2016-17 Events

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Public Lecture

September 22, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D White House

Eric Hayot
Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University

What Happens to Literature if People are Artworks?

Fall Conference

Friday, October 21 - Saturday, October 22
A.D White House

Performing Skin

Friday, October 21

1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Welcome

  • Timothy Murray (Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities)

1:15 – 2:44 p.m. Featured Lecture

  • Cristina Malcolmson (Senior Scholar in Residence; Professor Emerita of English, Bates College), ‘The Fairest Lady’: Gender and Race in William Byrd’s ‘Account of a Negro-Boy that is dappel’d in several Places of his Body with White Spots’ (1697)

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Social Skins

  • Naminata Diabate (Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Cornell University), Secularizing Nudity
  • Ricardo A. Wilson II (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow; Africana Studies & Research Center, Cornell University), On Stone and Skin: Covarrubias and the Olmec Problem

4:45 – 6:15 p.m. Plenary Lecture, Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

  • Debjani Ganguly (Professor of English and Director, Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia), The Skin of the World: Allegories of Global Terror

Saturday, October 22

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Literary Skins

  • Nancy Worman (Society Fellow; Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, Barnard College and Columbia University), Strange Containers in Greek Tragedy
  • Kevin Ohi (Society Fellow; Professor of English, Boston College), Abstraction and Embodiment in Jacob’s Room

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Medial Membranes

  • Andrea Bachner (Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Cornell University), Dermal Projections
  • Alicia Imperiale (Society Fellow), Body Topographies

2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Featured Lecture

  • Irene Tucker (Professor of English, University of California, Irvine), Seeing Skin: Before Racial Construction

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Choreographic Performance, Dance Theater, Schwartz Performing Arts Building

  • The Low Mountain Top Collective presents Heurisko: a play about found things

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Concluding Panel, Dance Theater, Schwartz Performing Arts Building

  • Samantha N. Sheppard (Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Performing & Media Arts, Cornell University)
  • Pamela K. Gilbert (Society Fellow; Albert Brick Professor of English, University of Florida)
  • Gloria Kim (Society/Atkinson Sustainable Future Fellow)

View: Fall Conference video 

Culler Lecture in Critical Theory

November 14, 4:30 p.m.
A.D. White House

Ranjana Khanna
Professor of English, Women's Studies, and Literature at Duke University

On Speculation

“Speculation” is today most often understood in its financial sense—engagement in risky financial transactions that themselves depend on the volatility of the market. That use of the term takes us back to the eighteenth century, and rests on a sense of futurity. Speculation has also implied a neglect of the empirical in favor of the theoretical. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, many feminist theorists engaged with and in speculation, returning to Freud among others. This talk engages that body of work to speculate on futurity in the face of what seems like its end.

View: Culler Lecture Video

Invitational Lecture

February 28, 4:30 p.m.
Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

Tracy McNulty
Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Cornell University

Like a black hole—which cannot be perceived directly, but is known only by the way it warps space-time—the object of psychoanalysis is an object we know solely by its effects. In his seminar “The Analytic Act,” Jacques Lacan suggests that the analysand’s act is not something the analyst can know, interpret, or anticipate, but something by which he is “struck” both psychically and in his body, where it leaves its traces or impressions. The act leaves effects in the real; it acts upon the body, and not upon the understanding alone. What “strikes” the analyst in the act—as distinct from the “acting out” that often characterizes the analysand’s way of relating to the analyst, for example as an object of love or aggression—is what Lacan calls the object (a), the “object-cause of desire” that acts in and through the subject. As a purely mental object that does not properly speaking “exist,” it cannot be perceived, sensed, or known empirically. Instead, it must “create a path” or “make room” for itself in the world, through the subject’s act. My paper will explore the status of this act in relation to the procedure of the pass, which Lacan introduced in 1967 as a means of investigating the results of an analysis. In addition to clinical examples, it will explore the act and its legacy through a reading of Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. “How,” Freud asks of Moses, “did one single man come to stamp his people with its definite character and determine its fate for millennia to come?” “Stamp,” like “strike,” implies a corporeal impression, a body that receives an imprint, mark, or blow. The materiality of what Moses transmits must be distinguished both from the idealized hero of legend and from the ethical doctrine of monotheism. It can be identified by the traces it leaves in the bodies of those it “stamps,” traces Freud ultimately locates in the body of the apostle Paul.

View: Invitational Lecture Video

Senior Invited Fellow

March 7, 4:30 p.m.
Klarman Hall Auditorium

Mohsen Mostafavi
Alexander & Victoria Wiley Professor and Dean of Design, Harvard University

The Ambiguity of the Surface

How is it that architecture comes to appear? What is the relationship between how architecture is made and how it is perceived externally, as an outside, as skin? Contemporary architectural production is still, and in many ways, the inheritor and the practitioner of a discipline facing, “a crisis of styles.” How, then, are we to address this question anew and what role can architectural surfaces play in such a project?

Future of the Humanities Lecture

April 11, 4:30 p.m.
Phodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall

Earl Lewis
President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

When the Past is Not the Past: Slavery & the American Psyche

View: Future of the Humanities Lecture video

Fellows' Workshop

April 14
A.D. White House

Skin Practice

10:00 a.m. Welcome

  • Timothy Murray, Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities

10:15 - 11:45 a.m. Tattoo: Art & Identity

  • Pamela Gilbert, Society for the Humanities Fellow; University of Florida, Tattoos in Nineteenth Century British Culture
  • Gemma Angel, Society for the Humanities Fellow; University College, London, Commemoration vs. Speculation: The Tattoo & Contemporary Art
  • Elyse Semerdjian, Society for the Humanities Fellow; Whitman College Dicle’s Tattoos: The Hidden Body Archives of Turkey’s Crypto-Armenians
  • Discussants: Carol Oddy & Cesar Enciso, tattoo artists & owners of Medusa Tattoos, Ithaca, NY

1:00 - 2:30 p.m. The Medical & Theological Body

  • Seçil Yılmaz, Society for the Humanities Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow; Near Eastern Studies, Cornell, Medical Marriage, Pathological Love, & Syphilis in the Late Ottoman Empire
  • Stacey Langwick, Society for the Humanities Faculty Fellow; Anthropology, Cornell, (Un)ethical Substances: Albinism, Violence, & the Nature of Skin in Africa
  • Karmen MacKendrick, Society for the Humanities Fellow; Le Moyne College, A Really Big Resurrection
  • Discussant: Masha Raskolnikov, Associate Professor of English, Cornell

2:45 - 4:00 p.m. Practicing Embodiment

  • Alana Staiti, Society for the Humanities Mellon Graduate Fellow; Science & Technology Studies, Cornell, A Hands-On History of Sizing Standards in Clothing
  • Emily Rials, Society for the Humanities Mellon Graduate Fellow; English, Cornell, Exposing Spines
  • Discussant: Gloria Chan-Sook Kim, Society for the Humanities David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Fellow; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

4:30 p.m. Plenary Lecture

  • Mary Flanagan, Society for the Humanities Senior Scholar in Residence and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities, Dartmouth College, Othering Algorithms 

Lecture on Sustainable Futures

April 26, 4:30 p.m.
A.D. White House

Gloria Chan-Sook Kim
2016-2017 David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Fellow, Society for the Humanities; Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Sightlines & Flightlines: Visualizing Uncertainty & Anticipating Avian Flu Pandemics

In this talk, Dr. Gloria Chan-Sook Kim examines the use of migratory birds as data visualization technologies developed to foresee and forestall possible avian fu pandemics. She analyzes the discourses through which these visualizations are endowed with their evidentiary force. Drawing on theories of risk, uncertainty, visualization, and mediation, Kim tracks a shift in the making of scientifc evidence in 21st century cultures of risk – one that loosens the customary bind between sight and knowledge, establishing instead a relation between sight and foresight. What can uncovering the nature of this shift reveal about the epistemological stakes of our contemporary moment?