For Faculty: Seminars
Academic life at the College is at its most stimulating and engaging when faculty members are brimming with new ideas, debating and sharing them with one another, and revising and extending their teaching and research in light of these fresh perspectives. The John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities' Faculty Seminars are designed to support such activity. Held apart from the regular class schedules and for faculty only, seminars offer time for colleagues to weigh concepts integral to contemporary humanistic inquiry and to examine their strategic usage in cultural and scholarly discourse.
The participants–a rotating complement of Haverford faculty selected from many departments across the academic divisions and joined by Mellon Postgraduate Fellows–is challenged continually through wide-ranging reading and discussion to define what they think about the activity of humanistic study and to examine the terms by which they justify it. Together, these faculty forge an intellectual arena in which the irreducible activity of questioning may be nurtured and reinvigorated, renewing the philosophic courage to test the limits of specific discourses while exploring the limitlessness of humanistic curiosity. The Seminars' aim is thereby to generate and disseminate scholars refreshed in their understanding of the competing perspectives that continue to quicken humanistic dialogue, and to enrich teaching, conversation, and research at Haverford in myriad, and often unpredictable, ways.
"The Affective Turn"
Gustavus Stadler (English), Leader
Faculty Participants in 2012-13 Seminar: Indradeep Ghosh, Economics; Lisa McCormick, Sociology; Rajeswari Mohan, English; Donovan Schaefer, Religion (Mellon Fellow); Jill Stauffer, Philosophy/Peace, Justice and Human Rights; Christina Zwarg, English.
In 1990, Fredric Jameson pronounced the "waning of affect" a central symptom of postmodernity, with its supposed celebration of surfaces and pastiche. By the end of the decade, however, affect had emerged as a serious preoccupation in the humanities and social sciences. Although psychology is the original "home turf" for theories of affect, work focusing on this concern has surfaced in such fields as literary studies, religious studies, history, performance studies, sociology, and economics, to name a few. This seminar will be a survey of such work, with some attention to its genealogy, and with some attempt made to develop an overview of affect's position(s) in modern psychology—psychoanalysis and "object relations" approaches in particular.
The schedule of upcoming seminars is:
Faculty Seminar 2013-14: The Anarchist Tradition, Revisited, led by Craig Borowiak (Political Science)
Most commonly associated with adolescent rebellion and conspiratorial bomb throwers, the anarchist tradition proves to be far more complex and influential than caricatures of urban guerrillas, monkey-wrenching eco-terrorists, and nihilistic punks suggest. Anarchist thought has inspired many cultural formations and political experiments around the world. It has shaped the environmental, feminist, cooperative, anti-colonial and labor movements. It has influenced artists from Picasso to Duchamp and novelists from Tolstoy to Leguin. Anarchist currents can be found in theater and dance, as well as in a variety of musical genres, including punk, afrobeat, hip hop, heavy metal and techno rave, as and in classical compositions by John Cage. Anarchism has even left its mark on the natural sciences, as evidenced in the epistemological anarchism of Paul Fayerabend and in the contributions to evolutionary biology and geography made by early anarchists such as Kropotkin and Reclus. This seminar will explore some of these threads, providing relief from the reductive treatment anarchism commonly receives in popular media and academic scholarship alike.
Faculty Seminar 2014-15: Revision/How Time Passes, led by Jill Stauffer (Philosophy/Peace, Justice and Human Rights)
How does time pass in politics, in language, fiction, testimony, in the writing of history and elsewhere? What is time, and how is it—for us—at the same time fixed and subject to revision? This faculty seminar will gather together an interdisciplinary group of thinkers working on various themes related to time for a year-long conversation. One way of addressing the topic orbits around discourses of justice and reconciliation. A main aim of those fields is to create a present moment that redresses a past in order to open up a future not entirely determined by past harms. That is in itself a will to revision: to make a traumatic past manageable one may need to learn how to, as Nietzsche called it, "will backwards." Questions such as these can be pursued in practical terms (what kinds of institutions and procedures succeed in being revisionary?) and in more philosophical ones (what kind of being is a human being such that revision—of self, of the past and present—is possible?). This won't be a seminar only on reconciliation, however: the content of reading and conversation will be determined at least in part by the interests of the seminar's participants—to see how a conversation about time in its various aspects might open up new possibilities.
Faculty Seminar 2015-16: Attending to the Dead, led by Hank Glassman (East Asian Studies)
This is a seminar in the cultural history of death. In particular, it focuses on the distillation and concretization of memory and affect in the form of monuments, gravestones, relics, paintings, sound recordings, photographs, and other objects. We will read broadly in theoretical literature on "the collective representation of death," as Robert Hertz named it in the title of his seminal 1907 essay: the cultural history of death and mourning in various specific cultural contexts, comparative and discipline-raiding readings combined with more abstractly theoretical approaches to thanatology.
Faculty who are on tenure track or on a continuing appointment are invited to apply for the 2014-13 academic year's seminar The Anarchist Tradition, revisited, led by Craig Borowiak, Political Science. Faculty receive one course release for their participation and a $400 book allowance.
To apply, describe your interest in the seminar in a substantial paragraph and indicate specific ways in which your teaching and scholarly interests might contribute to and/or benefit from the seminar. Emily Cronin
Seminar leaders receive an honorarium, a course release, a generous budget for the conduct of the seminar, and a book allowance.
Framing Photographs: Contexts & Transpositions
What do Abu Ghraib and James Joyce have in common? Familiar
images in unfamiliar settings. (7:31)
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Faculty Seminars meet throughout the academic year following a schedule established by their participants, but generally twice a month on a rhythm that allows both for extensive reading and continuity of focus. Though seminar members share responsibility for crafting a syllabus, the seminars are coordinated by individual faculty members who make proposals to the Center for the seminars they would like to lead.
A schedule of seminars for several years in advance are developed periodically. Faculty members may apply to join particular seminars that promise to enhance their own research and teaching interests and afford them rewarding collaborative or interdisciplinary interactions. In addition to offering opportunities to bring the faculty's research into a wider forum for debate and discussion, each seminar will have a broad thematic focus and a shared syllabus of works to be read and discussed in common. In some years, the theme of the faculty seminar may dovetail with the focus of Center speaker or performance/arts series, and the Center may sponsor additional opportunities for seminar participants to interact with visitors. Seminar coordinators and participants will receive released time for their participation (with the seminar coordinator receiving additionally a stipend).
Once the Steering Committee has accepted a proposed topic for a year's Seminar, it will entertain applications to that Seminar from any interested faculty, seeking a lively cross-section of disciplinary interests, research and teaching backgrounds, and career stages.
The John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities periodically solicits proposals for Faculty Seminars in the Humanities. The Center has seminars scheduled through the 2015-16 academic year. We anticipate soliciting proposals for new ones in 2015.
Seminar plans should define the topic and articulate the object of study, along with relevant issues, traditions, or methodologies to be addressed. We expect that the nature of seminars will vary considerably, depending on faculty interest and expertise. Some may be closely related to the seminar leader's scholarly interests, while others may arise from new directions in the leader's intellectual development; some seminars may focus from the outset on clearly defined content, while others may shape themselves more precisely through conversations among seminar participants; some may be organized around particular themes or content, while others may begin from methodological or theoretical questions.
As you ponder the possibilities, you might find it helpful to keep in mind the following elements of the Faculty Seminar program:
- When issuing invitations to faculty members to join particular seminars, the Center's Steering Committee will seek to honor specific interests while also providing the broadest opportunities for faculty participation and the richest assemblage of disciplines and intellectual agenda for each seminar. Participants in the seminar (usually no more than 7), also include a Mellon Post-Doc Fellow, a recent Ph.D. whose expertise will directly contribute to the success of the Seminar.
- With an expanded professional Exhibitions Program now under the wing of HCAH, the Seminar presents opportunities for public exhibitions using College collections and other-sourced materials, under the curatorial direction of the Seminar participants and with the guidance of Exhibitions Coordinator Matthew Callinan.
- Seminar participants will receive a one-semester course release and a discretionary book stipend (conditional to submission of final report: see Guidelines and Proposal Procedures, below), and seminar leaders will receive an additional faculty stipend.
- A fund is made available to the Seminar to defray operating expenses, including books, xeroxing, videos, other materials, and refreshments.