Author: Carrero, Yesenia

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with George Moore

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

I am a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Connecticut and a dissertation fellow at UCHI. I received my masters in English from UConn and my bachelor’s degree in English at Southern Connecticut State University.

-What is the project you’re currently working on?

I am writing a dissertation titled “The Return of Dagon: Failed Iconoclasm in Early Modern English Literature.” The dissertation explores the intersection between English Renaissance literature and the iconoclastic movements of the post-Reformation period. It argues that early modern writers were often interested in the ways in which idolatrous artifacts might survive, resist, or even undermine the actions and intentions of their assailants. I maintain that this archive of failed iconoclasm calls into question theories of disenchantment applied to the Reformation. Iconoclasm, I show, ironically provoked a broad cultural interest in the agency of material artifacts.

-How did you arrive at this topic?

During my reading of English literature and polemical pamphlets, I became increasingly interested in the deep-seated fear among radical Protestants about the dangers of idolatry. Why were these radicals so fearful of idolatry, if, as they claimed, idolatrous objects and images were merely “dumb,” lifeless, or inert?

My interest is probably also driven by my Roman Catholic upbringing. Having once been an altar boy, I had close proximity to the kinds of ritual artifacts—incense, candles, bells, liturgical vestments, crucifixes, stained glass windows—that radical Puritans of the early modern period would find abominable.

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

Public discourse surrounding iconoclasm typically presents it as absolute loss: We deplore iconoclasm because it violently erases our access to the past. My dissertation shows that early modern people often thought about iconoclastic incidents much differently. They did not automatically equate iconoclasm with erasure. Rather, they were often attentive to how certain artifacts might survive or resist the process, thus calling the efficacy of iconoclasm into question. Iconoclasm, in other words, elevated early modern interest in the capacity of material artifacts to transform human actions and intentions. In the twenty-first century, our closest analogue to this might be our increasing recognition of how digital technologies transform our consciousness and behaviors in ways we cannot fully control for.


The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Lauren Barthold


Date: 12/6   Babbdige Library 4th floor room   4/209 meeting

Title: Giving Birth in the Public Square: Dialogue as a Maieutic Practice

If we are living in a “post-fact” age, and if deliberation relies on facts, how are we to conceive of public discourse? Must one either futilely shout the facts louder and louder or else turn away from facts, and thus rational discourse, altogether? This paper initiates a way to conceive of public discourse that avoids the facts versus violence dilemma. I begin with a close reading of the opening scene of Plato’s Republic that, I claim,  demonstrates dialogue as a third way beyond force or rational persuasion. I then consider Allan Bloom’s and Hannah Arendt’s interpretations of the political relevance of Socratic dialogue. In concluding, I argueagainst Arendt that it is the tension between wonder and opinion lying at the heart of dialogue that renders dialogue a relevant political activity, one that connects us with others and in so doing creates a viable, pluralistic polis.

Four members of the University of Connecticut Early Modern Studies community have been selected to participate in events at the Folger Institute in Washington, D.C. this Fall.

Hilary Bogert-Winkler (Ph.D. candidate, History) and J. Asia Rowe (Ph.D. ’16, English) are participating in the fall symposium, “Political Thought in Times Crisis, 1640-1660,” sponsored by the Folger Institute Center for the History of British Political Thought. This symposium will examine the British crisis of the mid-seventeenth century as a global phenomenon, as well as explore the ways political thought interacted with other means of expressing change and instability during this period.

Nathan Braccio (Ph.D. candidate, History) is participating in the year-long “Researching the Archives” seminar, in which he will have the opportunity to use the Folger’s rich archival collections monthly as he works on his dissertation, “Clashing New Englands: Identity and the Parallel Geographies of Algonquian and English New England, 1600-1730.”

Professor Greg Kneidel (English) is participating in the seminar, “Visualizing English Print.” Funded by the Mellon Foundation, this seminar will introduce participants to ways of creating “scalable scholarship,” that will, in combination with traditional methods of literary study, assist participants in developing approaches to large corpora such as the EEBO-TCP transcriptions.

Those interested in participating in the Folger Institute’s spring offerings (a list of which may be found here) should note that the application deadline for many of these in January 17.

Public Discourse Project seminar, Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom (Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale)

Location: UCHI, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
Title: Against Empathy

Many psychologists, philosophers, and laypeople believe that empathy is necessary for moral judgment and moral action-the only problem with empathyis that we sometimes don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, infant cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, I’ll argue that this is mistaken. Empathy is a poor moral guide. It is biased, short-sighted, and innumerate-we should try to do without it. We are much better off, in both public policy and intimate relationships, drawing upon a combination of reason and distanced compassion.

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Attending the Folger Year-Long Dissertation Seminar: Come for the Archive, Stay for the Tea

Since it started in September, I have been attending the Folger Institute’s Year-Long Dissertation Seminar: Researching the Archive. While attending the seminar once a month, I have spent time using the collections and beautiful reading room. The reading room experience is one of the best, including stained glass and tapestries, tea time in the afternoon, and complimentary coffee in the cloak room. Friendly scholars populate each of these spaces, and afternoon tea in particular provides visitors with the opportunity to discuss their work with other scholars.

While the Folger’s collections focus on English published works, it is still extremely useful for an Americanist like myself. I have spent most of my time looking at atlases, maps, and texts on surveying between 1570 and 1650. Christopher Saxton’s atlas of England has been especially interesting. Its beautifully colored and extremely detailed maps are a joy to look at and represent the cutting edge of English cartography at their time. They form the beginning of a cartographic genealogy that lasted for decades. But Saxton’s atlas and other English publications do not only inform the reader about English culture: they are the cultural texts that informed how English colonists understood North America.

16th and early 17th-century English texts are invaluable to Americanists who study the first few decades after colonization. It is important for us to remember that the ideas of the first settlers did not come from a void, but from a rich cultural and literary tradition in England. This tradition included not only religious texts and philosophical discussions, but technical manuals for skills like surveying as well. When the English began to survey and map America, it was from these texts that they drew their information. When they encountered moral dilemmas, they drew from English religious texts. One glance at the books held in the extensive libraries of important colonists like the Mather family confirm the importance of English literature for America.

The seminar itself is a two-and-a-half-hour discussion followed by a presentation from a visiting scholar. This year’s seminar is run by a historian, Keith Wrightson, and a literary scholar, James Siemon. The guest speakers have been great, and included Andy Wood and Lena Orlin. The combination of historians and literary scholars provides variety to the readings and discussions that is rare to find. Being the only Americanist in the seminar has been a great boon for me. The knowledge and perspectives of English historians and literary scholars has helped me rethink elements of my project or fill in gaps in my knowledge.

If you have the opportunity to attend the Dissertation Seminar at the Folger, I would highly recommend it. Washington is a great city to visit at any time of year, and the Folger is one of the most charming archives around. While mostly rare books, it also has numerous manuscript collections and several fascinating maps and atlases. The seminar is a great way to meet and engage with interesting scholars from around the country, and I would highly recommend it to Americanist grad students.


Nathan Braccio is a Ph.D candidate in the UCONN History Department. He received his B.A. and M.A. in history from American University. His research focuses on the conflux of geography and identity in 17th and 18th century New England. More information on his research can be found on his webpage Contact him at

UConn Political Theory Workshop: Sandy Grande

Indigenous Refusals of Settler-Capitalist Notions of Precarity and Aging: The Struggle for Indigenous Elsewheres

Sandy GrandeSandy Grande
Connecticut College


Location: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209
Time:  4-5:30pm

The notion of precarity has emerged as a way of describing the effects of neoliberal policy on the human condition. Though the impact is broad, the precarity instigated by the settler project has been enacted and extracted upon the bodies of the marginalized, and within such communities, the most vulnerable: the sick, the young, the elderly. This paper examines the privatization and commodification of the body as one of the greatest affronts to sovereignty, compelling not only materialist analyses but also those that account for the immaterial – the soul, the sacred. The author begins with an examination of how issues related to end of life care and the question of whether to “live or let die” are constructed through (neo)liberal discourses of personal choice as conditioned by “culture.” Next, it is argued that such discourses serve to obfuscate the a priori role of the capitalist state where the frail and aged can only be viewed as a “crisis” of decreased labor power and increased expenditure; an amortization that has only worsened under neoliberalism. Thus, the aim of the paper is to present Indigenous discourses that situate the problematic of living/being beyond the scope of imperial interest and that are defined by mutuality.

Sandy Grande (Quechua) is a Professor of Education as well as the Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Connecticut College. Her research interfaces critical Indigenous theories with the concerns of education. Her highly acclaimed book, Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought was recently published in a 10th anniversary edition (2015). She has published in The Journal of Settler Colonial Studies,The Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy,Harvard Educational Review; she also contributed a chapter to Robert Lake and Tricia Kress’ Paulo Freire’s Intellectual Roots (Bloomsbury 2013). In addition to her scholarly work she has provided eldercare for her parents and remains the primary caretaker for her 88 yr. old father.

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“Democracy and Disagreement” by Michael P. Lynch, Director of the Humanities Institute and Professor of Philosophy


“The best lack all conviction,” William Butler Yeats noted, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Rarely has the Irish poet’s famous warning against the perils of dogmatism seemed more apt. As a nation, we are so deeply divided that our disagreements extend past values, past even the facts, to the very meaning of what a fact is. As a result, many in the United States believe there is no point in talking to the other side. Why bother, when you already know you are right and they are wrong?

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Interdisciplinary Workshop: Intellectual Humility and Public Deliberation

Interdisciplinary Workshop: Intellectual Humility and Public Deliberation

Dates: 9:00-5:00pm on Friday, November 11th and 9:00-8:30 on Saturday, November 12th
Location: Student Union 304
Full schedule available here.

All registered participants will receive lunch on Friday, and lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Brain Bytes: DHMS Blog, Who’s my Audience? Defining Readerships and Joining Conversations

On October 24th, about 25 people gathered for the first DHMS Meet & Greet at the Humanities Institute’s new library location. Representing different campus groups, including librarians, professors, graduate students and one undergraduate, the group discussed how to build our fledgling community, how to obtain training in digital tools, and how to translate familiar methods of scholarly inquiry and venues of publication into digital formats. Brendan Kane gave a superb and inspiring presentation of his “Project in Process”: “Reading Early Modern Irish” with the help of interactive texts in the original and in translation, complete with grammatical and lexical references built by an international network of scholars. While political issues surrounding the use of social media, for example, were on many peoples’ minds – what happens to privacy? – one particular question stuck with me: who is my potential audience outside of print formats? Indeed: how DO you determine, find, and even secure an audience for your scholarly blog, your tweets, your online exhibition or your video?

In print venues, the path from author to readership is pretty much set in stone or paved in concrete: you present your research paper to small audiences at various conferences, in addition to soliciting responses from your peer reading networks or teaching some of the content in your classes. Following feedback and rewrites, you submit your article to an established, peer-reviewed journal, and, upon some more revision, the journal publishes your work. Voilà, your print article is available to those who subscribe to the journal or who search specific databases for your topic. Unless your publisher presents your article – or your book – to a larger public via open access platforms, your audience is limited to closed infrastructures. At the same time, you can rely on thorough quality control and on tapping into an established brand within your field. You know scholars in your field read the journal. There are slight deviations of this path, but this is essentially it. Ah yes, and then there are copyright issues and monetary transactions. But that’s not for this blog post…

Digital venues, in contrast, offer a MUCH bigger audience – a website or blog with, potentially, a global audience, and your social media accounts can invariably be found on the internet. So how do you reach those you seek to speak to or with whom you would like to engage in conversation? The Chronicle’s ProfHacker is a solid source for these sorts of questions, with Ryan Cordell addressing the benefits of tweeting, and Lee Skallerup Bessete reflecting on how twitter usage has changed over the years. For starting your academic or scholarly blog, InsideHigherEd published Liana Silva’s recommendations, while Pat Thomson’s recent article in the Times Higher Ed points to more selfish reasons to start your own blog: improving your writing. Of course, there is a top-10 list for this new enterprise as well, in this case assembled by Tom Crick and Alan Winfield. And it is always instructive to study some of the best, as curated and presented by Alexis Madrigal in 2013.

Most of these authors point to one important element of establishing an audience, no matter what part of your research you make available or which venue or medium you choose: you should not engage one without the other. If you are blogging, let others know on twitter or other social media that you just published a new post. Read others’ posts. Follow others on twitter. Mention your just-out print book on your blog or add the link to your twitter account on your website. You don’t just seek an audience – you also become one. You don’t just build networks within your research community and audiences “out there” that may find your work interesting – you also network within audiences yourself. So, it’s really not that different from print, it’s just much bigger and much more public. As Bianca Elena Ivanof and Caspar Addyman argue: it’s how to be an academic in the 21st century. Thank you, everyone, for coming on Monday!