Center for the Humanities Events

2018-19 Theme: "DIS/UNITY and DIFFERENCE"

Can we celebrate difference and promote unity?

Difference is a reality of community life — as is disagreement about how to negotiate the tensions of celebrating difference and promoting unity. Does focusing on unity paper over difference? Does focusing on difference promote disunity, undermining the possibility of solidarity? In 2018–19, the Center for the Humanities will host a variety of guests who will present topics and approaches that can help us think through these pressing questions in our communities.


Friday, September 14, 7:30 p.m., Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 154

DIS/UNITY: AN INVITATION, an 80-minute site-adaptive interdisciplinary performance project, will be performed at Grinnell College on Friday, September 14. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room 154 of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park Street, Grinnell.  Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project is an award-winning transnational dance theatre project based in Philadelphia, PA and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Propelled Animals is an interdisciplinary artist collective centered on arts and social justice. These collaborative artists are: Barber (Detroit), Esther Baker-Tarpaga (Philadelphia), Heidi Wiren Bartlett (Pittsburgh), and Papa Djiga (Ouagadougou). Their backgrounds range from dance, visual and performance art, to music and the written word. Their work is centered on art as social action and ritual as performance. Encouraging audiences to consider the efficacy of the body, resilience, protest, and radical tenderness as strategies to fight oppression.

This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Center for Humanities, Center for Prairie Studies, Public Events, and the Crane Group.

Katherine Ibbett

Tuesday, September 25, 7:30 p.m., Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101

Compassion and the response to difference (Paris 1650, Chicago 2010)

Katherine Ibbett is Professor of French at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; she has also taught at the University of Michigan and University College London. She received her BA from the University of Oxford, and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Ibbett works on early modern literature, culture, and political thought. Ibbett teaches sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French literature and culture as well as classes in critical theory; she’s currently developing a class on histories of race in France. In terms of research, Katherine Ibbett is the author of Compassion’s Edge: Fellow-Feeling and its Limits in Early Modern France (2017). Compassion’s Edge explores a range of genres, exploring the affective undertow of religious toleration. The book explores the language of fellow-feeling – pity, compassion, charitable care – that flourished in the century or so after the Wars of Religion. Her book is not a story about compassion overcoming difference, but rather about compassion reinforcing divides. This project was supported by a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, and in 2018 won the Biennial Book Prize of the Society for Renaissance Studies. Her first book, The Style of the State in French Theater (2009), addresses tragedy and theories of political action, and she is currently working on a project entitled Liquid Empire, about the writing of water in early modern France and its territories, from the lyric poets of the sixteenth century to the Mississippi settlements of the 1700s. The project takes up the figure of the riverain to think through how river writing shapes a poetics of resource and residency, from the poet to the washerwoman, the Indigenous canoeist to the Versailles nymph. For this new project, Professor Ibbett has carried out research for the American tributaries as a visiting fellow at the John Carter Brown library in Providence and at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Gina Caison

Tuesday, November 6, 7:30 p.m., Burling Lounge

Dramatic (Dis)Unity on Roanoke Island

Gina Caison will examine how popular narratives of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, depend on Native American history in order to establish settlercolonial land claims for the region we now call the U.S. South. These dramatic interpretations of Roanoke reappear across time, often buttressing myths of southern exceptionalism at the expense of living Native peoples. She argues that understanding the history of Roanoke Island and the way it recurs and evolves through popular narratives offers a way to interrogate the troubling obsession with loss that appears in some approaches to Native American and southern studies.

Gina Caison is an assistant professor of English at Georgia State University where she teaches courses in southern literatures, Native American literatures, and documentary practices. Her book Red States: Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, and Southern Studies was published this fall from UGA Press, and her co-edited collection Small-Screen Souths: Region, Identity, and the Cultural Politics of Television (2017) is available from LSU Press. In addition to these projects, Dr. Caison’s work has appeared in journals including The Global SouthMississippi QuarterlyThe Simms Review, and PMLA. Currently, she is the Chair of the Modern Language Association's Executive Committee on the Forum for Literature of the Southern United States, and she is producer and host of the weekly podcast About South