2020–2021

Fellow’s Talk: Scott Wallace on the Fight to Save the Amazon

2020–21 UCHI Fellow's Talk. The Genocide–Ecocide Nexus: The Case of Brazil. Associate Professor of Journalism, UConn, Scott Wallace, with a response by Erica Holberg. Live. Online. Registration required. April 7, 2021, 4:00pm.

The Genocide–Ecocide Nexus: The Case of Brazil

Scott Wallace (Associate Professor of Journalism, UConn)

with a response by Erica Holberg

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

In what could prove to be a paradigmatic case, Brazilian human rights lawyers and indigenous federations are urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for genocide and incitement to crimes against humanity, as well as possible charges of ecocide for willful destruction of the Amazon rainforest. UCHI Fellow and UConn Associate Professor of Journalism Scott Wallace will discuss the implications of the case and provide a firsthand look from the frontlines of the fight to save the Amazon today.

Scott Wallace is an award-winning writer and photojournalist who covers the environment and endangered cultures. He is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Connecticut since 2017 and an Affiliate Faculty member at El Instituto. Wallace is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. His work has also appeared in Harper’s, Grand Street, Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly and many others. Notable Publications: The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes (Crown, 2011); “Threatened by the Outside World,” National Geographic, November 2018; “The last stand of the Amazon’s Arrow People,” The New York Times, September 27, 2017.

Erica A. Holberg is a virtue ethicist who uses the historical, ethical theories of Aristotle and Kant to examine our own virtues, vices, conception of pleasure, and account of how pleasure matters for good living. Her research sets aside the question of what pleasure is to focus instead on how pleasure functions in our lives, for better or for worse. She is the 2016 recipient of the North American Kant Society’s Wilfrid Sellars Essay Prize for the best paper on Kant by an untenured scholar, and her work has appeared in The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Kantian Review, and Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought. Her UCHI Fellowship project is a book about the pleasures of anger, and how the phenomenology and practical considerations differ for anger done as an individual or anger done as a group

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: Sara Silverstein on the Contest to Define World Health

2020-2021 Fellow's Talk. For Your Health and Ours: The History of the United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service and the Contest to Define World Health. Assistant Professor, History, UConn, Sara Silverstein, with a response by Shaine Scarminach. Live. Online. Registration required. March 31, 2021, 4:00pm. UConn humanities institute.

For Your Health and Ours: The History of the United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service and the Contest to Define World Health

Sara Silverstein (Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights, UConn)

with a response by Shaine Scarminach

Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.” The pandemic demands that we rethink international health, as well as our own national health system. This talk will explore the competing understandings of global responsibility for health in the mid-twentieth century, when the World Health Organization originated. During the Second World War, the former director of the League of Nations Health Organization circulated plans for a “United Nations Public Health and Social Medicine Service.” Ludwik Rajchman’s proposal combined the institution he had led during the interwar years with the international measures that he was convinced would be necessary to care for refugees after the war ended. It would be possible, he argued, to guarantee healthcare for everyone in the world. He was not a fringe radical at the time, but the World Health Organization’s planning committee did not consider his proposal. Rajchman instead established a competing program within UNICEF and, briefly, two distinct futures for international health existed simultaneously. Their competition illuminates the history of international collaboration in advancing public health and public responsibility for healthcare caught between imperial interests and the Cold War.

Sara Silverstein is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor of History and Human Rights. Her work focuses on the history of internationalism, modern Europe, social rights, global health, development, refugees and migrants, and statelessness. She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2016, her M.Phil. in Modern European History from the University of Oxford in 2009, and her A.B. in Literature from Dartmouth College in 2007. Before coming to UConn, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and has been a Fox Fellow at Sciences Po, Paris, a junior visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and a Franke Fellow at Yale. She is the 2017 winner of the World History Association Dissertation Prize. She convenes the History of Human Rights and Humanitarianism Colloquium at the UConn Human Rights Institute.

Shaine Scarminach is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Connecticut. He studies the history of the United States in the world, with an emphasis on U.S. empire, world capitalism, and the global environment. His dissertation, “Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans,” explores the U.S. role in developing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. His research has been supported by the Tinker Foundation, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, and the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: David W. Samuels on Music and Community in the 20th Century

2020-21 Fellow's Talk. The Dance-Grinding Machine: Music, Industrial Modernity, and 20th Century Regret for Community. Associate Professor of Music, NYU, David W. Samuels with a response by Kerry Carnahan. Live. Online. Registration required. March 24, 2021, 4:00pm.

The Dance-Grinding Machine: Music, Industrial Modernity, and 20th Century Regret for Community

David W. Samuels (Associate Professor of Music, NYU)

with a response by Kerry Carnahan

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

The twentieth century was witness to an ethical discourse about the scope of the human that took its cues from ideas about how people should sound. The tones and timbres of vocal and instrumental music became key reference points in a dialogue about how to maintain one’s humanity under the conditions of modern urban industrial capital. In this presentation, David W. Samuels traces some of the resonances between three strands of this discourse—historical performance movements, folk revivalism, and the emergence of ethnomusicology. The three represent multiple-layered and overlapping attempts to extract “the human scale” from the contexts of perceived dehumanizing processes of industrial modernity. All of these movements presented arguments about the human body and shared social participation as important locations in which to find continued expressions of humanity in the contemporary world.

David W. Samuels is a linguistic anthropologist, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and Associate Professor of Music at NYU. His book, Putting A Song On Top of It: Music and Identity on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, was perhaps the first book-length monograph exploring popular culture’s place in the formation of contemporary Indigenous identities. He has published on a wide variety of topics including popular music, science fiction, language revitalization, historical imagination, missionary encounters, and vernacular modernities.

Kerry Carnahan was born and raised in Kansas. Currently she pursues doctoral work in English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches composition and creative writing. Her doctoral work specializes in poetry and poetics, focusing on dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and empire. She also studies religion and the Hebrew Bible. kerrycarnahan.com

Registration is required for the event.

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

UConn Reads: Truth, Democracy, and Climate Change

UConn Reads: Truth, Democracy & Climate Change: A Conversation about truth, democracy, and science denial. Elizabeth Anderson (University of Michigan), Lee McIntyre (Boston University), Kent Holsinger (UConn). Live. Online. Registration required. March 25, 2021, 4:00pm. UConn Reads, UConn humanities Institute, The Future of Truth.

Truth, Democracy, and Climate Change

March 25, 2021, 4:00pm. An online panel discussion. Registration required.

Join this panel discussion on truth, democracy, and climate change, part of the UConn Reads program which focuses on The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (University of Chicago, 2016) by Amitav Ghosh.

The climate crisis facing our society isn’t only an environmental crisis; it is also an urgent political and epistemological problem.

For decades, climate scientists have been warning that greenhouse gas emissions are changing the climate, destroying biodiversity, and threatening human health. By this point, the evidence is overwhelming and the scientific consensus well-documented.

Still, significant segments of the public (especially in Anglophone countries) remain unconvinced, with positions on climate change polarized along partisan lines. Denialism – usually defined as the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of legitimate debate about a question the relevant community of experts regards as settled – persists in many quarters and effectively dominates one of two major American political parties. Evidently, warning the public about climate change is one thing; getting people to accept it is another; and translating popular acceptance into effective government policy a further matter still.

Why do so many people, in the face of so much scientific evidence and expert consensus, remain so staunchly unconvinced? How can science advocates persuade skeptics to take action? What should liberal democratic societies do about polarization and anti-science propaganda? And what is the proper role for science in a democratic society?

Join us for a discussion of the political and epistemological dimensions of science denial with eminent scholars.


The panel is organized by Thomas Bontly (Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut), who’ll be moderating. Bontly’s research centers on several interrelated issues: the nature of mind, the basis of meaning, and the multifarious relations between both of these and the physical. His research interests also include various topics in metaphysics (especially the nature of causation), epistemology, metaphilosophy, the philosophy of biology, and environmental ethics.

The Panelists

Elizabeth Anderson is John Dewey Distinguished University Professor, John Rawls Collegiate Professor, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Value in Ethics and Economics, The Imperative of Integration, and, most recently, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (And Why We Don’t Talk About It), as well as articles on value theory, the ethical limitations of markets, facts and values in social scientific research, feminist and social epistemology, racial integration and affirmative action, rational choice and social norms, democratic theory, egalitarianism, and the history of ethics (focusing on Kant, Mill, and Dewey).

Kent Holsinger is Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Vice Provost for Graduate Education, and Dean of The Graduate School at the University of Connecticut. His research focuses on the evolution and genetics of plants. He has studied the evolution of plant mating systems; explored how basic principles of ecology, evolutionary biology, and systematics should influence conservation decisions; and developed statistical methods for analyzing genetic diversity in spatially structured populations.

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He is the author of Post-Truth (MIT Press, 2018), The Scientific Attitude (MIT Press, 2019), and many other books, as well as numerous popular essays that have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Statesman, and The Times Higher Education Supplement. His new book How to Talk to a Science Denier—which is based on first-hand conversations with Flat Earthers, climate deniers, and others—will be published by MIT Press this summer.

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: Sarah Winter on Habeas Corpus and Human Rights Narratives

2020-21 Fellow's talk. The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Eighteenth-Century Abolitionism, and Human Rights Narrative. Profess of English, Sarah Winter with a response by Melanie Newport. Live. Online. Registration required. March 17, 2021, 2:00pm. UConn Humanities Institute.

The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Eighteenth-Century Abolitionism, and Human Rights Narratives

Sarah Winter (Professor of English, UConn)

with a response by Melanie Newport

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

On 19 March 1783, Olaudah Equiano, a merchant seaman and former slave, visited the London home of antislavery activist Granville Sharp, to report a recent trial in which the owners of the slave ship Zong had sued to recover their insured losses on a cargo of 132 trafficked and enslaved Africans, who had allegedly been thrown alive into the sea by the ship’s captain and crew. Determined to hold these perpetrators accountable for mass murder, Sharp assembled a trial transcript and sent it to the Lords of the Admiralty, who had jurisdiction over all crimes committed on English ships at sea, with a cover letter insisting that “our Common Law ought to be deemed competent to find a remedy in all causes of violence and injustice whatosoever.” More than 150 years later, the eminent international lawyer, Hersch Lauterpacht, similarly criticized the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) for failing to require that nation states enforce the rights they had proclaimed. According to “an inescapable principle of juridical logic,” he wrote, there are “no rights of the individual unless accompanied by remedies.”

This presentation traces historical connections between eighteenth-century abolitionism and modern human rights by focusing on citizen activists’ strategic uses of the writ of habeas corpus, a legal remedy for arbitrary detention that forms the basis for Article 9 of the UDHR. Such legal actions on behalf of fugitive slaves, political dissidents, and women incarcerated by their husbands gave rise to a recurring narrative about the failure of the law to protect human rights. Gothic rather than sentimental in genre, such remedial narratives urged citizens to take responsibility for human rights violations committed out of public view or under color of law—in prisons, out at sea, or behind closed doors.

Sarah Winter is Professor of English and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and the Director of the Research Program on Humanitarianism at the UConn Human Rights Institute. An interdisciplinary scholar of British literature of the long nineteenth century and the history of the modern disciplines, she has also contributed chapters to edited collections on law and literature, the history of legal and political thought, and human rights and literature. Her research for her current book project has also been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the UConn Human Rights Institute.

Melanie D. Newport is an assistant professor of history at UConn’s Hartford campus and affiliated faculty in American Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She holds a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA from the University of Utah, and PhD from Temple University. Her current book project, under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press’ Politics and Culture in Modern America series, explores the political history of jail reform in Chicago from the 1830s to the present. Prior to joining the UConn Faculty in 2016, she taught at Temple University, Community College of Philadelphia, and Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. Newport’s work has been supported by the Center for the Humanities at Temple, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago libraries.

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: Helen Rozwadowski on Science as Frontier

Fellow's talk 2020–21. New Horizons: How Science Became a Frontier in the First Half of the 20th Century. Professor of History, UConn Helen Rozwadowski, with a response by Elizabeth Athens. Live. Online. Registration required. March 10, 2021, 4:00pm. UConn Humanities Institute.

New Horizons: How Science Became a Frontier in the First Half of the 20th Century

Helen M. Rozwadowski (Professor of History, UConn)

with a response by Elizabeth Athens

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Most people, certainly most Americans, have a ready set of associations for the word “frontier,” including Disney’s Frontierland, 1950s western films, the borderlands of Mexico and the United States, or outer space. Over the first half of the twentieth century, science and technology also became frontiers. Scientists, boosters, popular writers, and public intellectuals seized upon the US historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s formulation of the frontier of the American West (The Frontier in American History, 1920) and transformed a term of geography into one that stood for progress. They integrated Turner’s frontier with a thread of European internationalist thinking about frontiers and applied this novel concept to the natural sciences. Science would fuel economic growth, provide an outlet for the restlessness of American individualism, and ensure democracy and national progress. The ideological flexibility of frontier proved valuable for commentators who rendered science into a frontier that appeared to promise endless progress purportedly without the violence and exploitation of its namesake US western frontier.

Founder of the University of Connecticut’s Maritime Studies program, Helen M. Rozwadowski teaches history of science and environmental history as well as interdisciplinary and experiential maritime-related courses. She has spent her career encouraging scholars and students to join in writing the history of interconnections between oceans and people. Her book on the 19th-century scientific and cultural discovery of the depths, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea, won the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize for best book directed to a wide public audience. In The Sea Knows No Boundaries she explores the history of 20th-century marine sciences that support international fisheries and marine environmental management. Recently she has co-edited Soundings and Crossings: Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970, one of several volumes that have established the field of history of oceanography. Her recent book, Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (Reaktion Books, 2018), which won the Sharon Harris Book Award from UCHI in 2019, has come out in a Korean edition in 2019 and a Chinese edition in 2020.

Elizabeth Athens is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses on museum studies, histories of collecting, and material culture. She previously served as part of the research team for the History of Early American Landscape Design database at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C., and as the American art curator of the Worcester Art Museum. Her current research centers on the work of the American artist-naturalist William Bartram (1739–1823), whose efforts helped redirect the taxonomic focus of eighteenth-century natural history to the study of lived relationships. This project examines Bartram’s unusual graphic practice and how his natural history drawings helped articulate such a shift.

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: Melanie Newport on Prisoner Lives

2020–21 UCHI Fellow's Talk. Forgotten Men: Media and Prisoner Lives in Cook County Jails, 1954–1958. Assistant Professor of History Melanie Newport, with a response by Nicole Breault. Live. Online. Registration required. March 3, 2021, 4:00pm.

Forgotten Men: Media and Prisoner Lives in Cook County Jail, 1954–1958

Melanie Newport (Assistant Professor of History, UConn)

with a response by Nicole Breault

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

Early in the COVID crisis, Cook County Jail in Chicago gained renown as one of the nation’s top sites of infection. Amid protests over the jail’s failure to protect the health and safety of prisoners, an incarcerated person put a note in the jail window: HELP. WE MATTER 2. A picture of the note became a symbol of prisoner humanity that was shared around the world.

This presentation places this act of resistance within a deeper history of prisoner life and struggle in one of the nation’s largest jails. Looking to a unique moment in the 1950s, this paper considers how prisoners—self-identified as “forgotten men”— used media, including a jail newspaper and a tv show, to assert their humanity and their visions for jail reform. As part of a larger study that considers how jail reform shaped the rise of mass incarceration, these sources show that incarcerated people participated in lively debates over the meanings and outcomes of jailing. Jailed people used media to assert their worthiness of participation in the postwar liberal project as they struggled to mitigate the harms of the nascent carceral state.

Melanie D. Newport is an assistant professor of history at UConn’s Hartford campus and affiliated faculty in American Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She holds a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA from the University of Utah, and PhD from Temple University. Her current book project, under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press’ Politics and Culture in Modern America series, explores the political history of jail reform in Chicago from the 1830s to the present. Prior to joining the UConn Faculty in 2016, she taught at Temple University, Community College of Philadelphia, and Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. Newport’s work has been supported by the Center for the Humanities at Temple, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago libraries.

Nicole Breault is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of History. Her research interests are in early American legal and social history with an emphasis on urban governance, institutions, gender, and space. She earned a B.A. from the University of Vermont and an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research has been awarded fellowships at the Massachusetts Historical Society, New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, the Boston Athenæum, and the Huntington Library, as well as a Littleton-Griswold Grant by the American Historical Association. Currently, Nicole is the Draper Dissertation Fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute working on her dissertation “The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America.”

Registration is required for the event.

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

Fellow’s Talk: Amy Meyers on William Bartram

2020-2021 Fellow's Talk. Of "Men and Manners" in the Work of William Bartram. UCHI Visiting Fellow Amy Meyers, with a response by Sean Frederick Forbes. Live. Online. Registration required. February 24, 2021, 4:00pm.

Of “Men and Manners” in the Work of William Bartram

Amy Meyers (Visiting Fellow, UCHI)

with a response by Sean Frederick Forbes

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

The verbal and visual portrayals of the flora and fauna of the North American continent by William Bartram (1739-1823) have long been interpreted as some of the first studies of environmental interchange executed by a naturalist of European descent. Yet Bartram’s writings on the Indigenous Americans of the Southeast, with whom he spent extended periods of time on two expeditions in the 1760s and 1770s, and the few drawings that he produced relating to American Indian life, have not been analyzed in the same terms. Excellent studies of Bartram’s unusual empathy for—and admiration of—the peoples he was encountering, (particularly the Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee) have been written in recent years, but little attention has been paid to the ways in which he utilized the models of environmental interplay that he established in his analysis of animals and plants to comprehend the complex and rapidly shifting relationships among the human societies that became the object of his examination. In this talk, Amy Meyers will discuss Bartram’s understanding of the long history of human migration, competition, and alliance that he observed as defining human interaction, and which he understood as applicable to all peoples, including those of European origin. Meyers also will examine Bartram’s deep concern for the preservation of American Indian cultures, and his anxiety over a national policy of assimilation which he felt compelled to support in the face of impending genocide. In the course of her discussion, Meyers will contrast Bartram’s attitudes toward Indigenous Americans with his views of, and behavior towards, enslaved peoples of African descent, whom he regarded with far less sympathy and understanding.

Amy Meyers (Yale PhD, American Studies, 1985) retired from the directorship of the Yale Center for British Art in June of 2019. Prior to her appointment in July of 2002, she spent much of her career at research institutes, including Dumbarton Oaks; the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where she served as Curator of American Art from 1988 through June of 2002. Meyers has written extensively on the visual and material culture of natural history in the transatlantic world, serving as editor of Knowing Nature: Art and Science in Philadelphia, 1740 to 1840 (Yale University Press, 2011, with the assistance of Lisa Ford). She also has edited, with Harold Cook and Pamela Smith, Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge (University of Michigan Press, 2011); with Therese O’Malley, The Art of Natural History: Illustrated Treatises and Botanical Paintings, 1400-1850 (National Gallery of Art, Studies in The History of Art Series, 2008); Art and Science in America: Issues of Representation (The Huntington, 1998); and, with Margaret Pritchard, Empire’s Nature: Mark Catesby’s New World Vision (University of North Carolina Press, 1998). With Therese O’Malley, Meyers currently is organizing an exhibition with the working title of William Bartram and the Origins of American Environmental Thought. The project will bring together for the first time a wide selection of Bartram’s extraordinary drawings to examine his integrated view of nature and the emergence of environmental thought in North America, from the colonial period through the first decades of the republic.

Sean Frederick Forbes is an Assistant Professor-in-Residence of English and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut. His poems have appeared in Chagrin River Review, Sargasso, A Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, and Culture, Crab Orchard Review, Long River Review, and Midwest Quarterly. In 2009, he received a Woodrow Wilson Mellon Mays University Fellows Travel and Research Grant for travel to Providencia, Colombia. Providencia, his first book of poetry, was published in 2013. He has co-edited two collections of personal narratives titled What Does It Mean to be White in America? Breaking the White Code of Silence: Personal Narratives by White Americans (2016) and The Beiging of America: Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century (2017). He serves as the poetry editor for New Square, the official publication of The Sancho Panza Literary Society for which he is a founding member. In 2017, he received first place in the Nutmeg Poetry Contest from the Connecticut Poetry Society.

Registration is required for the event.

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

DHMS Presents Shaoling Ma

The Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative Presents: What Do Media Do?: The Case of Late Qing China. Assistant Professor of LIterature, Yale-NUS, Shaoling Ma. Live. Online. Registration required. February 22, 2021, 6:00pm. Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.

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

The Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative presents:

What Do Media Do? The ‘Case’ of Late Qing China, 1861–1906

Shaoling Ma (Assistant Professor of Humanities, Literature, Yale-NUS College)

February 22, 2021, 6:00–7:15pm

An online webinar. Registration is required for attendance.

During the last few decades of the Manchu Qing dynasty (1644–1912), writers, intellectuals, reformers, and revolutionaries grasped what it is that media do even as they did not yet employ a distinct term for communicative media (meiti) as such. My talk, largely based on my forthcoming book, The Stone and the Wireless, Mediating China 1861-1906, asserts that media do not mediate between this and that entity before first mediating between some version of its already mediated form as discursive representations in texts and images, and the apparently unmediated technical device or process. If mediation names not just an object of inquiry but also a comparative method, then “late Qing China” refers to more than a case study. The road to an immanently media inquiry does not have to lead to China, but it might be worthwhile to begin there. My first book starts with the deceptively simple question of what it is that media do: there, the political economy or actual work of mediation only surfaces intermittently. It feels appropriate for a second project to ask why it is that digital media have particular trouble representing their modes of production. I will end my talk by briefly sketching this question in the People’s Republic of China’s hyped, digital ascent, in its cultures of platform extractivism foregrounding the low-brow, the crude, and the rural poor.

Shaoling Ma is an Assistant Professor of Humanities (Literature) at Yale-NUS College. She was born in Taiwan, grew up in Singapore, and spent ten years in the United States where she obtained her PhD (University of Southern California, Comparative Literature), and subsequently taught at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include literary and critical theory, media studies, and global Chinese literature, film, and art. She has published in academic journals such as Configurations, Mediations, and positions. Her first book manuscript, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 is forthcoming in 2021 with Duke University Press as part of the ‘Sign, Storage, Transmission’ series.

Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

Fellow’s Talk: Erica Holberg on the Pleasures of Group Anger

2020–21 UCHI Fellow’s Talk. How the Pleasures of Group Anger Help Explain the Assault on the U.S. Capitol. UCHI Visiting Fellow Erica Holberg, with a response by Scott Wallace. Live, Online, Registration Required. February 17, 2021, 4:00pm

How the Pleasures of Group Anger Help Explain the Assault on the U.S. Capitol

Erica Holberg (Visiting Fellow, UCHI)

with a response by Scott Wallace

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

If one thing is clear about the January 6th assault on the U. S. Capitol, it is that no one description adequately captures who the participants were, the action they committed, and the motivation for their actions. This talk will focus on an incoherence that many of the participants evinced about what they were doing, how to accomplish their aims, and to what extent their actions were justified. I will argue that we can better understand the actions of some significant portion of the participants in seeing how the logic of anger, which is grounded in how anger functions for individual angry agents, collided with practices of group anger, which is structured differently, being more like pleasurable, leisurely, angry play. Individual anger, in its normal functioning and in order to be taken seriously as anger by others, exerts practical pressure: the point of individual anger as process is to secure redress for the wrong suffered, including revenge upon the wrongdoer. But group anger as activity is different: because we are all feeling angry as a group, I do not, on my own, need to act to resolve this anger. In the assault on the Capitol the rhetorical practices of group anger as an activity joined with the practical and temporal features of individual anger as a process, with horrific results.

Erica A. Holberg is a virtue ethicist who uses the historical, ethical theories of Aristotle and Kant to examine our own virtues, vices, conception of pleasure, and account of how pleasure matters for good living. Her research sets aside the question of what pleasure is to focus instead on how pleasure functions in our lives, for better or for worse. She is the 2016 recipient of the North American Kant Society’s Wilfrid Sellars Essay Prize for the best paper on Kant by an untenured scholar, and her work has appeared in The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Kantian Review, and Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought. Her UCHI Fellowship project is a book about the pleasures of anger, and how the phenomenology and practical considerations differ for anger done as an individual or anger done as a group.

Scott Wallace is an award-winning writer and photojournalist who covers the environment and endangered cultures. He is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Connecticut since 2017 and an Affiliate Faculty member at El Instituto. Wallace is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. His work has also appeared in Harper’s, Grand Street, Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly and many others. Notable Publications: The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes (Crown, 2011); “Threatened by the Outside World,” National Geographic, November 2018; “The last stand of the Amazon’s Arrow People,” New York Times, September 27, 2017.

Registration is required for the event.

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