2019-20 Events

Rural Humanities Showcase

Friday, September 6, 2019
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Rural Humanities is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported initiative in public and engaged humanities that uses the tools of the humanities to critically approach, learn from, make visible New York State’s histories, cultures, challenges, and futures.

1:00 p.m. Panel 1

  • Kurt Jordan, Archaeology and Anthropology, Cornell, Reflections on Collaboration with Haudenosaunee Communities: The Townley-Read and White Springs Projects
  • Sturt Manning, Classics, Cornell, Time and Histories in the Rural NE: Radiocarbon, Tree-Rings and Post-Colonial Timeframes and Historical Syntheses 1500 to 1900
  • Scott Peters, Development Sociology, Cornell, Rediscovering and Reconstructing the “People’s College” Ideal
  • Sara L. Warner, Performing & Media Arts, Cornell, and Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., Performing & Media Arts, Cornell, The Next Storm: A Community-Based Play about the Impact of Climate Change on the Finger Lakes

3:00 p.m. Panel 2

  • Jon McKenzie, English, Cornell, Civic Storytelling in Rural Communities
  • Debra A. Castillo, Comparative Literature and Latina/o Studies Program, Cornell, Latinx Culture Collaborations in our Community
  • Mary Jo Dudley, Cornell Farmworker Program, Why Care About Undocumented Farmworkers?
  • Lyrae Van Clief- Stefanon, Creative Writing and English, Cornell, Thriving Artists in Appalachia: Teaching at Hindman, Witnessing at Berea
  • Caroline Levine, English, Cornell; Anndrea Mathers, English, Tompkins Cortland Community College; and Christian Sisack, English, Onondaga Community College, Community College Collaboration

Future of the Humanities Lecture

Friday, September 13, 2:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Sara Guyer
Director of the Center for the Humanities at University of Wisconsin, Madison; President of CHCI, the global Consortium for Humanities Centers and Institutes

The Humanities of Testimony, Revisited

The theories of testimony that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s to account for surviving atrocity take on new relevance and meaning in the context of today’s crises of truth. This paper revisits the theory of testimony and its risks in the time of great derangement (Ghosh), pervasive falsehood (Trump), and academic freedom (Derrida), arguing for the enduring possibilities posed by what Geoffrey Hartman called “the humanities of testimony."

This lecture was part of a two-day conference hosted by the Institute for German Cultural Studies, "Re-Imagining the Discipline: German Studies, the Humanities, and the University."

View: Future of the Humanities Lecture

Fall Conference

October 18-19, 2020 
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House


Friday, October 18

2:30 p.m. Welcome Lecture

Caroline Levine, David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, English, Cornell University
The Humanist’s Guide to a Genuine Sustainability

4:00 p.m. Keynote 1

Benjamin Kunkel, Writer, Co-Founder of n+1
Toward a Marxian Energetics

Saturday, October 19

9:30 a.m. Nuclear Energy and Ruination

  • Lori Khatchadourian, Faculty Fellow; Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University, Life in Ruins: The Vibrant Afterlife of Socialist Modernity
  • Yu-Fang Cho, Society Fellow; English and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Miami University of Ohio, Bikini (Re)traces: The Strange Bodies of Transpacific Nuclear Modernity
  • Anindita Banerjee, Comparative Literature, Cornell University, Parabolas

1:00 p.m. Keynote 2

Imre Szeman, University Research Chair and Professor of Communication Arts, University of Waterloo
Eight Principles for a Critical Theory of Energy

3:00 p.m. Animal Energy

  • Athena Kirk, Faculty Fellow; Classics, Cornell University, Brutes to Flutes: Ancient Greek Animal Powers
  • Ariel Ron, Society Fellow; History, Southern Methodist University, King Hay: Horses and Economic Nationalism in America’s Nineteenth-Century Energy Transition
  • Rachel Prentice, Faculty Fellow; Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University, Moving and Balancing Together: Multi-species Sociality and the Senses
View: Fall 2019 Conference

Invited Society Scholars: Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer

Monday, November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Willard Straight Theater

A film by Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer
Rice University, Department of Anthropology

Film Screening: Not Ok

Glaciers have been distinctive features of the Icelandic landscape ever since human settlement on the island 1200 years ago. But since the early 20th century Iceland’s 400+ glaciers have been melting steadily, now losing roughly 11 billion tons of ice every year; scientists predict that all of Iceland’s glaciers will be gone by 2200. One of Iceland’s smallest known glaciers is named “Ok.” Not Ok is its story. This is not a tale of spectacular, collapsing ice. Instead, it is a little film about a small glacier on a low mountain--a mountain who has been observing humans for a long time and has a few things to say to us.

Screening Co-sponsored by Cornell Cinema


Wednesday, November 13, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer
Rice University, Department of Anthropology

Of Flood and Ice

Our changing cryospheres and hydrospheres promise misery to millions across the planet. But they also reveal forms of material connectivity that could potentially be mobilized in the struggle against climate change and the petroculture that produced it. In this presentation, we juxtapose Cymene Howe’s research on the loss of glaciers in Iceland with Dominic Boyer’s project on Houston area flood victims’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey to explore a concept we call “hydrological globalization:” the sociomaterial connections and cultural impacts that follow from the redistribution of water across the planet.

Invited Society Scholar: Brent Edwards


Thursday, March 19, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A. D. White House

Brent Edwards
Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University

Black Radicalism and the Archive: Inventories of Fire

What would it mean to consider archiving (documentation, classification, preservation) not as passive and retrospective, but instead as interventionist and aspirational—an integral component of black radical practice? This lecture explores this question through the example of civil rights activist James Forman's extensive research in the late 1960s for his unfinished biography of Frantz Fanon.

Invitational Lecture: Noliwe Rooks


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

Noliwe Rooks
Cornell University Director of American Studies, Professor of Africana Studies & FGSS

“Legalize it?”: A Story of Cannabis, Race, Global Capital and Civil Wrongs

As Cannabis legalization efforts expand across the United States, Black elected officials and grassroots activists are leading the fight to have legalization and regulation tied to reparation efforts aimed at benefitting those who are behind bars, or have convictions for selling the now, “somewhat “legal drug. One unintended result is that in many states, segregated Black communities with high levels of poverty, instead of benefitting from the promised influx of jobs, capital and entrepreneurial opportunity, have become a means for venture capitalists, international organized crime syndicates, and police departments (who are expanding their arrests of Black people participating in the still existent underground cannabis market) to earn billions. Using a Public Humanities/Black Studies approach, this talk will look at the underside of cannabis legalization efforts.

Spring Fellows' Workshop


Friday, April 10, 2020
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House


Exploring the 2019-20 theme, Energy, with panel presentations by Society for the Humanities Fellows:

  • Willie Hiatt
  • Alena J. Williams
  • Dana E. Powell
  • James Redfield
  • Erin Soros
  • Hannah LeBlanc
  • Catherine M. Appert
  • Joan Lubin
  • Alexandra Dalferro
  • Mary Grace Albanese
  • Jon Mendia