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Programs and Events

Spring 2017

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

The Banjo: A Conversation with Laurent Dubois and Dom Flemons. Thursday, January 26, 4:10 p.m. 206 Alumni Hall. Dubois, the Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University, is the author of The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (Harvard University Press, 2016).  Flemons, a noted musician as well as a co-founder of the Grammy Award-winning group Carolina Chocolate Drops, pulls from traditions of old time folk music to create new sounds. The program will provide a unique opportunity to listen to a historian and a musician together reflect on the history of the banjo. A reception will follow the conversation. The event is co-sponsored by the Africa at a Crossroads: Challenges and Prospects Program and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Scholarship in the Public Square: A Conversation with The Atlantic’s Yoni Appelbaum. Monday, January 30, 4:10 p.m. 206 Alumni Hall. Yoni Appelbaum earned his Ph.D. in U.S. history and taught at Harvard before becoming Senior Editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the politics section. In this conversation with fellow historian Heath W. Carter he will discuss his journey to The Atlantic and the role of the public intellectual in today’s America. Q & A with the audience to follow.

Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture. Thursday, February 2, 4:10 p.m. In the Vanderbilt Heard Library Community Room, Quiara Alegría Hudes will deliver a lecture entitled “A Writer’s Many Selves.” Hudes, a noted playwright, is currently the Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater at Wesleyan University. Her work includes Water by the Spoonful, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; In the Heights, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and Pulitzer finalist; Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, another Pulitzer finalist; Daphne’s Dive; The Good Peaches; Miss You Like Hell; and The Happiest Song Plays Last. A reception will follow the lecture.

Black Atlantic History Lecture. Linda Heywood and John Thornton , Monday, February 6, 4:10 p.m., Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. Both Professors of African American Studies and History at Boston University, Heywood and Thornton will deliver the Warren Center’s annual Black Atlantic History Lecture entitled “The Strategic Diplomacy of Queen Njinga: Written, Spoken and Performed.” The Black Atlantic History Lecture is hosted by the Warren Center’s Circum-Atlantic Studies Seminar, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center in honor of Black History Month. A reception will follow the lecture.

Kristen Green, “Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County:  A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle,” Monday, February 20, 4:10 p.m., Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.  Green is the author of the critically-acclaimed book of the same title about a Virginia community that defied the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling. When ordered by a federal court to desegregate the public schools in 1959, white leaders instead chose to close them and public schools remained closed in the county until 1964. Green’s book tells the story of these events and the long-term impact on her hometown. The event is co-sponsored by the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center and the Robert Penn Warren Center. A reception will follow the program.

Warren Center Graduate Student Fellows Lectures. This spring, each of the Warren Center’s eight graduate student fellows 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: Michael Purvis (Modern Languages, Queen’s University Belfast), March 20; Scotti Norman (anthropology), April 4; Lance Ingwersen (history), April 13; Allison McGrath (sociology), April 14; Kanetha Wilson (sociology), April 18; Tatiana McInnis (English), April 20; Tim Foster (Spanish and Portuguese), April 24; and Shelby Johnson (English), April 27

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 Elizabeth Miller (English, University of California—­­Davis)on Friday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m. and Anahid Nersessian (English, University of California—Los Angeles) on Friday, March 24, at 12:00 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. Meetings 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 Teresa Cribelli (history, University of Alabama) on Thursday, January 26at 12:00 p.m. in 301 Garland Hall 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 February 10, March 1, March 31 and April 28 all at noon at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Ben Tran (Asian Studies) and Alex Dubilet (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. Guest speakers include Jean Ma (art & art history, Stanford), on February 3, Karl Schoonover (film & television studies, University of Warwick) on March 17, and Sara Blair (English, University of Michigan) on April 7, all at noon 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, January 13with Kimberly Welch (history), February 24 with Stacey Simplican (women’s and gender studies), March 17 with Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh (religious studies),  and April 21 with Carwill Bjork-James 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. They will be holding a Classical Reception Roundtable on Wednesday, January 25at 4:00 p.m. in Buttrick 123. Participants are Lynn Enterline (English), Elsa Filosa (French and Italian), Kathy Gaca (classics and Mediterranean studies), Choon-leong Seow (divinity), and Betsey Robinson (art history). Other guest speakers include Elizabeth Moodey (history of art)on February 15, Bill Engel (English, University of the South) on February 24, and Melissa Sanchez (English, University of Pennsylvania) on March 22, all at noon at the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Bill Caferro (history) and Jessie 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. Guest speakers include Gabriella Sanchez (security studies, University of Texas—El Paso) on February 13, Ari Bryen (Mediterranean and classical studies) on March 3, David Maraniss (political science) on March 30, Sarah Koellner (German) on April 7, all at 4:00 at the Warren Center. Other speakers include Kristina Touzenis (International Organization for Migration) on March 20, in Buttrick 123 at 4 p.m and Julius Grey (law, McGill University) on April 12, at 5 p.m. at the Warren Center. 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, January 19, February 9, March 2, March 23 and April 13, 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. Guest speaker Cricket Keating (women’s and gender studies, University of Washington) will present on February 17 at 2:30 p.m. at the Warren Center. Other meetings to be announced soon. 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)