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Denise Levertov, “The Illustration,” The Jacob's Ladder (NY: New Directions, 1961).

2013-2014 CHAT Lectures

Envionmental Humanities Series

A special series for 2013-14 highlights new research on cultural analyses of environmental change by bringing innovative scholars to Temple to to present their ideas and discuss them with interested faculty and students. Time and place varies.

Distinguished Faculty Lectures

All talks showcase new research by Temple faculty on alternate Thursdays, 12:30-1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge, 10th Floor, Gladfelter Hall


Spring 2014


Guest Lecture in the Humanities

Speaker portrait Abbie Reese, Independent Scholar

Monastic Silence and a Visual Dialogue: An Oral History with Cloistered Nuns

Thursday, February 27
3:30–5:00 pm, CHAT Lounge

Poor Clare Colettine nuns follow an 800-year-old rule. As members of one of the strictest religious orders in existence, they make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure. A metal grille separates the enclosure from the outside world, symbolically and literally, allowing the nuns to focus on their mission—to pray for humanity. For more than eight years, Abbie Reese has been granted rare access to conduct oral history interviews and make photographs with a community of Poor Clare Colettine nuns at the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford, Ill. During this event, Reese will share audio clips and show photographs, anddiscuss the process—the negotiations and the exchanges—entailed in this long-term project with an enclosed community that values anonymity and whose members observe monastic silence. Reese will also show footage from her ongoing collaborative ethnographic/documentary film project focusing on one woman who Reese arranged to meet in 2005 when she visited the Corpus Christi Monastery to discern if she had been called to a religious vocation in a cloister; this film-in-progress will focus on the liminal phase that is the process of becoming.


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Orfeo Fioretos, Political Science

History and Politics in the Remaking of Global Capitalism

Thursday, March 13
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

A new chapter is being written in the political history of capitalism. More than at any other time, the world is relying on a mixture of overlapping organizations and rules that blend national and international means for regulating markets. This talk addresses the origins of market regulation before and after the 2008 crisis. At the center are explorations into how ideological and institutional battles have defined post-crisis market regulation since the 1970s, how the global economic order is being remade since 2008, and what the next chapter of the 21st century capitalism may look like.


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Adele Nelson, Art History

Abstraction and
the Representation of Difference
in Postwar Brazilian Art

Thursday, March 27
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Why abstraction? That question—and its expanded form: what caused the shift from the dominance of politicized social realism before World War II to the ascendancy of supposedly apolitical geometric abstraction thereafter?—has been paramount to the study of postwar Brazilian art. This talk will demonstrate that abstract artists in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in the 1950s did not conceive of their works as apolitical, formal exercises. I argue that in supplanting figurative portrayals of the Brazilian citizenry with serial color and geometric studies and, in effect, eliding the national in favor of the universal, abstract artists sought to make visible and meaningful subtle differences and foster a foundational reconception of the role of art in society.


Environmental Humanities Series

Speaker portraitMark Pedelty, Communication Studies and Anthropology
University of Minnesota

Sound Ecology:
Music, Noise, and Sonic Conflict
in the Salish Sea

Wednesday, April 2
3:30 pm, CHAT Lounge

Sound is central to environmental conflicts in the Pacific Northwest. From debates over sonar disruption of whale communication to jet noise in Olympic National Park, environmentalists have advocated for more sustainable soundscapes. Musicians have played central roles, communicating environmental messages, cohering local communities, and making the improbable seem possible through musical performance. Mark Pedelty will present his fieldwork among environmentalist musicians in Washington State and British Columbia, focusing on Dana Lyons (Cows with Guns) and the Raging Grannies, cases that provide clues as to how activist musicians define, and achieve, success. (more...)


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Lara Ostaric, Philosophy

The Nonsensical and the Ugly

Thursday, April 10
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Philosophical discussions in aesthetics have traditionally been focused on the aesthetic category of beauty and pleasure. Our judgments of the ugly have rarely been discussed although we use them everyday in our aesthetic assessments of works of art and nature in general. By using Immanuel Kant's theory of aesthetic judgment as a point of departure I will argue that the aesthetic category of ugliness, just as the aesthetic category of beauty, can be a pure aesthetic category. Put differently, one can demand a universal agreement with one's judgment of the ugly so that ugliness just as beauty can be a part of the meaningful public aesthetic discourse. I will further argue that ugliness in art should not be understood as a representation of ugly objects but as dissonance and disharmony that communicates nonsense.


Environmental Humanities Series

Speaker portraitPaige West, Anthropology
Barnard College

Accumulation, Dispossession, Conservation and Indigenous Sovereignty in Papua New Guinea

Thursday, April 17
3:30 pm, Paley Library Lecture Hall, 1210 Polett Walk

“Dispossession” is the theft of sovereignty over lands and bodies, and it often results in the emergence of new social forms, systems of social reproduction, and modes of being. Papua New Guineans (and Melanesians generally) trouble contemporary approaches to dispossession and subjectivity, since they adhere neither to Enlightenment notions of humans as possessing an individual self, nor the individual self as the seat of rights and responsibilities. Here I examine one form of external intervention (“Capacity Building”) in environmental conservation and economic development. I argue that the notion of people “lacking capacity” is always conjoined with the notion of people who are living in a primitive state and then show how this has created a situation whereby Papua New Guinean scientists barely have a voice in conservation or research in their country. (more...)


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Alicia Imperiale, Architecture

UNRRA-CASAS and the Planning of the Southern Italian Village of La Martella 1951-54

Thursday, April 24
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

The UNRRA-Casas was a nationwide program in Italy which focused its operations on the design and construction of new towns and housing for the homeless in the immediate post-WWII period. The new village of La Martella in the southern Italian region of Basilicata was constructed 7 km. outside of Matera. The buildings of La Martella were designed by architect Ludovico Quaroni in line with the goal of the U.N. funding to promote the use of prefabricated elements and repetition of building elements to allow for rapid and inexpensive construction in an attempt to modernize Italy. Quaroni’s project highlighted the possibility of introducing planned changes in the building elements and overall town planning to allow for individual expression in the architecture, quelling the alienation felt in repetitive, sterile, postwar housing in both Italy and other parts of Europe. My talk will examine how urban design and housing reflects and changes the experience of inhabitants: linking policy, urban design, and architectural design as research in the humanities.


Environmental Humanities Series

Speaker portraitTarla Peterson, Wildlife Sciences, Texas A&M University

Promises and Perils of Smart Grid: Utopian and Dystopian Visions of the 21st-Century Electricity System

Thursday, May 1
5:00–7:00 pm, CHAT Lounge

Access to electricity offers a myriad of benefits, but producing that electricity adversely affects the environment by increasing the rate of anthropogenic climate change, exploiting increasingly scarce resources such as water, and producing noxious gases that negatively impact animal (including human) health. Smart grid promises a brave new world where electricity provides a perfectly aligned and positive contribution to the human condition. Detractors point to the inevitable perils of any utopian vision, including the shadowy presence of corporate and/or government spies. Today I will discuss the most vociferously argued smart grid imaginaries, including both promises and perils related to (1) reliability and security, (2) the economy, (3) environmental quality, and (4) citizen engagement. (more...)


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Cristina Gragnani, Italian

The 'Other' Side of Conflict:
Italian Women Writers and World War I

Thursday, February 6
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Cristina Gragnani is Assistant Professor of Italian at Temple University, specializing in turn of the twentieth century Italian literature and culture. Her research interests lie in three different fields: Italian women writers, late nineteenth-century literary periodicals, and Luigi Pirandello. She has published articles on Willy Dias (Fortuna Morpurgo), Elda Gianelli, Anna Franchi, female readership in post-unification Italy, and Luigi Pirandello. With Ombretta Frau she is the author of the 2011 book Sottoboschi letterari (Literary Underworld, Firenze University Press) and of the critical edition of Pirandello's Taccuino di Harvard (The Harvard Notebook, Mondadori, 2002). She is currently at work on a book on Italian women writers and World War I, and on a collaborative Digital Humanities project (also with Ombretta Frau) on the material culture of late nineteenth-century Italian women writers.


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Mark Leuchter, Religion

The Devil Made Me Do It:
The Ancient Mythology Behind Personal Moral Struggle in Early Judaism

Thursday, February 20
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

The familiar image of the "angel" and "devil" on either shoulder, each arguing for the individual to make a particular moral choice, is derived from ancient Jewish ideas of a moral struggle against an individual's "evil inclination", which is in turn often seen as derived from the Jewish encounter with ancient Greek philosophy. But the roots of this concept are far older, and reflect a centuries-long development of ancient Israelite mythology regarding the Divine Warrior's struggle against the forces of chaos and evil. Over time, this mythology evolved into different iterations until the battleground became internal and personal, with the struggle against evil directed to the enemy within


Fall 2013


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Adrienne Shaw, Media Studies and Production

Playing at the Edge:
Gender, Race, and Sexuality
in Video Games

Thursday, September 12
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Adrienne Shaw received her PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching focus on popular culture, the politics of representation, technology, cultural production, and qualitative audience research. Her primary areas of interest are video games, gaming culture, and gender and sexuality studies. In addition to authoring several book chapters, her research has been published in New Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media and Communication, and Games and Culture, among others. She has received top paper awards from ICA and AEJMC. In addition, she is a member of the government funded CYCLES project (part of the SIRIUS program) developing an educational video game to train players on cognitive biases. She co-chairs the GLBT studies interest group of the International Communication Association.


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Niambi Carter, African American Studies

The Curious Case of Judge Aaron: Race, the Law, and the Protection of White Supremacy

Thursday, September 26
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Niambi M. Carter is Assistant Professor of African American Studies. A summa cum laude graduate of Temple University, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. Her primary areas of study are American politics, with an emphasis on race, identity politics, American political development, and public opinion. Her current research project examines African American public opinion with respect to immigration. Her most recent work explores the uses of racialized, sexual violence during the Jim Crow period.


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Hamil Pearsall, Geography and Urban Studies

Diversification or Transformation? Coping with Vulnerabilities to Multiple Stressors in Chiapas, Mexico

Thursday, October 10
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

Hamil Pearsall is an assistant professor in the Geography and Urban Studies Department. Her research bridges several themes in the human relationship to the environment and geography: the social dimension of sustainability; environmental justice and health; and community resilience in the face of environmental and economic stressors. Pearsall received her M.A. and Ph.D from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University and was an assistant professor of Geographic Information Science at Clark University prior to joining the faculty at Temple.


Environmental Humanities Series

Speaker portraitJames Tyner, Geography
Kent State University

Violence, Surplus Production, and
the Transformation of Nature
during the Cambodian Genocide

Thursday, October 17
5:00 pm, CHAT Lounge

The Communist Party of Kamphuchea (CPK; also known as the Khmer Rouge) carried out a program of mass violence that led to the death of approximately one-quarter of Cambodia's pre-war population in 1975-79. These deaths are attributable to specific administrative policies and practices initiated by the CPK, all of which were geared toward the basic objective of increasing agricultural productivity as a means of generating surplus value. The details of these policies and practices have been widely discussed; less understood is how the Khmer Rouge perceived 'nature' and the implications this had on subsequent political-economic policies. Accordingly, in this paper I begin the task of (1) reconstructing the CPK's agricultural policies within the context of administrative violence, and, (2) articulating the CPK's conception of nature as manifest in these policies. (more...)


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Eileen Ryan, History

Imperial Anxieties:
Italian Colonialism and the Formation of an Official Mind

Thursday, November 7
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

The nationalist and expansionist message of the Fascist Party in Italy seemed to answer the hopes of many Italian imperialists, state officials, private investors, and Italian settlers who bemoaned a lack of interest in the national government for the development of Italy’s relatively small holdings in the Libyan territories. The reality of the shift to a fascist administration, however, brought out a number of unresolved issues over the nature of Italian colonial rule. In particular, the introduction of fascist militias in 1923, sent to Libya to rid the Italian peninsula of more zealous proponents of indiscriminate violence while providing a solution to a persistent shortage of troops in the colonies, threatened to upset a delicate balance between regional powerbrokers and Italian officials.  This presentation will examine the impact of the rise of the Fascist Party in the Libyan territories and the subsequent tension between Party leaders and colonial officials over the future of Italian imperialism.


Environmental Humanities Series

Speaker portraitEmmanuel Kreike, History
Princeton University

Environmental Infrastructure in African History:
The Myth of Natural Resource Management in Namibia

Thursday, November 14
5:00 pm, CHAT Lounge

Based on my recently published book with the above title the paper sketches a new way of analyzing and narrating understanding environmental change that builds on but pushes beyond the idea of a 'middle ground' or 'middle zone' between Nature and Culture.  The approach qualifies humans as 'architects of Nature' rather than Nature's rulers or victims, or its destroyers or champions.  Instead of separating the realms of Nature and Culture, the natural and the artifact, or natural resources and technology, the paper bridges the dichotomy: the products of both Nature's and Culture's creativity constitute environmental infrastructure. (more...)


Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series

Speaker portrait Yun Zhu, Critical Languages

Negotiating A Female Public Sphere: The Rhetoric of Sisterhood in the Women's Magazine Ling Long (Shanghai, 1931-37)

Thursday, November 21
12:30–1:50 pm, CHAT Lounge

This talk will investigate the rhetoric of sisterhood in "Ling Long," a Shanghai-based women's magazine run during the socio-culturally transformative period between 1931 and 1937. Treating the discursive politics and practices around sisterhood as an anchor point at the conjuncture of feminism, nationalism, and semi-colonial cosmopolitanism, I argue that the feminized status of this popular journal, ironically, facilitated its role as a production site of contested knowledge and multi-layered identities in the construction of a female-centered public sphere, which sufficiently complicated, if not challenged, the dominant male-centered rhetoric of revolution, nation-building, and modernization.

Center for the Humanities
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