Month: October 2017

You SHOULD….Read The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha

At the risk of gross self-promotion, I would recommend my book The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2016). When I researched and wrote the book over a period of ten years, I could hardly have anticipated how much it spoke to contemporary issues. The book, which expands the chronology of abolition from the classical pre-Civil War period back to the colonial era, reimagines abolition as a radical, interracial movement in which the enslaved themselves played a central role. It argues that abolition was one of the first social movements to systematically develop the concept of human rights at a time when slaveholders and their allies dominated the American state. Many current activists against mass incarceration, for immigrant rights and the sanctuary movement, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street can learn from the diverse tactics and ideologies espoused by abolitionists since their concerns were first articulated by them. The book shows how abolitionists developed transnational networks of protest and overlapped with contemporary radical movements such as women’s rights, pacifism, utopian socialism, the rights of labor, immigrants, and Native Americans. They, especially the more radical Garrisonian wing of the movement, also presciently fought against capital punishment and the criminalization of blackness.


To learn more listen:


Interview, The Diane Rehm Show, NPR,


Interview in Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Episode 142, Manisha Sinha, A History of Abolition,


Interview with Sam Seder, The Majority Report,


Interview, The Marc Steiner Show,

You SHOULD…Go on Holiday By Kristin Eshelman

Holiday was created in 1946 for “a world in which recreation will be more important to everyone than ever before – more important in this busier world of new stresses and strains because more and more doctors are prescribing escape, and travel, and fun.”  For three decades, the travel magazine promoted the advice of neurologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, “The sun, the open air, silence, and art are great physicians.”  I suffer from the anxiety, fatigue, rampant skepticism, and extreme boredom that plagues the unlucky, middling members of the generation called “X”.  On the advice of my doctor, I considered a Holiday.  Over the summer, I squeezed in a trip with James Michener to Japan, saw the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with Arthur C. Clarke, and I was escorted to Norway by Robert Capa.  Henri Cartier-Bresson has been tagging along and promised to share his snapshots with me for my photo album.  Over drinks, John Steinbech and I have been considering the value of an American tourist.  I’ve also been taking practical advice about what and how to pack from fashionable women, who actually travel, from Italy, France, Spain and Scotland.  Because I’ve been on the go so much, I’ve decided my next trip will be a staycation, New Hampshire with John Cheever.  I just don’t know when I’ll find the time to buy a new pair of inlaid shorty boots for my trip with Debs Myers to that Colorado dude ranch.  The good news is I’m dutifully following my doctor’s advice, taking my medicine and feeling better all the time.  You might do the same.

Holiday.  Philadelphia, Pa.: Curtis Pub. Co., 1946-1977 (ISSN0018-3520)


Humanities LIVED – You Should…Listen



You have to listen to Sarah Jarosz performing her song “Annabelle Lee.”  Jarosz is a 26-year-old superstar in what I suppose you could call “roots” music; she plays just about every instrument but I’m blown away by her banjo playing. The lyrics for Annabelle Lee are adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem, written in 1849 and published after his death.  It’s a creepy story told by a man of his childhood love Annabelle Lee; their love for each other was so strong that it made the angels jealous and led them to do away with her. Jarosz accompanies herself on the banjo, playing in an old, highly rhythmic style called “clawhammer” in which the player strikes the strings with one rigid finger as opposed to plucking the strings as one does in folk or bluegrass banjo. The haunting quality of Jarosz’s voice, together with the modal tune and the driving banjo accompaniment combine to bring Poe’s poem to life in a way that scares me silly every time I hear it. 


Hearing this song for the first time made me resolved to learn to play clawhammer banjo.



Poe’s Annabelle Lee


Jarosz performance

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Alycia LaGuardia-LoBianco


-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 the Philosophy Department here at UConn, where I have studied for five years. I received my B.A. in Philosophy from Stony Brook University. 

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

 During my fellowship year, I will be finishing my dissertation, “Action Guidance in Complicated Cases of Suffering,” in which I assess ethical responses to suffering given the nuanced ways in which someone may suffer. Ethicists hold that suffering is ethically relevant: another’s suffering calls for some ethical response, often relief of that suffering. However, this general formula hides some problematic assumptions. It takes the suffering agent as an unwitting victim who ought to be helped but does not necessarily owe anything to herself. It also assumes that, barring extreme circumstances, suffering ought to be relieved. My dissertation challenges these assumptions, arguing that the suffering agent is a moral agent, not just a victim dependent on others, and who therefore has obligations to herself. Additionally, I argue that relief of suffering is not always ethically appropriate. Rather, ethical responses to suffering are not unidimensional, but are as complex as suffering itself.

-How did you arrive at this topic?

I was lucky to take a philosophy course with Joel Kupperman here at UConn. During our discussion of Buddhism, which takes as its starting point the elimination of suffering, I was stuck on the question, why should we want to eliminate suffering? From there, I started thinking about the potential value of suffering, arguing that there are virtues that come from suffering that make it worthwhile. I then pivoted and became interested in internalized trauma and self-caused suffering. I turned to oppression literature for a framework to discuss cases in which someone unwittingly contributes to their own suffering because of oppressive or abusive forces. I realized that much ethical literature treats suffering as a blanket emotional or physical pain, and in so doing, oversimplifies widely varying experiences. These nuances matter: we should expect that the right ethical response to suffering depends on variables like the appropriateness of that suffering, whether suffering is caused by internalized behaviors, or whether an individual wants to suffer. This led me to take the suffering agent, rather than the phenomenon of suffering, as the focus of study, in an effort to recast her as a moral agent rather than a mere victim. Now, my dissertation is driven by analyzing difficult cases of suffering (such as self-injury or self-defeating behavior) with the suffering agent at the focus of analysis. 

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

I’m interested in messy, real-life problems that have been overlooked by philosophical analysis yet which can benefit from it. I think philosophy is meant to deal with just these sorts of difficulties, rolling up its sleeves and trying to untangle a problem knowing that the solution won’t be neat and pretty but trying to find an answer anyway. Real suffering is complicated. It can change someone from the outside in, it can test and destroy close relationships, and it can become something an individual depends on to feel like herself. It matters to our lives, to who we are and who we care about. So, suffering and suffering agents deserve the careful attention that philosophy provides to make some headway in understanding and addressing this painful reality. My hope is that this work will give others (philosophers or not) a new avenue to reckon with their own experiences of suffering. 

Publishing NOW!

George Thompson, CLAS, Publisher-in-Residence
October 24-27, 2017 

George Thompson has been a professional editor since 1984, beginning his career at Johns Hopkins University Press as an acquisitions editor. At JHUP, George developed the geography and environmental studies list, including the “Creating the North American Landscape” series.  In 1990, George founded the Center for American Places, which he directed and served as publisher until November 2010, when he founded his own imprint. Books developed and published under George’s care have won more than 100 book awards, honors, and prizes, including best-book recognition in 31 academic fields.  George is also the editor, co-editor or author of five books of his own and has served as publisher-in-residence at a number of universities. More information is available here 

If you would like to meet with George during his visit, please contact Maria Shah ( 860-486-2713 in the CLAS Dean’s Office to schedule an appointment.

Appointment times are listed in Google Docs at: