Special Events


Past Events

Thierry Cruvellier and Alfredo Jaar

Thierry Cruvellier and Alfredo Jaar

Critical Witnesses: Thierry Cruvellier and Alfredo Jaar in Conversation Friday, May 1, 2015 @ 10:00am Chazen Museum Auditorium

Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar grapples with the power and limits of art to bear witness to war, famine, genocide, poverty, and political corruption. French journalist and author Thierry Cruvellier has observed 16 years of international war crimes prosecutions more closely than any other writer, and covered war crimes trials for Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Bosnia & Cambodia. Together for the first time, they will address the task of 'presenting the unpresentable' to which each has devoted his life's work.

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Paramount Records

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Paramount Records

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Paramount Records Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25 Multiple Locations

How did a Wisconsin chair company, producing records on the cheap and run by men with little knowledge of their audience or the music business, build one of the greatest musical rosters ever assembled under one roof?

Jointly released by Jack White’s Third Man Records and John Fahey’s Revenant Records, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932 is a two-volume omnibus of art, words and music from the label that “would become a ‘race records’ powerhouse, its sound and fortunes directly linked to the Great Migration.” Join us for three days of music, conversation, and workshops to celebrate this historic release, and explore the legacy of Wisconsin's own Paramount Records.

Sounds Transformed:
From Analog Capture to Digital Formats

Thursday, April 23 at 3:00 pm
Room 313, University Club Building, 432 E. Campus Mall
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Jeremy Morris, Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
  • Craig Eley, ACLS Public Fellow, To the Best of Our Knowledge
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
  • Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)

With Paramount as the starting point, this panel will examine how capture and playback of sound has evolved from early analog and electrical recording technologies to new digital formats, and how this affects the value of the recording as cultural artifact.

Music in a Box: The Containment
and Commodification of Paramount Records

Thursday, April 23 at 5:30 pm Room
L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, 800 University Ave.
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Ann Smart Martin, Stanley and Polly Stone Professor of Art History and Director, Material Culture Program, UW-Madison
  • Craig Werner, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer,The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
  • Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)
  • Moderated by Steve Paulson, Executive Producer,To the Best of Our Knowledge

This moderated conversation will “unbox” the Paramount Records story, discussing notable songs, addressing issues of commodification, the creation of artificial barriers between “black” and “white” music, the early history of the phonograph and record cabinet, and the subsequent physical containment of music. 

The Other Sides of Paramount Records
Friday, April 24, 2015 at Noon
Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll Street
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Tom Caw, Music Public Services Librarian, Mills Music Library, UW-Madison
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Though best known for its blues recordings, Paramount released hundreds of records in dozens of genres, including work by a number of local Wisconsin artists recording Old Time (or Hillbilly) music, polka, and dance orchestra, including Stoughton’s own Jack Penewell, playing Hawaiian steel guitar. Come hear the music and tales of the musicians who made it.

Music and Media:
Live Sounds, Silk Screens, and the Story of Paramount Records

Saturday, April 25 – 9:30am to 1:00pm
Bubbler Room, Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street
Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here

  • Matthew BindertPrintmaker and Artist-Mentor at Artworking
  • Simon BaltoMusician and PhD Candidate in History and Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
  • Jeffrey Kollath, Public Humanities Program Manager, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities

Join us for a music-filled, hands-on, all-ages Saturday morning workshop featuring a live performance by local musician Simon Balto, a record album silk screening workshop with graphic artist Matthew Bindert, free art projects, and a listening lab with record players, reel-to-reel tape decks, and more, all while learning about Wisconsin’s very own Paramount Records, a record label based in Grafton, WI that released some of the most influential blues, jazz, and folk records of the 20th century. Art supplies donated by Mad City Music Exchange. More information here, from our co-hosts at the Madison Public Library.

Debjani Ganguly

Debjani Ganguly

Head of Humanities Research Centre at Australia National University

Real Virtualities and the Undead Genre: The Novel in Our Time Monday, April 13, 2015 @ 5:30pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L140

The death knell of the novel has been sounded often enough in our hypervisual era. In this talk, Debjani Ganguly argues that far from being dead, the contemporary novel abstracts the phenomenology of the spectatorship and the visual in our time in fascinating ways. With a focus on novels dealing with war, violence and conflict zones in our contemporary era - Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, 9/11 -  Ganguly traces a mode of novelistic intermediality derived from the trope of ekphrasis - the verbal description of a visual object - and demonstrates, through a reading of excerpts from the work of Ian McEwan and Martin Amis, the ways in which they manifest a new structure of address and a new infrastructure of responsibility to an ever-expanding realm of virtual publics. She also undertakes a reading that complicates the relationship between the widespread mediatization of war-induced humanitarian crises and the visualization of such crises in in contemporary novels, such as works by Joe Sacco, Nadeem Aslam, and Kevin Powers. The melancholic mode these novels adopt, she argues, operates with a dissensual force that destabilizes the visual economy of media representations of war and humanitarian suffering.

Debjani Ganguly is director of the Humanities Research Centre and associate professor of literature at the Australian National University. Her areas of research include the contemporary Anglophone novel, literary forms in the new media age, postcolonial approaches to caste and dalit studies, Indian literatures in Hindi, Marathi and Bengali, language worlds in colonial/postcolonial South Asia, and Indian Ocean literary worlds from 1750-1950. She is the author of This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Duke University Press, 2015 in press) and Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity: Notes on a Postcolonial Hermeneutics of Caste (Routledge 2005). She is currently working on a monograph on new visual media and the twenty-first century novel. Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Michigan. Debjani is a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and Member on the international advisory boards of the Harvard Institute for World Literature and the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), Duke University. She is a member of the PMLA Advisory Committee and co-edits (with Ato Quayson and Neil Ten Kortenaar) the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.

Winnifred Sullivan

Winnifred Sullivan

Professor and Chair of Religious Studies; Affiliated Professor of Law, Maurer School of Law Indiana University Bloomington

Spiritual Governance: The Chaplain as Priest of the Secular Thursday, April 9, 2015 @ 5:30pm University Club, Room 313 (432 E. Campus Mall)

This talk explores how chaplaincy works in the United States--and in particular how it sits uneasily at the intersection of law and religion, spiritual care, and government regulation. Responsible for ministering to the wandering souls of the globalized economy, the chaplain works with a clientele often unmarked by a specific religious identity, and does so on behalf of a secular institution, like a hospital. The sometimes heroic but often deeply ambiguous work reveals contours of contemporary spiritual life, the politics of religious freedom, and the never-ending negotiation of religion's place in American institutional life.

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and affiliate professor of law at Indiana University Bloomington. Sullivan is the author of The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (2005), and A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care and the Law (2014); and editor, with Robert A. Yelle and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, of After Secular Law (2011); with Lori Beaman, of Varieties of Religious Establishment; and, with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter Danchin, of Politics of Religious Freedom (2015).

This talk is sponsored by the A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the Center for the Humanities and Institute for Research in the Humanities. Co-sponsored by the Religious Studies Program and the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions.

Debjani Ganguly

Debjani Ganguly

Head, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University

Global Humanities and the Problem of the 'Public': An Antipodean Perspective Wednesday, April 8, 2015 @ 4:00pm University Club Building, Room 313

Debjani Ganguly will address the political economy of the global in the way that it impacts the functioning of humanities in contemporary Australia; and the thematics of the global as reflected in the intellectual agenda of humanities research in the Australia and the Asia- Pacific region, how this gets calibrated in terms of its worldly consequences, and the idea of the 'publics' for such research.

Rousseau’s Confessions in Wisconsin Student Conference

Rousseau’s Confessions in Wisconsin Student Conference

Keynote by Danielle S. Allen

Great World Texts Student Conference Wednesday, March 25, 2015
8:30am - 3:30pm
Varsity Hall at Union South

This year, teachers and students throughout the state of Wisconsin will read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions. At the annual Great World Texts in Wisconsin Student Conference, students will present their work on Confessions and engage in a conversation about the autobiography, its contexts and impacts. Members of the broader UW-Madison academic community will join in this intellectual and celebratory discussion of Rousseau's text and the work of our student participants. All are welcome to join for the keynote lecture by Danielle S. Allen at 11:00 AM.

Danielle S. Allen is a MacArthur Award-winning classicist and political theorist who examines issues of contemporary citizenship and argues for the importance of connecting people across racial, socioeconomic, educational and religious divides.

Conference Schedule:
For a complete program, click here.

8:30am Welcome with Mayor Paul Soglin and Sara Guyer (Varsity Hall 1/2)

8:45am Plenary Presentations I (Varsity Hall 1/2)

9:30am Student Project Display & Parisian Salon discussion forum (Varsity Hall 3; various locations)

10:10-10:25 Press time with Danielle S. Allen

11:00am Keynote Address: Danielle S. Allen, author, Our Declaration (Varsity Hall 1/ 2)

12:00pm Lunch

1:00pm Plenary Presentations II (Varsity Hall 1/2)

2:00pm - Theatre Workshop with Jen Plants, Carl Djerassi Playwrighting Fellow at UW-Madison

3:00pm - Closing Remarks

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Union South.

World Records and Vernaculars of the Global Midwest

World Records and Vernaculars of the Global Midwest

Thursday, March 19 through Friday, March 20

The 2015 World Records Symposium will delve into the ways diverse Midwestern communities used early broadcasting technology to support local and traditional languages, cultures, and music. The 2015 Symposium (March 19, 2015) will meet in conjunction with the Vernaculars of the Global Midwest (March 19-20, 2015). 

World Records Symposium:
Broadcasting the Global Midwest

Thursday, March 19 at 1:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall

  • Join Randall Davidson (UW-Oshkosh), Michele Hilmes (UW-Madison), Bill C. Malone (Madison, WI), and Henry Sapoznik (Mayrent Institute) for a discussion on Wisconsin's central role in early radio broadcasting history.

Global Sounds and Jack Pine Savages: World Music Wisconsin-style
Thursday, March 19 at 7:30pm
Banquet Room, University Club, 432 East Campus Mall

  • Join James P. Leary (UW-Madison), Anna Andrzejewski (UW-Madison), Susan C. Cook (UW-Madison), and Henry Sapoznik for a lively discussion regarding the vernacular practices of Wisconsin's diverse immigrant and indigenous communities. 

Friday, March 20, at 7:30pm
University Club, 432 East Campus Mall

  • Join Bill and Bobbie Malone, Brian Miller (St. Paul, MN), Todd Cambio (Madison, WI), Tom Carter (University of Utah), Henry Sapoznik, and Tes Slominski (Beloit College) for a concert of American vernacular musics, from Delta and Piedmont blues to Irish lumber camp songs to klezmer.

More information here.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture and the Center for the Humanities, with support from the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

All events are free and open to the public.

Julia Reinhard Lupton

Julia Reinhard Lupton

Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Humanities Commons, University of California-Irvine

Design and the Public Humanities Friday, March 13, 2015 @ 12:00pm Banquet Room, University Club Building

Shakespeare scholar and DIY designer Julia Lupton talks about the role of branding, story-telling, and a girl named Helvetica in humanities scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and creative life. Topics include humanities courses that engage design and design research; how a little design can go a long way in humanities settings; and tales from the contemporary experience economy, including service design, user-oriented design, social marketing, and design for the 99%.

Lunch will be provided at this event. A reservation is required.

Please email rsvp@humanities.wisc.edu to reserve a spot.

Opening Celebration for Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today

Opening Celebration for Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today

Lecture and Preview Reception Thursday, March 5, 2015
5:30pm - 8:00pm
Chazen Museum of Art

5:30-6:30 pm, Chazen Auditorium 
No More Boundaries for Cuban Photography
Lecture by Nelson Ramírez de Arellano Conde, participating artist and director of the National Photography Museum in Havana.

6:30-8 pm, Mead Witter Lobby
Preview reception for Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today.
With live music, refreshments, and cash bar.

Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today will run from March 6-June 21, 2015 at the Chazen Museum of Art. The exhibition explores photography in Cuba in times of transition, including photography-based installations, digital photomontage and "intervened photography" by eight contemporary Cuban artists. Funding for the opening celebration is provided by the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science, the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, and the US Department of Education's Title VI Grant Program.

Laura Anderson Barbata

Laura Anderson Barbata

2015 Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence, UW-Madison Arts Institute

Public Humanities Seminar: Art in the Social Realm Tuesday, February 17, 2015
4:00pm - 1:56pm
Room 313, University Club Building

Our Public Humanities Seminar Series continues this spring with 2015 Artist-in-Residence at the UW Madison Arts Institute, and professor at the Escuela Nacional de Escultura, Pintura y Grabado La Esmeralda of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, México, Laura Anderson Barbata. Best known for public art performances that reinforce respect for cultural heritage and strengthen a sense of identity in underserved and impoverished populations, Barbata will focus on collaboration, local and broad-based community engagement, and the role of the arts in public discourse and social change.

Alain Badiou and Frédéric Neyrat

Alain Badiou and Frédéric Neyrat

Mise-en-Scène: A Conversation with Alain Badiou and Frédéric Neyrat Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 4:00pm 140 Science Hall

Should philosophy defend love? Can we draw a line separating love from politics? How can politics deal with hatred? Join philosophers Alain Badiou and Frédéric Neyrat for a conversation about the affects at stake in art, politics, and philosophy.

Alain Badiou bridges mathematics and psychoanalysis, poetry and politics to focus on how truth is produced, and the conditions through which it emerges. He is René Descartes Chair of Philosophy at the European Graduate School.

Frédéric Neyrat is a French philosopher who works on the philosophy of politics, the theory of images, and psychoanalysis. He is currently a visiting professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Alain Badiou (Open Seminar)

Alain Badiou (Open Seminar)

René Descartes Chair of Philosophy, European Graduate School

Havens Center Open Seminar with Alain Badiou Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:20pm 8180 Social Sciences Building

The Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice  will host an open seminar with Alain Badiou on his article, The Communist Hypothesis from The New Left Review.

William P. Jones (Chicago Humanities Festival)

William P. Jones (Chicago Humanities Festival)

Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

I Have a Dream: The Forgotten History of Civil Rights Saturday, November 8, 2014 @ 10:30am UIC Forum, 725 W Roosevelt Rd. (MC 126) Chicago‚ IL 60608

Historian William P. Jones restores the March on Washington to its full significance by hilighting the leadership of A. Philip Randolf and Bayard Rustin and uncovering the inextricable links between the civil rights movement and the cause of economic justice.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Institute for Research in the Humanities

B. Venkat Mani (Chicago Humanities Festival)

B. Venkat Mani (Chicago Humanities Festival)

Associate Professor of German and Co-Director, World Literature/s Research Workshop, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Global Book Sunday, November 2, 2014 @ 4:00pm The Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL

German scholar B. Venkat Mani makes a case for world literature as a politically charged construct, and proposes the notion of Bibliomigrancy to describe the ever-wider global circulation of texts, from the age of enlightenment to the Amazon Kindle.

Presented in Partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Institute for Research in the Humanities

Holland Cotter

Holland Cotter

Art Critic for The New York Times

Found in Translation Thursday, October 30, 2014 @ 6:00pm Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160

Co-chief Art Critic for The New York Times, Holland Cotter was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009.  He has been particularly influential in introducing contemporary art from India and China to American audiences.  In this lecture he addresses the challenges of broadening the American perspective, arguing that contemporary art in the United States is in an isolationist phase despite the large amount of interesting work being produced in new “languages” all over the world.

An Arts and Humanities Hilldale Lecture sponsored by the Department of Art History, the Watrous Fund in Art History, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Chazen Museum of Art, the Art Department and the Arts Institute.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.
Shiza Shahid

Shiza Shahid

CEO and Co-Founder of The Malala Fund

Go Big Read Keynote Presentation for I Am Malala Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 7:00pm Varsity Hall at Union South

Named one of Time Magazine's 30 under 30 World Changers in 2013, Shiza Shahid is mentor to Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, and visionary co-creator and CEO of the Malala Fund, a non-profit dedicated to advocacy, storytelling, and the funding of local entrepreneurs in areas where girls don't have access to education. One of her first tasks was getting Malala's story told in I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Presented by the UW-Madison Libraries and Sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for Union South.
Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry

Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry

University Professor of the Humanities and History at NYU; Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies, Grinnell College

Feminism Unfinished Saturday, October 18, 2014 @ 3:00pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch; Community Room (Third Floor)

Providing an important corrective to simplistic, de-politicized narratives of feminist history, Gordon and Henry present a rich account of collective action and feminist activism across divides of class, race, and difference from the 1920's to the present day.

Presented in Partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Madison Public Library.

Jordan Ellenberg

Jordan Ellenberg

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

How Not to Be Wrong Thursday, October 16, 2014 @ 5:30pm Madison Public Library, Central Branch; Community Room (Third Floor)

Theoretical mathematician Jordan Ellenberg’s writing on math for general audiences has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wired, The Believer, The Boston Globe, and Slate Magazine. He makes the case that math is inherently connected to the way we think as we go about our daily lives, from politics and theology to language, and beyond. In this lecture he will talk about uncertainty and contradiction, arguing that there is common ground between poets, novelists, philosophers and mathematicians that can be useful for all these groups.

Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival and Wisconsin Science Festival.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information for the Madison Public Library.