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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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Warren Center Seminars


The following is a list of seminars and reading groups that will be hosted by the Warren Center in the spring semester. For more detailed information please contact the seminar coordinators or the Warren Center. For the most up-to-date information on upcoming seminar events, please visit the calendar.

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. The group will hold their first meeting in the Warren Center on Friday, September 13 at 2pm with guest speaker Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud (English, University of Tennessee Knoxville). Other guest speakers include Mary Favret (English, Indiana University) on Friday, October 25 at 2pm in the Warren Center and Daniel O'Quinn (English, University of Guelph) on Friday, November 15 at 2pm in the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Rachel Teukolsky (English), Scott Juengel (English), and Humberto Garcia (English)

Behind Bars: The Complex Politics of Incarceration. In this seminar, participants will seek to have conversations with scholars in a wide range of fields and disciplines about a major social and political concern in the 21st century: the prison industrial complex. Through an examination of critical race and queer theory, transnational feminisms, and the work of grassroots activist organizations, participants will engage discourses of prison reform and prison abolition as two distinct methodologies that attempt to address the same pervasive social problem. Reading scholarly work as well as the work produced by activists, we hope to explore how the academy can engage these issues productively and materially. First fall meeting: TBD. Seminar coordinators: Alex Chambers (religion) and Tatiana McInnis (English)

Brazilian Studies Reading Group. This graduate student led seminar provides a forum for the discussion of contemporary Brazilian topics. Each semester the group will facilitate interdisciplinary dialogues with pre-circulated readings, discuss works-in-progress by graduate students and faculty, and invite recognized scholars to present new work. We will consider issues in the context of the recent protest movements, which began in São Paulo as a response to increased bus fares, before spreading through most urban centers across the country. Topics for discussion may include traditional power structures, social movements, access to equal education, workers' rights, political corruption, race relations, and income disparity. Meetings and lectures will sharpen our analyses and understanding of contemporary Brazilian problems and the issues facing its citizens. The first meeting will be Friday, September 6 at 3:30pm in the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Ashley Larson (Latin American Studies), Max Pendergraph (history), and Guilherme Russo (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. First fall meeting: TBD. Seminar coordinators: Celso Castilho (history) and Jane Landers (history)

Digital Humanities Discussion Group. Digital humanities projects are rich new additions to the intellectual life of humanities scholars. If you are currently working on a digital humanities project or hope to do so in the near future, please join this discussion group to learn more about resources and innovations in this area. The direction of the group will be determined by the interests of those who participate. First fall meeting: TBD. Seminar coordinators: Lynn Ramey (French & Italian) and Mona Frederick (Warren Center)

Exploring Boundaries: Race and Ethnicity in the 21st-Century United States. How racial and ethnic boundaries continue to shift and transform is an exciting and important topic of intellectual pursuit for scholars of all disciplines. This year-long seminar is designed to facilitate discussion, debate, and collaboration among individuals across campus who are interested in contemporary issues of race and ethnicity. At each of our monthly meetings, participants will bridge theory with practice, engaging with foundational texts in the field as well as with the work of their peers and that of invited speakers. Thematic topics of discussion will include methodological issues in studying race, heterogeneity within racial and pan-ethnic groups, and contemporary social problems. The first meeting will be Tuesday, September 17 at noon in the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Samantha Perez (sociology) and Courtney Thomas (sociology)

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, as well as anyone interested in theories of the image, philosophies of perception, aesthetics and critical theory, media histories, and the history of vision. The first meeting is Friday, September 27 at noon in the Warren Center with guest speaker Lutz Koepnick (German and film). Other scheduled guest speakers include Paul K. Saint-Amour (English, University of Pennsylvania) and Karen Beckman (History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) on Friday, October 25 at noon in the Warren Center, Lesley Stern (visual arts, UC-San Diego) on Friday, November 8 at noon in the Warren Center, and Ackbar Abbas (comparative literature, UC-Irvine) on Friday, December 6 at noon in the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Jennifer Fay (Film Studies and English), James McFarland (German), and Paul Young (Film Studies and English)

Gender and Sexuality 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. First fall meeting: TBD. Please email if you would like to be on the mailing list. Seminar coordinator: Katherine Crawford (women's & gender studies; history)

Geographic Imaginations and the Spatial Humanities. The spatial humanities, extending from the spatial turn in geographic studies and overlapping with digital humanities, were born of the promise of innovative humanities research that reaches beyond demonstrative mapmaking to spatial analysis of humanities data. Scholars have used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to document historic and literary action through space and time, map linguistic and cultural relationships, and model or predict behavior based on specific parameters. In this Robert Penn Warren Center seminar, we will collaboratively explore the historical contexts and theories of the spatial turn, examine specific case studies of spatially-oriented humanities research, and practice mapping our own data with existing spatial technologies. The seminar will include a monthly reading group and complementary workshops, along with visits from two scholars in the field of spatial humanities. The first fall meeting will be Friday, September 6 at noon in the Warren Center. Seminar coordinators: Courtney Campbell (history), Beth Koontz (anthropology), and Scotti Norman (anthropology)

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. First fall meeting: TBD. Seminar coordinators: Bill Caferro (history) and Leah Marcus (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. First fall meeting: TBD. Seminar coordinator: Robert Barsky (French & Italian and English),

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. First meeting will be on Friday, September 13 at noon in the Warren Center with guest speaker Arturo Santamaría Gómez (Professor of Sociology, Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, Mazatlán). Seminar coordinators: Helena Simonett (Latin American Studies) and Edward Wright-Rios (history)