Spring 2013 Humanities Forum

The UMBC Humanities Forum offers a program of events that illustrate the richness of contemporary work in philosophy, history, culture, language, literature and the arts. The Forum is particularly interested in demonstrating the links that bring together the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences.

Spring 2013 Humanities Forum Lecture Series:

Book Presentation: The City of Devi
Wednesday, February 6,  7:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Manil Suri, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMBC

Award-winning novelist Manil Suri will present the inaugural reading from The City of Devi, which follows a Hindu woman and a gay Muslim man searching for their lovers on the eve of Mumbai’s threatened nuclear destruction. Dr. Suri will discuss the cultural, religious, and geopolitical issues touched upon in his new book, particularly in the context of India’s future.

Sponsored by the Asian Studies Program with support from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Dresher Center for the Humanities


Race and the Civil Rights Movement in Music and Media:  A Panel Discussion
Wednesday, February 13,  4:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Marc Steiner, Founder, Center for Emerging Media and host of the “Marc Steiner Show”
Derek Musgrove, Department of History, UMBC
Michelle Scott, Department of History, UMBC
Panel Respondent: Daphne Harrison, Emerita Professor, Africana Studies, and a founder of the UMBC Humanities Center
Moderated by Kimberly Moffitt, Department of American Studies, UMBC


Blackface Imagery and Its Answers: Stereotyping from the Early Civil Rights Era to the Obama Era
Wednesday, February 27, 7:00 p.m.
Proscenium Theater, Performing Arts and Humanities Building
Thulani Davis, Journalist, Playwright and Author

Tracing the cycles of call-and-response to generations of repeated, reworked and “reloaded” visual stereotypes of African Americans from their early days in print, regeneration in movies and new life on the internet, Thulani Davis will discuss how to “read” the images of objects designed to “serve” the viewer, such as common kitchen items depicting black faces, and show black responses to such imagery and how they in turn are recycled into new blackface. A global phenomenon, visual stereotypes have been used to promote colonization, immigration, products of all kinds, and the politics of inequality.


Past Obsessions: World War II in History and Memory
Wednesday, March 13, 4:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library 7th Floor
Carol Gluck, Distinguished Lecturer, Association for Asian Studies and Department of History, Columbia University

More than sixty-five years after it ended, the Second World War remains a contested issue in history and memory. How do examples from Europe, Asia, and North America help us to understand both how public memory operates in contemporary societies and how entrenched national war stories change—or do not change—over time? And what are the challenges posed by the present surge of memory for what we used to call history?

Sponsored by theAsian Studies Program with support from the Department of History and the Dresher Center for the Humanities
Medicalization, Justice, and the Definition of Health
Wednesday, April 10, 4:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Barker Lecture
Rebecca Kukla, Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Dr. Kukla distinguishes between ‘scientistic’ definitions of health – whose goal is to give an account of health and disease that meets the standards of the natural sciences – and ‘thick normative’ definitions of health  - whose goal is to characterize health in a way that makes the notion useful within a normative account of social justice and health policy.   She proposes a thick normative account of health that defines health in relationship to social institutions and practices, but which is also responsive to naturalistic facts about the body in a way that standard social constructionist accounts of health and disease are not.

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy with support from the Dresher Center for the Humanities


Race and Shakespearean Performance
Daphne Harrison Lecture

Wednesday, April 17, 4:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Ayanna Thompson, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Department of English, Arizona State University

What does it mean to cast Shakespeare in a nontraditional way? How is Shakespeare’s universalism constructed within explicit discussions and debates about racial identity? And, do the answers to these questions impact our understanding of authorship, authority, and authenticity? This talk will examine the ways Shakespeare, race, and performance intersect on the twenty-first century stage.

Co-sponsored by the  Dresher Center for the Humanities and Department of English with support from the Theater Department


The Fracking of Rachel Carson: Silent Spring in an Age of Environmental Crisis  (Rescheduled from March 6)
Monday, April 29, 4:00 p.m.

Albin O. Kuhn 7th Floor

Korenman Lecture
Sandra Steingraber, Environmental Studies and Sciences Department, Ithaca College

A cancer survivor, Dr. Sandra Steingraber has written extensively on the intersection of the environment and public health. She will discuss what we have learned, and failed to learn, in the 50 years since Rachel Carson’s  publication of Silent Spring, and will examine the threat to public health that fracking poses.

Sponsored by the Department of Gender and Women Studies with support from the Department of American Studies, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, Geography and Environmental Systems, Office of the Provost, Social Sciences Forum, and Women in Science and Engineering
Charisma in the Age of Digital Reproduction
Wednesday, May 8, 4:00  p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Lipitz Lecture
Raphael Falco, 2012-13 Lipitz Professor and Department of English, UMBC

Charismatic authority, the most fluid form of leadership, should thrive in the new media environment of digital reproduction, emerging amid swiftly forming groups and capitalizing on unrestricted, private access to the bearers of charisma. Yet, the status quo of charismatic groups dependent on digital reproduction is systematically undermined by reproducibility itself—the driving force of new media.  My talk explores how this inescapable conflict destroys charismatic authority and abandons logged-on group members to isolation.

Sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences with support from the Dresher Center for the Humanities