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All events to be held:
Wednesdays, noon
IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)

Upcoming IASH Fellows Speaker Series
Fall 2019


September 11, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: “Being Gutless: Race, Kinship, and Microbial Medicine”
Presented by: Matthew Wolf-Meyer (Anthropology)

Drawing on disability studies and science and technology studies, this paper offers a foray into experiments with intestinal flora and microbial transplants as remedies for debilitating digestive disorders. Transplantation of “healthy” gut colonies into sick patients – who often are diagnosed with bacterial infections, including Clostridium difficile – often resolves digestive problems quickly, if not cleanly.  Treatments lose their efficacy over time, suggesting that the “native” colony of a recipient slowly reasserts itself, including its ill effects and bacterial imbalances. Patients find themselves returning to donors for fresh transplants regularly, incentivizing them to maintain relationships with kin and friends, and to monitor those kin’s and friend’s health as a means to ensure “healthy” future donations. In this paper, I focus on patient narratives about knowing and not knowing what’s wrong with one’s gut, and what is happening with other people’s guts. Rather than cast their microbial colonies as lacking something, they see their guts as being too abundant and that the guts of others are more balanced. Such a view conceives of others – and their guts and what may or may not be in them – not as prosthetics that remedy one’s chronic conditions, but as resources to be cared for and sustained. Focusing on the relational aspects of microbial care points to the insufficiencies in medical and scientific knowledge and practice about guts and the need to conceptualize human digestion as a more-than-human and more-than-bodily process that relies on known and unknown agents in maintaining health.


September 18, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: "'Stillness that Moves': Crafting Atmospheric Pressure in the Restoration of the Rothko Chapel"
Presented by: Pamela Smart (Art History)

The Rothko Chapel, the non-denominational chapel named for Mark Rothko whose suite of paintings the chapel’s founders and benefactors, John and Dominique de Menil, commissioned for it, is approaching its 50th anniversary. This juncture, along with some pressing maintenance issues, has motivated a plan to restore the chapel to resolve ongoing problems with the building’s design that have been wrestled with since its conception. Notwithstanding serious shortcomings in the manner in which light enters the building and illuminates the paintings, the chapel has been venerated for its propensity to conjure experiential intensity. Drawing on Gernot Böhme’s spatialized aesthetic of atmospheres, this paper is chiefly concerned with the crafting of conditions favorable to the experience of “atmospheric pressure,” as Elaine de Kooning characterized the effect of Rothko’s paintings, and the attunement to contemplation and action that it is meant to elicit.

September 25, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: "Of Trolls and Affective Masculinities: Inside the World of Digital India”
Presented by: Amrita De (Comparative Literature)

This paper analyses digital masculinities in context of the politics of the present. Through my ideation of affective masculinities, I seek to delineate a way by which Indian digital literacies could be unpacked to make sense of the hyper-visibility of rampant, muscular nationalism on display. Moving from accounts of social media trolling, to first hand survey of images and tweets available in the digital ecosystem, I show how traditional scripts of heteronormative masculinities are affectively deployed to produce a heteronormative Hindu nation.


October 2, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: "Welcome to La Amerika: Linguistic Assimilation of the Sephardim"
Presented by: Bryan Kirschen (Romance Languages)

This talk explores linguistic assimilation among Sephardic Jews in the United States from the early twentieth century until the present day. In the past century, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) has gone from being the primary vehicle of communication across generations of Sephardim to a post-vernacular tool utilized to preserve the historical, cultural, and linguistic memories of the population in question. At the forefront of such assimilation is the advancement of language shift among the Sephardim, from New York City to Los Angeles. To understand patterns of language shift, this study considers the hybrid nature of Judeo-Spanish as both a Jewish language and a variety of Spanish, while exploring linguistic ramifications of contact within each faction. Utilizing a variety of printed and aural sources, this study will shed light on the ways in which Sephardim have accommodated their language, on the one hand, and have preserved it, on the other.

October 16, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series:  “Railroads and Agricultural Development in Antebellum Northern Virginia
Presented by:  Jason Tercha (History)

In the 1850s, Virginians witnessed a surge in railroad development across the state’s northeastern counties. Railroad companies, such as the Manassas Gap and the Orange and Alexandria, extended lines from the Potomac River across the piedmont. These companies largely drew financial support from state and local governments and from a long list of local shareholders, many of whom were from the farming class.
This presentation investigates the representation of the farming class in railroad stock ownership. It employs data-driven approaches of the digital humanities to analyze census and tax records alongside corporate stock subscription lists. This approach underscores the diversity of the farming class – due to differences in wealth, occupation, gender, and race – as a means to identify and analyze the local contingencies of railroad development. It moves beyond simple dichotomies in our understanding of the political economy to assess the economic volatility and destabilizing features of capitalist development.

October 30, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: “Making Sense of the Planetary Inferno: Climates of Crisis in the Holocene, 376-2019”
Presented by: Jason W. Moore (Sociology)

The end of the Holocene, a 12,000-year era of unusual climate stability, poses fundamental challenges to dominant modes of inquiry across the humanities and social sciences. Making sense of the unfolding biospheric state shift – abrupt, fundamental, irreversible – will require an intellectual state shift that transcends the modern social thought’s strictly-policed dualism between Humanity and Nature. This presentation reconstructs the historical geography of civilizational crisis – understood as fundamental turning points in ecologies of power, re/production, and life-making – in Western Asia and the Atlantic world across three pivotal moments: Dark Ages Cold Period (400-750); the dawn of the Little Ice Age (1290-1450); and the long, cold seventeenth century (1550-1700). Understanding climate as fundamentally entwined with the conditions of civilizational “golden ages” no less than crises, I show how unfavorable climate shifts have destabilized ruling classes and business-as-usual across the past two millennia. How do we connect the outcomes of these previous crises with the extraordinarily greater scale and speed of today’s planetary crisis? The way forward requires confronting not only the shallow historicism of the hegemonic environmental imaginary, but also dualist habits of thought that abstract human-initiated domination, exploitation, and violence from the web of life.


November 13, 2019
IASH Fellows Speaker Series: “The Show Must Go On: Disciplining Theatre Professionals”
Presented by: David Bisaha (Theatre)

A 1947 “Theatre Workers’ Code of Ethics” exists among the papers of actor Kathleen Freeman. From simple rules such as “I shall never miss a performance” to the more abstract “I shall forego the gratification of my ego” and “I shall never lose my enthusiasm for theatre because of disappointments,” Freeman wrote a rare list of unspoken ideologies for theatre work. Today such attitudes are summed up as “professionalism,” a concept both aspirational and descriptive. This presentation considers the influence of professional ideology across types of theatre workers at a time in which the US theatre industry was negotiating modern labor paradigms. It studies the ways in which professionalism has been used as a gold standard for successful artistry, and finds that professional rhetoric preserves oppositions between artistry and labor that elevate art and self-sacrifice.

November 20, 2019
IASH Graduate Public Humanities Fellows Presentation: 
"Writing for Recovery in the Southern Tier" and "Untold Stories and Diasporic Voices"
Presented by: Benjamin Burgholzer (English) and Debarati Roy (English) 

“Writing for Recovery in the Southern Tier” project will offer creative writing workshops created specifically for addicts and people suffering from other mental illnesses with the intention of inspiring hope and recovery by helping them find their own voices, voices that have often been ignored or cast away by society. This program will not only to offer a much-needed creative outlet to these people, but also to help destigmatize addiction treatment, recovery, and mental illness by increasing awareness of the aforementioned through the showcasing and publication of polished work created during this program.

 “Untold Stories and Diasporic Voices” project engages with and records the migrant experiences of the diasporic Sikh community in the New York area who were present in India during the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre. As a Fellow, she will be organizing two roundtable conversation sessions and an exhibit pertaining to this event. 

Last Updated: 9/5/19