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 socioeconomic success and social respectability among African Americans and others. 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—with Tania Munz, vice president for scholarly programs at the Center.
Tera Hunter and Andreá Williams, “African American Marriage in the Twentieth Century: A Conversation”
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.
“Digital Humanities” appears to name a set of approaches to computational scholarship in the liberal arts. But what if the most interesting and important thing about digital humanities isn’t the object or approach, but the ideas and motivations behind the establishment and pursuit of DH in the first place? DH represents a rare and overdue tactical approach to humanities research in the contemporary university and there is much to learn from how it has approached the actual reality of contemporary scholarly life in the humanities. Unless scholars learn those lessons, digital humanities won’t be able to grow into more general approaches for humanities scholarship, teaching, research, and management—the future of which might have nothing to do with computers at all.
Literature, unlike the other arts, has no material content. The pictures are made on the mental retina. When we imagine a color, do we think of a piece of language that spells out the name of the color or does a physical (or quasi-physical) event take place in the brain? This lecture traces out the moments at which two great colorists, Marcel Proust and Lady Murasaki, summon color into being both in the worlds of their respective novels, and on the “mental retina” of the reader. Using contemporary neuroscience as well as classic experiments on the imagination from cognitive psychology, the lecture examines the phenomenon of color threads, the background colors against which our imagination carries out its acts of image-production, and the unexpected relationship between color and mortality.
On September 1, 1939, the British government launched a program ominously codenamed Operation Pied Piper, whereby thousands of children were evacuated from the cities to the countryside. This operation brought class conflict into the foreground, laying bare the drastic inequalities of British society, but also provided the foundations for the development of child psychoanalysis. This talk by Maud Ellman examines the impact of the evacuation crisis on psychoanalytic theories of the child, comparing these to the depiction of children in wartime fiction.
North Carolina: The New American Heartland is a multi-dimensional initiative—highlighted by a three-day gathering which took place on September 27–29, 2017—enlisting scholars, artists, journalists, educators, policy experts, activists, community leaders, and others to critically consider North Carolina’s role as a bellwether for the nation. Through the lenses of food, music, and storytelling, the conference provided a forum for examining the state’s complex and myriad cultural identities and for exploring how the arts and humanities can help us better understand and face our shared challenges.
Rachel Jones Schaevitz is a filmmaker and scholar whose work focuses on using media and the humanities to enact social change. She earned her doctorate in media and communications from Temple University, where her research explored how moving images are capable of transcending differences in language and culture. She currently teaches and works with Carolina Public Humanities, creating opportunities to share the work of humanists with the broader public. Join Rachel on September 28, 2017 for a discussion of her work as a filmmaker and media researcher. She appears as part of the Conversations with Scholars series presented by the Southwest Regional branch of the Durham County Library and the National Humanities Center.
How do scholars become fascinated by their subjects and what is it like when they make a new discovery? How does the process of research, analysis, writing, and teaching change their perspectives of the world? Join Professor Jocelyn Olcott of Duke University on September 21, 2017 for a discussion of her new book and about her journey as a scholar of transnational women’s history. Olcott appears as a part of the Conversations with Scholars series presented by the Southwest Regional branch of the Durham County Library and the National Humanities Center.