News

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.

Fellows Talk: Morgne Cramer on The Cry of the Choir Boy and Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves”

The Cry of the Choir Boy as Love Song in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

Patricia Morgne Cramer, Ph.D. (Department of English; University of Connecticut-Stamford)

March 11, 2020 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

 

Virginia Woolf wrote The Waves (1931) during an unprecedented surge of exposés on corporal punishment, bullying, and sexual abuse of boys in British public schools. Read alongside these “old boy” diatribes, the cry of the choir boy wafting through The Waves surfaces as the voice of shock and terror, echoing down the ages, of little boys coming to manhood amid the omnipresent threat of male violence and sexual violation where survival requires “toughening up” fast. What Woolf seems to capture in this dove-like choir boy cry is a resurgent, resistant male voice also discernible in these memoirs. Does Woolf record in the song of the choir boy a nascent shift in the collective consciousness of early twentieth century elite European men? Did she read modernists’ protests against their tortured boyhoods as the glimmerings of a more profound revolution than these would-be rebels actually achieved? Does Bernard’s refusal of that call at the end of the novel mark a male-gendered generational as well as personal failure?

 The talk will begin at 4PM, but a dramatic reading of The Waves will be played in the UCHI conference room 3:45-4 pm.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Who is Patricia Morgne Cramer?

Patricia Morgne Cramer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Stamford. Her current project draws on her prior publications on Woolf and sexuality, especially those reading Woolf as a lesbian author alongside her homosexual male peers. These include “Virginia Woolf and Theories of Sexuality” in Virginia Woolf in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and “Woolf and Sexuality” in The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (2010). Morgne Cramer is also co-editor of Virginia Woolf: Lesbian Readings (New York University Press, 1997).

Publishing NOW: Book Traces & Getting Published

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

 

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute presents:

 

Publishing NOW!

 

Book Traces

with Kristin Jensen (University of Virginia Library) and Michael Rodriguez (UConn Library)

March 26th, 2PM

Heritage Room, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor

Co-sponsored by UConn Libraries, English Department, and the UCHI Digital Humanities and Medial Studies (DHMS) initiatives.


How to Get Published

with Ilene Kalish (NYU Press)

April 16th, 2PM

UCHI Conference Room, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South

Co-sponsored by the Sociology Department

 

 

 

Michael Lynch Speaks with BBC about Facts and Arrogance

UConn Humanities Institute director, Michael Lynch, joins a team of experts to speak with BBC World Service’s The Inquiry about the role of facts, arrogance, and tribalism in our societies. This episode strives to understand why we have such a great capacity to ignore facts and to believe them only when they match our convictions and what are the political, psychological, and social consequences of this increasingly entrenched behavior?

Fellows Talk: Andrea Celli on the Egyptian Slave Hagar in Early-Modern Visual Arts

A Troubling Presence: The Egyptian Slave Hagar in Early-Modern Visual Arts

Andrea Celli, Ph.D. (Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages; University of Connecticut)

February 26, 2020 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

From late antiquity to the early-modern period, the Biblical character of Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Sarah and the mother of Abraham’s first child, Ishmael, was often employed as a disparaging device in Christian and Judaic literature. In the Middle Ages, Christian sources used Hagar and Ishmael derogatorily in relation to Muslims; they were the putative descendants of a servant and of the illegitimate son of Abraham and therefore they were not entitled to inherit God’s covenant with Abraham. Yet, Hagar became a successful and popular subject in sixteenth and seventeenth century visual arts, a shift that suggests that patrons and artists were permitted to publicly express compassion toward the fate of an outcast. How to explain this change in approach to a feminine character that often stood for deprecated religious communities and marginalized subjects? This paper will address this visual shift and the broader conceptualization of the figure of Hagar.

Andrea Celli headshot, with the UCHI logo, the title of his talk, and the time and date of his presentation

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Who is Andrea Celli?

Andrea Celli is an Assistant Professor of Italian Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. He graduated in “Letteratura moderna” at the Univerità di Padova (Italy), where he also received his PhD Degree in “Filologia italiana ed Ermeneutica” (2004). In 20122013 he spent one year as a visiting fellow at the School of Advanced Study (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies – University of London). From 2007 to 2014 he lectured “Ermeneutica e Storia della Critica” at the MA in “Lingua, letteratura e civiltà italiana” (University of Lugano, Switzerland). He has published several monographs, essays, and chapters, and translated a number of works from French and Arabic authors (e.g. Louis Massignon and Adonis). His current projects include a study on re-readings of the narratives of Hagar and Ishmael in counter-Reformation discourses on Islam; a monograph on Islam in early-modern Mediterranean Europe, and an Italian translation of Ernst Kantorowicz’s Das Wesen der muslimischen Handwerkerverbaende.

Fellows Talk: Alex Anievas on the Birth of the US Liberal Order

Birth of the US Liberal Order: Race and Red-Hunting over the Longue Durée

Alexander Anievas, Ph.D. (Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut)

February 19, 2020 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

This paper examines the racialized foundations of American anticommunism, tracing the complex ways it became a key pillar of the US liberal order-building project. Specifically, it shows how racial anticommunism held deep roots in the nation’s political culture, developing out of the societal antagonisms bound to America’s settler-colonial state formation. This great arch of American history connected ‘race wars’ against the nation’s primordial ‘communist’ enemy, the indigenous populations, with the (geo)politics of racial anticommunism that emerged in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution: the crucial context from which the Wilsonian order-building project originally emerged. At the moment of its inception, America’s ‘Wilsonian century’ was predicated on a form of anticommunism permeated and infused with racist ideologies and social forces that became increasingly associated with the far-right. The politics of race and the far-right thereby played a crucial role in the making of the post-1945 US liberal hegemonic order.

Alex Anievas headshot, with the UCHI logo, the title of his talk, and the time and date of his presentation

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Who is Alexander Anievas?

Alex Anievas is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut and his research interests lie at the intersection of historical sociology, political economy and international relations. He previously held fellowships at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. Anievas is the author of Capital, the State, and War: Class Conflict and Geopolitics in the Thirty Years’ Crisis, 1914-1945 (University of Michigan Press, 2014), for which he was awarded the Sussex International Theory Book Prize, and co-author (with Kerem Nişancıoğlu) of How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism (Pluto, 2015), winner of the ISA’s International Political Sociology Section Best Book Award and BISA’s International Political Economy Working Group Book Prize. 

UCHI: A Year in Review

Thanks to the generous support of the University of Connecticut Provost’s OfficeGraduate School, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and UConn Foundation, as well as our own grants, we have had quite a productive year so far. We have been able to fund 13 residential fellowships this year, including three visiting fellows, six UConn faculties, and four UConn graduate dissertation fellows. We funded and co-sponsored various events and programs, including a lecture and book signing by celebrated author, Colson Whitehead, presentations by award-winning and celebrated scholars and activities, Annette Vee, Rebecca Traister, and Aruna D’Souza, and the rare chance to see a performance by distinguished flamenco guitar player, Oscar Herrero.

We also welcomed World Poetry Books, the only publisher in the United States dedicated solely to publishing books of international poetry in English Translation, and we kicked off our The Future of Truth initiative with a 2750,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. We work hard to cultivate creativity among scholars of the arts and humanities at UConn, but we also find inspiration in the achievements and successes of our fellows, long after they leave UCHI. 

 

Here is a snapshot of what we have achieved in just a few short months:

 

Fellows Talk: Emma Amador on Community and Politics in the Puerto Rican Diaspora

Demanding Dignity: Social Workers, Community Organizing, and Welfare Politics in the Puerto Rican Diaspora after 1948

 

Emma Amador, Ph.D. (History Department, University of Connecticut)

January 29, 2020 – 4 to 5PM (UCHI Conference Room: Babbidge Library, 4th Floor South)

 

This presentation will explore histories of organizing for social services within Puerto Rican communities in the United States. It will begin by examining the role of Puerto Rican women social workers as architects of the Migration Division of the Puerto Rican government’s Department of Labor after 1948, showing how within this state agency a generation of social workers challenged the racial and gender discrimination faced by Puerto Rican migrants seeking social services, housing, and care in the US. It will then show how this activism fostered the emergence of a new generation of social worker activists who in the 1960s and 70s moved into new roles as community organizers and civil rights activists. By focusing on Puerto Rican social workers role in shaping and challenging U.S. social welfare institutions to better address colonial and migrant citizens, this paper historicizes their ongoing struggle to demand dignity and social justice.

Emma Amador headshot, with the UCHI logo, the title of her talk, and the time and data of her presentation

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at uchi@uconn.edu or by phone (860) 486-9057.

 

Who is Emma Amador?

Emma Amador is an Assistant Professor of History and Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.  Her work focuses on Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans, and U.S. Latina/o/x History with an emphasis on women, gender, and race.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from UConn, and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.  Before returning to UConn she held a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the History Department (2016-2018). She is currently completing a book manuscript, Contesting Colonialism: Puerto Ricans and the Politics of Welfare in the 20th Century that explores the history of welfare, territorial social citizenship, and struggles for social rights in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora.  This project examines how the U.S. welfare state became a site where Puerto Ricans have fought for social justice, labor reform, and decolonization.  Her work has received support from Brown University, the SITPA Scholar Mellon Program at Duke University, the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY, Hunter College, and the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.