UConn

You Should..Watch: “Dark” the TV Mini Series (Siavash Samei, UCHI)

In this brave new world of self-isolation, I have come to lose track of time. Time, or rather our concepts of the passage of time, are constructs that we animate and breathe life into, out of the necessities of our mortal lives. But to quote a Tralfamadorian from Slaughterhouse-Five: “ All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is.” Making sense of time and distorting our limited understandings of it have been at the heart of many great works of literature and art. For me, the latest iteration of this feat of human imagination is the German sci-fi noir series, Dark, created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. You should watch it, not because it is a binge worthy thriller (it most certainly is), or because it might bring a sense of reassurance in these times of uncertainty (it will not); but because it is a must-experience masterpiece.

 Dark is the, well…dark…story of the residents of a small German town; each dealing with their own personal traumas, double lives, and troubling pasts. We begin in the “present,” in 2019. But the story eventually spreads into subplots and story lines in 1921, 1953, 1986, and 2053; as various characters engage in time travel through a wormhole in a near-by cave. They travel in order to make sense of their lives, and to find answers to and perhaps prevent tragedies that befall them—murders, suicides, disappearances, and infidelities. As the “pasts” of the residents travel into the “present” and the “future,” and as the “presents” of the same characters travel into the “past” and the “future,” we come to appreciate the long-term ripple effects of human decisions and random encounters in each period across time and space.

But, more importantly for me, as the various story lines interweave through interpersonal interactions across the different time periods, we begin to lose any sense of which temporal iteration of which character is “real.” Thus, we come to lose track of a linear and directional concept of time and even question the very idea of the “self.”

Dark elegantly blends various genres into a complex narrative through which the viewer is confronted with the totality of the human experience, and grapples with issues of determinism and free will.

The series builds up in pace and complexity as it progresses. In a way, Dark “isn’t a show you watch. It’s a show you solve.”

The first two seasons of Dark are available on Netflix.

So, solve away!

 

Siavash Samei
Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities Institute
University of Connecticut

Who is Siavash Samei? Siavash was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, but moved to the US in his teenage years. He earned his PhD from the UConn Anthropology Department in 2019, after which he joined the UCHI team as a postdoctoral fellow. Siavash is an archaeologist who has conducted field work throughout the Middle East, specifically in Iran and Armenia. His research examines human-animal interactions and the evolution of animal husbandry as a subsistence strategy throughout the Middle Eastern highlands at the time of the Urban Revolution in Mesopotamia (ca. 40002200 BCE). Next year Siavash will join the faculty at The College of Wooster as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialectic and the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom, and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journey’s fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

Announcing the 2020–21 UConn Faculty Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of UConn faculty fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of seven faculty who embody the creative drive and energy of the arts and humanities scholarship at the University of Connecticut. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

 

 

Elizabeth Athens sitting against a background of flowers

Elizabeth Athens

 

Department of Art & Art History

Project Title: Figuring a World: William Bartram’s Natural History

Amanda Crawford headshot

Amanda Crawford

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Sky is Crying: the Sandy Hook Shooting and the Battle for Truth

Melanie Newport headshot

Melanie Newport

 

Department of History

Project Title: This is My Jail:  Reform and Mass Incarceration in Chicago and Cook County

Helen Rozwadowski headshot

Helen Rozwadowski

 

Department of History - Avery Point

Project Title: Science as Frontier: History Hidden in Plain Sight

Sara Silverstein headshot

Sara Silverstein

 

Department of History & Human Rights Institute

Project Title: Toward Global Health: A History of International Collaboration

Scott Wallace headshot

Scott Wallace

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Bleeding Frontier: Indigenous Warriors in the Battle for the Amazon and Planet Earth

Sarah Winter headshot

Sarah Winter

 

Department of English

Project Title: The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Empire, and Human Rights Narratives

You Should..Listen to: The “Fell Free” Audiobook (Fiona Vernal, UConn-History)

There is only so much Netflix and Hulu one can watch and replaying Contagion and Outbreak are not the best antidote for COVID-19’s many anxieties. I suggest you find refuge in an audio-version of Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s 2018 eclectic and wide-ranging collection of essays. Banish all thought of the staid five-paragraph essays of undergraduate habitude; this collection will whisk you back to what the essay form was meant to do originally—reflect and be relevant. Even if you have not discovered White Teeth or On Beauty, you’ll get a crash course in Smith’s literary evolution from an awe-struck young writer to a mature, reflective artist. Feel Free will surprise and delight, offering ruminations on freedom, multiculturalism, aesthetics, art, dance, fiction, domesticity, middle class dreams of the British sort, optimism, family, individuality, social media, race, and narcissism. In a curious juxtaposition of characters, you’ll discover low-brow and high-brow culture, ways of seeing, ways of being, and the gulf between husbands and wives and parents and children. Where else will you find Martha Graham and John Berger; Philip Roth and Balthasar Denney; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Vladimir Nabokov and Jay-Z; and the single-monikered Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé?  In one of the most brilliant pieces, a bathroom becomes a lucid symbol of a father’s thwarted dream, a mother’s exile, and the sacrifices that permit their children to cross social, racial, geographic, and economic boundaries. Since you can’t have this conversation with Zadie Smith in person, listening to Feel Free is the next best option!

Fiona Vernal
Associate Professor of History
University of Connecticut

Fiona Vernal Behind a PodiumWho is Fiona Vernal? Fiona Vernal is a native of Trelawny, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her MA and PhD from Yale. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History. Her book, The Farmerfield Mission (Oxford, 2012) explores the relationship between African Christian converts, European missionaries, and the politics of land access, land alienation and the “civilizing” mission of African social and economic improvement in nineteenth century South Africa. She consults with the Connecticut Historical Society on oral history projects including an exhibit documenting and recording the impact of 9/11 on Connecticut victims, families, and first responders.

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

 

 

 

You Should…Read: Midnight in Chernobyl (Marisa Chrysochoou, UConn-Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Cover of the book "Midnight in Chernobyl"The role of the humanities and liberal arts education in the 21st century is a topic of intense debate. If the sciences are the foundation for inventing new technologies, the humanities are the foundation for implementing these technologies sustainably and ethically. Adam Higginbotham’s account of the Chernobyl accident is what the New York Times called “an enthralling and terrifying history” of technology gone wild in human hands. There is no better evidence of the role of politics, ethics and psychology in the making of a disaster over a period of decades. The Chernobyl accident was not a human error of the moment, nor a slip in judgment that inevitably happens to scientists and engineers when we fumble with experiments and machines on a daily basis. It was the result of an entire political system that pursued short-term wins, covered inconvenient truths, and promoted allegiance to ideology.

Does this remind you of anything in our current handling of a crisis?

And yet I am sure that there will be many climate-change deniers who read the book and sneer at the incompetence and blindness of their Soviet counterparts of 1986.

Regardless, you will also have supreme fun reading this book that is written as a Stephen King suspense novel.

 

Marisa Chrysochoou
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Connecticut

Maria Chrysochoou's photoWho is Marisa Chrysochoou? Marisa Chrysochoou is a professor and the head of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department. She received her Ph.D. in 2006 from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on fate and transport metals in the environment, environment and surface chemistry, and treatment and reuse of industrial waste, contaminated soil, and sediments. She has also been awarded a prestigious Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship.

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.

UCHI Hosts Microsoft’s Nancy Baym Talk on Social Media and Human Interactions

The Relational Affordances of Platforms

By Nancy K. Baym

 

People have been socializing on the internet for nearly fifty years. In recent years, online social life has become increasingly concentrated in a relatively small number of commercial platforms. How can we make sense of the impacts they are having on our relational lives? How can we theorize platforms when they are constantly changing and used in so many different ways? In this talk, Nancy Baym draws on a range of her recent research on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to articulate a model for understanding platforms as the dynamic, unstable entities they are, and to explore their roles in shaping, constraining and opening up new possibilities for relationships in contexts ranging from close romantic bonds to online communities and the ties that connect musicians to their audiences. The talk further considers how these platforms commodify the relational interactions that take place through them, and how their design choices have fostered environments in which relationships become tools for profit.

Join us on Wednesday, February 5 2020, at 4PM at the UCHI Conference Room, Babbidge Library, Fourth Floor.

Co-Sponsored by UConn Department of Communication, and UCHI’s Digital Humanities and Media Studies (DHMS) and The Future of Truth (TFOT) initiatives.

Through the generous gift of her honorarium, Nancy K. Baym is supporting the Humanities Institute’s Digital Toolbox Working Group for the 2019–20 academic year.

 

Nancy Baym headshotNancy Baym

Senior Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research New England
Research Affiliate, Comparative Media Studies/Writing, MIT

Nancy Baym is a Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, where she conducts basic research into how people understand and act with new communication technologies in their relationships. A pioneer in the field of internet research, Baym wrote some of the first articles about online community in the early 1990s. With Jean Burgess, she is the author of Twitter: A Biography (forthcoming 2020, NYU). Other books include Playing to the Crowd: Musicians, Audiences, and the Intimate Work of Connection(2018, NYU), Personal Connections in the Digital Age (2010, Second Edition 2014, Polity), Internet Inquiry: Conversations About Method (co-edited with Annette Markham, 2010, Sage), and Tune In, Log On: Soaps, Fandom and Online Community (2000, Sage). She was a co-founder of the Association of Internet Researchers and served as its second president. She has been recognized with the Frederick Williams Prize for Contributions to the Study of Communication and Technology awarded by the International Communication Association, the naming of the Nancy Baym Book Award by the Association of Internet Researchers, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Gothenburg. Most of her papers and more information are available at nancybaym.com.