I’ve been teaching in the UConn English Department since 2004. I write and teach in Childhood studies, American literature, African American Studies and Disability Studies.
-What is the project you’re currently working on?
A book called Strange Place Blues: Growing up in a Slave Nation.
-How did you arrive at this topic?
I came across an 1822 skit where a nine-year old African American boy chastises another little boy for tardiness as part of a public examination at the The New York African School and I was hooked. On one level, this was a very small moment–just a school performance with two young kids talking about the importance of schoolwork. Really, it’s not terribly different that something you might find at a school assembly today. But once I started investigating, it became clear how this small moment had incredibly large implications. Much of the ideology underlying the American Revolution, and the concept of citizenry it engendered, depended on the capacity for citizens to be born equal, and to come to rationality through education. Thus the question of whether black children could partake in education was vital. These small children were exemplars, held up as evidence by both anti-slavery forces. Their school performances were covered by local newspapers, and their schoolwork held up at national conferences as evidence of African American equality, and of slavery’s deep injustice.
My book explores the work of the school by tracing the lives and works of two of its most famous almuni, James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet. James McCune Smith was the first African American to earn a medical degree and Henry Highland Garnet was the first African American to address Congress. In particular, I focus on how they imagined the black child in their lives and work as they wrestled with questions of national belonging, of education, and of possible futures. I’m also keenly interested in how these political figures were deeply influenced by the experiences of black children who came into their own lives, whether it was their own children, New York city orphans, child fugitives from slavery, or in one case, a young African held up as a scientific specimen. Ultimately, I argue, that finding ways to cultivate and celebrate children as political and cultural actors was central to the work of black abolitionism, and later black political thought, in ways we haven’t really engaged as fully as we need to.
-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?
We’re in a moment where the very meaning of education is under stress. We are struggling to define what it is supposed to accomplish, and by extension, what we imagine a good citizen should know. Both students and educators often feel overwhelmed by definitions that they had very little input in creating, and that might feel alien to what they really want to learn. My project seeks to learn from African American children themselves as they worked–and ultimately thrived– within systems that didn’t believe that they could ever become citizens in the first place. In doing so, I hope to open up new ways of appreciating the capacity of children to be active participants in their own education, and to be political advocate
Resistance, Play, and Memory
Artist Joseph DeLappe engages the intersections of art, technology, social engagement/activism and interventionist strategies exploring geo-political contexts. Working with electronic and new media since 1983, his work in online gaming performance, sculpture and electromechanical installation has been shown internationally. His creative works and actions have been featured widely in scholarly journals, books and in popular media—his most familiar work is a performative and memorializing intervention into the US Army video game recruitment website, “America’s Army.”
Dr. Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Relations, Warwick University UK
Thursday April 6, 4-5:30
Humanities Institute Seminar Room, 4th floor of Babbidge Library
Pierre Nora has argued that: ‘we speak so much of memory because there is so little of it left’. For Nora, industrialisation and capitalist acceleration were the destroyers of traditional societal structures. Memory industries emerged as methods by which societies could then imagine continuity and identity in response to social dislocation. This talk takes Pierre Nora, and other scholars of memory’s political economy, to the terrorist bombsite. Building upon their historical sociologies of memorialisation, and using her fieldwork from the reconstruction efforts which followed the 9/11 attacks and European bombings, I explore the sublimation of the memorial (and the dead human) to economic agendas and broader rationales of ‘regeneration’ and urban renewal. In post-terrorist reconstruction, the human subject is profoundly displaced by governance which triages economic injury and blight. Economy thereby emerges as the terrain upon which counterterrorism is fought.
Heath-Kelly’s research focuses on critical analysis of terrorism. Among her publications is Death and Security: Memory and Mortality at the Bombsite (Manchester University Press: 2017) and “The Foundational Masquerade: Security as Sociology of Death,” in Masquerades of War, Christine Sylvester, ed. (Routledge: 2015). She is currently principal investigator on two funded research projects: “Resilience at the Bombsite: Reconstructing Post-Terrorist Space” and “Counterterrorism in the NHS: Prevent Duty Safeguarding and the New ‘Pathology’ of Radicalisation.”
Ssponsored by the Humanities Institute and the Department of Political Science
“Re-Reading, Re-Thinking, and Re-Seeing Comics: Language, Cognition, and Culture”
March 24 – 25, 2017
|March 24, 2017||Location: Room 4-153 (UCHI, Homer Babbidge Library)|
|5:30 – 6:45 PM
|7:00 – 8:30 PM
||Hillary Chute (Keynote): “Time, Space, and Reading the Visual in the Graphic Novel”|
|March 25, 2017||Location: Room 4-153 (UCHI, Homer Babbidge Library)|
|10:30 – 11:00 AM
||Coffee Hour/Meet & Greet|
|11:00 – 12:15 PM
||Gene Kannenberg, “Architecture of the Comics Page” (Presentation)|
|12:15 – 12:30 PM
||Lunch / Break|
|12:30 – 1:45 PM||Ken Foote, “Narrating Space/Spatializing Narrative: Insights of Graphic Narrative for Cartographic Visualization” (Presentation)|
|1:45 – 2:00 PM||Coffee Break|
|2:00 – 3:45 PM||
#1: Sara Johnson, “A Weapon Called Poseidon and a Lost City Called Xerxes: Exotic Worldbuilding with Western Classics in Japanese Manga and Anime”
#2: Andrea Kantrowitz, “What Artists Do (& Say) When They Draw”
|3:45 – 4:00 PM||Coffee Break|
4:00 – 5:45 PM
#1: Harry van Der Hulst, “Re-Reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: Thoughts on Formal Properties of the Language of Sequential Graphic Narrative.
#2: Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, “Representing Modern Spain: Javier Mariscal’s Comics and Design”
Homer Babbidge Library 4th floor – Room 4-153
Music by Murderous Chanteuse
Cash Bar and Hors D'Oeuvres by University Catering
LIZ WHITNEY QUISGARD An Installation
Progression: Then and Now (Stanwyck Cromwell)
“This exhibition, is a visual documentation of my journey as a Guyanese-born artist, living in a multi-cultural America. Despite my lengthy absence from my country of origin, my memories of Guyana are very rich and abundant. A visual kaleidoscope from this exotic place is referenced in my art. These references serve as visual footnotes to my art-making practice, by allowing me a rich palette of diverse sights to draw from. Saturated colors, patterns and textures reveal themselves in my collages, paintings and drawings.”
-Stanwyck E. Cromwell, Artist
The Caribbean Initiative, El Instituto, and the Africana Studies Institute are pleased to collaborate with the William Benton Museum of Art to showcase the work of local artists at the University of Connecticut through our artist-in-residence program. Stanwyck Cromwell’s work demonstrates how art serves as a medium for capturing and expressing the range of immigrant experiences and voices in the United States.
Progression: Then and Now (Stanwyck Cromwell) is on display March 23 – May 10, 2017.
VOCAL WARRIOR SANAM MARVI IS THE NEXT, GREAT DIVINER OF SOUTH ASIA’S HUMANIST, FOLK, AND SUFI TEXTS
With compelling interpretations that draw deeply from one of the world’s great music traditions, Sanam Marvi is Pakistan’s next, inspiring diviner of South Asia’s humanist, folk and Sufi texts. A vocal warrior for tolerance, spirituality and peace, this contemporary daughter of interior Sindh can urge sweeping clarion calls or disarm with nuance. “Deeply resonant. Sublime. Transporting.” (The International News/Pakistan)
Whether singing in Urdu, Sindhi, or Saraiki, Marvi finds comfort in the wisdom of Sufis, and in the couplets on divine love and devotion of the great poets. Reaching across generations and cultures with her sultry voice, she creates an inspiring experience … meditative and trance-inducing one moment, and thrillingly ecstatic the next.
The presentation of Sanam Marvi is part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Center Stage Pakistan is made possible by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.
This is Sanam Marvi’s only stop in Connecticut! New York is the next closest location where she will appear.
Watch Sanam Marvi here:
In December I spent two days at the at the Folger’s Visualizing English Print seminar. It brought together people from the Folger, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow; about half of us were literature people, half computer science; a third of us were tenure-track faculty, a third grad students, and a third in other types of research positions (i.e., librarians, DH directors, etc.).
Over those two days, we worked our way through a set of custom data visualization tools that can be found here. Before we could visualize, we needed and were given data: a huge corpus of nearly 33,000 EEBO-TCP-derived simple text files that had been cleaned up and spit through a regularizing procedure so that it would be machine-readable (with loss, obviously, of lots of cool, irregular features—the grad students who wanted to do big data studies of prosody were bummed to learn that all contractions and elisions has been scrubbed out). They also gave us a few smaller, curated corpora of texts, two specifically of dramatic texts, two others of scientific texts. Anyone who wants a copy of this data, I’d be happy to hook you up.
From there, we did (or were shown) a lot of data visualization. Some of this was based on word-frequency counts, but the real novel thing was using a dictionary of sorts called DocuScope—basically a program that sorts 40 million different linguistic patterns into one of about 100 specific rhetorical/verbal categories (DocuScope was developed at CMU as a rhet/comp tool—turned out not to be good at teaching rhet/comp, but it is good at things like picking stocks). DocuScope might make a hash of some words or phrases (and you can revise or modify it; Michael Witmore tailored a DocuScope dictionary to early modern English), but it does so consistently and you’re counting on the law of averages to wash everything out.
After drinking the DocuScope Kool-Aid, we learned how to visualize the results of DocuScoped data analysis. Again, there were a few other cool features and possibilities, and I only comprehended the tip of the data-analysis iceberg, but basically this involved one of two things.
- Using something called the MetaData Builder, we derived DocuScope data for individual texts or groups of texts within a large corpus of texts. So, for example, we could find out which of the approximately 500 plays in our subcorpus of dramatic texts is the angriest (i.e., has the greatest proportion of words/phrases DocuScope tagges as relating to anger)? Or, in an example we discussed at length, within the texts in our science subcorpus, who used more first-person references, Boyle or Hobbes (i.e., which had the greater proportion of words/phrases DocuScope tags as first-person references). The CS people were quite skilled at slicing, dicing, and graphing all this data in cool combinations. Here are some examples. A more polished essay using this kind of data analysis is here. So this is the distribution of DocuScope traits in texts in large and small corpora.
- We visualized the distribution of DocuScope tags within a single text using something called VEP Slim TV. Using Slim TV, you can track the rise and fall of each trait within a given text AND (and this is the key part) link directly to the text itself. So, for example, this is an image of Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing-World (1667).
The red line charts lexical patterns that DocuScope tags as “Positive Standards.” You’ll see there is lots of blue (compared to red) at the beginning of Cavendish’s novel (when the Lady is interviewing various Bird-Men and Bear-Men about their scientific experiments), but one stretch in the novel where there is more red than blue (when the Lady is conversing with Immaterial Spirits about the traits of nobility). A really cool thing about Slim TV that could make it useful in the classroom: you can move through and link directly to the text itself (that horizontal yellow bar on the right shows which section of the text is currently being displayed).
So 1) regularized EEBO-TCP texts turned into spreadsheets using 2) the DocuScope dictionary; then use that data to visualize either 3) individual texts as data points within a larger corpus of texts or 4) the distribution of DocuScope tags within a single text.
Again, the seminar leaders showed some nice examples of where this kind of research can lead and a lots of cool looking graphs. Ultimately, some of the findings were, if not underwhelming, at least just whelming: we had fun discussing the finding that relatively speaking, Shakespeare’s comedies tend to use “a” and his tragedies tend to use “the.” Do we want to live in a world where that is interesting? As we experimented with the tools they gave us, at times it felt a little like playing with a Magic 8 Ball: no matter what texts you fed it, DocuScope would give you lots of possible answers, but you just couldn’t tell if the original question was important or figure out if the answers had anything to do with the question. So formulating good research questions remains, to no one’s surprise, the real trick.
A few other key takeaways for me:
1) Learn to love csv files or, better, learn to love someone from the CS world who digs graphing software;
2) Curated data corpora might be the new graduate/honors thesis. Create a corpora (e.g.s, sermons, epics, travel narratives, court reports, romances), add some good metadata, and you’ve got yourself a lasting contribution to knowledge (again, the examples here are the drama corpora or the science corpora). A few weeks ago, Alan Liu told me that he requires his dissertation advisees to have a least one chapter that gets off the printed page and has some kind of digital component. A curated data collection, which could be spun through DocuScope or any other kind of textual analysis program, could be just that kind of thing.
3) For classroom use, the coolest thing was VEP Slim TV, which tracks the prominence of certain verbal/rhetorical features within a specific text and links directly to the text under consideration. It’s colorful and customizable, something students might find enjoyable.
All this stuff is publicly available as well. I’d be happy to demo what we did (or what I can do of what we did) to anyone who is interested.
“Who Deserves a Healthy Life?” A community conversation and emerging research study led by former UCHI fellow
Last spring, a leading U.S. health foundation approached UConn medical anthropologist Sarah Willen, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, former UCHI Fellow, and Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at the Human Rights Institute (HRI), to learn more about her work on “health-related deservingness” – the crucial but often unspoken question of “who deserves what, and why” in the health domain.
Since then, Willen has assembled a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Cleveland State University, Trinity College, the University of South Florida, Brown University, and Case Western Reserve University to explore this question in the contemporary United States. The two-phase, collaborative study they have developed hinges on two linked concepts: individuals’ (1) sense of deservingness, defined as the experience of feeling valued in and by society, and (2) deservingness assessments, defined as their evaluations of what different social groups, including their own, do or do not deserve in the health domain. The team plans to investigate how Americans from diverse backgrounds conceptualize health-related deservingness; how those conceptions can change; and how such changes might affect individuals’ willingness to take concrete action to promote health equity.
In the first study phase, the team plans to “capitaliz[e] on an available opportunity to generate new knowledge that can inform policy intervention” (Williams & Purdie Vaughns 2016: 640) by studying a multi-sectoral, county-wide health equity initiative called Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga (henceforth HIP-Cuyahoga) that is currently underway in the county that encompasses Cleveland, Ohio.
In January 2017, with support from CSU along with UConn’s Humanities Institute, Human Rights Institute, and the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Prevention (InCHIP), Willen and her colleagues convened in Cleveland for a two-day planning workshop. Yet one string was attached: the group needed to hold a public event of some sort.
Since they were meeting for the first time, it seemed premature to hold a public event casting the researchers as experts. Instead, they took the somewhat unusual step of partnering with HIP-Cuyahoga and the county-wide Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) to sponsor and co-facilitate a community conversation about racism and health inequity at the community center of a local public housing community on the evening before their workshop.
Designed as a screening and discussion of clips from the documentary “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?,” the event attracted an audience of over 60 participants, including about 45 community residents, 10 local public health leaders, and the research team. For community members, the evening provided an opportunity to activate the community’s Social Justice Subcommittee, a healthy meal from a local African American-owned café, and a lively conversation about racism, inequality, and the moral obligations involved in community based research. For the research team, the event also offered an illuminating window onto Cleveland and HIP-Cuyahoga – and a powerful prelude to their collaborative work over the next two days. Their research proposal has now been submitted and, if funded, the study will launch in mid-2017.
Sponsored by Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, HIP-Cuyahoga, Cleveland State University, and UConn’s Humanities Institute, Human Rights Institute, and Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Prevention (InCHIP).
“Must the Revolution be Digital?” is a panel discussion featuring Zakia Salime and David Karpf. With the events of the Arab Spring and recent mobilization around the Movement for Black Lives, it is generally accepted that digital and social media have become crucial for activism and resistance. However, the debates around digital and online activism are fraught and complicated. One side argues that these new forms are inherently lazy, youth oriented, and remain embedded in neoliberal structures that foreclose revolution from reaching its full radical potential. Yet another argument claims these activisms are not disconnected from bodies on the ground and do the necessary work of generating immediacy and building community around shared causes. Zakia Salime is Associate Professor at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers and currently Visiting Associate Professor at Yale’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department. Her co-edited volume, with Frances Hasso, Freedom without Permission: Bodies and Space in the Arab Revolutions (2016, Duke University Press) investigates the embodied, sexualized and gendered spaces that were generated, transformed and reconfigured during the Arab uprisings.
David Karpf is Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy (2012, Oxford University Press) and Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy (2017, Oxford University Press).
Sponsored by the UConn Humanities Institute’s Digital Humanities Reading Group and moderated by Bhakti Shringarpure.
Professor Christian Appy
Department of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Thursday April 20, 4:00-5:30. Laurel Hall room 205.
From the Manhattan Project to the Global War on Terror, nuclear weapons have had a pernicious impact on American political culture. The secrecy and concentrated power under which the first atomic weapons were created provided a model for the post–World War II permanent national security state, presided over by presidents invested with unprecedented power. Their exclusive authority to produce and use atomic weapons—codified by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946—led to further expansions of presidential powers not conferred by the constitution. The authority to launch globe-threatening weapons has led to a wide range of additional assertions of power unaccountable to the public or its elected representatives, including covert overthrows of foreign governments, secret bombings of foreign nations, unilateral abdication of treaties, warrantless surveillance of American citizens, and routine circumvention of Congress’s constitutional power to declare war. This lecture will argue that nuclear weapons are inherently undemocratic and must be abolished before we can begin dismantling the national security state and restoring genuinely representative government.
(Penguin, 2015) and Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides (Viking, 2003), which won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction. The Humanities Institute lecture is based on his latest research project.
The lecture is co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science, the Asian and Asian-American Studies Institute, and Humanities Institute.
Title: Epistemic Greed
Abstract: My paper argues that epistemologists and ethicists have overlooked the importance of a dangerous vice (epistemic greed). I explain what this vice is and why it is a problem. In so doing my paper sheds light on the following questions: Is the behavior of epistemic elites, (a) really much different from billionaires discussing expensive wines on a millionaire dollar yacht, and (b) do epistemic elites have the same sort of (imperfect) obligation to share in their epistemic wealth as the rich have to share in their economic wealth?
Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
UConn Humanities Institute Presents:
WAR AND ITS MEANINGS
DAY IN THE HUMANITIES 2013: "SILENT SPRINGS" April 5, 2013
Student Union Theater, Storrs Campus - April 5, 2013 - DAY IN THE HUMANITIES: "SILENT SPRINGS" - Student Union Theater
In 1962 the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson radically altered the way in which people from around the world viewed their relationship with the environment. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this work by Carson and look to the future. How can humanists and scientists come together to better interact with our environments from local, national, and global perspectives? Who has a voice in environmental decisions--and, as important, who does not? How do we learn from our past, effect our present, and safeguard our future?
Please plan to join us, this even is free and open to the public.