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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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Programs and Events

Spring 2015

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

2014/2015 Fellows Program. "Public Scholarship in the Humanities," co-directed by Joel Harrington (history) and Holly Tucker (French & Italian, Biomedical Ethics & Society). Participants in the program are Marshall Eakin (history), Aimi Hamraie (medicine, health, and society), Ifeoma Nwankwo (English), Lynn Ramey (French), Daniel Sharfstein (law), and Paul Stob (communication studies). The 2014-2015 William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow is Lara Stein Pardo (anthropology).

2014/2015 Warren Center Graduate Student Fellows. Eight graduate students are participating in the Warren Center's ninth dissertation completion fellowship program. They are Jessica Burch (history), Adam Burgos (philosophy), Kathleen DeGuzman (English), Daniel McAuley (French, Queen's University Belfast), Luis Menéndez-Antuña (religion), Carly Rush (sociology), Any Tan (history), and Brendan Weaver (anthropology). Jessica Burch is the American Studies Fellow, Adam Burgos is the George J. Graham Jr. Fellow, and Kathleen DeGuzman is the Elizabeth E. Fleming Fellow.

2015/2016 Fellows Program. "When the Fringe Dwarfs the Center: Vernacular Islam beyond the Arab World," co-directed by Samira Sheikh (history), Tony Stewart (religious studies), and David Wasserstein (Jewish Studies, history).

Special Events

Black Atlantic History Lecture:  Randy Sparks (Professor of History, Tulane University) will present the Warren Center’s annual Black Atlantic History Lecture on Thursday, February 19 at 4:10 p.m. Professor Sparks will speak on his new book, Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade. The Black Atlantic History Lecture is hosted by the Warren Center’s Circum-Atlantic Studies Group and the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center in honor of Black History Month. The talk will take place in theBishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, followed by a reception.

Grant and Fellowship Opportunities: The Program in Career Development and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities will present a program on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at noon (location to be announced), featuring Marika Dunn, deputy director of the Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship Program, Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and  Elizabeth Mansfield, vice president for scholarly programs, National Humanities Center. More information about this program will be distributed later in the semester.

Todd Presner: The Max Kade Center for European and German Studies is hosting a visit by Todd Presner (Chair of the Digital Humanities Program, Professor of German, and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA) with co-sponsorship by the Warren Center’s Digital Humanities seminar, the Comparative Media Arts Project (cmap), Jewish Studies, and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. There will be two public lectures: “From Berlin to LA and Beyond: Thick Mapping and the Digital Humanities,” an introductory level talk about the HyperCities project on Thursday, February 5 at 6:00 p.m. in 306 Buttrick, and “The Ethics of the Algorithm: Close and Distant Listening to the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive” on Friday, February 6 at 11:10 a.m. in 123 Buttrick.

Warren Center Graduate Student Fellows Lectures: This spring, each of the Warren Center’s eight graduate students will present a public lecture on his or her research. All lectures take place in the conference room of the Warren Center at 4:10 p.m. and are followed by a reception. The presenters and dates are: Jessica Burch (history), March 23; Daniel McAuley (French, Queen’s University Belfast), March 31; Amy Tan (history), April 2; Brendan Weaver (anthropology), April 7; Adam Burgos (philosophy), April 10; Luis Menéndez-Antuña (religion), April 14; Carly Rush (sociology), April 21; and Kathleen DeGuzman (English), April 29

Warren Center Seminars

The following is a list of seminars and reading groups for the fall 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. Upcoming speakers include Forest Pyle, (English, University of Oregon), on January 23, Rachel Teukolsky (English, Vanderbilt) on February 20, and Judith Stoddart (English, Michigan State University) on April 3. All talks will take place at 2:00 p.m. at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Rachel Teukolsky (English), Scott Juengel (English), and Humberto Garcia (English) 

Brazilian Studies Reading Group: This seminar provides a forum for topics related to contemporary Brazil. Discussion will center on the broad theme of "Citizenship and the Nation." The group will facilitate interdisciplinary dialogues based on pre-circulated readings, consider works-in-progress by graduate students and faculty, and invite recognized scholars to present new work. Topics will include traditional power structures and the political system, social movements, income inequity and "social apartheid," race, and access to education and healthcare. Upcoming guest speakers include Mira Kohl (Latin American Studies, Tulane University) on January 16, Melissa Teixeira (history, Princeton University) on February 19, Jay Sosa (anthropology, University of Chicago) on January 29, Marcio Bahia (Spanish and Portuguese, Vanderbilt) on February 25, Christopher Dunn (Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University) on March 19 at 4 p.m. in Buttrick 102 and March 20 at 12 p.m. in Buttrick 123, Manuela Areias, (history, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) on April 2, and Daniel O’Maley on April 9. All talks take place at 12 p.m. at the Warren Center unless otherwise noted. Seminar coordinators: Fernanda Bretones Lane (history), Daniel O’Maley (anthropology), and Laura Sellers (political science)

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. Upcoming speakers include James Sanders (history, Utah State University) on January 22 at 3:10 p.m. in Sarratt 189, Randy Sparks (history, Tulane University) on February 19 at 4:10 p.m. at the Black Cultural Center, and Molly Warsh (history, University of Pittsburg) on April 1 (time and location, TBA). Seminar coordinators: Celso Castilho (history) and Jane Landers (history)

Digital Humanities Discussion Group: The Digital Humanities seminar brings together colleagues from across the university who are interested in issues related to this area of study.  The seminar participants will explore theories, practices, and methodologies of DH and explore ways to best support this type of work on our campus. Monthly meetings at 12 p.m. at the Warren center are scheduled for January 14, February 18, March 12, and April 8, as well as a breakfast meeting with guest Todd Presner on February 6 at 9 a.m. at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Lynn Ramey (French) and Mona Frederick (Warren Center)

Early Modern Enlightenment: This seminar will examine the period of intellectual history designated as the Enlightenment. The multidisciplinary seminar isolates three categories for investigation: law, violence, and epistemology. These areas of inquiry demonstrate that the so-called Enlightenment was sufficiently multifarious to provide legitimate grounds for isolating rival, competing, and incompatible Enlightenments. Meetings will place visiting scholars with Vanderbilt faculty and graduate students, and they will center on the question of how the Enlightenment has been subjected to repeated celebration, vilification, and contestation in academic circles. Seminar coordinators: León Guerrero (Spanish and Portuguese) leon.guerrero.ayala@Vanderbilt.Edu, Drew Martin (religion), and Chance Woods (English)

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. Upcoming speakers include: Inga Pollmann (German, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), on January 16 at 12 p.m. in Sarratt 189; Jim McFarland (cinema and media arts, Vanderbilt), on February 13 at 12 p.m. in Buttrick 123; Tom Schatz (film, University of Texas, Austin), on March 13 at 12 p.m. in Buttrick 123; and Michael Moon (women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Emory University) on April 10 at 12 p.m. in Sarratt 189. Seminar coordinators: Jennifer Fay (cinema and media arts, English), Lutz Koepnick (German, cinema and media arts), and James McFarland (German, cinema and 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. Upcoming speakers include Gayle Sulik (independent scholar), author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health on March 19 at 4:10 pm Wilson Hall 126. Seminar coordinator: Laura Carpenter (sociology and 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. Upcoming speakers include Samira Sheikh (history, Vanderbilt), on January 20 at 12 p.m. at the Warren Center, Ellen McKay (English, Indiana University) on February 17 at 12 p.m. at the Warren Center and Deann Armstrong in April (date and location TBA). Seminar coordinators: Leah Marcus (English), Deann Armstrong (English), Bill Caferro (history), and Samira Sheikh (history)

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life: The Warren Center and the American Studies Program are co-sponsoring this group to provide opportunities for exchange among faculty members and graduate students who are interested in or who are currently involved in projects that engage public scholarship. Vanderbilt is a member of the national organization, “Imagining America,” a consortium of colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design. Seminar coordinator: Mona Frederick (Warren Center) 

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 coordinator: Robert Barsky (French and Italian)

Mexican Studies Seminar. The goal of this group is to raise the profile of research related to Mexico on the Vanderbilt campus and support members’ individual scholarly endeavors regarding this important nation bordering the United States. The group brings together faculty and graduate students from history, political science, literature, sociology, art, anthropology, music, and Latin American studies. At monthly meetings the group will discuss work-in-progress authored by members and invited scholars from beyond Vanderbilt. On Friday, March 13, a program entitled “Mexico on the Verge” will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Buttrick 162. Speakers include Alex Aviña (history, Florida State University), Tanalís Padilla (history, Dartmouth), and Jaime Pensado (history, University of Notre Dame). Seminar coordinators: Helena Simonett (Latin American Studies) and Edward Wright-Rios (history) Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies.

A People's History of Nashville: This seminar invites those engaged in current social movements to gather and learn the history of the working and dispossessed classes of the city, and to reflect on how recovering the memory of past social struggle might inform future strategies. The seminar will host monthly meetings and visits to neighborhoods and landmarks, seeking respectful collaborations with scholars and organizations across the city pursuing similar projects. Upcoming events include a viewing of the film Selma on January 17 at 4:40 p.m. at the Green Hills cinema, and a talk on urban renewal in the Edgehill neighborhood of Nashville on January 24 (time and location TBA). Seminar coordinators: Tristan Call (anthropology) and Austin Sauerbrei (community development and action)

Race, Gender and Kinship: Spaces of Global Capitalism: This group hopes to address the shortcomings of economic formulas that ignore the psychic predispositions and pressures of global capitalism. Members will read Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference by David Harvey, which focuses on the dynamics of urbanization, the division of labor, and their effects on the environment. Later in the semester, the group will use Harvey’s analytical model to discuss the case study of Rana Dasgupta’s Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi. With the bleak projected future of decreasing natural resources and increasing populations concentrated within dense urban spaces, Dasgupta’s work offers a crucial counter-narrative illustrating the catastrophic effects of globalization and capitalism on Delhi’s economic evolution. Seminar coordinators: Kirsten Mendoza (English), Emily Burchfield (environmental engineering, management and policy), and Gideon Park (religion)

Religion and Culture in Late Antiquity. Late Antiquity is a term used by scholars to describe a historical period which includes both the end of classical civilizations and the first centuries of medieval societies in Mediterranean, Africa, Europe and the Near East. The seminar’s geographic definition of “Late Antiquity” will focus primarily on the cultures and societies of the Mediterranean world, but can also be broadly construed. Participation from ancient historians, medievalists, and scholars of Asia or other areas of research that may have overlapping interests is welcomed. The seminar will meet once per month (February 9, March 10, and April 13 at 12 p.m. at the Warren Center) for a discussion of current research by Vanderbilt faculty or Ph.D. students. Upcoming speakers include Adam Levine (Associate Curator of Ancient Art, Toledo Museum of Art) on January 20 at 12:10 p.m. in the Tillett lounge, room 128 at the Divinity School. Seminar coordinators: Mark Ellison (religion), Robin Jensen (history of art), and David Michelson (divinity)

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. Lunchtime meetings this semester are scheduled for January 15, February 26, March 26, and April 23 at 12 p.m. at the Warren Center. Contact seminar coordinators: Ole Molvig (Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning) or Alistair Sponsel (history) to be added to the group's email list.