Author: Siavash Samei

Announcing the 2020–21 Visiting Humanities Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is thrilled to announce the incoming class of visiting humanities fellows: Erica Holdberg from Utah State University, David Samuels from New York University, and Amy Meyers from the Yale Center for British Art. Amy Meyers. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date

Erica Holberg's headshot

Erica Holberg

 

Philosophy - Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, Utah State University

Project Title: The Pleasures of Anger: Insights from Aristotle and Kant on Getting Mad, Staying Mad, and Doing This With Others

David Samuel's Photo

David Samuels

 

Anthropology - Department of Music, New York University

Project Title: Early Folk World: Music, Industrial Modernity, and the Anguish of Community in the 20th Century

Amy Meyers - Future of Truth Fellow

 

Art History - former director of the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University

Project Title: William Bartram and the Origins of American Environmental Thought

You Should..Watch: “Dark” the TV Mini Series (Siavash Samei, UCHI)

In this brave new world of self-isolation, I have come to lose track of time. Time, or rather our concepts of the passage of time, are constructs that we animate and breathe life into, out of the necessities of our mortal lives. But to quote a Tralfamadorian from Slaughterhouse-Five: “ All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is.” Making sense of time and distorting our limited understandings of it have been at the heart of many great works of literature and art. For me, the latest iteration of this feat of human imagination is the German sci-fi noir series, Dark, created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. You should watch it, not because it is a binge worthy thriller (it most certainly is), or because it might bring a sense of reassurance in these times of uncertainty (it will not); but because it is a must-experience masterpiece.

 Dark is the, well…dark…story of the residents of a small German town; each dealing with their own personal traumas, double lives, and troubling pasts. We begin in the “present,” in 2019. But the story eventually spreads into subplots and story lines in 1921, 1953, 1986, and 2053; as various characters engage in time travel through a wormhole in a near-by cave. They travel in order to make sense of their lives, and to find answers to and perhaps prevent tragedies that befall them—murders, suicides, disappearances, and infidelities. As the “pasts” of the residents travel into the “present” and the “future,” and as the “presents” of the same characters travel into the “past” and the “future,” we come to appreciate the long-term ripple effects of human decisions and random encounters in each period across time and space.

But, more importantly for me, as the various story lines interweave through interpersonal interactions across the different time periods, we begin to lose any sense of which temporal iteration of which character is “real.” Thus, we come to lose track of a linear and directional concept of time and even question the very idea of the “self.”

Dark elegantly blends various genres into a complex narrative through which the viewer is confronted with the totality of the human experience, and grapples with issues of determinism and free will.

The series builds up in pace and complexity as it progresses. In a way, Dark “isn’t a show you watch. It’s a show you solve.”

The first two seasons of Dark are available on Netflix.

So, solve away!

 

Siavash Samei
Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities Institute
University of Connecticut

Who is Siavash Samei? Siavash was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, but moved to the US in his teenage years. He earned his PhD from the UConn Anthropology Department in 2019, after which he joined the UCHI team as a postdoctoral fellow. Siavash is an archaeologist who has conducted field work throughout the Middle East, specifically in Iran and Armenia. His research examines human-animal interactions and the evolution of animal husbandry as a subsistence strategy throughout the Middle Eastern highlands at the time of the Urban Revolution in Mesopotamia (ca. 40002200 BCE). Next year Siavash will join the faculty at The College of Wooster as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialecticand the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom,and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journeys fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialectic and the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom, and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journey’s fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

Announcing the 2020–21 Graduate Dissertation Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of Graduate Dissertation Fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of two PhD candidates from the history department (including the Draper Dissertation Fellow), and two PhD candidates from the English Department. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

Nicole Breault

 

History Department - Draper Dissertation Fellow

Project Title: The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America

Kerry Carnahan

 

English Department

Project Title: Song of Songs: a New Translation with Commentary

Ashley Gangi

 

English Department

Project Title: May I Present Myself? Masks, Masquerades, and the Drama of Identity in Nineteenth Century American Literature

Shaine Scarminach

 

History Department

Project Title: Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans

 

Announcing the 2020–21 UConn Faculty Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of UConn faculty fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of seven faculty who embody the creative drive and energy of the arts and humanities scholarship at the University of Connecticut. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

 

 

Elizabeth Athens sitting against a background of flowers

Elizabeth Athens

 

Department of Art & Art History

Project Title: Figuring a World: William Bartram’s Natural History

Amanda Crawford headshot

Amanda Crawford

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Sky is Crying: the Sandy Hook Shooting and the Battle for Truth

Melanie Newport headshot

Melanie Newport

 

Department of History

Project Title: This is My Jail:  Reform and Mass Incarceration in Chicago and Cook County

Helen Rozwadowski headshot

Helen Rozwadowski

 

Department of History - Avery Point

Project Title: Science as Frontier: History Hidden in Plain Sight

Sara Silverstein headshot

Sara Silverstein

 

Department of History & Human Rights Institute

Project Title: Toward Global Health: A History of International Collaboration

Scott Wallace headshot

Scott Wallace

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Bleeding Frontier: Indigenous Warriors in the Battle for the Amazon and Planet Earth

Sarah Winter headshot

Sarah Winter

 

Department of English

Project Title: The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Empire, and Human Rights Narratives

You Should..Listen to: The “Fell Free” Audiobook (Fiona Vernal, UConn-History)

There is only so much Netflix and Hulu one can watch and replaying Contagion and Outbreak are not the best antidote for COVID-19’s many anxieties. I suggest you find refuge in an audio-version of Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s 2018 eclectic and wide-ranging collection of essays. Banish all thought of the staid five-paragraph essays of undergraduate habitude; this collection will whisk you back to what the essay form was meant to do originally—reflect and be relevant. Even if you have not discovered White Teeth or On Beauty, you’ll get a crash course in Smith’s literary evolution from an awe-struck young writer to a mature, reflective artist. Feel Free will surprise and delight, offering ruminations on freedom, multiculturalism, aesthetics, art, dance, fiction, domesticity, middle class dreams of the British sort, optimism, family, individuality, social media, race, and narcissism. In a curious juxtaposition of characters, you’ll discover low-brow and high-brow culture, ways of seeing, ways of being, and the gulf between husbands and wives and parents and children. Where else will you find Martha Graham and John Berger; Philip Roth and Balthasar Denney; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Vladimir Nabokov and Jay-Z; and the single-monikered Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé?  In one of the most brilliant pieces, a bathroom becomes a lucid symbol of a father’s thwarted dream, a mother’s exile, and the sacrifices that permit their children to cross social, racial, geographic, and economic boundaries. Since you can’t have this conversation with Zadie Smith in person, listening to Feel Free is the next best option!

Fiona Vernal
Associate Professor of History
University of Connecticut

Fiona Vernal Behind a PodiumWho is Fiona Vernal? Fiona Vernal is a native of Trelawny, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her MA and PhD from Yale. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History. Her book, The Farmerfield Mission (Oxford, 2012) explores the relationship between African Christian converts, European missionaries, and the politics of land access, land alienation and the “civilizing” mission of African social and economic improvement in nineteenth century South Africa. She consults with the Connecticut Historical Society on oral history projects including an exhibit documenting and recording the impact of 9/11 on Connecticut victims, families, and first responders.

Jeffrey Peterson on the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis & Niche Construction

Niche Construction: Biosemiotics and Recursivity in Evolution

By Jeffrey Peterson

 

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) has well-known antecedents in evolutionary biology. For instance, in the mid-20th Century Conrad Waddington anticipated the salience of developmental bias and epigenetic inheritance as evolutionary processes in the EES. Aspects of niche construction theory, another core process within the EES, was articulated decades ago by Richard Lewontin. However, the theoretical contributions of anthropologists regarding niche construction are lesser known. Gregory Bateson and Kinji Imanishi make particularly salient corrections to neo-Darwinian natural selection that are now foundational within the EES, such as the mutual mutability of organism-environment relations and the concomitant implications for selection within such dynamic ecological systems. Here, I further explore the potential contribution of Philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic theory toward elucidating the mechanisms of information flow in John Odling-Smee and colleagues’ formalized conception of niche construction. Drawing on the work of these theorists, I connect them with the underlying process of reciprocal causation in niche construction, which envisions co-responding proximate and ultimate evolutionary patterns. I argue that recognizing these integrated processes as biosemiotically recursive patterns will strengthen the conceptual and explanatory value of niche construction.

Monday, March 30 2020, at 2:30PM; UCHI Conference Room, Babbidge Library, Fourth Floor.

Co-Sponsored by UConn Anthropology Department; Philosophy Department; Expression, Communication, and the Origins of Meaning (ECOM) Research Group; and James Barnett Endowment for Humanistic Anthropology.

 

Peterson HeadshotJeffrey Peterson
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Jeffrey Peterson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Anthropology Department at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on the wide-ranging manifestations of long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) social behavior in anthropogenic landscapes. He is interested in how social interactions facilitate and maintain relationships among the macaques, as well as between macaques and humans. His research has been supported by the National Geographic Society and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

UCHI Co-Sponsors Nineteenth Annual Medieval Studies Conference

The nineteenth annual Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies will be held in Storrs and Hartford, Connecticut, on March 1921, 2020. Plenary lectures for this conference, which is co-sponsored by the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), will be delivered by Dr. M. Breann Leake of UConn English Department and Dr. Thomas E. A. Dale, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

 

The Plenary Lectures

Dr. Leake’s lecture is entitled “‘Nevertheless, You Must Sing’: The Coercion of the Archive.” It will be delivered on Thursday, March 19 at 3PM in the Konover Auditorium in Storrs, CT.

Dr. Dale’s lecture, entitled “Race-Making in Medieval Venice: Representing Saracens and Jews in the Basilica of San Marco, ca. 1215-1280” is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at 2:30PM in the Hartford Times Building, Room 146.

 

 

Other sponsor of this conference include: UConn Medieval Studies Program, Medieval Academy of America, English, Department Speakers and Symposia Committee, Department of English, Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Center for Judaic Studies, Department of, History, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Department of Philosophy, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

For more details and to register, please visit the conference website.