Author: mem17025

Publishing NOW: Viet Thanh Nguyen

On April 10, 2018, UCHI Director Michael P. Lynch interviewed Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times best-selling author Viet Thanh Nguyen for the final event of the 2017-2018 Publishing NOW series ( ). Nguyen was at UConn as part of the UConn Reads program( and kindly found time to swing by UCHI and talk to faculty and students about his books, navigating the publishing world , finding time for creativity, and the role of the public intellectual. It was a lively dialogue and a fantastic way to end a year of brilliant conversation about the current state of publishing, ideas, politics, and the humanities.




The Cambridge History of Ireland

The Cambridge History of Ireland

General Editor: Thomas Bartlett


FOR RELEASE on 30 April 2018


Announcing a landmark survey of Irish history from c.600 to the present day


Written by a team of more than 100 leading historians from around the world, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative history of Ireland yet attempted


Vibrant, comprehensive, and accessible, The Cambridge History of Ireland presents the Irish story – or stories – from 600 to the present. Four comprehensive volumes bring together the latest scholarship, setting Irish history within broader Atlantic, European, imperial and global contexts.


The work benefits from a strong political narrative framework, and is distinctive in including essays that address the full range of social, economic, religious, linguistic, military, cultural, artistic and gender history, and in challenging traditional chronological boundaries in a manner that offers new perspectives and insights.


Each volume examines Ireland’s development within a distinct period, and offers a complete and rounded picture of Irish life, while remaining sensitive to the unique Irish experience.


About the Editors


Thomas Bartlett has held positions at the National University of Ireland, Galway, then as Professor of Modern Irish history at University College Dublin, and most recently as Professor of Irish history at the University of Aberdeen, until his retirement in 2014. His previous publications include Ireland: A History (Cambridge, 2010). Brendan Smith is a Professor of Medieval History  at the University of Bristol. He is the author and editor of numerous books on medieval Ireland, including several collections of historical documents. Jane Ohlmeyer is Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College, Dublin and the Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity’s research institute for advanced study in the Arts and Humanities. Since September 2015 she has also served as Chair of the Irish Research Council. Professor Ohlmeyer is the author/editor of eleven books, including Making Ireland English: The Aristocracy in Seventeenth-Century Ireland (2012). James Kelly is Professor of History at Dublin City University and President of the Irish Economic and Social History Society. His many publications include Sport in Ireland, 1600–1840 (2014), which won the special commendation prize offered by the National University of Ireland in 2016.


More information on the individual volumes


The first volume of The Cambridge History of Ireland presents the latest thinking on key aspects of the medieval Irish experience, focusing on the extent to which developments were unique to Ireland. The openness of Ireland to outside influences, and its capacity to influence the world beyond its shores, are recurring themes. Underpinning the book is a comparative, outward-looking approach that sees Ireland as an integral but exceptional component of medieval Christian Europe.


Volume Two looks at the transformative and tumultuous years between 1550 and 1730, offering fresh perspectives on the political, military, religious, social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and environmental history of early modern Ireland. As with all the volumes in the series, contributors here situate their discussions in global and comparative contexts.


The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was an era of continuity as well as change. Though properly portrayed as the era of ‘Protestant Ascendancy’, it embraces two phases – the eighteenth century when that ascendancy was at its peak; and the nineteenth century when the Protestant elite sustained a determined rear-guard defence in the face of the emergence of modern Catholic nationalism. This volume moves beyond the familiar political narrative to engage with the economy, society, population, emigration, religion, language, state formation, culture, art and architecture, and the Irish abroad


The final volume in the Cambridge History of Ireland covers the period from the 1880s to the present. This insightful interpretation on the emergence and development of Ireland during these often turbulent decades is copiously illustrated, with special features on images of the ‘Troubles’ and on Irish art and sculpture in the twentieth century.


Volume 1. 600–1550

Brendan Smith, Editor


674 Pages

Volume 2. 1550–1730

Jane Ohlmeyer, Editor


808 Pages

Volume 3. 1730–1880

James Kelly, Editor


862 Pages

Volume 4. 1880 to the Present

Thomas Bartlett, Editor


952 Pages

Each Volume

£100.00   $130.00   €116.71

Four Volume Set


2800 Pages

£350.00   $475.00   €408.49


For a full list of contributors to each volume, visit


For an author interview or more information please contact

Amy F Lee at Cambridge University Press:

You SHOULD…Play: Horizon Zero Dawn

“You should immerse yourself in new, strange, and sometime dystopian worlds through playing video games such as:


Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games


Any of the Fallout Series by Bethesda Game Studios


I recommend playing any of these recent action/role-playing games as a way to experience multiple types of creative output at the same time: graphics, design, narrative and character development, music, and movement. It is an awe-some and brain-tingling, anticipatory experience to tear the plastic wrap off a new game, pop it into my console, and awake in a new environment having to suss out what are the rules and boundaries that govern this particular world or universe. I have learned my ethical and moral compass is strong because I can’t play a bad guy and sleep well afterwards. I appreciate the truly visceral realness of the experience, so much so that my mind conjures up what it would smell like walking through this landscape or that. Many of the latest games are so beautiful that I like to take pictures of my cats as they walk in front of the monitor with the game world as their backdrop.”


Anne Langley
Dean of the UConn Library

Daniel Hershenzon and Jonathan Bobaljik 2018 NEH Award Winners

Daniel Hershenzon and Jonathan Bobaljik
Two UConn Humanities Former Fellows
2018 NEH Award Winners

Project Director: Daniel Hershenzon
[Summer Stipends]
Project Title: Jewish Manuscripts in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Between Piracy, Redemption, and the Spanish Inquisition
Project Description: Research leading to publication of a book-length study of religious artifacts and piracy in the early modern western Mediterranean.

Project Director: Jonathan Bobaljik
[Documenting Endangered Languages – Preservation]
Project Title: Bogoraz’s Itelmen Notebooks
Project Description: The digitization, transcription, and transliteration of Vladimir Bogoraz’s handwritten notebooks of Itelmen language-related material. Published in hard copy and online with an introduction and linguistic commentary, the material would be made freely available and would supplement an Itelmen dictionary currently in development.


You SHOULD…Read: Frankenstein and Black Skin, White Masks

“I recommend reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) and Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1952) together.  Shelley was an anti-colonialist who was also concerned with the great question of what it means to be a human being, especially as posed by the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  The novel raises the problem of taking responsibility for what one creates and the damage that occurs from failing to do so.  She raises, as well, the perspective of the created, the Creature, whose existential struggle against his monstrosity is epic.  Fanon examines a similar question from the perspective of those created from colonialism, enslavement, and its accompanying racism.  Written when he was 25 years old, it places him in conversation with the precocious Shelley, who wrote her great work when she was 19.  These books offer the prescience and intellectual capacity of youth and the importance of speaking to the human condition across the ages.   As both show, maturity requires not imitation but realizing the question one must pose for subsequent generations.   Failure to do such leaves little recourse but to burn in the cleansing force of fire or collapse in the despair of tears.  And what might such question be but the creation of conditions for living embodiments of freedom?”


-Lewis Gordon,
Professor of Philosophy
University of Connecticut

You SHOULD…Read: “The Fifth Season”

“You should read …

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. To identify this book as “fantasy” or “post-apocalyptic,” while accurate, would also be wholly inadequate. At its core, The Fifth Season is a novel about power, oppression, and the costs—physical, emotional, and psychological—of living in a world that denies your humanity so thoroughly that you cannot even recognize it in yourself.

In brief, the story involves a tectonically unstable world in which one small group of people possess the power to sense and control these tectonic shifts. When a massive earthquake shakes this fragile land, it initiates a “fifth season” of ash and death, forcing characters to make difficult choices about how to survive. This summary makes the novel seem primarily environmental in its concerns, but Jemisin is after more than a warning about the dangers of massive ecosystem collapse. At its core, The Fifth Season is a study of fear as a method of social control, determining who is “us” and who is “other,” who is a person and who is merely a tool. Jemisin’s nuanced world-building is designed not to impress with its innovation, but rather to bring us into a deeper understanding of how histories are forgotten and rewritten over time and how caste systems are built over generations. Like all good fantasy, the allegory of own world is clear, but at the same time the fictional world offers us the opportunity to explore with new eyes, exposing our own biases and assumptions. Jemisin draws us into her characters with remarkable skill, vividly evoking the difficulties of loving and trusting when your life is marked by fear and abuse. In the end, we must ask which poses a greater threat to these characters’ survival: the land itself, unstable and deadly, or a society that asks nothing less than the sacrifice of our own humanity. ”


-Lindsay Cummings
Assistant Professor of Dramatic Arts
CRT Dramaturg
University of Connecticut

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with James Beebe

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

I am Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Experimental Epistemology Research Group, and member of the Center for Cognitive Science at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). My Ph.D. is in philosophy, but I have extensive training in psychology as well. Most of my research has been in a field known as ‘experimental philosophy,’ where I perform empirical studies of how laypeople and experts in fields outside of philosophy think about questions of perennial philosophical debate—e.g., questions about the nature of knowledge, evidence, and rationally justified belief.


What is the project you’re currently working on?

I am currently writing a book entitled The Limits of Skepticism that examines skeptical philosophical traditions in both the ancient and the modern worlds in an effort to understand what distinguishes healthy, constructive doubt from crude denialism. The book considers which kinds of skepticism and doubt should be taken seriously, how far skeptical doubts can be pushed before they collapse, and how illegitimate challenges to our knowledge can be rebutted. As part of my research on skepticism and doubt, I am studying how experts from a variety of fields (environmental science, astrophysics, chemistry, biology, economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, public policy) approach persistent disagreement within their disciplines and how much doubt (if any) they think members of the general public should have about their fields when specialists within it are known to disagree.


How did you arrive at this topic?

In the highly polarized political climate of the U.S., there is a great deal of disagreement among members of the general public, yet this disagreement does not seem to lead people to question their convictions as often it probably should. However, when there is a small amount of disagreement among experts in some field (e.g., in climate science, education, economic policy, healthcare), this disagreement is often leveraged into strong reasons for doubt about certain claims by people who have various personal interests at stake concerning those claims. So, the question of which kinds of doubts we should have about which issues seemed like an important topic to be working on.


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

Because the information age seems to have entered a post-truth stage, in which we are flooded with as much misinformation as information, private citizens must exercise greater discernment in distinguishing reliable from unreliable sources of knowledge and balancing their convictions and doubts. I hope that insights drawn from various philosophical traditions around the world and from the opinions of scientific and public policy experts can help us understand what an intellectually virtuous response to peer disagreement and conflicting expert testimony can look like.

You SHOULD…Look At: The “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage”

“You SHOULD…Look at the “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World” from the New Bedford Whaling Museum


With the omnipresence of digital culture, we often tend to think of our society as a predominately visual culture. The 1848 “Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World,” a 1,275-foot-long painting performed as a giant moving scroll, reminds us that visual communication did not begin with the advent of projected photographic images in the late 19th century.


You can experience the entirety of this recently restored work online, at Now part of the collections of the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, this work by Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington was performed across the United States in the latter half of the 19th century, part of a burgeoning and popular culture of panorama performance. The moving panorama is an aspect of global traditions of painting and performance with antecedents in Chinese, Indian, Javanese, Persian, and various European cultures. This dynamic, spirited means of telling the important stories of a community–religious, political, social, historical, personal–combines a succession of images with texts and music, allowing audiences to be reached by a multi-media experience.


Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, was said to have seen this panorama before he wrote his classic novel about whaling and American life. Like Melville’s book, the New Bedford panorama shows us an epic voyage on a whaling ship from New Bedford south to Cape Horn, and then into the whaling fields of the Pacific. Like Melville’s novel, the panorama is much more than an examination of a profitable extractive industry, showing us as well how Americans viewed the world, other peoples (in Latin America, the Pacific, and along the Northwest coast of North America), and how the United States might be beginning to think of its economic and political role in the modern world.


The “Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World” can give us a direct sense of what 19th-century Americans experienced when they attended one of the most popular performance forms of the time.”


-Dr. John Bell
Director, Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
Associate Professor, Dramatic Arts Department

You SHOULD…Read: The Making of Black Lives Matter

“‘What you should read, see, and hear?’ You should read The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017) by political theorist, Christopher J. Lebron, because he reminds us that the philosophical underpinnings of the #BlackLivesMatter movement predate the contemporary movement.  Analyzing the treatment of “Black” people over time, Lebron submits a historical framing of Black political thinkers’, activists,’ and letterpersons’ understandings about Black people’s rights (and the lack, thereof) in American society.  This treatment, Lebron notes, prompted Black Americans’ rhetorical, oratorical, lettered, and physical activism to articulate and assert Black people’s equal humanity, rights, and protection in different eras of American political history. Thus, Lebron outlines the tradition of Black resistance oriented in the long-standing Black freedom struggle to contest racial discrimination and systemic inequality in various forms (in addition to contemporary struggles against police brutality).  Lebron elucidates this longitudinal activism by examining political thought and expressions of Black men and women, such as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Audre Lorde, Anna Julia Cooper, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who establish foundational arguments about Black Americans’ humanity, (in)justice, and liberation for various iterations of “Black,” intersectional identities (class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, for example).”

-Shayla C. Nunnally
Department of Political Science & Africana Studies Institute
University of Connecticut


Publishing NOW : Viet Thanh Nguyen


Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. He has been interviewed by Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, Seth Meyers, and Terry Gross, among many others. His current book is the bestselling short story collection, The Refugees. Most recently he has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, and le Prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book in France), for The Sympathizer. He is a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s thoughts on reading, diversity and Excel spreadsheets:

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Humanities Institute staff
(Jo-Ann Waide/Nasya Al-Saidy) by email at or phone (860) 486-9057 by April 5, 2018