Author: mem17025

You Should…Read: Micrographia Illustrata

George Adams, Micrographia Illustrata, 4th ed. (London, 1771), retrieved from babel.hathitrust.org

Visual technologies have conditioned us to dramatic alterations of size and scale, but in the eighteenth century, they still retained a considerable shock factor. Microscopy, for instance, was likened to a type of travel, a way to enter a previously unknown “Magazine of Wonders.” The London instrument-maker George Adams endeavored to popularize it among non-specialists and, not incidentally, improve his sales through the many editions of his Micrographia Illustrata. He assured his readers that everything they took for granted—blight on rose leaves, mold on bread—would transform into something new and entirely unanticipated when magnified. “The whole Earth is full of Life,” he wrote, “and then if we call in the Assistance of Art, what a new Scene of Wonder opens to our View? What an infinite Variety of living creatures present themselves to our Sight?” Even more exciting was the practice of solar microscopy, in which the magnified view was projected on a wall, giving observers the sense of entering into the object itself. In his book, Adams describes the act of magnification as an early form of virtual reality that allowed viewers to set off into new and bewildering landscapes. And, of course, he provided a catalogue of instruments and prices at the end of the volume, just in case anyone was interested.

-Elizabeth Athens 
Assistant Professor
Department of Art and Art History
University of Connecticut

Four Questions with Maxime Lepoutre

  1. Tell us a bit about the project you are working on at UCHI.
    This project has allowed me to learn a great deal about Asian maritime history and has taught me how little I know. My initial interest in Asian sailors who came to the U.S. but did not become immigrants has opened up a broad inquiry across the Indian Ocean, the archipelagos of southeast Asia and the coastal regions of the South China Sea going back to the seventeenth century.
  2. What drew you to this topic and what exciting developments are you anticipating?
    I was very much seduced by the concept of sailors as being estranged from the national and international order, but sailors are difficult to study because they do not leave many records. More importantly, I have found sailors and the maritime world not all together separate from terrestrial and continental histories, but deeply intertwined but often shadowed from each other.
  3. What are you looking forward to in regard to this year at UCHI?
    I’m looking forward to finding out how wrong I was about my maritime subject. With a great deal of new research from India, UK, China, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Middle East, I know my earlier conceptions will be altered and that is exciting.
  4. Many people wonder what value the humanities and humanities research has in today’s world. What are your thoughts on what humanities scholarship “brings to table?”
    One thing this project has taught me is how regionally diverse, complex, and interlinked seemingly mundane lives can be when put together comparatively. This realization underscores, for me, the enormous value of exploring subjectivity, cultural production, and epistemology in power relations. Not only because it is important to understand the dynamics between the hegemon and subaltern but also to account for, acknowledge, and ward against the erasure of ways of being, ways of signifying, and ways of knowing by those who struggle to be recognized.

You Should…Play: Depression Quest

"YOU SHOULD…PLAY:

Depression Quest
By Zoe Quinn 2013

…Or maybe you shouldn’t, if you’re someone who should heed the gamesite’s trigger warning. Or maybe you should talk to someone at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat link provided on the game’s “about” page. But if you’ve ever wondered about depression—what it is, what it’s like, whether you are yourself depressed—or if you’ve ever wished someone in your life would “just get over it,” then Depression Quest is an informative starting place.

Depression Quest is an interactive (non)fiction online game, available at its award-winning gamesite at http://www.depressionquest.com/ and on Steam, where it gets terrible, angry reviews for not conforming to traditional shoot-em-up gaming formats and objectives. Instead, Depression Quest is a literate, interactive narrative of the daily struggle of a young adult living with depression, including how depression impacts choices made around work and social interactions, Poignantly, the “choices” available to players include a “normal” or non-depression option for responding or interacting that is crossed out: Indeed, such responses and thought-processes are not available to those suffering from depression.

Although minimalist in its use of images and audio, Depression Quest nonetheless subtly signals “levels” of depression based on the options chosen, including lessening color concentration and scratchier sound to suggest the loss of the intensity of and pleasure in living that lead too many to contemplate ending their lives.

Quinn was threatened and doxxed as one of the primary targets of “GamerGate,” an online harassment campaign against several women involved in the gaming industry. GamerGate continues as part of a culture war against diversification in gaming form and content, and sadly reflects a general cultural ignorance and embarrassment surrounding mental illness that we all should be engaged in combating—and not just when a straight, white male celebrity ends his life."

- Kelly Dennis
Associate Professor of Art History
Department of Art + Art History

You Should…Read: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A Life

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart book image

"You should Read: RUTH BADER GINSBURG, A LIFE, by Jane Sherron De Hart

An engrossing biography released by Knopf in fall 2018 by a feminist historian about a mother, lawyer, and future judge who did not start out as a feminist.

Who would have predicted that Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would become a popular culture icon and have thousands of youthful followers at the start of the twenty-first century?  Now is the time to show off your Ginsburg know-how by reading this new and luminous biography, years in the making, by master prose stylist and University of California, Santa Barbara, historian Jane De Hart.  The book is based in part on many interviews De Hart conducted with the justice, her family members, and associates.  All stages in RBG’s life through 2017 are contextualized through the author’s expertise on modern political history, law, and social movements.  To whet your appetite, here are some of my favorite chapters (and chapter titles): Celia’s Daughter, Leaning the Law on Male Turf, The Making of a Feminist Advocate, Setting up Shop and Strategy, An Unexpected Cliff-Hanger, “I Cannot Agree,” Race Matters, and (the final chapter in the book) An Election and a Presidency Like No Other."

-Cornelia Dayton
Professor of History
University of Connecticut

2019-20 Fellowship Awards for UConn Faculty and Visiting Residential Scholars

The Humanities Institute is pleased to announce its 2019-20 UConn Faculty Fellowships. Our incoming class of fellows includes:

Emma Amador (History)
Alexander Anievas (Political Science)
Andrea Celli (Literatures, Cultures and Languages)
Patricia Morgne Cramer (English)
Debapriya Sarkar (English)
Nu-Anh Tran (History & Asian and Asian American Studies Institute)

Visiting Scholars:
Kornel S. Chang (History) Rutgers-Newark, State University of New Jersey
Daniel A. Cohen (History) Case Western Reserve University

Four Questions with Lani Watson

  1. Tell us a bit about the project you are working on at UCHI.
    This project has allowed me to learn a great deal about Asian maritime history and has taught me how little I know. My initial interest in Asian sailors who came to the U.S. but did not become immigrants has opened up a broad inquiry across the Indian Ocean, the archipelagos of southeast Asia and the coastal regions of the South China Sea going back to the seventeenth century.
  2. What drew you to this topic and what exciting developments are you anticipating?
    I was very much seduced by the concept of sailors as being estranged from the national and international order, but sailors are difficult to study because they do not leave many records. More importantly, I have found sailors and the maritime world not all together separate from terrestrial and continental histories, but deeply intertwined but often shadowed from each other.
  3. What are you looking forward to in regard to this year at UCHI?
    I’m looking forward to finding out how wrong I was about my maritime subject. With a great deal of new research from India, UK, China, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Middle East, I know my earlier conceptions will be altered and that is exciting.
  4. Many people wonder what value the humanities and humanities research has in today’s world. What are your thoughts on what humanities scholarship “brings to table?”
    One thing this project has taught me is how regionally diverse, complex, and interlinked seemingly mundane lives can be when put together comparatively. This realization underscores, for me, the enormous value of exploring subjectivity, cultural production, and epistemology in power relations. Not only because it is important to understand the dynamics between the hegemon and subaltern but also to account for, acknowledge, and ward against the erasure of ways of being, ways of signifying, and ways of knowing by those who struggle to be recognized.

You Should…Listen: “Your Art Sucks” Podcast

Your Art Sucks podcast logo

"You should be listening to the podcast “Your Art Sucks”: http://yourartsuckspodcast.com/

The podcast is meant to encourage artists to just keep creating art for the love of art; each episode delves deep into a topic, challenge or roadblock that artists of all types (visual, performance and written) encounter with concrete examples of an artist that failed and one that triumphed. I listen to this podcast, not as an artist, but as a museum registrar and curator who strives to understand the process behind creation.

My absolute favorite episode is the first one exploring self-criticism as a healthy, necessary tool in not just the artist’s, but everyone’s life. Encouragement that all should take the middle path as self-doubt can cripple you if you succumb to it, but also can also create empty pointless art if you are too full of confidence.  Jackson Pollock is juxtaposed with Connecticut’s own Sol LeWitt (of which two of his works on are currently on display in the Benton).  LeWitt wrote the impassioned letter to his friend and fellow artist, Eva Hesse, that serves as a manifesto for rising above the self-criticism to just do.

Excerpt Letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse (April 14, 1965)

… Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO…"

-Rachel Zilinski
Registrar and Assistant Curator
William Benton Museum of Art
University of Connecticut