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Humanities Forums Spring 15

The Humanities and Civic Engagement

In 2014-15, the Humanities Forum will highlight “The Humanities and Civic Engagement.” Many of the Forum events address matters of identity and civic belonging, questions of morality and honor in public life, and issues of human rights in an age of globalization. These events shine a light on ways that humanities research and teaching promote civic citizenship and social engagement.


Monday, February 9th
4:30 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Panel Discussion on Slavery By Another Name*
Dr. Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History, George Mason University

By 1865, despite the promise of the Thirteenth Amendment, many former slaves were not in reality free. Based on the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, the film Slavery By Another Name tells the stories of men, charged with crimes like vagrancy, and often guilty of nothing, who were bought and sold, abused, and subject to sometimes deadly working conditions as unpaid convict labor – a system mostly affecting Southern black men that lasted until World War II.

*The film Slavery By Another Name will be screened at 12 p.m. on February 2nd and 4th in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Sponsored by the Africana Studies Department; the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.


Tuesday, February 17th
7:30 p.m., University Center Ballroom
Critical Social Justice: Creating Brave Spaces
Your Powerful Online Voice: Social Media For Social Change
Franchesca Ramsey, vlogger

Best known for her viral parody video of racial microaggressions, Shit White Girls Say…to Black Girls, comedian and vlogger Franchesca Ramsey discusses her approach to harnessing the power of social media across multiple platforms in order to engage in meaningful dialogues about social justice. With her signature humor and insight, Ramsey challenges the prevalence of counterproductive “call-out culture,” while presenting strategies for ensuring accountability and supporting communal learning.

Sponsored by the Women’s Center, Student Life’s Mosaic Center, and the Dresher Center for the Humanities. For information on Critical Social Justice week and its sponsors:


Tuesday, February 24th
4:00 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
A Stirring Song Sung Heroic
William Earle Williams, Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts, and Curator of Photography, Haverford College

A Stirring Song Sung Heroic features the work of photographer William Earle Williams. The history of American slavery is presented across three series of 80 black and white silver gelatin prints.  These images document mostly anonymous, unheralded, and uncelebrated places in the New World—from the Caribbean to North America—where Americans black and white determined the meaning of freedom. Archives of prints, newspapers, and other ephemera related to the struggle accompany the work.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, the Africana Studies Department, and the History Department.


Wednesday, March 4th
7:00 p.m., Performing Arts and Humanities Building, Room 132
there is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in*
(*from Anthem by Leonard Cohen)
Michael Rakowitz, Professor, Art Theory and Practice, Northwestern University

Artist Michael Rakowitz discusses his work in the context of hope and antagonism, and at the intersection of problem solving and trouble-making. Rakowitz’s interventions in urban spaces extend from paraSITE (1998 – ongoing), in which the artist builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior vents of a building’s HVAC system, to Minaret (2001 – ongoing), in which access is gained to rooftops in Western cities and the Islamic call to prayer is sounded.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Visual Arts Department; the Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts; the Center for Arts, Design and Visual Culture; the American Studies Department; and the Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communications Department.


Wednesday, March 11th
4:00 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Joan S. Korenman Lecture
“The Paths We Make as We Go:” the Narrative of an Undocumented Immigrant Woman in the U.S.
Maria Gabriela “Gaby” Pacheco, immigrant rights activist

Activist Maria Gabriela Pacheco is a prominent figure in the national immigrant rights movement and is the program director of TheDream.US, a national organization that provides higher education fellowship opportunities for undocumented immigrants. Pacheco is a leading advocate for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which would assist the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. She is also a staunch advocate for legislative reform that would provide higher education access to thousands of undocumented youths.

Sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Latino/Hispanic Faculty Association.


Thursday, March 26th
4:00 p.m., University Center, Room 312
Evelyn Barker Memorial Lecture
Four Types of Feminist Empiricism
Miriam Solomon, Chair and Professor of Philosophy, Temple University

“Feminist empiricism” is a general term for a range of positions in philosophy of science that aim to combine empirical methods with the insights of feminism. This talk will give an overview of feminist empiricist work in the natural and social sciences in order to showcase four different ways in which feminist critique can improve scientific work. The relationship between the different feminist empiricisms and feminist standpoint theory will also be discussed.

Sponsored by the Philosophy Department, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.


Thursday, April 9th
4:00 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Microscopic War: Fragmenting Vision in Contemporary American Militarism
Rebecca Adelman, Assistant Professor, Media and Communication Studies, UMBC

Editors manipulate the tiniest elements of digital images to obscure combat atrocities. The U.S. Army invests billions in a pixelated camouflage pattern to keep soldiers safely invisible. The NSA disaggregates human targets into miniscule bits of information. These seemingly disparate phenomena comprise a microscopic approach to militarization. Converging to fragment our view of the violence of war, they raise urgent questions about what it means to be spectators, subjects, and citizens.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Media and Communication Studies Department.


Thursday, April 16th
5:30 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
An Artist’s Life at the Border: Critical Partnerships with Science, History, and the Community
Liz Lerman, choreographer, performer, writer and educator

What happens to our various fields of study and action when we collaborate across disciplines and domains? What research methods do we employ in concert and separately that lead to problem solving? How does sharing these creative research ideas sustain inquiry, innovation, and the emergence of new knowledge? In this talk, MacArthur “genius” Fellow choreographer, performer, writer, and educator Liz Lerman will investigate her partnerships with collaborators across disciplines and around the world. She will explore the ways these collaborations build productive new models for creative research, and discuss uses of the feedback process she calls “Critical Response.”

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Imaging and Research Center; and the Center for Arts, Design and Visual Culture.


Thursday, May 7th
4:00 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Lipitz Lecture
India, Pakistan, and Nuclear Weapons: Deterrence Stability in South Asia
Devin Hagerty, Professor of Political Science and Director, Global Studies, UMBC

Recent events suggest that South Asia may be trending toward yet another nuclear-tinged Indo-Pakistani crisis. Meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India has stalled, the disputed territory of Kashmir has seen regular exchanges of fire across the Line of Control (LOC), and Indian strategic elites worry about the possibility of another Mumbai-style terrorist attack. This talk assesses the robustness of Indo-Pakistani deterrence stability, and analyzes the likelihood that another mass-causality attack on Indian soil by Pakistani state-sponsored terrorists would escalate to a war between Pakistan and India.

Sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; and the Social Sciences Forum.