A guide to upcoming events in the humanities and social sciences at Temple University, updated weekly during the academic year.
The Center for the Humanities at Temple University supports innovative, interdisciplinary research and teaching in the humanities. Participation in the Center is open to faculty and students in all schools and colleges at Temple University.
CHAT Fellows on Stage
This week CHAT fellows will host two major events. On Wednesday afternoon, the CHAT graduate student fellows will host their annual conference. They will take up the question of hidden censorship within academia, where scholars who want to pursue projects that do not fit neatly into the pre-established boundaries of their own disciplines face numerous obstacles that could range from difficulties securing funding for research to difficulties gaining promotion. A historian, an anthropologist, and a sociologist will share their experiences with pursuing unconventional research projects. For more detail see here.
Then on Thursday, Temple Sociology professor Matt Wray will deliver his distinguished lecture on the alarming rise in suicides in the United States in recent years. He sees Las Vegas—the city with the highest suicide rate in the country—as ground zero of a nationwide epidemic, a desert crucible that forged new forms of social isolation and personal despair that are now widespread throughout America. Wray, one of this year’s faculty fellows at CHAT, will speak this Thursday at 12:30 in the CHAT lounge. For more information, see here.
|April 3||Associate Graduate Scholar Award|
|April 17||Digital Scholars Program|
|May 5||Interdisciplinary Research Groups|
Dr. Rob Ruck, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Heather Levi, Temple University
Dr. Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, American University
"That's not what we do here!": Censorship and (In)valid Academic Interests
Wednesday, March 29
2:00–4:00 pm, CHAT Lounge
Despite its political reputation, academia is, in many ways, a conservative institution. Disciplinary boundaries are often rigid and new methodologies or subjects of study can take years to emerge. Scholars who seek to push boundaries by taking up an atypical subject or field of study are often met with the statement--be it implicit or explicit--"that's not what we do here." At this symposium, we will ask, "why not?" We have assembled an interdisciplinary collection of speakers who are part of a broader wave of scholarship that challenges academic conventions by subjecting topics once seen as "illegitimate," "un-serious," or "niche" to rigorous intellectual scrutiny. Through an afternoon of collegial exchange we will assess some of the professional considerations to taking up an atypical academic topic. Panelists will discuss why academics press on in spite of those external/internal pressures, how attitudes within the academy have changed over time, and whether institutions are becoming more or less welcoming to work on non-traditional topics and methods.
Dr. Rob Ruck is Professor of Transnational Sport History at the University of Pittsburgh. He has authored several books including Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game (2011), The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic (1991), and Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh (1987). Ruck earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in history at the University of Pittsburgh after earning his B.A. at Yale University.
Dr. Heather Levi is assistant professor of instruction here in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University. Her work focuses on the anthropology of Mexico and Latin America, and she is particularly interested in the ways that popular culture and mass media intersect with gender and sexuality. She is the author of the 2008 book The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity, published by Duke University Press. In addition, she has written numerous articles and book chapters on lucha libre, an iconic form of professional wrestling in Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from NYU in 2001.
Dr. Salvador Vidal-Ortiz is associate professor in the sociology department at American University (AU) in Washington DC. He coedited The Sexuality of Migration: Border Crossings and Mexican Immigrant Men (New York University Press, 2009) and Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism (University of Texas Press, 2015). He is currently completing his manuscript on Santería (an Afro-Cuban religious-cultural practice), tentatively titled: An Instrument of the Orishas: Racialized Sexual Minorities in Santería, as well as a co-authored book, with two of his former students: Brandon A. Robinson (UT-Austin) and Cristina Khan (U-Conn) titled Race and Sexuality (Polity Press, 2019).
"Death in Vegas: Suicide and Self-Destruction in the American West"
Thursday, March 30
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge
In 2015, American suicide rates hit a thirty-year high. This fact, along with rising rates of alcohol and drug abuse, is the main reason that life expectancy for whites has begun to decline. This rising trend in self-destruction started well before the recent recession, and, in this talk, Wray traces the forces and factors behind what public health officials are calling "our new national epidemic." Wray focuses his analysis on Las Vegas--the American city with the highest suicide rate, as ground zero of the epidemic--a desert crucible that forged new forms of social isolation and personal despair that are now widespread thrughout America.
Matt Wray is Associate Professor, Sociology at Temple University. A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, he has had postdoctoral fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. His research interests focus on health, culture, and race. Wray is completing a book about suicide and self-destruction in the American West, drawing attention to the various forms of isolation and freedom peculiar to the swath of western states that make up the American Suicide Belt. Previously he has published books about the stigmatyping of poor rural whites. His journal articles have appeared in Social Science and Medicine, American Behavioral Scientist, and Annual Review of Sociology. He is a former editor at Contexts and current contributing editor at PublicBooks.org.