Month: December 2016

THE PEOPLE’S INAUGURATION 1/20/2017

the peopleOn Friday, January 20th come join the members of the UConn community as we stand up for the values of human rights, justice, and solidarity. Together, we will mark the inauguration of the next chapter in American history by embodying the kind of community we aspire to be–inclusive, indivisible, equitable, and democratic–and share the words, poems, thoughts, performances, and insights that will sustain us as we work together.
Our Goal:

To provide a space and time on Inauguration Day for members of the UConn Community to come together, listen to each other, and reflect on the values that make our University ours.

Students, faculty, staff and anyone who considers themselves a part of the UConn community are invited to attend and share a short reading (maybe an excerpt from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), poem (maybe Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again), performance (maybe something like this piece), or story (maybe your story).

Our Goal:

To provide a space and time on Inauguration Day for members of the UConn Community to come together, listen to each other, and reflect on the values that make our University ours.

Students, faculty, staff and anyone who considers themselves a part of the UConn community are invited to attend and share a short reading (maybe an excerpt from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), poem (maybe Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again), performance (maybe something like this piece), or story (maybe your story).

Just keep it short (no more than 5 minutes) and affirming on this day of new beginnings.

How It Works:

 

Choose your reading/performance (5 minute max)

then

Sign up for a time now

or

Sign up at the event

and

Come to listen, share, and reflect

 

Fore more information visit the website

 

Get to Know Our Fellows: Christine Sylvester

sylvester-christine-What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

My formal academic background is in the field of International Relations, which in the USA is located in departments of Political Science, and elsewhere is often a field on its own. I have spent most of my academic career in regular tenured positions abroad, in Australia (Australian National University), the Netherlands (The Institute of Social Studies, The Hague), and England (Lancaster University), with visiting research appointments at the University of Zimbabwe, University of Southern California, Gothenburg University and Lund University. Currently I am Professor of Political Science and of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies here at Uconn, in my home state (I am from Milford).
 
-What is the project you’re currently working on?
In recent years I have been associated with critical war studies in International Relations, emphasizing  war as experience rather than war as military strategy, weapon systems, and foreign policy. I am interested in everyday and ordinary experiences with war inside and outside of war zones, and am spending my year with the Humanities Institute researching new ways of apprehending war through war objects and their display. With a focus on the Vietnam and Iraq (2003) wars, I consider objects that are displayed by professional curators at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, by communities of loss at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, and by veterans of the wars who write novels about their war experiences and mention objects they grew attached to or despised in war zones. The project, called Objects of War: Whose Wars Are on View? is, in effect, a three-way recreation of both wars that works through the power of objects to communicate grand stories of national significance about war and countervailing stories about America's recent wars as experienced by a range of ordinary people involved in them.
 
-How did you arrive at this topic?
My field of International Relations has a history of writing people out of war studies. This has never sat well with me, especially after I experienced war in Zimbabwe in the days when the new government of Robert Mugabe sought retribution against people in the southern part of the country who supported a different would-be leader. I was there when the infamous Fifth Brigade of the national army, trained by North Korea, moved into the second city of Bulawayo and started shooting and smashing heads. Suddenly and unexpectedly the locals and I were in a war zone, and that experience early in my career, which I wrote up for the magazine The Progressive (1983), has never left me. While working in the UK (2005-2012) I started a multi-disciplinary and collaborative research project called Experiencing War, with colleagues based in Europe, and that project rolled into an ongoing book series I edit with Routledge (London) on War, Politics, Experience. Several volumes in the series are collections by project participants --the latest is Masquerades of War (2015) --while my own theorizing of war as physical and emotional experiences of collective armed conflict appears as War as Experience (2013). The Objects of War research is an off-shoot of that larger project and incorporates my serious interest in museums as important but often overlooked institutions of international relations (Art/Museums: International Relations Where We Least Expect It (2009) and a longstanding tendency to embed quotes from "fictional" people and tales in works of supposed war facts.
 
-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?
To me it is important for all of us to pay attention to the power of ordinary people to shape international relations and domestic politics today. In the case of war, it is ordinary people who conduct and suffer (and in some cases enjoy or reap benefits from) war. We should not hide the ordinary behind cold abstract terms like "collateral damage," "troops," or "civilians." The current wars in Syria and Iraq are central to the daily lives of everyone there and have become increasingly central to people who live in areas of the world that Syrians and Iraqis seek to enter as international war refugees. We miss so much of what the dailiness of war if we skip over people entirely or uncritically buy into stories of war reported from only one, supposedly expert, angle; when Americans thank soldiers on the street for their service and do not ask them their views on the war and how it is going, we fail to recognize that they are true experts on war, too. It is akin to learning about war from an exhibition at the Smithsonian and not going to see what "ordinary curators" of war display at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or in Section 60 of Arlington. I'm interested in producing a book from the project that is of use to academics and is also accessible to the interested public, because it concerns me that America has rebounded from utter defeat in Vietnam with such a ramp up of the military and war willingness that it makes sense to say that we are in a militarist era of permanent war.
 

Congratulations to our former Fellow Mohammed Albakry for the publication of: ‘Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution’ Edited by Mohammed Albakry and Rebekah Maggor

Tahrir Tales

Plays from the Egyptian Revolution

Edited by Mohammed Albakry and Rebekah Maggor

360 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 7 1/2 | © 2016

The ten plays in this collection offer unprecedented grassroots perspectives on the jubilation, terror, hope, and heartbreak of mass uprising as seen during and in the wake of the Tahrir Square demonstrations. Collectively tracing events as they unfolded in Egypt from the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime through Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s ascendance to the presidency, the plays present a picture of Egypt in the midst of epochal change, with all the attendant fear, hope, and uncertainty. Ranging from naturalism to documentary to more avant-garde representations, the plays collected in Tahrir Tales represent contemporary Egyptian drama at its most interesting, and, not coincidentally, most politically, committed.

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with George Moore

george-moore
George Moore Ph.D. candidate (English)

-What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

I am a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Connecticut and a dissertation fellow at UCHI. I received my masters in English from UConn and my bachelor’s degree in English at Southern Connecticut State University.

-What is the project you’re currently working on?

I am writing a dissertation titled “The Return of Dagon: Failed Iconoclasm in Early Modern English Literature.” The dissertation explores the intersection between English Renaissance literature and the iconoclastic movements of the post-Reformation period. It argues that early modern writers were often interested in the ways in which idolatrous artifacts might survive, resist, or even undermine the actions and intentions of their assailants. I maintain that this archive of failed iconoclasm calls into question theories of disenchantment applied to the Reformation. Iconoclasm, I show, ironically provoked a broad cultural interest in the agency of material artifacts.

-How did you arrive at this topic?

During my reading of English literature and polemical pamphlets, I became increasingly interested in the deep-seated fear among radical Protestants about the dangers of idolatry. Why were these radicals so fearful of idolatry, if, as they claimed, idolatrous objects and images were merely “dumb,” lifeless, or inert?

My interest is probably also driven by my Roman Catholic upbringing. Having once been an altar boy, I had close proximity to the kinds of ritual artifacts—incense, candles, bells, liturgical vestments, crucifixes, stained glass windows—that radical Puritans of the early modern period would find abominable.

-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

Public discourse surrounding iconoclasm typically presents it as absolute loss: We deplore iconoclasm because it violently erases our access to the past. My dissertation shows that early modern people often thought about iconoclastic incidents much differently. They did not automatically equate iconoclasm with erasure. Rather, they were often attentive to how certain artifacts might survive or resist the process, thus calling the efficacy of iconoclasm into question. Iconoclasm, in other words, elevated early modern interest in the capacity of material artifacts to transform human actions and intentions. In the twenty-first century, our closest analogue to this might be our increasing recognition of how digital technologies transform our consciousness and behaviors in ways we cannot fully control for.

 

December 6, 2016. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Lauren Barthold

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Lauren Barthold

Date: 12/6   Babbdige Library 4th floor room   4/209 meeting

Title: Giving Birth in the Public Square: Dialogue as a Maieutic Practice

If we are living in a “post-fact” age, and if deliberation relies on facts, how are we to conceive of public discourse? Must one either futilely shout the facts louder and louder or else turn away from facts, and thus rational discourse, altogether? This paper initiates a way to conceive of public discourse that avoids the facts versus violence dilemma. I begin with a close reading of the opening scene of Plato’s Republic that, I claim,  demonstrates dialogue as a third way beyond force or rational persuasion. I then consider Allan Bloom’s and Hannah Arendt’s interpretations of the political relevance of Socratic dialogue. In concluding, I argueagainst Arendt that it is the tension between wonder and opinion lying at the heart of dialogue that renders dialogue a relevant political activity, one that connects us with others and in so doing creates a viable, pluralistic polis.