” What can we expect in the near future for our health care system?

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January 17 - Simone Chess
English, Associate Professor

Anorexia and Opting Out: Disability and Asexuality in Early Modern Texts

Abstract: This paper will explore situations in early modern texts in which disorderly eating and its bodily effects enable characters to articulate asexuality as a sexual and romantic preference. Frequently coded as feminine (and, accordingly, overlooked), anorexia and asexuality have generally been read and understood as inherently negative. Instead, the paper will argue that, while the stakes of these eating disorders are high risk, the acts of starving to the point of wasting is a way for characters to articulate a queer preference for asexuality, and to model, however briefly, how that asexuality might be put into practice in a culture so oriented toward (hetero) sexuality, marriage, and reproduction. The paper first makes a disability studies intervention by arguing that representations of self-starvation might be read as a manifestation of disability and illness. But then, using the model of “disability gain,” I will argue that, if anorexia is a disability, it is a disability that enables queer practice; I find that these situations are in fact sites for unconventional, queer, practices and arrangements.

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January 18 - Amy Latawiec, English, Lecturer; Adrienne Jankens, English, Lecturer; Nicole Varty, English, Lecturer; Jule Thomas, English, Lecturer

A Composition Learning Community in Action: Perspectives from Students, Peer Mentors, and Instructors

Abstract: In 2013, with the support of a Humanities Center Working Group grant, this group of instructors began researching peer learning in composition, and developed plans for the Composition Learning Community (CLC). Today, the CLC is in its third official operating year, and in the fall 2017 semester, supported the work of over 500 students, eleven peer mentors, and eleven instructors in developmental, introductory, and intermediate composition courses. This roundtable presentation will include the voices of CLC faculty, peer mentors, and students, who will discuss their experiences working in the Composition Learning Community, and will reflect on collaborating with each other within that community.

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January 23 - Erik Mortenson, Irvin D. Reid Honors College, Senior Lecturer

Translating the Counterculture: The Reception of the Beats in Turkey

Abstract: If countercultural literature is meant to "counter" a culture, what happens when another culture borrows that critique? This talk addresses that question by examining the cultural translation of the Beat Generation in Turkey. Since the 1990s publishers, editors, critics, readers, and others dissatisfied with what they feel to be a more conservative trend in Turkey have turned to the Beats and other countercultural forebears for alternatives. Drawing on concrete examples from the translation history of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, the discussion of the concept of the "hobo" in Jack Kerouac's classic On the Road, and on the recent obscenity trial of William S. Burroughs's The Soft Machine, I argue that Beat concepts such as personal freedom, spatial mobility, and the importance of the individual that may seem self-evident in a Western context become rearticulated when deployed in Turkey. This unexpected return of Beat nonconformity and protest into new cultural and temporal conditions offers a unique opportunity to rethink both the cultural logics that made the Beats possible in the first place, as well as the possibilities they might still hold for social critique in our globalized twenty-first century.

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Janaury 24 - Rahul Mitra, Communication, Assistant Professor

Communicative Enactments of Sustainability for Global Food System Resilience

Abstract: Global food procurement increasingly relies on complex multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) and supply chains, which can sometimes downplay local concerns, despite claims of “sustainability.” This paper examines how members of the agricultural commodities arm (”Agro”) of a well-known global conservation nonprofit frame food sustainability. Specifically, I draw on in-depth interviews and key texts produced at Agro to study the communicative tensions at stake—both productive and destructive. Findings indicate that Agro emphasized a self-defined “Market” approach toward food enlightenment, focusing on “solutions rather than problems,” and reaching out to a diverse set of stakeholders to accomplish MSI goals. Food sustainability was posed as a problem of goal optimization in the face of systemic risks that local initiatives alone are ill-equipped to address, so that the global supply chain becomes irreplaceable. Even as Agro foregrounded technocratic discourses (e.g., apolitical R&D, life cycle assessment, broad-based scientific education), its members acknowledged the underlying political structures (e.g., funding lines, media coverage, measures/standards for R&D) that both enabled and restricted its work.

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January 25 - Ronald Aronson
History, Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Social Hope Under Trump

Abstract: The election of Donald Trump has exposed American society's profound crisis of hope. It occurred against the background of a generation of shrinking employment, rising inequality, attacks on public education, and shredding of the social safety net. The tumultuous first months of the Trump presidency have set the stage for a stunning insurgency of resistance. Against this background, and drawing on generations of political struggle as well as philosophy, in "We: Reviving Social Hope (Chicago, April 2017)," Ronald Aronson argues for a unique conception of social hope. Hope, he argues, is not a form of dependency---neither a religious faith nor the belief in an authoritarian strongman who proclaims "I alone can fix it." Hope is not a mood or feeling, and it is not passive. It is the very basis of social will and political action. it entails acting collectively to make the world more equal, more democratic, more peaceful, and more just. Even at a time when false hopes are rife, Aronson argues, social hope persists in the anti-Trump activism. Its philosophical basis can be found underlying all our experience—even if we completely ignore it: the fact of our social belonging, which can be reactivated into a powerful collective force, an active we.

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January 30 - Haiyong Liu
Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Director of Linguistics Program

How to drop your object

Abstract: Although subject deletion has been widely discussed in the literature (e.g. (It) Sounds interesting! and (I) Got you.), which can be recovered from verb conjugation and/or from the context, very little research has been done on the deletion of the object cross-linguistically, which can rarely be recovered from verb conjugation but solely from the context (e.g. Add water and stir (it) and Like (it)!). My talk compares the characteristics of object drop in Chinese (e.g. Q: Ni chi-fan ma? (you eat-food Question: Do you eat food?) A: Chi. (fan) (eat (food): I do.) and in English (e.g. I love eating.). I conclude that each language can have only one of the two mechanisms regarding object omission, which is related to the referentiality of the object. A language like Chinese can only omit non-generic objects that can be recovered from the context, which includes definite, indefinite, and specific nouns. A language like English, on the other hand, can only omit generic objects that cannot be recovered from the context. From a language evolution perspective, I suggest that after the separation or specification of the subject and the object, i.e. the arguments of the verb, language then fine tunes their referentiality.

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January 31 - Robin West Smith
Sociology, Adjunct Professor

The media representation of pensioners’ pension and health care costs in the Detroit bankruptcy

Abstract: Scholars suggest understanding media theory and media sociology are instrumental when discussing the question of media power. Most of the empirical work done in this area has centered on the “objective-functionalist paradigm” (McQuail, 1985). The purpose of this study is to explore how two urban local print media outlets framed a group of stakeholders, the pensioners, and the broken promise of the pension and healthcare benefits, during Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy. This paper contributes to the literature by utilizing the content analysis research strategy, identifying the words and/or phrases used to explain how print media constructs the space between people (the pensioners) and structure (the pension payments, healthcare benefits and municipal bankruptcy). The articles from my analysis suggested the Detroit Free Press followed an objective (content) functionalist paradigm and the Detroit News followed the subjective (content) functionalist paradigm. Although both media outlets remained close in their respective structures of reporting, print media does follow a structure of media power as suggested by Entman (1993:52) and uses this power “to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation.”

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February 1 - Elizabeth Faue
History, Professor and Chair

The Endangered Classroom: School Violence, Public Education, and Personal Safety in an Age of Privatization

Abstract: Public debate over school violence in the 1970s escalated as fears of juvenile crime, which had been building for more than two decades, reached a crescendo. Race was certainly central to that dialogue, as school violence surfaced not only in conflict over school integration but also captured conflict among students.  Teachers, teachers’ unions, police, and elected officials all pursued relief in policies that would fence in—suspend, expel, and cast out—violent offenders.  Such Zero Tolerance policies, however, had unintended consequences, pushing minority students into the school-to-prison pipeline but also permanently altering schools and classrooms as teaching environments.  This paper is a thought piece on rethinking public education today—by exploring the range of school violence in the United States--from cyberbullying and personal violence to mass shootings in the past few decades—and its effects on public education as a learning environment, a workplace, and a building block of democracy.

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February 6 - Eric Montgomery, Adjunct Professor, Peace and Conflict Studies, Chris Vannier, African American Studies, University of Michigan

An Ethnography of a Vodu Shrine in Southern Togo: Of Spirit, Slave, and Sea

Abstract: Ethnography of a Vodu Shrine in Southern Togo: Of Spirit, Slave, and Sea

Brill Press 2017

In this book, Eric Montgomery and Christian Vannier provide an ethnographically informed text on the cultural meanings and practices surrounding the gods and metaphysics of Vodu, as they relate to daily life in an ethnic Ewe fishing community on the coast of southern Togo. The authors approach this spirit possession and medicinal order through “shrine ethnography,” understanding shrines as parts of sacred landscapes that are ecological, economic, political, and social. Giving voice to practitioners and situating shrines and Vodu itself into the history and political economy of the region make this text pertinent to the social changes and global relevance of Millennial Africa.

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February 7 - Tamara Bray
Anthropology, Professor

Partnering with Pots: The Work of Objects in the Imperial Inca Project

Abstract: New developments in the natural sciences are contributing to new thinking on the nature of matter, materiality and being. Such re-visioning of the natural world is, in part, responsible for ‘the ontological turn’, a trend clearly visible in recent archaeological discourse. In combination with evolving relational and symmetrical approaches to investigating the constitution of ‘the social’, the door is open for exploring logics, taxonomies and understandings of reality different from our own in studies of the past. Applying these ideas to the investigation of early imperialism, this paper offers an analysis of a key element in the repertoire of Inca material culture that forwards the importance of human–thing relations in the context of early state politics. Working from the basis of the imperial Inca ceramic assemblage, the study examines how these objects were deployed in the task of empire-building and what insights they provide into Andean ontological commitments during the late pre-Columbian period. An argument is developed that imperial pots were construed as animate beings and agents of the State. The study brings to the fore the mutually constituted nature of the imperial Inca project and suggests new avenues for future research that highlight the matter of early empires.

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February 13 - Tam Perry, Social Work, Assistant Professor, Jessica-Robbins Ruszkowski, Anthropology, Assistant Professor

Older Adults Understandings of the Flint Water Crisis"

Abstract: Across the life course, exposure to drinking water contaminants can differently impact physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Harmful effects of lead exposure can be exacerbated by challenges of social isolation, frailty, and comorbidities that many older adults face. This paper draws on data from an ongoing ethnographic study of older residents of Flint, Michigan (n=33, data collected between December 2016 and present). Our sample consists of African American and white Flint residents of varying socioeconomic status. This paper explores efforts to maintain and improve health, finding two key domains of everyday practice in which older adults experience the water crisis’s effects. The first consists of activities to access clean water at home (e.g., water testing, maintaining filters, procuring water bottles), and the second of activities related to water usage (e.g., meal preparation, personal hygiene). This study highlights the ongoing, labor-intensive activities that older Flint residents perceive necessary to maintain health. As older residents work to sustain practices that ensure clean water, they are simultaneously creating, maintaining, and transforming social relations, including those with kin, community-based institutions serving older adults, government employees, and volunteers.

Given the context of mistrust and uncertainty for the future, these findings suggest a need for continued research on older adults’ experiences and multiple approaches to disseminating research findings.

Other members of the research team include Dr. Kimberly Seibel, Colleen Linn, and Maxwell Smith. In 2017, the research team received the Betty J. Cleckley Minority Issues Research Award, Health Maintenance in Challenging Times: Older Adults’ Experiences in the Flint Water Crisis, from the Aging and Public Health Section of the American Public Health Association.


February 14 - Holly Feen-Calligan, Art and Art History, Associate Professor; Marilyn Zimmerwoman, Art and Art History, Associate Professor; Wendy Matthews, Music, Assistant Professor; Siobhan Gregory, Art and Art History, Senior Lecturer

Creating Connections with Art Based Service Learning

Abstract: In 2016-17 The Humanities Center funded a working group in Art Based Service-Learning. Today’s Brown Bag presents highlights from the faculty participating in the working group, and creative connections between the faculty members. These include: service learning with pre-professional music education and art therapy students;  a performance art piece titled See You, See Me, recent projects of  ArtsCorpsDetroit, including design and art therapy students’ collaborations with the Detroit Nature Center.

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February 20 - Charles Klahm, Associate Professor, Matthew Larson, Assistant Professor, in Criminal Justice.
Razing Detroit: An exploratory analysis of the impact of concentrated demolitions on neighborhood- Level crime and social disorder

Abstract: Detroit’s population plummeted from over 1,800,000 residents in 1950 to fewer than 700,000 residents in 2014. The significant and sustained loss has resulted in over 78,000 buildings in the city that are either already blighted or at-risk of being blighted in the near future. Since Mayor Duggan’s election in 2014, nearly 13,000 buildings have been razed in hopes of removing the blighted structures will yield (1) increased property values in demolition areas and (2) reduced crime in those areas. While preliminary evidence suggests modest property value increases in these areas, the latter outcome has yet to be empirically assessed. Our study examines whether improvements in community safety have followed the thousands of demolitions and tens of millions of dollars that have been spent on Detroit’s blight problem in recent years. Using data collected and maintained by the City of Detroit, the current study explores the impact of mass-scale home demolitions on neighborhood crime rates in neighborhoods throughout the city.

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February 21 - Elizabeth Dungee-Anderson **CANCELLED**
Social Work, Professor




February 27 - Kim Schroeder
Library and Information Science, Lecturer

Detroit Music Oral Histories - Why Musicians Feel Detroit is a Hotbed of Talent

Abstract: After three years of conducting oral histories with more than a dozen members of the music industry, Kim Schroeder will share the insights of Detroit musicians as to how and why Detroit has produced so much musical talent over so many years. Interviews feature musicians from myriad genres, including soul, R&B, jazz, pop rock, garage rock, and classical.

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February 28 - Leslie Tom, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; Samantha Fernandez Keys, Director of Catalytic Opportunities at the Michigan Science Center
Detroit Revitalization Fellowship
Creating a Multidisciplinary Museum Collaboration through a Green Sustainable Lens

Abstract: How might Museums and Cultural Institutions do sustainability well? C ultural institutions have the opportunity to champion sustainability. The Wright Museum and the Michigan Science Center, two midtown cultural center neighbors, are on the journey of being sustainability neighbors to hold space for demonstration, messaging, gathering and be places for conversations to be catalyst for community wellbeing. Through this presentation, we will define our “sustainable museums approach” where we are codeveloping sustainable solutions, using humancentered technology and developing clear business cases to effectively move on implementation. Planning, funding, and implementing green projects, presents cultural institutions with a way to save operating budget, reduce carbon, and create healthier environments. Museums can retrofit their existing buildings and create roadmaps, be ready

for grants and opportunities to replace older infrastructure with new appliances and retrofits to align with aligning saving energy, water and waste to one’s nonprofit mission. We will review two projects; submetering and Green Infrastructure Stormwater (GSI) as examples for exploring our sustainable museums approach.

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March 6 - Richard Smith
Social Work, Associate Professor
Neoliberalism and Residential Isolation: Implications for Social Work

Abstract: Residential segregation is a threat to social sustainability because it is associated with poor social mobility and health outcomes. We examine how the isolation index, a dimension of residential segregation, has changed over three time periods of the welfare state: 1) its rise (1930s), 2) expansion (post World War II), and 3) contraction (neoliberal era). We apply the Social Structures of Accumulation (SSA) theory, which argues that economic crises trigger changes to the welfare state in order to stimulate economic growth and capital accumulation. We use U.S. Census tract level data nested in counties from 1940 to 2010 made available by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (Logan, Lei, Qi, & Sha, 2017). Our sample includes the top 20 cities impacted by the Great Migration (1910-1940) because that is when many Southern Blacks moved north. On average, Black isolation rose during the welfare state’s expansion (1940 -1970), but plateaued during the neo-liberal period. Further, where Black isolation fell, Hispanic isolation rose. White isolation fell in each city. Housing policy in the neoliberal period mirrors that of social policy broadly and appear to be key to the new SSA. Implications for further research and policy are discussed.

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March 7 - Stephen Chrisomalis, Anthropology, Associate Professor; Allison Delaney, Anthropology, Master’s Student

Transformations in English numericals: the case of dozen and score

Abstract: What are number words?  It is easy to imagine them as a well-defined set, but the situation is more complex. Dozen and score are perplexing quantity words in English; they occupy a transitional state between quantifiers, words that express quantity but are not specific, and ordinary, unmarked numerals.   Words like these, called para-numerals or numericals, invite a historical analysis because they can serve as the source of new numeral words and motivate transformations in numeral systems.   Using corpus data from Early English Books Online and Google Books, along with the analysis of individual texts, we investigate the processes by which the category of English numeral words expands and contracts from 1400 to the present day, using dozen and score as examples.  Dozen begins as an indefinite loanword from French, and increasingly takes on the morphological and syntactic properties of other numerals.  Score, in contrast, was positioned in early modern English to become a standard part of the numeral lexicon, but never did so, and has now faded from numerical use.

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March 20 - Yuning(Bonnie) Wu
Criminal Justice, Associate Professor
From supervisory procedural justice to officer procedural justice: An empirical study of Chinese police officers

Abstract: An important yet severely understudied issue in the procedural justice literature involves the linkage between supervisory procedural accountability within a police agency and officer procedural accountability on the street. Relying on survey data collected from more than 700 police officers in a large Chinese city, we find that the effect of supervisory procedural accountability on officer procedural accountability is principally indirect through the mediating factors of officer satisfaction with job and morale, net of several control variables. Noticeably, surveyed officers report only moderate levels of procedural accountability delivered by their supervisors, and even lower levels of accountability that they themselves are willing to render to the public. Implications for future research and policy will be discussed.

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March 21 - Wendy Matthews **CANCELLED**
Music, Assistant Professor

Breaking the brass ceiling: A descriptive multiple-case study of contemporary professional women brass players


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March 22 - Jun Sung Hong
Social Work, Assistant Professor
Would Adopting the Code of the Street Behavior Lower Peer Victimization Risk among African American Youth in Chicago's Southside?

Abstract: The present study examined whether factors representing Elijah Anderson’s code of the streets hypothesis are associated with a decrease in peer victimization among a sample of 511 African American youth residing in low resourced communities in Chicago’s Southside. Self-reported data were collected on socio-demographics, neighborhood decay, perceived hopelessness, “code of the street” behaviors, physical and verbal aggression, and peer victimization. The findings partially supported Anderson’s hypothesis such that neighborhood decay and perceived hopelessness are significantly associated with code of the street behaviors, which can reinforce aggressive behavior. However, verbal aggression was associated with an increased risk of peer victimization. Overall findings point to a more nuanced relationship between neighborhood conditions and peer victimization among urban African American youth.

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March 27 - Jose Cuello
Latino/Latina Studies, Associate Professor

The Tribal Origins of Racism

Abstract: Racism is a deeply-rooted, world-wide emotion-driven feature of human thought and behavior that crystallized at the tribal level of human cultural development.  The incipient warrior, shaman, and trader 1% achieved tribal unity through internally-bonding, survival and success ideologies and activities; including collaborations with friendly tribes.  Tribal identity was also forged by making enemies of competing tribes.  Their members were ideologized into sub-human animals to domesticate, enslave and dispose.  Tribal racism has been used by monarchies and modern states to turn the 99% into warring factions within and across national boundaries.  In the United States, the WASP Tribe morphed into the White Tribe whose very existence, ideology and actions created the many other ethnic and racial tribes that populate modern North America.  Donald Trump has ignited the last gasp of White Tribalism against the inevitable reinvented multi-cultural identity of the democratic national tribe, the AllofUsTribe.

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March 28 - Robert Sedler
Law School, Distinguished Professor

Our 18th century Constitution, Congress, the President, and the Two-Party Political System

Abstract: This presentation will discuss how our 18th century Constitution interacts with the two party political system. Particular attention will be paid to the contemporary situation where the President is a Republican and the Republican Party controls both Houses of Congress. Our 18th century constitution embodies 18th century notions of separation of powers and checks and balances. And it is a constitution that was supposed to operate without political parties. The framers did not contemplate political parties, which they called factions. The assumed that all the leaders of the new government would be men like themselves, generally born to wealth and privilege with a strong sense of public service. But political parties emerged early, coming to the forefront in the election of 1796, and being firmly established in the election of 1800, with the Jeffersonians and the Federalists. The current two party system has been with us since the election of 1860, and is truly a two party political system. In the 30 Presidential elections since 1900, the Republicans have won 16 and the Democrats 14. While the Republican Party is currently in the ascendency, controlling both Houses and the Presidency, and the clear majority of state legislative bodies and governorships, the Democratic Party was in the ascendency after the 2008 election, and power has shifted between both parties over the years.

It is important to note that the American constitutional system begins with the states. The first constitutional document was the Declaration of Independence by which "these thirteen colonies ought to be and hereby are free and independent states." In American constitutional theory, the American states succeeded to the sovereignty formerly exercised by the British crown. This means that state sovereignty is a given in the American constitutional system, and the states do not depend on the federal constitution for the source of their power. Each state has its own system of law and its own courts - most of the laws that we live under are state laws - and states exercise fully sovereignty over domestic matters unless a particular exercise of that sovereignty is restricted by the constitution or is preempted by federal law. In American constitutional theory, there is no such thing as a national interest. The members of Congress are supposed to represent the interests of their districts and the Senators the interests of their states. The national interest then is the sum total of the interests of 435 congressional districts and 50 states. It is with this background that the presentation will explore the powers of Congress, the powers of the Presidency, and the relationship between the branches. And it will do so with reference to the current political situation following the 2016 election.


April 3 - Deanna Laurette
English, GTA

Representation, Communication, and Curated Identities: An Examination of Online Support Groups for People with Disabilities

Abstract: Internet based support groups for people with disabilities have grown in popularity as the Internet has become more widely available and accessible. They began with listservs and then moved to message boards, and then, more recently, are hosted on social media. Over the past ten years, Facebook has become home to several illness and disability related support groups. These support groups are unique spaces where social scientists and medical professionals have researched group interaction and its effects. Furthermore, these groups also provide unique spaces for group members to interact, connect with others, and share experiences. By utilizing research in the social sciences and medicine in concert with research in rhetoric and a series of interviews, I am exploring how and why members of Facebook support groups for the disabled communicate, how they represent themselves, and how they disclose, or find ways to not disclose, their identities. More specifically, I discuss how the nature of Facebook forces support group members to practice Maria Knoll's (2014) concept of visual anonymity in various ways. I also discuss Bazrova's (2012) phenomenon of disclosure personalism, and how it influences the communicative and disclosure practices of Facebook support group members. Disclosure practices and how non-disclosure leads to better communicative practices for some members are also discussed in this presentation. This presentation also explores the benefits of researching Facebook support groups through a cultural rhetorics lens and how this type of research could, and should, be expanded to other social media based communities.

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April 4 - Barrett Watten
English, Professor

Poetics as Knowledge Base; or, Against Poeticity as Such

Abstract: This lecture is a hybrid of two thought experiments—one, a discussion of the poetics of value that sees political economy and poetics as twin forms of historically specific mak-ing, linked discourses of the determination of value. The second is a proposal for the transvaluation of poetics, and specifically Language and conceptual writing, as prospec-tive organizations of poetic labor as a form of a “knowledge base” (adopted from infor-mation and digital theory). The notion that unites both is that poetry and poetics are forms not only of value making but value thinking—sites for the transvaluation of a gen-eral notion of value into particular values. Key forebears of the turn to a materialist poet-ics in modernism—Louis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams above all—provide ex-amples of poetry as value making in the widest sense. Zukofsky theorized a poetics of value in the making of his keystone work and parallel text, The First Half of “A.” Wil-liams, early and late, shows how the making of the world is what counts as value, no-where more readable than in the discontinuous unfolding, the uneven development of Paterson. In my second partr, I propose how the poetics of Language and conceptual writing can be transvalued, from a static compiling of the data of language toward a transvaluation of the labor congealed in past production—language, poetry, and world. Just as experimental writing was a transvaluation of prior modes of poetry, leading to new values for writing, so the transvaluation of experimental writing returns it to the world in its form of knowledge base, redefining the task of poetry and poetics as forms of value thinking. I will conclude with a brief reading of sections of my recent long poem, “Plan B.”

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April 10 - Michael Kral
Social Work, Associate Professor

Indigenizing Suicide Prevention: The Story of Inuit in Arctic Canada

Abstract: Inuit have been in Arctic Canada for almost one thousand years. Their major encounters with white people or Qallunaat began with whalers in the late 1800s up to about 1920, then by the trinity of missionaries, police, and the fur trade between the 1920s and 1940s. Then in 1957 the Canadian government decided to intervene. They moved Inuit from their family-based camps into crowded settlements, took the children away to boarding/residential or day schools, and began a wage economy that with no jobs created poverty. Gender roles changed particularly for men. The children sent to these schools, when they became adults, suffered from alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Their children began killing themselves in the mid-1980s. Inuit youth currently have one of the highest suicide rates in the world, a rate that is ten times the rate of the country. The government tried suicide prevention but failed. Yet an important even happened. When Inuit communities, particularly their youth, began to create their own suicide prevention programs and activities, suicides began to drop. In this presentation I will tell the story of one community where a youth organization stopped suicides by a significant amount. This is the indigenization of suicide prevention.

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April 11 - Amy Ann Latawiec
English, Lecturer

Piloting a “Stretch” Curriculum: A Longitudinal Study of Basic Writing, Student Dispositions, and the Definition of Success

Abstract: The Basic Writing course at WSU (ENG 1010) is designed to help students develop a strong foundation for college composition. Currently, this is the only course option available for students who are seeking or who are in need of additional writing support prior to enrolling in Wayne State’s first year writing course, ENG 1020. Research in the field of Writing Studies has demonstrated that additional course options for developmental writers can contribute to greater student engagement, satisfaction, and overall persistence throughout their collegiate careers.  In the 2017-18 academic year, the Composition Program ran two (2) pilot sections of Stretch ENG 1020, a course that “stretches” the first-year writing curriculum across two semesters. This talk will detail the ways in which multiple models of instruction reflect the best practices for teaching developmental writing and will also provide some preliminary results and insight from an IRB-approved study of the pilot.

(Flyer) (Photos) (Video)

April 17 -From 1:00pm to 2:00pm renee c. hoogland
English, Professor

Nancy Mitchnick’s Uncalibrated Figuration

Abstract: The battles over abstract versus figurative art that dominated art critical debates throughout the 20th-century may have, pace Clement Greenberg, substantially abated in the early decades of the 21st century. The question of representation in visual art nonetheless appears to have found its continuation in the privileging of perception, in its presumed immediacy and inevitability, and, more importantly, of the reassuring operations of the conceptually organizational force of an interpretational frame based in the optical vision of light.

In this paper, I shift the focus from perception to sensation, from figuration, not towards abstraction, but toward the figure, in order to explore the event or irruption—the violence, the chaos—of sensation in the work of Detroit painter Nancy Mitchnick, whose colossal, ostensibly figurative paintings constitute an art of non- narrative, canvases in which the powerful materialities of lines, colors, brush strokes operate in excess of tangible and symbolic form--uncalibrated.

(Flyer) (Photos) (Video)

April 18 - R. Khari Brown, Sociology, Associate Professor; Ronald E. Brown, Political Science, Associate Professor
Race, Religion, & Politics

Abstract: Using fifteen national and regional surveys collected between 1961 and 2010, the present study indicates that while African Americans are more likely than Whites to hear sermons about political issues, hearing such sermons more consistently associates with Whites taking progressive positions on policies aimed at promoting; human rights and economic opportunities in the US and abroad, fostering diplomatic relationships with other nations, and a criminal justice system that does not disproportionately burden and punish the poor and powerless than is the case among Blacks and Hispanics.  For Whites, these political worship spaces may allow for a counter-narrative to a civil religious impulse that rationalizes an American Exceptionalism that calls for social and racial inequality and US global hegemony to ensure a safe world.  Conversely, for Blacks and Hispanics, the experience of marginalization due to race, citizenship, and poverty-status may serve as a counter-narrative itself to such a civil religious impulse, which therefore, render mute the influence of political sermons on public opinion. 

(Flyer) (Photos) (Video)


No Brown Bag talk on May