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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.

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. Semi­nar coordinators: Rachel Teukolsky (Eng­lish), Scott Juengel (English) scott.j.juengel@vander­, 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. Semi­nar coordinators: Fernanda Bretones Lane (history), Daniel O’Maley (anthropology) dan.omaley@vander­, 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. 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. Seminar coordinators: Lynn Ramey (French) lynn.ramey@vander­ 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) drew.martin@, 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. Semi­nar coordinators: Jennifer Fay (cinema and media arts, English) jennifer.m.fay@vander­, 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. It 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. Seminar coordinator: Laura Carpen­ter (sociology, women’s and gender studies)

Group for Pre-modern Cultural Studies: The purpose of the group is to serve as a forum for faculty and graduate students with interest in pre-modern studies, from the beginnings of recorded culture through the seventeenth century. Areas included are history, literature, music, art, and cul­ture, broadly understood. The group meets monthly to discuss ongoing research by a faculty member or graduate student, recent publications in the field, or the work of a visiting scholar. Seminar coordina­tors: Leah Marcus (English) l.marcus@, Deann Armstrong (Eng­lish), Bill Caferro (history) william.p.caferro@, 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. Seminar coordinators: Helena Simonett (Latin American Studies) and Edward Wright-Rios (history) 

A People’s History of Nashville: How have social movements created the Nashville that we live in today? 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 that are pursuing similar projects. 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 the 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 for a discussion of current research by Vanderbilt faculty or Ph.D. students. Readings will be pre-circulated. 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. Seminar coordinators: Ole Molvig (history) or Alistair Sponsel (history)