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2012-2013 Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities 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 check our website or contact the seminar coordinators.

Affective Inquiries: Embodiment in Language and Culture Seminar:

Beginning with an Aristotelian definition of affect as the "capacity to be acted upon and the capacity to act," this graduate-led seminar will work through philosophical reflections on affect to consider what it is and how it has been used. Paying particular attention to race, gender, and belonging, the seminar will examine how affective investments play a critical role in these areas of inquiry and will also extend and challenge individual group member's work by bringing forth these reflections in conversation with poetry and film. Seminar coordinators: Geoffrey Adelsberg (philosophy)  and Hubert Cook (English)

Between Persons and Things: Human Beings and the World of Material Production and Consumption Seminar:

This seminar seeks to delve into the uneasy relationship between subjecthood and objecthood by looking critically at the study of persons—especially in terms of slavery and colonialism—in conjunction with the study of objects, things, and material culture—an area of inquiry that is particularly fraught in our current post-modern and capitalist world. They also seek to understand how the human might become object or possession, inactive or inanimate, as well as how materiality itself can become sensuous, affective, and vibrant. Discussion topics may include how human beings relate to or react against their material surroundings, the concept of ownership and property, classifications and descriptions of the human and the non-human; and the cultural and social lives of material objects. Seminar coordinators: Jennifer Bagneris (English)  and Dan Fang (English)

Caribbean Studies Reading Group:

This seminar focuses on the study of literature, history, politics, culture, and society in the Caribbean Basin, or the nations bordering and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, including the Bahamas and parts of Central and South America, as well as its diaspora in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. This graduate-led seminar will provide a forum for the reading and discussion of seminal Caribbean writers, as well as recent scholarship emerging from and about the region. Co-Directors: Annette Joseph-Gabriel (French), Megan Mishler (Spanish) , Petal Samuel (English) , and R.J. Boutelle (English) .

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:

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. Seminar coordinators: Lynn Ramey (French)  and Mona Frederick (Warren Center)

Exploring the "Religious Turn" in Early Modern Studies:

This graduate-led seminar explores the scope and significance of the "religious turn," which has marked a shift in research methodologies and explanatory paradigms across the humanities, particularly in work relating to the early modern period (c. 1500-1720). The seminar will broaden participants' understanding of this movement and encourage them to discuss ways that addressing religious themes might enhance their own reading and research. In addition, this seminar seeks to bring heightened attention to the polysemous term "religion" as it is utilized in the humanities and a more nuanced understanding of religious studies within scholarly practice. Seminar coordinators: Amy Gant Tan (history)  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 (film studies and English) , James McFarland (German) , and Paul Young (film studies and English) .

Food Politics: Labor Organizing Among Food Workers:

The Food Politics seminar is a non-hierarchical group that combines the research and study of food politics with a praxis of collective liberation through student-community alliances. This year we are focusing on the history, theory, and contemporary trends in labor organizing among food workers, following the diverse elements of the supply chain from field to table. The seminar will have a special but not exclusive emphasis on Tennessee and the South and will provide a space for reflection and action on food labor issues affecting the larger university community. Seminar coordinators: Tristan Call (anthropology)  and Jonathan Coley (sociology) .

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. Seminar coordinator: Katherine Crawford (women's and gender studies, history) .

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. Seminar coordinator: Bill Caferro (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 coordinators: Teresa Goddu (American Studies)  and 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) .

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) , and Humberto Garcia (English) .