Author: Della Zazzera, Elizabeth

20 Years of Fellows: Joseph Ulatowski

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Headshot of Joseph Ulatowski2019–2020 Visiting Fellow Joseph Ulatowski is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, and Director of the Experimental Philosophy Research Group at the University of Waikato. His research focus is the nature and value of truth, the problem of action individuation, self-narratives, and practical challenges that arise from these theoretical areas. His approach to these matters is pluralistic, employing both traditional philosophical methods and empirical methods.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship project explored the fundamental question: why do facts matter? The philosophical study of facts has largely focused upon metaphysical questions: What are facts? What is their structure? Do they even have a nature? In the book resulting from the fellowship project, aptly titled Why Facts Matter, I investigate how our answers to these questions are driven by contextual factors and pragmatic considerations. The metaphysics of facts has to be responsive to practical considerations. If this is correct, then what facts are is sensitive to whether and how they are valued.

Would you give us an update on the project?

The book is nearly complete, but then again I imagine any author would say that. Over the course of this project, I have witnessed how our collective relationship to facts has evolved. While I think we have a greater appreciation of facts, some people, what I call “social bandits,” have become more savvy in evading or manipulating them. Gatekeepers, in conjunction with upholding high standards and practices of one’s discipline, have been charged with protecting facts from these bandits. Yet, as I claim in the book, even these gatekeepers are susceptible to psychological biases and colonialist attitudes. Because of this ever-evolving situation, I get stuck into closing and reopening parts of chapters I had thought were complete. So, nearly complete!

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I left the Institute with a much different and, to my mind, far better project than the one I entered with. Before my year at UCHI, I thought of my project as constrained to the philosophical problem of facts. A project on facts, I quickly learned, should be informed not just by what philosophers have said about them but by what others working in the humanities and sciences more generally say about them. The discussions and conversations I had with others at UCHI reshaped the project, allowing me to bring ideas from the history and philosophy of science, literature, sociology, anthropology, and psychology to bear on why facts matter.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

The AY 2019–2020 was likely one of the most unusual academic years in modern memory because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, if there was a moment that stood out to me, it was Nathan Braccio’s talk on Algonquian and English spatial understandings of New England. Listening to his presentation and speaking with him throughout the year recalibrated my understanding of the purpose of maps. Here was my naïve view: maps represent how things stand in the world. Maps are pictorial facts! Nathan’s presentation brought to light that maps are a means of expressing how one understands and appreciates the space around them. My naïve view of facts was shattered; hearing about Nathan’s project was a watershed moment that began my thinking more perspicuously about a fact’s normative value and how such value plays a much more significant role in the nature of facts than philosophers had acknowledged.

What are you working on now (or next)?

While I am finishing Why Facts Matter, two projects are on my mind. One is a project with my University of Waikato colleague, Jeremy Wyatt. In collaboration with an international team of scholars, we’ve undertaken a University-funded project called Truth without Borders. The main purpose of this project is to better appreciate how truth is used, understood, and valued in different languages. The second project is in a more nascent stage. Tentatively titled, War of the Words: Truth and Virtue in Everyday Communication, I question what it means for truth to win out over falsehood in a marketplace of ideas and attempt to deal with deeply polarized views, whether in politics or elsewhere, by arguing that we should institute rules of conversational conduct to govern our speech acts, much like we institute rules of conduct in war.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

The paramount challenge facing the future of knowledge is the jaded, one-dimensional and westernized view that Enlightenment science is going to solve all the riddles, puzzles, and paradoxes of humanity. Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies, like those found in Māori and Pasifika communities, not only deserve to be a resource for science but they should be a driving force in the sciences. Such epistemologies have been unjustly suppressed and marginalized because of an overly colonialist perspective that science be restricted to one-way of doing it. Providing intellectual space and listening intently to Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies is likely the most promising and exciting prospect for the future of knowledge.

DHMS and CETL: Teaching Machines Book Discussion Group

A poster advertising a book discussion about Audrey Watters' Teaching Machines. A picture of the book cover beside text that reads: UCHI's Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning presents a discussion group about Audrey Watters’ Teaching Machines. February 10, 2022, 3:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required. Related event: virtual book talk by Audrey Watters, February 17 at 4:00pm.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities. The event will be presented with automated transcription.

The Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning invite you to a book discussion group about:

Teaching Machines: The History of Personalized Learning

by Audrey Watters

February 10, 2022, 3:00–4:00pm
Live • Online • Registration required.

UCHI and CETL are hosting a book discussion group about Audrey Watters’ new book Teaching Machines: The History of Personalized Learning (MIT, 2021). Watters is perhaps best known for her website Hack Education, which covers “the history of the future of education technology.” Teaching Machines expands on that project, looking at how the desire for a technical solution to the social problem of equality in education pre-date the digital era.

To participate in the book discussion, please register. The first twenty registrants with UConn email addresses will receive a free electronic copy of Teaching Machines (MIT Press, 2021). Please email uchi@uconn.edu to receive your ebook. We also have paper copies that can be picked up once our office reopens in February.

In conjunction with this event, Audrey Watters will give a virtual book talk on February 17, 2021 at 4:00pm. To attend the talk, register here.

Fellow’s Talk: Laura Mauldin on Our Anti-Body Politic

A poster advertising Laura Mauldin's fellow's talk. A photograph of a tray of pill bottles, papers and post-it notes, along with a printed card that says "Everything will be okay" serves as the background of the poster. The text reads: 2021–22 UCHI Fellow's Talk. "Surfacing (and Countering) Our Anti-Body Politic." Associate Professor, WGSS & HDFS Laura Mauldin, with a response by Sherie Randolph. February 2, 2022, 4:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

Surfacing (and Countering) Our Anti-Body Politic

Laura Mauldin (Associate Professor, Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies & Human Development and Family Sciences, UConn)

with a response by Sherie Randolph (History, Georgia Institute of Technology)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 4:00pm.

Live • Online • Registration required

In this talk, I outline what I see as our society’s “anti-body politic.” An anti-body politic means that we all inhabit unreliable bodies, but we don’t want to talk about it or attend to that fact. We shy away from doing so because we live in a culture that worships at the altar of autonomy and independence, where needing care symbolizes everything we don’t want to be. Accordingly, our care infrastructure, an expression of our collective anti-body politic, is woefully insufficient. This means millions of disabled people and caregivers across the United States are left to try to survive without social safety nets, despite rising rates of disability and chronic illness and more complex care needs. After describing these ideas in more detail, I experiment with how we might begin to counter our anti-body politic.

Laura Mauldin is associate professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut. She is currently writing a book about caregiving in the US that tells the intimate stories of spousal caregivers and their disabled partners’ lives to reveal how ableism shapes the US care crisis, but also how people create and build accessible worlds to survive. You can follow her on Twitter @mauldin_laura.

Sherie M. Randolph is an associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the founder of the Black Feminist Think Tank. Randolph’s first book Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical (University of North Carolina Press) examines the connections between the Black Power, civil rights, New Left, and feminist movements. Randolph is currently writing her second book, “Bad” Black Mothers: A History of Transgression. This project explores Black mothers who fashioned lives driven by a commitment to artistic, political, and intellectual work—but mothering their children was not a priority. A history of Black women who rejected culturally acceptable modes of parenting reveals both the constraints of Black mothering and the radical transgressions some Black mothers chose in hopes of creating purposeful lives.

Access note

This event will be presented with automated captioning. If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

You Should…Listen to Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar’s playlist for the exhibition Facing History: Social Commentary in Contemporary American Art (Amanda Douberley, Benton Museum)

In celebration of 20 years of UCHI and as part of our ongoing You Should… series, we’ve asked former fellows and other friends of the Institute to recommend something related to their work or process. Read them all here.

UConn Professor Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar’s playlist for the exhibition Facing History: Social Commentary in Contemporary American Art, on view at the William Benton Museum of Art through March 11, 2022. The show presents work by artists who confront the legacies of past injustices and underscore the enduring impacts of American history on contemporary society. The playlist pairs specific works of art in the exhibition with songs from the 1960s to the present. For example, Ogbar juxtaposes And One (2011) by artist Hank Willis Thomas—a jarring image where the culture of lynching and the commodification around professional sports collide—with Childish Gambino’s “This is America”—a track that provocatively interrogates race and violence in American culture. Or, he asks us to consider how jazz singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone’s “Four Women” informs our experience of A Means to An End… A Shadow Drama in Five Acts (1995) by visual artist Kara Walker, and vice-versa. Listen to the playlist on Spotify or in the exhibition at The Benton.

– Amanda Douberley
Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison
The William Benton Museum of Art

Headshot of Amanda Douberley, a white woman with short dark hair, standing in front of a bookshelf.Who is Amanda Douberley? Amanda Douberley is Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison at the William Benton Museum of Art, where she is responsible for connecting the Benton’s collections and exhibitions with teaching in departments across the university. She has curated numerous exhibitions at the museum, often in collaboration with faculty and other campus partners. Amanda holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on 20th-century American sculpture and public art. Before coming to UConn in 2018, she taught in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

DHMS: The Digital Dissertation

DHMS: The Digital Dissertation. Anke Finger & Virginia Kuhn. February 3, 2022, 12:30pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

The Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative presents:

The Digital Dissertation

Anke Finger (UConn)
& Virginia Kuhn (University of Southern California)

February 3, 2022, 12:30–2:00pm

Live. Online (with automated captioning). Registration required.

Digital dissertations have been a part of academic research for years now, yet there are still many questions surrounding their processes. Are interactive dissertations significantly different from their paper-based counterparts? What are the effects of digital projects on doctoral education? How does one choose and defend a digital dissertation? Join the presentation of Shaping the Digital Dissertation: Knowledge Production in the Arts and Humanities (Open Book Publishers, 2021) to discuss precedents and best practices for graduate students, doctoral advisors, institutional agents, and dissertation committees. UCHI’s DHMS initiative offers a graduate certificate in Digital Humanities and Media Studies. Students interested in pursuing the certificate will find this talk especially valuable.

Anke Finger is professor of German, Media Studies, and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies in the department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at UConn. A co-founder and co-editor (2005–2015) of the multilingual, peer reviewed, open access journal Flusser Studies, Anke Finger’s closely related scholarship in media studies originates from her work on the Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser. She co-authored the 2011 Introduction to Vilém Flusser, and she is a member of the Flusser project team at Greenhouse Studios. She edited Flusser’s The Freedom of the Migrant and co-edited the collection KulturConfusão: On German-Brazilian Interculturalities (2015). From 2016 to 2019 she served as the inaugural director of the Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative at the Humanities Institute; she also co-founded the CTDH network. She is the co-editor of Shaping the Digital Dissertation.

Virginia Kuhn is a Professor of Cinema in the Division of Media Arts + Practice. Her work centers on visual and digital rhetoric, feminist theory and algorithmic research methods. Her books include Shaping the Digital Dissertation: Knowledge Production in the Arts and Humanities (Open Book Publishers, 2021) and Future Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies (Parlor Press, 2016). She has also published several peer-reviewed digital collections: The Video Essay: An Emergent Taxonomy of Cinematic Writing (The Cine-Files, 2016); MoMLA: From Panel to Gallery (Kairos, 2013) and From Gallery to Webtext: A Multimodal Anthology (Kairos, 2008). In 2005, Kuhn successfully defended one of the first born-digital dissertations in the United States, challenging archiving and copyright conventions. Committed to helping shape open source tools for scholarship, she also published the first article created in the authoring platform, Scalar titled “Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate,” (IJLM, 2010) and she serves on the editorial boards of several peer reviewed digital and print-based journals. She received the USC Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students award in 2017 and was the 2009 recipient of the USC Provost’s award for Teaching with Technology. Kuhn directs the undergraduate Honors in Multimedia Scholarship program, as well as the graduate certificate in Digital Media and Culture, and teaches a variety of graduate and undergraduate classes in new media, all of which marry theory and practice.

Fellow’s Talk: Meina Cai on Negotiation and Land Rights in China

2021–22 UCHI Fellow's Talk. The Art of Negotiations: Legal Discrimination, the Contention Pyramid, and Land Rights Development in China. Assistant Professor, Political Science Meina Cai, with a response by Kathryn Moore. January 26, 2022, 4:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

The Art of Negotiations: Legal Discrimination, Contention Pyramid, and Land Rights Development in China

Meina Cai (Assistant Professor, Political Science & Asian and Asian American Studies, UConn)

with a response by Kathryn Moore (Art and Art History, UConn)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 4:00pm.

Live • Online • Registration required

How and how much do land-dispossessed villagers protect their property rights in a context where the legal framework discriminates against them? Contradictory to the existing research that pays much attention to protests, this research identifies negotiations as a strategy of the dispossessed to engage with local governments and improve their compensation arrangement. Negotiations, together with petitions, protests, and violence, form a pyramid-shaped structure of contention. More importantly, these negotiations focus on local specific considerations that are not specified in formal compensation policy—which I call “non-programmatic compensation” (NPC). NPC negotiations create a fragmented compensation regime that combines low, stagnant, and less locally diversified formal compensation standards with dynamic and locality-specific informal NPC negotiation deals. The arguments are developed using extensive field research, an original dataset of local land compensation policies, and surveys of rural households, rural cadres, and local government officials. It helps explain the puzzle why formal compensation policy standards remain low despite an increasing number of protests against land takings.

Meina Cai is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Asian/Asian American Studies Institute at UConn. Her research focuses on the political economy of development and institutions. She is currently working on land property rights, urbanization, and rural governance in China. She is a UCHI fellow in 2021–2022.

Kathryn Blair Moore received her PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and has previously taught at Texas State University, the University of Hong Kong, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pittsburgh. Her research and teaching span the medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe and the Mediterranean region, with a particular focus on cross-cultural exchange between Christian and Islamic cultures. Her first book, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017), received a Prose award in art history / criticism and the Medieval Institute’s Otto Gründler Book Prize. She is currently writing a book on the emergence and development of the concept of the arabesque in a European context. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti, the American Academy in Rome, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Access note

This event will be presented with automated captioning. If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

20 Years of Fellows: Dimitris Xygalatas

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Dimitris Xygalatas headshot2016–2017 Faculty Fellow Dimitris Xygalatas is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UConn. His interests include ritual, sports, cooperation, the interaction between cognition and culture, and the impact of cultural practices on psychophysiological wellbeing. His research combines laboratory and field methods to study human interaction in real-life settings. He has conducted several years of fieldwork in Southern Europe and Mauritius. Before coming to UConn, he held positions at the universities of Princeton, Aarhus, and Masaryk, where he served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA). At UConn, he directs the Experimental Anthropology Lab, which develops methods and technologies for quantifying behavior in real-life settings. He is affiliated with the Cognitive Science Program, the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship led to the development of a book proposal, a project that summarizes my work on ritual from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Would you give us an update on the project?

It is called Ritual: How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living. I am happy to say that is has now been completed and is scheduled to come out this spring by Profile Books.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

In a practical sense, having dedicated time to work on a single project is invaluable to any academic. I simply wouldn’t have been able to get this project off the ground without this fellowship. But perhaps more importantly, my work is radically interdisciplinary. I hold the view that anyone who is trying to understand human behavior should not only move between scientific and humanistic perspectives, but in fact be scientific and humanistic at the same time. Unfortunately, the way contemporary academia is set up, there are both practical and ideological obstacles to this consilience. Thankfully, there are structures like UCHI that supersede disciplinary divisions, allowing their members to venture into more holistic perspectives.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

All the vibrant conversations we had, often into the late evening, after the weekly talks, some of the best of them with people you’ve never met before.

What are you working on now (or next)?

It is partly a natural extension of my previous work, but one that has become much more salient to me since the pandemic broke out. I’m interested in cultural practices (think of ritual, art, sports, and music) as tools for resilience in the face of adversity.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

Oh, boy! Unfortunately, knowledge is not what it used to be. In recent years, we are seeing that the very things that promised to democratize knowledge (things like the internet and the social media) have become tools for the subversion of knowledge, Truth, facts, and even reality itself. Worst of all, this subversion seems to be an emergent phenomenon rather than being imposed from the top (those in the top often merely ride the wave), which likely makes it far more difficult to deal with as well as more dangerous. The fact that UCHI has been discussing these issues for years is tremendously important for the future of knowledge.

Humanities Research Fellowship Information Session

Humanities research fellowships for UConn undergraduates. Information Session. January 27, 2022, 2:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

Humanities Research Fellowship Information Session

January 27, 2022, 2:00pm

Live • Online • Registration required

We are holding an information session for prospective applicants for the 2022–23 Humanities Research Fellowship—a year-long fellowship for UConn undergraduates pursuing innovative research in the humanities. In this session, we will go over the application process, offer tips and tricks for writing a compelling application, and answer questions. Register now.

For more details on the fellowship, see the call for applications. Applications are due February 18, 2022.

ACCESS NOTE

This meeting will have automated captioning available. If you require other accommodations to attend, please email uchi@uconn.edu or contact us by phone at (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

Publishing NOW: Publishing about Race Now

Publishing NOW: Publishing about Race Now. Lewis R. Gordon, author of Fear of Black Consciousness (2022) in conversation with Michael P. Lynch. January 31, 2022, 4:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

Publishing NOW

Publishing about Race Now

Lewis R. Gordon (Philosophy, UConn)

in conversation with Michael P. Lynch

January 31, 2022, 4:00pm

Live • Online • Registration required.

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In conversation with Michael P. Lynch, Lewis R. Gordon will discuss his new book, Fear of Black Consciousness (2022), “a groundbreaking work that positions Black consciousness as a political commitment and creative practice, richly layered through art, love, and revolutionary action.”

Lewis R. Gordon is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. He works in the areas of Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion. He has written particularly extensively on Africana and Black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism, and on the works and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon.

ACCESS NOTE

This event will offer automated captioning. If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

20 Years of Fellows: Katherine Rye Jewell

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Katherine R. Jewell2018–2019 Visiting Fellow Katherine Rye Jewell is Associate Professor of History at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. She is the author of Dollars for Dixie: Business and the Transformation of Conservatism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017). She is currently writing a history of college radio for University of North Carolina Press.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship project is a history of college radio since the 1960s.

Would you give us an update on the project?

With the work I completed at UCHI, the project is now two books, with one covering the 1960s and 1970s, and the other extending from the 1970s to the present. The latter is almost finished and under contract at UNC Press

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I was able to produce a huge word count that has provided a core foundation for my research. It was absolutely essential time and space to think through a huge amount of research material and to produce narratives from that.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

All the people I met! I formed lifelong friendships with other scholars at UCHI, including creating a writing group that continued after the conclusion of the fellowship.

What are you working on now (or next)?

I am finishing up the book project by this December, and next I’ll turn to the second book that emerges from this research.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

My research looks at radio history, which has been difficult to archive and preserve. Going forward, the preservation of born-digital materials presents a significant challenge, as well as opportunity, for future scholars.