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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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Programs and Events

Fall 2016

The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities promotes interdisciplinary research and study in the humanities and social sciences and, when appropriate, the natural sciences. Members of the Vanderbilt community representing a wide variety of specializations take part in the Center’s programs, which are designed to intensify and increase interdisciplinary discussion of academic, social, and cultural issues.

Fellows Programs

2016/2017 Fellows Program. “Working for Equality and Justice: Theorizing from and with Lived Resistance to Economic Inequality and Injustice,”co-directed by Brooke A. Ackerly (political science) and C. Melissa Snarr (ethics and society, Divinity School). Participants in the program are Carwil Bjork-James (anthropology), Heath W. Carter (William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow, history), James C. Fraser (human and organizational development, Peabody College), Juan Floyd-Thomas (African-American religious history, Divinity School), Kathy L. Gaca (classical studies), and N. Michelle Murray (Spanish and Portuguese).  

2016/2017 Warren Center Graduate Student Fellows. Eight graduate students are participating in the Warren Center’s 11th dissertation completion fellowship program.  They are Timothy M. Foster (Spanish and Portuguese), Lance R. Ingwersen (history), Shelby L. Johnson (English), Allison R. McGrath (sociology), Tatiana McInnis (English), Scotti M. Norman (anthropology), Michael W. Purvis (modern languages, Queens University Belfast), and Kanetha B. Wilson (sociology). Shelby L. Johnson is the American Studies Fellow, Lance R. Ingwersen is the George J. Graham, Jr. Fellow, Timothy M. Foster is the Joe and Mary Harper Fellow, and Tatiana McInnis is the Elizabeth E. Fleming Fellow.

2017/2018 Fellows Program. “Telling Stories: Modes, Media, and Meanings,” co-directed byLaura M. Carpenter (sociology) and Catherine A. Molineux (history).

Special Events

Paul Ell (Queen’s University, Belfast). On Friday, September 9 at­­ 2:30 p.m. at the Warren Center Paul Ell will give a talk titled “Humanities Geographical Information Systems, digital data, augmented and Virtual Reality, 3D Visualizations: Changing research agendas?” Paul S. Ell is founding director of the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis in the School of Natural and Built Environments at Queen’s University Belfast. The Centre was formed in 1999 making it one of the oldest Digital Humanities Centers in the world. This event is co-sponsored by the new Vanderbilt Digital Humanities Center and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Southern Festival of Books. The2016 Southern Festival of Books will be held October 13-15 in downtown Nashville. As part of its continuing partnership with Humanities Tennessee, the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities is co-sponsoring a series of speakers related to the Pulitzer Prize, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  The Warren Center will cosponsor a series of speakers at the book festival who will either be discussing topics related to the Pulitzer Prize or who are former Pulitzer Prize winners themselves. Annette Gordon-Read, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family and 2015 winners in Breaking News Photography, Robert Cohen and David Carson, will be among the speakers.

The Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp). The fifth annual THATCamp will be held on October 28 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Buttrick Atrium and October 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy. Amanda Visconti (Assistant Professor, Libraries, and Digital Humanities Specialist at Purdue University) will be the keynote speaker. THATCamp is an international program designed to promote interest in and to develop skills related to digital humanities. Examples of sessions might include: TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), digital archiving, video games, 3D modeling, Twitter, tools for beginners, securing funding for digital humanities projects, Omeka, and Neatline. THATCamp is hosted by Vanderbilt’s new Digital Humanities Center, the Warren Center, the Center for Second Language Studies, the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, the Center for Teaching, the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy, and the Jean & Alexander Heard Library.

The Creative Writing Progam and the Warren Center present Noah Warren, Wallace Stegner Fellow, Stanford University and 2015 Yale Younger Poets Winner. Warren will read from his most recent book of poetry entitled The Destroyer in the Glass on November 1 at 7:00 p.m. in Buttrick 101. Co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program’s Gertrude and Harold Sterling Visiting Writer Series.

Fort Negley: A Symbol of the Struggle for Civil Rights in Nashville. On November 5 The Tennessee Historical Society, the Fort Negley Visitors Center and Park, and the Robert Penn Warren Center will host a one-day program at Fort Negley Visitors Center.  The program is intended to draw attention to the role that the fort has played in the lives of African Americans in Nashville as both a very tangible site for freedom during the U.S. Civil War, and now as an enduring emblem for the fight for justice and equality over many generations. This event will feature a panel of speakers and is open to the public.

Warren Center Seminars

The following is a list of seminars and reading groups for the spring semester. For more detailed information please contact the seminar coordinators or the Warren Center.

18th-/19th-Century Colloquium: The colloquium brings together faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars to explore ground-breaking scholarship on the arts, cultures, and histories of the 18th- and 19th-centuries. While loosely focused around British culture, the group also invites scholars from other linguistic and geographic fields to share work and join in the discussion. Guest speakers include Seth Koven (history, Rutgers University)on Friday, September 30 and Orrin Wang (English, University of Maryland) on Friday, October 28, both at 2:00 p.m. at the Warren Center.Seminar coordinators: Rachel Teukolsky (English) and Scott Juengel (English)

Brazilian Studies Reading Group: In its fourth edition, the group will focus on increased political instability and deepening social inequalities in Brazil. Monthly meetings consist of discussions among attendees and invited speakers based upon pre-circulated papers that reflect current research related to the topic. Guests come from a variety of disciplines, including—but not limited to—history, anthropology, political science, literature, Latin American studies, international education policy and management, and African diaspora studies. Guest speakers include Celso Castilho (history, Vanderbilt University) on September 30 at noon at the Warren Center and Katrina Dodson (author and translator) on Monday, October 24 (location TBD). More to be announced soon. Seminar coordinators: Cory Weaver (Latin American Studies), Tiago Maranhão (history), and Kalliopi Samiotou (Spanish and Portuguese)

Circum-Atlantic Studies Seminar: This group reads and treats scholarship that is interdisciplinary in nature, focuses on at least two of the following regions –Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America—and treats some aspect of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, and/or postcolonialism. Guest speakers include Pablo Gómez (history of science, University of Wisconsin, Madison) on October 27at 1:00 p.m. in Buttrick 123 and David LaFevor (history, University of Texas, Arlington), date and time TBA. Seminar coordinators: Celso Castilho (history) and Jane Landers (history)

The Contemporary in Theory Seminar: Faculty and graduate students from different disciplines and methodological backgrounds will collaborate to foster innovative approaches to the contemporary.  Areas of inquiry include global capitalism, the end of ideology, the development of media and technology, and subsequent questions about the definitions and boundaries of the human. Meetings are set for Fridays, September 23, October 21, November 16, and December 9,all at noon at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Ben Tran (Asian Studies) and Alex Dubilet (English)

Environmental Humanities: This working group brings together faculty and graduate students in the humanities and creative arts, the social sciences, the natural sciences, engineering, and law to study and forge robust interdisciplinary approaches to ecological issues. Through shared readings and research as well as collaborative projects, the group will explore the conjunctions and conflicts between scientific, social, cultural, creative, philosophical, political, and legal understandings of and engagement with the environment. The seminar seeks to foster new models for how humanistic inquiry can shape ecological questions, both inside and outside of the humanities, as well as participate in public discourse about urgent environmental problems. Meetings to be announced soon. Seminar coordinators: Teresa Goddu (English) and Catherine Molineux (history)

Film Theory & Visual Culture Seminar: This seminar aims to foster dialogue among faculty and graduate students across campus working in film, visual culture, art history, literature, and cultural studies interested in theories of the image, philosophies of perception, aesthetic and critical theory, media histories, and the history of vision. The group will meet monthly to discuss readings, share work, and engage the research of invited scholars. Guest speakers include Johannes von Moltke (German, University of Michigan), on September 9, Davide Panagia (political science, UCLA) on October 7, and Lutz Koepnick (German and cinema & media arts, Vanderbilt) on December 2, all at noon at the Warren Center,and Laura Mulvey (film and media studies, Birkbeck, University of London) on November 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Jennifer Fay (cinema & media arts, English) and Lutz Koepnick (German, cinema & media arts)

Gender and Sexualities Seminar: This seminar provides an interdisciplinary forum for the development of critical perspectives on gender and sexuality. The seminar examines how gender and sexuality shape human experience within and across cultures, in different time periods, and as part of social practice. Participants will choose the format with an aim toward balancing new scholarship by graduate students and established scholars, as well as exploring topics of particular interest to the group. Meetings are set for Fridays, September 2with Sandra Barnes (human development), October 28 with Michelle Murray (Spanish and Portuguese), November 4 with Patrick Grzanka (psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville), all at 12:30 p.m. at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Katherine Crawford (women’s and gender studies) and Melanie Adley (women’s and gender studies)

Group for Pre-modern Cultural Studies: The purpose of the group is to serve as a forum for those with interests in pre-modern studies, including not only history, but language and literature, chiefly, though not exclusively, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, as well as music, art, and culture. The group meets monthly to discuss ongoing research by a faculty member, recent publications in the field, or the work of a visiting scholar. Guest speakers include Paul Fischer (religion, Western Kentucky University)on September 16th at noon in Buttrick 123, and Jane O. Newman (comparative literature, UC, Irvine) on November 11th at noon at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Bill Caferro (history) and Jesse Hock (English)

Literature and Law Seminar: This reading group will meet to discuss current approaches, new challenges, and new possibilities that are offered to legal and literary scholars when they use insights from both fields to illuminate their work. The seminar welcomes anyone interested in the many topics now addressed in this field, including the use of obscenity laws to regulate creative work, the representation of law in literature, law as literature, the application of literary methods to legal texts, the challenges of constructing “characters” appropriate to literary and legal settings, and the revitalization of law through reference to humanistic texts and approaches. Seminar coordinators: Robert Barsky (French and Italian) and Daniel Gervais (law)

Marx: Foundations and Contemporary Applications: This seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from across campus to explore central Marxist concepts by tracing a path from their inception, through some of the most enduring responses and reworkings, to their most recent applications. Beginning with Karl Marx’s own work, the seminar will examine the way in which Marxist conceptual frameworks have travelled across time and disciplinary boundaries. Readings will include selections from Karl Marx’s Capital, Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx, Fredric Jameson’s An American Utopia, and various texts to be determined by the interests of the group. Meetings are set for Thursdays, September 22, October 6 and 27, November 10, and December 1, all at noon at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Kira Braham (English) and Kylie Korsnack (English)

Reading Between the Sheets: Sex, Desire and the Erotic:This multi-disciplinary seminar will explore the embodied, lived experiences of sex and sexuality through monthly readings and discussions. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: desire; pleasure; consent; kink/BDSM; the orgasm; the politics of talking about sex with young people and sex education; sex and difference; sex, ability and disability. Meetings are set for Wednesdays, August 31, September 28, October 26, and November 9and 30, all at 11:00 a.m. at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Elizabeth Lanphier (philosophy) and Leah Roberts (human and organizational development, Peabody College)

Science Studies Seminar: This seminar brings together members of the Vanderbilt community with interests in the humanistic and social studies of science and technology. Activities include sharing work-in-progress, reading recent publications in the field, and hosting invited speakers. Faculty members and graduate students from across the university are welcome. Meetings to be announced soon. Seminar coordinators: Ole Molvig (history) and Alistair Sponsel (history)