Cathy Gutierrez, The Perfect Problem: Eugenics and Utopia in Religious Discourse,

James Barnett Lecture Series in Humanistic Anthropology

Religion and Public Discourse 

May 2nd, 2016

Date: 2:15 PM – 3:45PM

Place: Austin 301

All lectures will be held at The Humanities Institute (UCHI), Austin Building, Room 301. For more information please contact Richard Sosis (richard.sosis@uconn.edu). Please contact uchi@uconn.edu or 486-9057 to reserve a seat.

Cathy Gutierrez is a Scholar in Residence at the New York Public Library where she is finishing her new work, The Deviant and the Dead: Spiritualism and the Sciences of Crime. She was a Professor of Religion at Sweet Briar College where she taught for eighteen years. Her primary research interests are nineteenth-century Spiritualism and the history of esotericism, particularly where they intersect with ideas of consciousness. She has published on the Free Love movement in America, Theosophy, millennialism, and the Freemasons. Her monograph, Plato’s Ghost: Spiritualism in the American Renaissance (Oxford University Press 2009), examines the American legacy of Neoplatonism in popular religious expression and she is the editor several collections, most recently the Brill Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling (2015).

Building a 3D Human Rights Platform Witness Testimony and Spatial History in South Africa, talk by Dr. Angel Nieves

Associate  Professor of  Africana  Studies & Digital  Humanites,  Hamilton  College

April 28, 12:30-2pm

Humanities Institute, Austin 301

How do we map violence, resistance, and freedom across space and time? Dr. Angel David Nieves will discuss the considerations and challenges in the design and development of a digital platform for human rights and historical recovery work for use in communities not only in South Africa, but across the African Diaspora.

Supported by funding from the Department of History; Digital Media & Design Department, UCHI, and UConn Global Affairs



‘Be Not Afraid of Greatness:’ Shakespeare’s First Folio Coming to UConn

Recent news coverage of the discovery in Scotland of a previously unknown first edition of William Shakespeare’s collected works has brought increased interest to the national traveling exhibition “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.” That exhibition is coming to UConn in the fall, and will be on display at the William Benton Museum of Art from Sept. 2 to 25.

The “First Folio” is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays published by two of his fellow actors in 1623, seven years after the Bard’s death on April 23. The collection includes 18 plays that would otherwise have been lost, including “Macbeth,” Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Comedy of Errors,” and “As You Like It.”

The national tour is being hosted by one institution in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing this year. The tour is a partnership between The Folger Shakespeare Library, Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association.

“As an institution with a strong history of championing the dramatic classics through our resident theater, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, we are very proud to have the opportunity to host this exhibition for our state,” says Anne D’Alleva, dean of UConn’s School of Fine Arts. “This is an important document in the life of the arts, and for our students and wider community to experience here on campus.”

Michael Patrick Lynch reading/signing – Tuesday April 26, 2016 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm, UConn Co-op Bookstore

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm

UConn Co-op Bookstore

With far-reaching implications, this urgent treatise promises to revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human in the digital age.
We used to say “seeing is believing”; now googling is believing. With 24/7 access to nearly all of the world’s information at our fingertips, we no longer trek to the library or the encyclopedia shelf in search of answers. We just open our browsers, type in a few keywords and wait for the information to come to us. Indeed, the Internet has revolutionized the way we learn and know, as well as how we interact with each other. And yet this explosion of technological innovation has also produced a curious paradox: even as we know more, we seem to understand less.
Michael P. Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. He is the author or editor of seven books, including, most recently, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, as well as Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice True to Life. The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Lynch has held grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times‘s The Stone series.


Tuesday, April 19 – Writing from a Mediterranean in Crisis: Jazra Khaleed & Amara Lakhous

Tuesday, April 19

UConn Co-op, Storrs Center, 4 pm

Syria Syria

Jazra Khaleed was born in Grozny, Chechnya. Today he lives in Athens, writes and publishes exclusively in Greek, and is known as a poet, editor, and translator. Khaleed’s poetry has been widely translated in Europe, the US, and Japan. As a founding co-editor of TEFLON magazine, and particularly through his own translations published there, he has introduced the works of Amiri Baraka, Keston Sutherland, Lionel Fogarty, and many other political and experimental poets to a Greek readership. Amara Lakhous fled his native Algeria in 1995 during the civil war, and has lived in Italy first as a political refugee, then as an immigrant and, as of 2008, a citizen. He is the author of five novels, three of which he wrote in both Arabic and Italian. His best known works are the much acclaimed Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), Divorce Islamic Style (2012), and A Dispute over a Very Italian Piglet (2014).


Co-sponsored by the English Department, the Literatures, Cultures & Languages Department, the UConn’s Creative Writing Program, and the UConn Co-Op

We are pleased to announce that The John Templeton Foundation has awarded $5.75 million to the UConn Humanities Institute for research on balancing humility and conviction in public life.

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded $5.75 million to the UConn Humanities Institute for research on balancing humility and conviction in public life.

The grant is the largest for the humanities ever awarded to UConn, and is one of the largest humanities-based research grants ever awarded in the United States.

Michael P. Lynch, the project’s principal investigator, says examining the role that traits such as humility and open-mindedness can play in meaningful public discourse could promote healthier and more constructive discussion about various divisive issues in religion, science, and politics.

“As this presidential campaign is constantly reminding us, real political dialogue — and any sense of intellectual humility — seems to have gone missing in American politics. But we can’t just blame that on politicians or those on the other side of the aisle; we need to look at what it is about culture, psychology, and the human condition that has led us to this point,” says Lynch, a professor of philosophy and director of the Humanities Institute. “We want to know the underlying causes of our dramatic breakdown in open dialogue and how to fix it.”

Lynch says the grant will provide an unprecedented integration of research from the humanities and sciences, as well as extending and applying research developed by previous projects on intellectual humility and related concepts funded by Templeton.

We want to know the underlying causes of our dramatic breakdown in open dialogue and how to fix it.

“There has been significant work done in recent years on the role that bias and dogma play in how we evaluate each other. And there are lots of people working to bring meaningful dialogue to communities,” he adds. “But rarely do these two groups meet. This project brings together our most creative and visionary thinkers with democracy practitioners to look at the real problems people face when talking to those with different religious and political worldviews other than their own.”

The grant will allow the Humanities Institute, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to sponsor three high-profile public forums; summer institutes for high school teachers on how to incorporate intellectual humility into their classes; an online course on project themes; and a series of awareness-raising media initiatives. The co-principal investigator for the project is Brendan Kane, an associate professor of history and associate director of the Humanities Institute.

The project’s research activities include a visiting fellowship program hosting leaders from the academic, media, and non-profit sectors; an international research funding competition targeting interdisciplinary teams of researchers pursuing project themes; four research workshops hosted at UConn; and a collaboration with UConn’s Mellon Foundation-funded “Scholarly Communications Design Studio” for the presentation of project research in new interactive modalities.

The Humanities Institute has a history of sponsoring both public engagement and interdisciplinary research, and will bring together specialized resources for research in the social sciences and humanities for the purpose of elevating the tone and outcomes of public discourse in American society.

In the NYT “Googling Is Believing: Trumping the Informed Citizen” by UCHI Director Michael P. Lynch.

Googling Is Believing: Trumping the Informed Citizen

About a week before he used the national political stage to ask viewers to think about Donald Trump’s “finger” size, Marco Rubio told the audience during another recent Republican presidential debate to Google “Donald Trump and Polish workers.” They did.

The worry is no longer about who controls content. It is about who controls the flow of that content.

Rubio wanted voters to see news stories about Trump illegally hiring undocumented Polish workers more than 35 years ago to demolish a building to make way for Trump Tower. Searches for those terms, and the fraudulent “Trump University,” shot way up. It was like a public version of the now ubiquitous phenomenon of everyone whipping out smartphones to verify a disputed fact at a party or meeting. Not that it did much good in this case; as numerous commentators have noted, Trump and many of his supporters don’t seem particularly worried about minor annoyances like “facts.” (For the record, PolitiFact, which checks the veracity of politicians’ statements, judged Rubio’s charge to be “half true.”)

Read more



February 19, 2016 Panel Discussion: What Difference do Different Identities Make?


February 19, 2016, from 12-130 PM in Oak 438

A panel discussion featuring

Cathy Schlund-Vials (English & Asian/Asian American Studies)

Fred Lee (Political Science & Asian/Asian American Studies)

Prakash Kashwan (Political Science)

Moderated by Marysol Asencio (Human Development & Family Studies and El Instituto).


All are welcome — no need to RSVP. Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu.

A Forum Discussion – March 23, 2016. 2-4pm / Oak 408 / University of Connecticut

Intercultural Literature Citizenship and Public Discourse.


With Stefan Hermes / Eleni Coundouriotis / Manuela Wagner / Anke Finger

What role, if any, does intercultural communication (in literature, applied linguistics, human rights, media studies) play in public discourse? The goal of this forum discussion is to bring intercultural communication research from various disciplines together to debate notions of diversity in public discourse. The four participants present their work and offer tools with which to (better) engage in dialogs on cultural, religious, and ethnic differences. How can we work with new models to address silent or complex issues? How can we encourage bystanders to participate in public discourse by drawing from a range of communicative tools and intercultural and human rights perspectives?

Sponsored by LCL, the PDP/UCHI and Global Affairs

February 19, 2016, STEVE PINCUS “The Heart of the Declaration: The Patriots’ Case for Energetic Government”

Storrs Campus
Austin,  Stern Room 217

Steve Pincus will present a talk entitled:

“The Heart of the Declaration: The Patriots’ Case for Energetic Government”

Why did George Washington tell his troops that the Declaration of Independence was a call to defend the British constitution against the British army? To answer this puzzle requires coming to grips with Patriot political ideas as they developed in the British Atlantic world from the 1730s through the 1770s. By restoring British American Patriot discussions to their imperial context it becomes clear that the American Patriots were concerned that George III’s government had done too little rather than too much. In particular the Patriots complained that George III’s government had done too little to promote immigration, support commerce and tradition British North America away from a slave-based economy.