Waking the Machines: Art, Design, and Adaptive Technology

Sara Hendren
Wednesday, September 11, 7:30 p.m., JRC 101
Waking the Machines: Art, Design, and Adaptive Technology

Sara Hendren is an artist, researcher, and writer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She makes material and digital art works and writes about adaptive technologies and prosthetics, critical design, the medicalized and biopolitical body, and cultural representations of disability and health. In 2012-13, she completed research in the program on Art, Design, and the Public Domain at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she was also a research fellow at the MetaLAB at Harvard. Projects at various stages include: an investigation of the inclined plane, one of Galileo's "simple machines," cardboard carpentry, personal genomics, and prosthetics for invisible conditions. She runs the Abler web site.

Harold D. Roth Lecture

Harold Roth
Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies, Brown University
Monday, September 30, 7:30 p.m., JRC 101

Harold D. Roth is Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies and the Director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative. Roth is a specialist in Early Chinese Religious Thought, Taoism, the History of East Asian Religions, the Comparative Study of Mysticism and a pioneer in the developing field of Contemplative Studies. His publications include five books, The Textual History of the Huai-nan Tzu (Association for Asian Studies, 1992), Original Tao: "Inward Training" and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism (Columbia University Press, 1999), Daoist Identity: Cosmology. Lineage, and Ritual (w/Livia Kohn) (University of Hawaii Press, 2002, A Companion to Angus C. Graham's Chuang Tzu: the Inner Chapters (Society for Asian and Comparative Philoosophy, 2003), and The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China, by Liu An, King of Huainan. (w/John S Major, Sarah Queen, and Andrew S. Meyer) (Columbia, 2009). He has also published more than three dozen articles on the early history and religious thought of the Taoist tradition and on the textual history and textual criticism of classical Chinese works, and on Contemplative Studies.

Please reference his personal website for further information.


Seeing Objects in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosities

Paula Findlen
Thursday, October 3, 4:15 p.m., Faulconer Gallery
Gallery Talk: "Is a Crocodile a Work of Art? Seeing Objects in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosities"

The crocodile is the canonical curiosity in the early modern cabinet, or at the very least the most visible and central artifact in well-known representations of cabinets of curiosities in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We see the crocodile everywhere but we do not know why or how. This talk explores the meaning and making of the crocodile as an early museum artifact as a case study in how to understand the selection, presentation, and interpretation of objects in the hands of early modern collectors.

Paula Findlen is the Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History, Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian, Co-Director for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Co-Editor of Configurations at Stanford University

Co-sponsored by the Faulconer Gallery and the Center for Humanities.


This Living Hand: Waste, Repair, and Nineteenth-century Techonlogies of Generation

Andrea Charise
Visiting Scholar at the Obermann Center University of Iowa and Assistant Professor of English, University of Toronto
Friday, November 8, NOON, BCA 152
This Living Hand: Waste, Repair, and Nineteenth-century Technologies of Generation

Andrea is the third speaker for our series "Science, Technologies, and the Human Condition." She received her PhD from the Department of English at the University of Toronto where, over the course of her degree, she also participated in the transdisciplinary research program “Health Care, Technologies, and Place.” Her doctoral dissertation (“‘Time’s feeble children’: Old Age and the Nineteenth-Century Longevity Narrative, 1793-1901”) examined how nineteenth-century British novelists sought to represent old age in the wake of acute challenges to traditional models of lifespan and life course narratives. Her book-in-progress builds on these findings by investigating how the early-nineteenth century “invention” of population impacts broader cultural conceptualizations of older age—not only over the course of the nineteenth century but in our own age-averse historical moment as well. In addition to earning recognition for her scholarship and teaching in the humanities, Andrea Charise has also produced award-winning interdisciplinary research that draws on more than ten years of work experience as a medical researcher. Her research has appeared in a range of peer-reviewed venues including Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Academic Medicine, Health Expectations, and English Literary History (ELH).

Humanities Book Talk

Humanities Book Talk
Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Noon, Friday, November 15
Faulconer Gallery

Presentations by:

Richard Fyffe, Samuel R. & Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of the College
Joe Neisser, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Tammy Nyden, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Kuhn's Structure argues against the view that science continually progresses throughout time and asserts that science undergoes revolutions in which a dramatic shift takes place. He contends that the old and new paradigms are incommensurable and therefore likens the change to religious conversion. This book changed the landscape of the history, philosophy and sociology of scientific knowledge and practice. One of the most influential books of the 20th century, many of its ideas, such as that of "paradigm", spread to many other disciplines as well. Lunch will be provided after the event.  Open to the public. 

Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent ELite at St. Paul's School

Shamus Khan
Professor of sociology, Columbia University
Thursday, November 14, 4:15 p.m., JRC 101
Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School

Shamus Khan is professor of sociology at Columbia University. He’ll be giving a plenary in JRC 101 on Thursday, November 14 at 4:15 p.m. on his book Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (winner of the 2011 C. Wright Mills Award, Society for the Study of Social problems; Honorable Mention for the 2012 Distinguished Book Award of the Race, Gender and Class Section of the American Sociological Association). Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies; the Center for Humanities; the Rosenfield Program; and the Dean’s Office. Organized by Audrey Devine-Eller and Patrick Inglis.


Thursday, Nov 14, noon, lunch with Shamus Khan to discuss ethnographic methods based on his article, "“Talk is Cheap: Ethnography and the Attitudinal Fallacy.” RSVP to Travis Renze by November 1.

Bill Wilder's One Two Three with a Q&A with renowned film historian Sabine Hake

Billy Wilder's One Two Three with a Q& A with renowned film historian Sabine Hake
Wednesday, November 20, ARH 302, 7:00 p.m.

The Cultural Films Committee presents a screening of Billy Wilder's "One Two Three" (1961) followed by a Q&A session. Comedy about Coca-Cola's man in West Berlin, who may be fired if he can't keep his American boss's daughter from marrying a Communist. (115 minutes) All are welcome. 

Sabina Hake, "Exiled in the American Century: Revisiting the Hollywood Anti-Nazi Film"

Sabine Hake, "Exiled in the American Century: Revisiting the Hollywood Anti-Nazi Film"

Thursday, November 21, FINE 152, 4:15 p.m.


The Cultural Films Committee presents Sabine Hake, Chair of German Literature and Culture, Department of German Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served. (Ms. Hake's visit is co-sponsored by the German Dept., Center for Humanities, and the Rosenfield Program. Organized by Berna Gueneli, German.) 


All Faculty Reception

All Faculty Reception

Friday, December 13, 4:15 – 6:00 p.m.
Grinnell House

The Center for Humanities will host an all faculty reception honoring books published in the last twelve months.


Donna Jones

Donna V. Jones

Associate Professor of English, UC Berkeley
Tuesday, February 18, 7:30 p.m., JRC 101

“Immortal Inequalities: Towards a Critique of Futurist Discourse”

Donna V. Jones is an associate professor in the department of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She works on Caribbean, African-American, and American literature and her book, The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism and Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2010) won the MLA's Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Prize in Comparative Literary Studies in 2010. She serves as one of the Core faculty in Berkeley's 'Critical Theory and Science, Technology, and Society Center.' She is currently working on two projects: The Ambiguous Promise of European Decline: Race and Historical Pessimism in the Era of the Great War and The Tribunal of Life: Reflections on Vitalism, Race and Biopolitics.

She will present “Immortal Inequalities: Towards a Critique of Futurist Discourse” at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, room 101. This event is open to the public. Please reference her personal website for further information.


Lenny Moss, "Natural Detachment” (as a theory of everything) and a New Vision of the Nature of Being Human"

Lenny Moss

Associate Professor of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter
Tuesday, March 4
7:30 p.m., Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 101

“Natural Detachment” (as a theory of everything) and a New Vision of the Nature of Being Human"

Both as a scientist and as a philosopher, Lenny Moss has been interested in questions about how to bring together, and reconcile, the empirical fruits of the natural sciences with both the self-knowledge of lived experience and the claims of normatively.  Moss received doctoral training in biophysics and biochemistry at UC Berkeley where he also informally studied existential phenomenology with Hubert Dreyfus.  He then did several years of post-doctoral experimental research in molecular cell biology at UC San Francisco Medical Center before undertaking a second doctorate at Northwestern University which focused upon both philosophy of biology and Frankfurt School social theory.  His book *What Gene’s Can’t Do* and numerous articles in the philosophy of biology have sought to clear away needlessly limiting, reductivistic and conflationary misconceptions about the implications of genetics and genomics.  His recent and on-going work has been oriented toward a comprehensive theory of ‘natural detachment’ with broad implications for the human and social sciences and for many areas of both theoretical and practical philosophy. This event is open to the public.

Please reference his personal website for further information.


Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert
Journalist, The New Yorker
CONVO Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Organized by Writers@Grinnell and co-sponsored by the Center for Humanities and the Center for Prairie Studies.

Annual Student Symposium

Annual Student Symposium

April 7 – 9, 2014

The Board of the Humanities Center has selected excellent essays by students from many disciplines and we are very excited about the upcoming event.  Everyone is invited to come to the panels beginning Monday, April 7, 12:00 p.m. in BCA 152 to support the scholarly and creative work of our students. A second exciting feature of the Annual Humanities Student Symposium is the keynote address by Scott Samuelson ’95, “Of Plumbers and Plato: Why We Should All Value the Humanities” on Monday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. in JRC 101.

Dr. Samuelson has a longstanding interest in aesthetics as well as how philosophy and literature relate to each other.  He’s working on a book tentatively called Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, which is about the “problem of evil” and how it is confronted by philosophers, theologians, poets, and musicians.

Complete event schedule:

Monday, April 7
12:00 p.m.       BCA 152      "Creative Writing" Alex Bazis, Sam Dunnington, Dylan Fisher
7:30 p.m.         JRC 101       KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Scott Samuelson ’95 “Of Plumbers and Plato: Why We Should All Value the Humanities” 
Tuesday, April 8
12:00 p.m.       JRC 101       "Power, People, Borders" Callie Hopkins, Lucy Marcus, Jenny Mith
4:15 p.m.         JRC 101       "The Erotic Gaze" Sophie Donlon, Teodora Kljaic, Hannah Safter
7:30 p.m.         JRC 101       "Genre Unbound” Courtney Hemker, Chris Gallo, James Marlow, Grace Tipps
Wednesday, April 9
12:00 p.m.       JRC 101       "Reimagining the Past: New Directions in the Humanities" 
                                              Madeline Cloud, Hayes Gardner, Eric Mistry, Elizabeth Sawka
4:15 p.m.         JRC 101      "Translating Identities" Samanea Karrfalt, Andrea Nemecek, Eleanor Price
5:45 p.m.         JRC 101      "Just Follow the Directions" Ana Novak, Dance Ensemble

All events are open to the public.

Life After Grinnell

Life After Grinnell

Tuesday, April 8, Mears Living Room, 1:00 - 2:00 pm

Discussion led by
Scott Samuelson ’95, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Kirkwood Community College and
Scott Newstok ’95, Associate Professor of English, Rhodes College

This event is co-sponsored by Careers, Life and Services, Center for Humanities, and Development and Alumni Relations.

2nd Annual Iowa Humanities Festival

Announcing the second annual Iowa Humanities Festival!
A World at Home
A Home in the World

April 12, 2014
9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Salisbury House and the Des Moines Art Center

From the French origins of Des Moines to the Algerian roots of Elkader, this year's Festival, "A Home in the World | A World at Home," focuses on Iowans' roles in the global community and on the international influences that shape our state. Join faculty members from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Grinnell College, Drake University, and Cornell College, as well as curators and arts leaders from the Salisbury House and Des Moines Art Center for a global tour right here at home.

Presenters from Grinnell College:
Janice Gross: Iowa, Islam and Algeria: Bridging the Local and the Global in Small-Town Iowa”
Ralph Savarese: “Neurocosmopolitanism: Poetic Potential in Autism”
Hai-Dang Phan: “The Secret Life of Phan Nhien Hao, or, Translation and Transnation in the Midwest”

“The Center for Humanities will provide transportation and admission tickets to the first 25 faculty, staff and students who RSVP to Jan Graham [grahamj] by noon on Monday, April 7th. The registration includes talks, tours, lunch, and closing reception.

Transportation will leave in front of the Joe Rosenfield Center at 8:00 a.m. and return to campus at 6:30 p.m.

View the full day's schedule of speakers and events.

Conversations in Humanities Lunch

Conversations in the Humanities Lunch
Friday, April 18, JRC 209, 12:00 pm
Theme: “Science & Visual Art”

Presentations by:
Jackie Brown, professor of biology
Sam Rebelsky, professor of computer science
Lee Running, associate professor of art
Elizabeth Trimmer, associate professor of chemistry

For faculty only. RSVP required by noon on Friday, April 11. Contact Jan Graham.

Kevin Kopelson

Kevin Kopelson
Friday, April 18, ARH 102, 4:15 pm
“Hollywood Has-Beens”

Every one of us, both professionally and sexually speaking, will have become a has-been someday; just what type of has-been may depend upon one’s imagination as well as one’s imaginary role model: “Lina Lamont” in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), a spectacular failure who doesn’t realize she’s one; “Tony Hunter” in The Band Wagon (1953), an uncanny, unaccountable success;  “Norman Maine” in A Star is Born (1954), an alcoholic suicide; “Jane Hudson” in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), an alcoholic murderess. In a one-hour, somewhat "performative," and also rather humorous presentation (with film clips), to be titled “Hollywood Has-Beens,” I intend to show that those of us who are academics at a “certain age,” and in particular those of us who are queer theorists, have much to learn (professionally) from these movie musicals. We can learn to cope, for instance, with a certain kind of "chagrin." We can also learn to feel a kind of "delight."

Kevin Kopelson is Professor of English at the University of Iowa. He is the author of six books, including: Beethoven’s Kiss: Pianism, Perversion, and the Mastery of Desire; The Queer Afterlife of Vaslav Nijinsky; and the somewhat satirical Confessions of a Plagiarist: And Other Tales from School.

Nick Wilding

Nick Wilding
Assistant Professor of History, Georgia State University

Monday, April 28, 7:30 p.m., Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 101

'Machinations: Plotting the Early Modern World'

Nick Wilding received his B.A. in English from Oxford University, his M.A. in Renaissance Studies at Warwick and his Ph.D. from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. He has held postdoctoral awards in Science, Technology and Society at Stanford University, a three-year British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, was a Fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University and the 2009-10 winner of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the American Academy in Rome. Professor Wilding specializes in Early Modern history of science and communication and has published articles on John Wilkins, Athanasius Kircher, Robert Hooke and Galileo Galilei. He has worked on two projects bringing archival resources to the internet: the Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Project and the Medici Archive Project. His first book, Galileo's Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge is in press with the University of Chicago Press. Professor Wilding has also been commissioned by Penguin Classics to produce a new translation of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems. He has written book reviews for, amongst others, IsisAnnals of ScienceJournal of Modern History and the London Review of Books.