How do scholars become fascinated by their subjects? How do the processes of research, analysis, writing, and teaching change their perspectives of the world? This series, presented in partnership with the Chapel Hill Public Library, explores these questions through public discussions with leading scholars from the NHC. These informal dialogues will highlight the personal aspects of scholarship—how scholars became interested in specific fields of study, what fuels their passion for their subjects, about the larger questions that intrigue them, and the influence their scholarship has on their ways of thinking about and living in the world.Read More
For years, public discourse and policy debates about people with disabilities have focused on the rights of those with medically recognized impairments. Increasingly, however, scholars of disability studies, including Fellow Nancy J. Hirschmann, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, are reshaping the way we see our bodies, the range of freedoms we enjoy, and the limitations we experience. In this podcast, Hirschmann helps us make sense of the complex relationship between freedom and disability. She speaks about her latest book project, Freedom, Power, and Disability, which builds on her work on the intersections of politics, gender, and philosophy.Read More
As they are usually understood, the designations “nuclear wasteland” and “pure wilderness” are opposites; when they converge into nature reserves on the sites of decommissioned nuclear weapons lands we often describe this circumstance as “paradoxical” or “ironic.” Peter Galison argues that the categories of wastelands and wilderness are far from opposites; that their relation is more intriguing (and disturbing) than a binary of purity or corruption. Removing parts of the earth in perpetuity—for reasons of sanctification or despoilment—alters a central feature of the human self, presenting us in a different relation to the physical world, and raising irreducible ethical questions about who we are when land can be classified, forever, as not for us humans.
Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Peter Galison, Harvard University
Tera Hunter and Andreá Williams, “African American Marriage in the Twentieth Century: A Conversation”
For centuries marital status has been an important social marker, providing access to a variety of legal rights, and contributing to a sense of social stability. Further, since marriage has been seen as fundamental to preserving social and familial norms, it has been considered a central element for ensuring socio-economic success and social respectability among African Americans and others. In this scholarly conversation, two of this year’s Fellows will discuss the fraught history of marriage and marital rights for African Americans as well as the ways cultural expectations about marriage have shaped the lives of African American women over the past century.
Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Tera W. Hunter, Princeton University and Andreá N. Williams, The Ohio State University
Scholars in gender and sexuality studies have largely ignored or dismissed attempts to explain the causes of sexual deviation for a variety of reasons. In this podcast, Fellow Benjamin Kahan discusses how his work, exploring “the historical etiology of sexuality,” moves past those scholars’ dismissal of early sexuality theories in hopes of producing a fuller understanding of how contemporary attitudes and notions about sexuality developed.Read More
Non-human, post-human, anti-human. In recent years, historians, political theorists, philosophers and others have increasingly tried to think beyond an anthropocentric perspective to gain insights on a wide range of questions. But these ways of thinking have a long precedent in American fiction. In this podcast, Fellow Kate Marshall, associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, discusses how weird fiction, cosmic realism, and pseudo-science fiction have imaginatively grappled with non-human points of view from the late 19th century to the present.Read More
While we often think of Renaissance-era Florence and the surrounding area as brimming with intellectual inquiry, artistic genius, and political intrigue, music and poetry were also important elements of life and to the Studia Humanitatis, the core of early modern education. In this podcast, Fellow Blake Wilson, professor of music at Dickinson College discusses his current project exploring the music and oral performance traditions of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance — how it was composed and performed as well as its relationship to other art forms in creating the rich civic and cultural life of the Renaissance.Read More
Surviving accounts of the foundation of the early Christian church are extremely limited, leaving scholars with few sources beyond the narrative found in the fifth book of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles. And, for centuries, questions have persisted about the book of Acts itself: Who wrote it and for whom? What was the document’s purpose? And, how historically reliable is the account it provides?Read More