Events

December 10, 2016 - 1:30am to 3:30am

What a Body Can Do: Art and Science Among the Butterflies

This event is taking place at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater.  FREE, seating is limited, registration recommended.  "I believe that the taxonomic system Oiticica learned at the Museu Nacional provided the conceptual basis for the biological, organic framework of his oeuvre and for what the artist would later term his program-in-progress” —Irene Small, author of Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame, University of Chicago Press Artists have always been inspired by nature. Our most fundamental ideas about beauty, harmony, and form emerged from the disciplined observation of natural phenomena—of plants, animals, and the human body. For Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, an apprenticeship to nature began at home, working for his famous entomologist father José Oiticica Filho at the Museu Nacional. The scientific systems organizing nature—taxonomy, evolution—organized his lifelong art practice. His artwork sought to transform the viewer, like a butterfly, from a social spectator into a political participant by inviting the human body to inhabit, animate, penetrate, and bring the work of art to life. Join Irene Small, Professor of Art History at Princeton University; Lynn Zelevansky, Director at Carnegie Museum of Art; Steve Tonsor, Director of Science at Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and John Rawlins, Curator for Invertebrate Zoology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in lively conversations about ideas that are common to both art and natural history. We will be venturing out into the galleries in smaller groups to explore behind-the-scenes collections with specialists and to discover unexpected commonalities at the crossroads of art and science. Read More>
December 9, 2016 - 8:00pm

Michael Chabon in Conversation with Dan Kubis

This event will be taking place at the Carnegie Music Hall.  Michael Chabon will be speaking with Dan Kubis, assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Humanities Center and host of Pitt’s “Being Human” Podcast. This is a free, ticketed event. For ticket information visit here. There will be a book signing following the event Michael Chabon graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature in 1984. He went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts in writing from the University of California, Irvine. His debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was released in 1988 and became a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of the novels Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Telegraph Avenue, and the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay. He has also published works of young adult fiction, short stories, detective fiction, and two collections of essays. His newest novel, Moonglow, from which he will read selections, will be released in November 2016. Download the Being Human Podcasts on ITunes or here. Sponsored by the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh, the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, the Year of Humanities in the University, the University of Pittsburgh Department of English, and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council as part of the Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative.       Read More>
December 6, 2016 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

"The Theory of the Gimmick," Sianne Ngai, Stanford University

Sianne Ngai specializes in American literature, literary and cultural theory, and feminist studies. Her books are Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Harvard University Press, 2012), winner of the MLA James Russell Lowell Prize and the PCA/ACA Ray and Pat Browne award; and Ugly Feelings (Harvard University Press, 2005).  Sections of both books have been translated into Swedish, Italian, German, Slovenian, Portuguese, Japanese and (forthcoming) Korean. Her new book in process, Theory of the Gimmick, explores the "gimmick" as encoding a relation to labor (the gimmicky artwork irritates us because it seems to be working too hard to get our attention, but also not working hard enough), and as the inverted image of the modernist "device" celebrated by Victor Shklovsky. While both are essentially artistic techniques that perform the reflexive action of "laying bare" the means by which their effects are produced, in one case this action gives rise to a negative aesthetic judgment while it becomes a bearer of high aesthetic value in the other. Extending the focus in Ngai's second book on the historical significance of the rise of equivocal aesthetic categories (such as the merely 'interesting') and with an eye to the special difficulties posed by the very idea of an aesthetics of production (as opposed to reception), Theory of the Gimmickexplores the uneasy mix of attraction and repulsion produced by the gimmick across a range of forms specific to western capitalism. These include fictions by Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Gertrude Stein, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, and Henry James; twentieth-century poetic stunts; the video installations of contemporary artist Stan Douglas; reality television; and the novel of ideas. Ngai was a recipient of a 2007-08 Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and in 2014-15 was a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin, Germany. She served as six-week faculty at the Cornell School for Criticism and Theory in the summer of 2014. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary D. Phil in Humanities from the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark. Read More>
December 6, 2016 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Colloquium: "Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting," Sianne Ngai, Stanford University

602 Humanities Center Sianne Ngai specializes in American literature, literary and cultural theory, and feminist studies. Her books are Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Harvard University Press, 2012), winner of the MLA James Russell Lowell Prize and the PCA/ACA Ray and Pat Browne award; and Ugly Feelings (Harvard University Press, 2005).  Sections of both books have been translated into Swedish, Italian, German, Slovenian, Portuguese, Japanese and (forthcoming) Korean. Her new book in process, Theory of the Gimmick, explores the "gimmick" as encoding a relation to labor (the gimmicky artwork irritates us because it seems to be working too hard to get our attention, but also not working hard enough), and as the inverted image of the modernist "device" celebrated by Victor Shklovsky. While both are essentially artistic techniques that perform the reflexive action of "laying bare" the means by which their effects are produced, in one case this action gives rise to a negative aesthetic judgment while it becomes a bearer of high aesthetic value in the other. Extending the focus in Ngai's second book on the historical significance of the rise of equivocal aesthetic categories (such as the merely 'interesting') and with an eye to the special difficulties posed by the very idea of an aesthetics of production (as opposed to reception), Theory of the Gimmickexplores the uneasy mix of attraction and repulsion produced by the gimmick across a range of forms specific to western capitalism. These include fictions by Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Gertrude Stein, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, and Henry James; twentieth-century poetic stunts; the video installations of contemporary artist Stan Douglas; reality television; and the novel of ideas. Ngai was a recipient of a 2007-08 Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and in 2014-15 was a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin, Germany. She served as six-week faculty at the Cornell School for Criticism and Theory in the summer of 2014. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary D. Phil in Humanities from the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark. Click here to download the reading for the colloquium.  Read More>
December 2, 2016 - 4:00pm

Anna Gibson Lecture: “Pattern and Process: Charles Dickens's Working Notes and Serial Form”

602 Humanities Center Anna Gibson (PhD, Duke University) is assistant professor of English at Duquesne University. Her re-search focuses on the relationship between the novel and the Victorian sciences, particularly psychology and physiology. Dr. Gibson's current book project considers the formal innovations with which Victorian novels articulated a sensory notion of the person. Please contact grogers@pitt.edu for further information Read More>
December 1, 2016 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

HC Colloquium: Why did a PhD in English Just Speak to 500 Health Scientists

Dr. George Gopen will be hosting a colloquium on The Importance of Stress: How to Indicate to Your Reader the Most Important Words in a Sentence in the Humanities Center, 602 Cathedral of Learning. George Gopen is the creator of the groundbreaking method known as The Reader Expectation Approach. It allows writers to predict with great accuracy how most readers will interpret the writer’s text. It therefore gives writers a new inroad to their own thinking process. Dr. Gopen has consulted with and lectured to thousands around the world, assisting writers of law, science, technology, and any other professional prose. Click here to download the paper. Read More>
November 17, 2016 (All day) to November 18, 2016 (All day)

Life, Death and Play: Philosophy in Literature, Sport and Psychoanalysis

Duquesne University's Phenomenology Center presents: The Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center 35th Annual Symposium, a Seminar with Professor Simon Critchley. Read More>
November 15, 2016 - 12:30pm

Mrinalini Rajagopalan Colloquium: "Cosmopolitan Crossings: The Architecture of Begum Samru"

602 Cathedral of Learning, Humanities Center Mrinalini Rajagopalan will discuss her work on "Cosmopolitan Crossings: The Architecture of Begum Samru" with respondents Emanuela Grama (CMU's History Department) and Susan Andrade (University of Pittsburgh's English Department). Download the paper here. Read More>
November 10, 2016 - 4:00pm

Lecture: Retrofitting the Theory of the Novel

Priya Joshi (Temple University) will host a lecture on Retrofit: "A modification made to a product or structure to incorporate changes and developments introduced since manufacture” (OED). Read More>
November 10, 2016 - 12:30pm

Colloquium: Gabriel Rosenberg

602 Cathedral of Learning, Humanities Center The topic of this paper is "The Trial of the Scrub Sire, or How to Use Biopolitics in Environmental History" with responses by Molly Warsh (Department of History) and John Soluri (CMU). This essay explores the intersections among early twentieth century racial thought and strategies for managing livestock biocapital in the “Better Sires—Better Stock” campaign, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry beginning in 1919. The campaign aimed to promote purebred livestock studs and to eradicate entirely “scrub,” or inferior, sires from the nation’s herds. The essay argues that the figure of the scrub sire was deeply interwoven with nationwide concerns about white racial reproduction, white masculine vigor, and the sexual threats posed by non-white men. In this sense, the campaign not only reflected racial logics, it also reproduced them, a fact clearly illustrated in the campaign’s most popular and spectacular element: “the Trial of the Scrub Sire.” At scores of fairs around the nation and drawing audiences of thousands of spectators, the USDA and its allies orchestrated scripted show trials of scrub bulls, charging unlucky sires with “crimes against the herd” for their hereditary inferiority and publicly executing them for biological theft. The trails offered animals a contingent legal personality precisely to adjudicate the biological truth of their bodies and to sort them accordingly, activity that carried significant implications for the power of the state to determine the biological truth of other bodies. Coincident with highly publicized human eugenic trials during this period, the trial of the scrub sire reproduced not only (faulty) knowledge about livestock breeding but also the sexual threat of non-white masculinity and the efficacy of juridical forms and state violence to manage and contain that threat. Download the paper here. Read More>
November 8, 2016 - 12:30pm

Visiting Fellow: Lorraine Daston

Lorraine Daston studied at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and was awarded her Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University in 1979. She has taught at Harvard, Princeton, Brandeis, Göttingen, and Chicago and since 1995 has been Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.  Read More>
November 3, 2016 - 12:30pm

Didier Coste Colloquium: The Poetics and Politics of Literary Translation

40th Floor Babcock Room The title of this position paper carefully avoids the word “ethics”, a word whose return to the foreground of theoretical, or anti-theoretical discourses from the 1990s onwards is, to my mind, highly suspicious in that it could be used to host and veil conventional and conservative notions of ‘morality’, without taking sufficiently into account the spatial dimension of ethos, the Gordian knot of localization in an ever more globalized world, habitat and its displacement rather than habitus and the permanence of mores. The conspicuous absence of the word “ethics” from this descriptive and interrogative title therefore locates theoretically the notion where it misses: between poetics and politics. The questions I shall address are those of a common ground between poetics and politics as its necessity surges from the practice and theory of literary translation, a common ground that it may help us to construct, since it is by no means a theoretical, let alone a pragmatic given. Click here for a copy of the paper. Read More>
November 3, 2016 - 9:00am to November 4, 2016 - 7:00pm

International Symposium

    On November 3rd and November 4th, the Humanities Center will be hosting an International Symposium, with Gamaliel Churate, on the topic of Envisioning the Circulation of Andean Epistemologie in the Age of Globalization. Click here for the conference schedule.    SPONSORS Bolivian Studies Journal Center for Latin American Studies Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures Dietrich School Faculty Research and Scholarship Program Humanities Center Humanities Center John Beverley Research Fund Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences Office of the Provost Office of Undergraduate Studies University Center for International Studies    Read More>
November 2, 2016 - 5:00pm

Didier Coste Lecture: "Home or the World? Cosmopolitanism and Native Universalism, with Special Reference to Indian Literature"

602 Humanities Center CL Didier Coste is a writer (in French and English), literary translator (English, French, Spanish, Catalan -Grand Prix de Traduction Littéraire Halpérine Kaminsky 1977), literary theorist LLM (Maîtrise en Droit Public, Bordeaux 1968), PhD in French Studies (Literary Aesthetics, U. of Sydney 1978), PhD in Spanish (Docteur en Études Ibériques, U. de Provence 1985), HDR en Littérature Comparée (Lille 1992) Read More>
October 27, 2016 - 12:30pm

Colloquium: Waverly Duck

Humanities Center 602 Cathedral of Learning Submissive Civility as a Citizen Response to Excessive Surveillance in a Urban Black Community Waverly Duck (Sociology)  With responses by Ronald Judy (English) and Marcus Rediker (Distinguished Professor of History) Click here for a copy of the paper.  Read More>

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