Becoming Black: A Meditation on Racialization

“Becoming Black:  A Meditation on Racialization”Professor Bernard‘s daughters weren’t born black; they are Ethiopian by birth.  Blackness is the social condition that largely determines their experiences in the United States.  They were five years old when they absorbed the fact that black is an ideological, socio-political category that has little to do with actual skin […]

“The Court Transformed: How It Happened; Why It Matters”

The U.S. Supreme Court has undergone a major transformation over the course of its 224-year history. Between 1789 and 1962, 47 percent of appointees to the Court had held major political posts in their pre-Court careers.  Over the past fifty years, presidents have predominantly filled Court vacancies with federal judges having clearly confirmed conservative track […]

Gay Identity and the Act of Reading in The Well of Loneliness

This lecture examines the retroactive formation of gay identity through the act of reading in a famous lesbian novel of the 1920s, Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Appealing to sexologial theory, Hall argues that homosexuals are naturally and immutably different–as we say now, “born this way”–yet the novel’s scene of reading opposes that claim, […]

From Snowflakes to Semiconductors

Crystallization is the name for processes by which atoms and molecules organize themselves into patterns ranging from simple to intricate.  In modern science and technology, the natural processes behind crystallization are harnessed to produce useful materials, and these processes are visualized at the mesoscopic scale.  As traditional materials (such as silicon) approach their ultimate limits […]

Sustainable Environment, Sustainable Democracy, Sustainable Politics

Professor Robert V. Bartlett, Gund Professor of Liberal Arts in the Political Science Department. Sustainability politics has been around for three decades; environmental politics for five (under that label).  Over the same period, the political world has become considerably more democratic.  More societies and institutions have embraced various democratic processes, more people have become deeply engaged […]

Agamemnon in Africa, Ulysses in Ulaanbaatar: Classics Gone Global

Two Continents.  Two Epic heroes. Two classical scholars.  Classics Professor Mark Usher discusses how the work of maverick Classicists Milman Parry (1902-1934) and George Thomson (1903-1987) revolutionized the field of Classics in their day and how their scholarly discoveries and vision brought him recently to Africa and Mongolia in pursuit of the study of two […]

“How Clothes Make the Man: Textile Art in Ancient Central Asia”

The College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture 2011

William Mierse, Professor of Art and Art History

The lack of surviving textiles is one of the major gaps in our understanding of ancient art. We know that they were important. But the archaeological record has preserved few examples until quite recently. Over the last twenty years excavations in the Taklimakan Desert in China’s Xinjiang Province have begun to reveal rich finds of textiles. These objects are forcing us to change our understanding of the nature of the artistic exchanges between the ancient Mediterranean and Chinese regions and are providing us with a glimpse of the sophisticated artistic production that occurred in Central Asia where influences from the West and the East came together along with indigenous cultural forces to produce these textile works. In this talk, Mierse explores one particularly intriguing textile find from Yingpan.

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“Americanitis: American Movies and Soviet Cinema”

If Americans ever think about Soviet cinema, they either imagine dreary propaganda films or remember world-class avant-garde directors like Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky. Some Soviet movies were indeed dismal propaganda, and more than a few were cinematic masterpieces (usually the ones in trouble with the censorship). There was, however, another world of Soviet movies—the […]

Philip Baruth “A Brief Series of Impolitic Remarks, Potentially Culminating in Summary Dismissal from the University (Or, On Satire)”

Satire is always hungry for pieties: commonplaces we learn and repeat without ever asking how, public figures we esteem without ever quite understanding why. For this reason, there is a certain rhetorical violence to satire that is at once its greatest draw, and its greatest drawback. Because he or she makes sport of powerful people and closely-held ideas, those that society has done its best to sanctify, the satirist is generally held in low esteem — and eventually fired or, in some cultures, jailed and then killed. This is especially true of a satirist working in a very small New England state. In this talk, Professor Baruth will review some of the things he has written which have caused deep offense in the past, and make headway on provoking fresh offense for the future.

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Tina Escaja “Optics as Metaphor; The Printer at the Far End of the Romance Languages: A CyberArtist / Feminist / Impostor’s Take on Otherness.”

What does it mean to be a woman then and now, at two turns of the century? What does it mean to be a feminist, a scholar, a brown, thick-accented woman in American academia? Escaja’s lecture invites you to reflect on the elusive concept of otherness, from fin-de-siecle decadence to technological fallacies of liberation in […]