Michael P. Lynch Professor (Philosophy)
Michael Patrick Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life. The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and grants from the Bogliasco Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently the PI of Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and UConn. A frequent contributor to the New York Times “The Stone” weblog, Lynch’s work has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and Wired (among others). He speaks regularly to both academic and non-academic audiences, and has appeared at such venues at TED, Chautauqua, and South by Southwest. He is currently working on a book about arrogance in politics.
Michael's "You Should":
Read Bertrand Russell’s Skeptical Essays, a book published in 1928 a decade after his imprisonment for speaking out against WWI and a few years after his important interactions with Wittgenstein, but which could have been written for our present moment. In it, Russell takes on topics like AI, (in the 20s!) whether psychology tells us that we can’t be rational, and the harm that outdated moral codes can do to a society. Most importantly, he defends the importance of the skeptical attitude in culture, and argues that having conviction isn’t just consistent with being open-minded to the evidence; it is essential for it.
Alexis L. Boylan, Professor (Art & Art History and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies)
Alexis L. Boylan is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Art and Art History Department and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program. She is the author of Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) and editor of Thomas Kinkade, The Artist in the Mall (Duke University Press, 2011). Boylan has articles published in Public Books, American Art, Journal of Curatorial Studies, MELUS, Rethinking Marxism, Prospects, and Woman’s Art Journal as well as contributing essays to numerous museum exhibition catalogues. She is currently working on an exhibition about painter Ellen Emmet Rand set to open in 2018, and her next book project is titled, Not an Art Museum: Seeing Science at the American Museum of Natural History, 1900-2017.
Alexis's "You should" :
Listen to Rostam’s new album Half-Light (2017) because it is a delicious, sad, and lovely queer ode to the trek of moving through life.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxTEVtYX8eg
Go to the American Natural History Museum and then go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and think about what might have been if they had joined forces (an idea floated in the 1920s).
Read Station Eleven (2015) by Emily St. John Mandel to get a sense of how art is going to save us from ourselves.
Assistant Director of Public Humanities
Brendan Kane Associate Professor (History, co-PI on the Institute’s Public Discourse Project)
Brendan Kane specializes in early modern British and Irish history. He is the author of The Politics and Culture of Honour in Britain and Ireland, 1541-1641 (Cambridge UP, 2010; paperback 2013) and co-editor with Valerie McGowan-Doyle of the edited collection Elizabeth I and Ireland (Cambridge UP, 2014). He curated (with Thomas Herron) the exhibition Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland at the Folger Shakespeare Library (2013) and co-authored the catalog of the same name. His interests include comparative colonialism and the history of human rights; he was guest editor of a special issue of the journal History entitled “Human rights and the history of violence in the early British Empire” (2014). A growing interest in gender and history has led to guest editing (with Kenneth Gouwens and Laurie Nussdorfer) a special issue of The European Review of History / Revue Européenne d’Histoire on early modern masculinities (forthcoming, 2015). Currently he is completing a book on knowledge production and legitimacy in early modern Ireland, and directing (with Tom Scheinfeldt) a multi-institutional, collaborative digital humanities project “Reading Early Modern Irish: a digital guide to Irish Gaelic (c. 1200-1650)”. Currently he serves as UConn’s Folger Consortium faculty representative.
Assistant Director of Digital Humanities and Media Studies
Anke Finger Professor Anke Finger (LCL, German)
Anke Finger is Professor of German and Media Studies and of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies. A specialist on the idea of the total artwork in modernism (with a monograph, Das Gesamtkunstwerk der Moderne, 2006; and a collection of critical articles The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork: On Borders and Fragments, 2011), her discussion of the total artwork ranges from conceptual art and atmospheres to architecture and design (“Acute Aesthetics” in The Death and Life of the Total Work of Art, 2015). Her closely related scholarship in media studies and theory originates from her work on the Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser. She co-authored the 2011 Introduction to Vilém Flusser and serves on the advisory board of FlusserBrasil. Her latest project, Flusser 2.0: Remediating Ideas, Reimagining Texts, is a multimodal collection composed with Scalar (forthcoming Spring 2018).
Comparative/interart literature and Flusser’s ideas on post-nationalism, post-history, dialog, and migration also influence Anke Finger’s work in intercultural communication. Her most recent work in this area, entitled KulturConfusão: On German-Brazilian Interculturalities, was published by Walter de Gruyter in 2015. The Conviction Project, focusing on affect and action in public life, seeks to interconnect intercultural communication and media studies and presents part of the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project at the Humanities Institute.
Anke's "You Should":
You Should go DADA! Dada, an international artist movement that started in Zurich in 1916 (although some argue it REALLY started much earlier in New York...) is a welcome reality-check when things get too SERIOUS, too SOBER, too ADULT, too TOO. Because Dada breaks down structures, pokes fun at conventions, allows you to CELEBRATE your inner child, and it comes in many forms and tastes, including several languages: film, photography, posters, poetry, performance, theater, music, and plain play. Interested? Try it yourself and follow Tristan Tzara’s suggestions on “How to Make a Dadaist Poem” from 1920:
“Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”
Jo-Ann Waide has been Program Assistant at the Humanities Institute since its founding in 2001. She is also a grant manager for the Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life program. She earned a Masters of Arts degree from UConn’s Communication Sciences department and a Bachelor of Sciences in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Before coming to UConn she completed interpreter training at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and worked as a free-lance sign language interpreter in Western Massachusetts. After graduate school, Jo-Ann was employed as a grant manager for a collaborative project between the American School for the Deaf (ASD) and the CT Department of Children and Families. At the conclusion of the grant, she was hired as a school administrator at ASD where she served on the senior management team for several years. She has lived in Storrs long enough to witness the transformation of Storrs to the Downtown Partnership from the small town center consisting of the Universal grocery, Phil’s five-and-dime store, Farr’s Sporting Goods, and the Cup O’ Sun restaurant.
Jo-Ann's "You Should":
Nasya Al-Saidy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics department at the University of Connecticut. Her research focus is on Environmental Economics and Microeconomics. At the University of Massachusetts Boston, her thesis explored the cost-effectiveness of phytoremediation to reduce brownfield pollution in Boston’s low-income urban areas. She is currently serving as a fiscal officer for the Humanities Institute and Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project. Website
Read Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
Warsan Shire is a British poet, and a black female migrant with an empowered voice. Her body of work resonates with all of us, largely focusing on themes of feminism, migration, and intersectionality.
Megan Morariu has been the Communications Coordinator of the Humanities Institute since August 2017. Megan earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Paier College of Art. Before coming to UConn, Megan worked as a Senior Imager for Wayfair where she was responsible for website image standards and creative initiatives. She has also previously worked doing graphic design for print production.
Megan's "You Should":
You should visit the New Britain Museum of American Art. I love visiting this museum because although it is small it is abundant with a diverse and compelling display of art work. I always feel inspired by this beautiful bright space. Not only is it visually stunning to walk through the NBMAA but the pieces enliven my continued fascination for art in all forms.