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Fall 2016 CURRENTS

Wednesday, October 19

“The Vanguard is Never Caught Napping: Informants and Police Inside the Black Panther Party in Baltimore, 1968-1972”  

Andy Holter, Historical Studies M.A. Program

My project’s aim is to understand more about how the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (or COINTELPRO) was carried out in Baltimore and in particular the outsized role of undercover operatives and informants in the collapse of the local branch of the Black Panther Party. I will talk about some of the obstacles I’ve encountered in pursuing a history that has been kept secret for so long and from so many sides. I hope to get the group’s input on methodological strategies to get around those obstacles. 


The Quest for Livable Space: Futurity and Sonority in Early Twentieth-Century Black Narrative” 

Maleda Belilgne, Assistant Professor, Africana Studies and English 

Published in serial format between 1902 and 1903, Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self is one of the earliest examples of black speculative writing. In a fantastical format, the work tackles racial passing, African antiquity, European imperialism, the occult sciences, theories of embodiment and double consciousness as well as the power of the African American singing voice. I will explore the soundscape of American raciality in Of One Blood, a radical configuration of shriek and song that abstracts geography, corporeality and temporality to map livable space for black publics.  


Monday, October 24

“Jibooms, Barrels, and Arseholes: Singing Sex in Sea Chanteys.” 

Jessica Floyd, Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. Program and Dresher Center Residential Graduate Fellow

This presentation will focus on the chapter titled “The Good Ship Venus” from my dissertation project. This chapter is a sea song that details rampant eroticism aboard the ship; each member of the sailing vessel is named and caught engaging in a specific sexual act. Within the confines of this particular sailing vessel, how is sex used as a mechanism of dominance and control and in what ways might the song either highlight historical truisms or flagrantly satirize cultural assumptions of the sailing world? 


 “Spanish Movies” 

Erin Hogan, Assistant Professor, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication  

Spanish Movie (Ruiz Caldera 2009) is, like its character named “Ambrosio,” an irreverent and entertaining salad of intertextual references and stock characters for Spanish cinema freaks. Ruiz Caldera’s film illustrates many of the elements that form what I have called the new child-starred cinema (nuevo cine con niño), which is comprised of features from 1973-2010. My talk will examine how Spanish Movie speaks to national cinema, the relationship between genre and nation, the intertextuality of genre cinema and its function.  

Wednesday, November 9 

 “Defining their Past and Immortalizing their Future: Women’s Monuments in Early Modern England”  

Kelly Daughtridge, Historical Studies M.A. Program and Dresher Center Residential Graduate Fellow

My project is a comparison of funerary monuments created by and for women to examine the gendered representations of women’s accomplishments in post Reformation England. As there is less surviving textual evidence for elite women than for men, monuments provide an abundance of information on women for whom there may be no written records. I will discuss the successes and challenges of an interdisciplinary approach used to analyze artistic works from a historical perspective. In order to best incorporate these methodologies, I relied on a case study approach allowing for an in-depth analysis of individual monuments. 


“‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’: Poetry, Translation, and the News”  

Piotr Gwiazda, Professor, English 

I will discuss my current translation project Zero Visibility, a book of poems by Polish writer Grzegorz Wróblewski forthcoming from Phoneme Media in 2017. This book is remarkable for its lyrical candor as well as Wróblewski’s extensive reliance on found language, the preferred mode of Anglophone conceptual writers here acquiring a distinctly Eastern European flavor. As my textual examples will show, literary translators negotiate not only between two languages but between two audiences and their respective horizons of expectation. 


Monday, December 5

What is a Population-Level Cause?” 

Jessica Pfeifer, Associate Professor, Philosophy  

Recently a number of philosophers of biology have argued that natural selection is not a cause. In response, others have argued that it is, but it is a population-level cause. I think both are wrong, because I think representing natural selection as a population-level cause can misrepresent the causal structure of natural selection. However, it’s unclear to me what it means to call something a population-level cause in the first place in this context, and I would love help teasing out what it might mean. 


“The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists” 

Lisa Vetter, Assistant Professor, Political Science  

My current research continues the project I began in The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists (New York University Press, 2017) by examining additional early women’s rights advocates and abolitionists who are not typically considered political theorists. In my presentation, I will discuss the theoretical and methodological challenges of performing interdisciplinary research and of incorporating intersectionality in American political thought.