The 2012-2013 academic year promises exciting lectures in our Humanities Without Boundaries series. Expect speakers to engage on a range of topics tied to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as ecology, literature, and the ways in which psychoanalysis explores the human condition.
Illustrator, Author, Artist, and Designer
On Dreams, Worrying, Panic, and Pleasure Thursday, April 11, 2013 @ 7:30pm UW Hillel, 611 Langdon Street
The day is a roller coaster of emotions.
We live only to make blunders, as Charles Darwin said.
Is this true? Is there no respite from anxiety?
Wait, is this what this talk is about? Maybe other things will be discussed like Robert Walser and the Countess of Castiglione, walking and the delight of small moments.
In children's books that invoke Mallarmé and mid-century architecture; illustrated editions of Strunk & White's Elements of Style and Michael Pollan's Food Rules; iconic objects for the legendary design firm M&Co; and poetic accounts of everyday life, Maira Kalman reveals an extraordinary taste for the possible. Her illustrations regularly appear on the cover of the New Yorker, and her New York Times blog on democracy has been published as the widely acclaimed And the Pursuit of Happiness.
Parking and directions to the UW Hillel Foundation building.
Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women's History, University of Michigan
Haunted Emancipations: Seeking Ghosts of Slavery in the South Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160
Built in 1838 as the home of a wealthy cotton trader, the Sorrel-Weed House is an architectural landmark in the city of Savannah, Georgia and a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home has become infamous in recent years due to a restoration as well as a program of tours and publicity that have highlighted the presence of ghosts on the property. Two women -- one white and free, the other black and enslaved -- are said to have died violently in the house during the Civil War. As a result, the Sorrel-Weed residence has been described by its promoters as “the most Haunted home in Savannah,” a metropolis that The American Institute of Parapsychology has dubbed “America’s Most Haunted City” (2002). By analyzing contemporary narratives about the Sorrel-Weed spirits and other ghosts in the state of Georgia, Miles explores the intertwined meaning of haunting and slavery in post-emancipation southern contexts. The talk will dwell on the following questions, among others: What nature of cultural and historical work do ghost stories perform? What do the Sorrel-Weed ghosts and their public audience tell us about race relations of the past as well as the present? Are we, and will we ever be, fully emancipated from the specter of American slavery?
Tiya Miles is Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and Professor of History, American Culture, and Native American Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of two prize-winning books, Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005) and The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010), and various articles on women’s history and black and Native interrelated experience. She is co-editor, with Sharon P. Holland, of Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (2006). In 2011 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
Kate Bolick and Michael Cobb Talk About Singles Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160
Kate Bolick and Michael Cobb take on the reign of coupledom, the place of singles today, and the value of friendship at a moment when legal definitions of romantic couplings are becoming an issue of human rights.
Bolick is author of the Atlantic cover story "All the Single Ladies," which was optioned for a television series current under development with CBS, and the forthcoming book Among the Suitors. Cobb is Professor of English at the University of Toronto and author of Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled and God Hates Fags: Rhetorics of Religious Violence.
This promises to be a fascinating conversation between two old friends who are leading voices in redefining the social landscape.
Read the UW news release.
Listen to Michael Cobb talk about the uncoupled life and the "second-class citizen" status of singles here on Wisconsin Public Radio.
Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.
Professor and Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English, Rice University
Dark Ecology: Philosophy in the Anthropocene Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160
In roughly 1790, humans began to deposit a thin layer of carbon in Earth's crust, as a result of fossil fuel burning. This marked the beginning of what is now known as the Anthropocene, a distinct moment in which human history intersects decisively with geological time. In 1945, the Great Acceleration began, a logarithmic upturn in the momentum of the Anthropocene. A thin layer of radioactive materials began to be deposited in Earth's crust, thanks to the detonation of The Gadget in Trinity, New Mexico, and the subsequent deployment of the nuclear bombs Little Boy and Fat Man.
The intersection of human history and geological time now means that no distinction can be drawn, no clear, thin bright line, between humans and nonhumans, or, in the old and now outdated (and mystifying, even dangerous) terminology, Nature. Everything—bonobos, Toyotas, plankton and toothpaste—are now on “this” side of history and social space. There is no “world” any more, no stable background against which human events seem meaningful. It is the end of the world not as an apocalypse, but as the loss of an illusion.
We are not living in the end times; this is the afterlife: we are already dead. We find ourselves caught in a reality from which we cannot extricate ourselves in a deep, ontological sense. The implications of the end of the world are the subject of this talk.
Morton is the author of Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minnesota UP, forthcoming), Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (forthcoming from Open Humanities Press), The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010), and Ecology without Nature (Harvard UP, 2007), as well as many other books and essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, food, and music. He also regularly blogs at Ecology Without Nature.
Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.
Psychoanalyst and Author
Freud's Impossible Life: An Introduction Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 5:30pm Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
Freud's life is of great interest partly because, as the inventor of psychoanalysis he was preoccupied with the way people tell the stories of their lives. Adam Phillips, psychoanalyst, literary critic, and essayist, will talk both about Freud's remarkable life, and about what Freud had to say about the larger art of biography. Phillips, the general editor of the New Penguin translation of Freud's work and currently at work on a biography of Freud, is also the author of many well-known books, including On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Going Sane, On Kindness, and On Balance. His newest work is Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. He writes, interviews, and appears widely to offer a unique psychoanalytic perspective on therapy, literature, and the human condition.
Phillips' talk will double as the keynote address for the North American Victorian Studies Association Conference.
"Responsive, fluid, and open."
New York Times online interview with Phillips, conducted by Rachel Stuart and Tyler Krupp
Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Monona Terrace.
Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor in American History, University of Pennsylvania
The Dimensions of Freedom: Slave Emancipation, Indian Peoples, and the Projects of the New American States Thursday, September 13, 2012 @ 7:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160
In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, committing the war against the Confederate rebellion to the abolition of slavery there. But almost simultaneously, Lincoln sent federal troops to suppress an uprising of the Sioux in the state of Minnesota. The association of the two events was more than incidental. Hahn suggests how the problem of slavery and the problem of Indian peoples were shared projects of a newly emerging American nation-state, linking the fates of the South and the trans-Mississippi West during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Steven Hahn is a specialist on the history of the American South, African-American history, and the international history of slavery, emancipation, and race. His many publications include A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggle in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration, which received the Pulitzer Prize in History for 2004, among other awards.
Hahn's public lecture launches the 2012-2013 Emancipations Lab.