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Yosemite Park...

intro picis one of America's most visited national parks. The nineteenth century conservationist John Muir was so awestruck by the landscape that he likened it to a temple. He was instrumental in turning Yosemite into a national park in 1890. In this week's CHAT distinguished lecture, Temple University Dance Professor Sally Ann Ness will examine Yosemite in a whole new light: as a stage for the enactment of cultural performance. She explores the site itself as a performing landscape, but also takes a closer look at landscape performance within Yosemite. Through ethnographic fieldwork on the sports of climbing and hiking conducted from 2005-2012 she has developed a "choreographic" theory of cultural performance. Please join us this Thursday in the CHAT Lounge for what promises to be a captivating lecture. For more detail see below.

Reminder: Advanced Graduate Scholar Award applications for the fall of 2017 are due NEXT week (March 6) For eligibility and application guidelines, click here.



Upcoming Deadlines:

Spring 2017

  March 6   Advanced Graduate Scholar Award
  April 3   Associate Graduate Scholar Award
  May 5   Interdisciplinary Research Groups


Upcoming Talks:

Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series

Speaker portraitSally Ann Ness, Dance

Choreographies of Landscape;: Signs of Performance in Yosemite National Park

Thursday, March 2
12:30-1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Ethnographic fieldwork on the sports of climbing and hiking conducted from 2005-2012 in Yosemite National Park supports a "choreographic" theory of cultural performance. This pragmatic symbolic theory posits movement as the ground of all meaning-making. It gives primary consideration to the performative force of embodied movements as they inspire, transmit, reproduce, coordinate, and publicly transform various kinds of meaningful self-world relationships. The choreographic theoretical framework advanced, in contrast to more widely employed semiotic analytics, foregrounds sign performance as opposed to sign information, sign movement rather than sign-object relations, and sign mediation rather than sign representation. In so doing, it recognizes new roles for movement in the development of conceptual processes, as well as in the cultural dynamics of group and solo performance practices, and in the analysis and pedagogical understanding of sonic and kinetic forms of meaning-making.

Sally Ann Ness is an incoming Professor and Chair of Dance at Temple University. She is author of Choreographies of Landscape (Berghahn Press, 2016), which was supported by a 2007 John S. Guggenheim award. Her book publications include Body, Movement, and Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), Where Asia Smiles (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), and Migrations of Gesture (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) co-edited with Carrie Noland. Her research has also been published in Semiotic Inquiry, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Dance Research Journal, Journal of Asian Studies, The Drama Review, and Performance Research, among other journal publications.


Translation Lecture Series

Yom picMichael F. Laffan, History, Princeton University

Translating Citizenship: the Cocos Islands become an Australian Muslim Territory, 1955-59


Wednesday, March 8
4:00-5:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Standing assembled in Bandung in April of 1955, the newly independent leaders of South and Southeast Asia looked to their own populations as much as to their former overlords as they mapped out visions for the world of independent nation states. Yet, at the same time, plans were being finalized in London and Canberra for the transfer of authority that November of a tiny set of isles in the Indian Ocean with some four hundred Muslim inhabitants of "Malay" origin. Puzzled by what to do with this population, Canberra's first Official Representative to the Cocos Islands crossed the lagoon to see just how a modern state administered Islamic customary law. This contact would set in train an attempt by some of the islanders to seek the patronage of the Australian Government against their hereditary employee. This led to difficult conversations about how notions of citizenship would be translated. Beyond this I will argue that it is only by following a group of islanders sent to Christmas Island in the aftermath of the dispute that we are able to see just how much religious differences may well have been the root cause of the crisis of 1957, which led in turn to yet more uncomfortable debates about the nature of citizenship for Asian people in still very White Australia.

Michael Laffan is professor of history at Princeton University, where he teaches courses on the history of Southeast Asia and Islam across the Indian Ocean. A native of Canberra, Australia, he is the author of Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia (Routledge 2003) and The Makings of Indonesian Islam (Princeton, 2011). He is now turning his attention to South Africa and Sri Lanka in the hope of learning more about the broader history of Islam under the hardly-benevolent rule of the Dutch East India Company.


Recorded Programs

Video CameraMany past lectures can be viewed online. These are fascinating lectures on a wide range of topics in the humanities with high-quality sound and video. See our growing collection of recorded programs.


Graduate Courses

Student with booksLooking for a unique course to round out your graduate education? Serious about interdisciplinary methods? CHAT lists Graduate courses across the humanities and social sciences that welcome qualified students from other graduate programs. Listings are updated regularly after registration begins for each semester.


Continuing Exhibitions

Spring 2016

Speaker PortraitLeah Modigliani, Tyler School of Art

How long can we tolerate this? An incomplete record from 1933-1999

M-F, 10 am-4 pm, CHAT Gallery
10th floor, Gladfelter Hall
(more... )



Center for the Humanities
10th Floor, Gladfelter Hall (025-45)
1115 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6089
Phone - 215-204-6386
Fax - 215-204-8371
Email - chat@temple.edu