Social Science and Cultural Studies Spring 2013 Speakers Series

3:23 PM

Social Science and Cultural Studies 

Spring Speakers Series


1. Brendan Fernandes

Artist, Brooklyn

February 5th, 5:00

Alumni Reading Room, Pratt Libaray

"Talking Identities: The Art of Brendan Fernandes"

Bio: Born in Kenya of Indian heritage, Brendan Fernandes immigrated to Canada in 1989. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from The University of Western Ontario and his BFA (2002) from York University in Canada. He has exhibited internationally and nationally including exhibitions at The National Gallery of Canada, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Art and Design New York, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Andy Warhol Museum, The Art Gallery of York University, Manif d’Art: The Quebec City Biennial, The Third Guangzhou Triennial and the Western New York Biennial through The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Fernandes has participated in numerous residency programs including The Canada Council for the Arts International Residency in Trinidad and Tobago (2006), The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Work Space (2008) and Swing Space (2009) programs, the AIM Program at the Bronx Museum (2009), The New Work Residency at Harvestwork, NY (2009), the Gyeonggi Creation Center Residency at the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea (2009) and ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. He held the position of Artist in Residence at The School of Visual Arts, NY, in the graduate program for computer arts (2008). He was the recipient of a New Commissions Project through Art in General, NY (2010) and was the Ontario representative for the 2010 Sobey Art Award. His works is currently featured in “Oh Canada” the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside Canada at the MASS MoCa. Fernandes’ work was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada. He is based between Toronto and New York.

His work is represented by Diaz Contemporary, Toronto >

2. Professor David Harvey

Professor of Anthropology, CUNY Grad Center

February 26th-Alumni Reading Room

Bio: He is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). A leading social theorists of international standing, he received his PhD from University of Cambridge in 1961. Widely influential, he is among the top 20 most cited authors in the humanities. His work has contributed greatly to broad social and political debate; most recently he has been credited with restoring social class and Marxist methods as serious methodological tools in the critique of global capitalism. He is a leading proponent of the idea of the right to the city, as well as a member of the Interim Committee for the emerging International Organization for a Participatory Society. In 2007, Harvey was listed as the 18th most-cited intellectual of all time in the humanities and social sciences by The Times Higher Education Guide.

3. Nona Shepphard (co-sponsored with Humanities Department) Tracie Morris

Associate Director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

February 28th

5:30 Alumni Reading Room in conversation with Gregg Horowitz

Bio: Nona Shepphard is a playwright, actress, and Associate Director and Creative Director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). She is also a freelance writer, director and deviser with over 150 productions and 40 commissioned plays to her credit. Her plays for young people, which have received several awards, have been seen in the USA, Canada, Europe and Russia. Her recent writing includes Signs of a Star-Shaped Diva (GraeaeTheatre Company at the Theatre Royal Stratford East). 


4. Professor Amy Gansell (Cisco)

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Design, Pratt Institute

March 6th, 5pm

Seminar Room 2nd Floor Dekalb

Bio: Amy Gansell is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Pratt's History of Art and Design department.  She is a specialist of ancient Mesopotamian visual and material culture, c. 3000 to 500 BCE. Her areas of scholarly interest include ancient aesthetics, figural representation, ivory sculpture, dress, and landscape. She has written a number of essays and articles, as well as contributed to museum catalogues and educational publications. She is currently writing a book about female beauty in ancient Mesopotamian royal court during the early first millennium BCE.

Topic: "Concepts of Feminine Beauty and Adornment in Ancient Mesopotamia Illuminated through Near Eastern Cultural Practices of the Twentieth-century to the Present"
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how can we recuperate notions of beauty from the depths of the past? While we cannot ask the ancient Mesopotamians what they see as beautiful, interdisciplinary research can uncover multiple facets of their aesthetics. In an effort to interpret ancient Mesopotamian ideals of feminine beauty, I have examined surviving artworks, texts, archaeological remains, and Near Eastern cultural practices of the twentieth century to the present. A primary theme of my investigation, across media and disciplines, is adornment. In relation to ancient evidence, this paper particularly discusses my field research, conducted in 2003 and 2006, on traditional Syrian bridal costume and earlier ethnographic reports documenting regional values of feminine beauty.

5. Professor Lisabeth During and Professor Ross Poole (May Joseph)

Lisabeth During: Associate Professor of Philosophy, Pratt Institute

Ross Poole: Professor of Political Science, New School

March 19th, 5pm

Seminar Room 2nd Floor Dekalb

Bio: Lisabeth During is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pratt Instittue. She studied theology at Cambridge University, taught for many years in the Philosophy Department at the University of New South Wales, and now works at Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn. She has published on Hegel, Artaud, George Eliot, Surrealism and André Bazin. Most recently, she co-edited with Lisa Trahair a special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities on Belief in Cinema which revisits themes from André Bazin (17.4, December 2012). Her “The Book of Chastity: Studies in an Ascetic Ideal” will be out soon.

Bio: Ross Poole is the author of Morality and Modernity (Routledge, 1991), Nation and Identity (Routledge, 1991) and many articles and book chapters. Recent work includes 'Two Ghosts and an Angel,' Constellations 16(1) (2009) and 'Misremembering the Holocaust: Universal Symbol, Nationalist Icon, or Moral Kitsch?' in Memory and the Future, ed. Amy Sodaro et al. (Macmillan Palgrave, 2011). He teaches philosophy and politics at the New School for Social Research.

Topic: 'Rape and the Republic: Lucretia, Livy, Augustine, Machiavelli'


The story of Lucretia is well known. She was the virtuous wife of a Roman nobleman who committed suicide after being raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the king. Her body was displayed in the forum and the enraged citizens, led by Junius Brutus, expelled the Tarquins and established the Roman Republic. Slightly less well known is the story of Virginia. Fifty or so years after the rape of Lucretia, Claudius Appius, a patrician with tyrannical ambitions, attempted to enslave the daughter of a respected plebeian in order to have his way with her. When all seemed lost, her father seized a butcher’s knife and killed her -- to ‘make her free,’ as Machiavelli had it. After Virginia’s body was displayed in the forum, the citizens and the army forced Claudius Appius into exile, and the republican order was restored.

What do these stories tell us? What is it about rape that demands a political response? Why is republican rule established – and then re-established – through the death and display of a woman? Do these stories tell us something, not merely about republican forms of political order, but about the nature of sovereignty as such? In addressing these questions, we will consider, not merely the canonical account of Livy, but also the interpretations of later writers, especially St. Augustine, Machiavelli, and Lessing.

We will also consider, though more briefly, whether these ancient stories have anything to say to contemporary liberals anxious to keep the state out of their bedrooms, or to fathers ready to murder daughters in the name of honor.

6. Professor Hanna Rose Shell

Leo Marx Career Associate Professor of Society, Technology, and Society, M.I.T.

March 26th 9:30 Talk in Carl Zimring's Sustainability Class

March 26th 12:30 Crit Viz and Sustainability Student Lunch in 2nd Floor Seminar Room, Dekalb Hall
March 26th 5:30 Formal Presentation, Library Alumni Reading Room

Bio: I work on the skins of things, excavating histories of technology and media from the surface layers of natural and man-made objects. I use tools from the fields of the history of science and technology, media production, art history, media studies and material culture studies to analyze the production, use, and transformation of often-overlooked, even marginalized, material artifacts located at the interstices of the found and the fabricated.

Through my analysis, I break down increasingly untenable divides between production and consumption, art and technology, and invention and reuse. From camouflage netting, old clothes, decomposing vegetable matter, and other artifacts of creative repurposing, I uncover historical shifts in modern epistemologies of self, nature and representation. Through my work, I not only contribute to the academic fields in which I am based, but also provide a vital historical and creative context for present-day concerns with the engineering of sustainable environments through innovations in transformational and biomimetic technology.
Critical media practice is a working method that both guides my analytic framing and provides interpretive data. As an example, my film Blind (2009) and my site-specific installation Camoufleurs (2008) accompany the book Hide and Seek. Producing the film and the installation, as well as the feedback I received from viewers and other participants, was crucial to the development of my theoretical and historical argument.  
More information:

7. Professor Josiah Brownell

Assistant Professor of History, Pratt Institute

April 24th, 5:00 pm

Seminar Room 2nd Floor Dekalb

Bio: I am an assistant professor of history at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I have a law degree from the University of Virginia and a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. My research focuses primarily on comparative settler colonialism, in particular the law and politics of race and state sovereignty in 20th century Africa. I have a monograph published by IB Tauris in 2010 titled: The Collapse of Rhodesia: Population Demographics and the Politics of Race, and have had articles published in The Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, The Journal of Southern African Studies, and The Canadian Journal of History.

Topic: "Selling Settlerism: The Propaganda of the Katangan and Rhodesian Lobbies in the United States, 1960-1980"

Abstract: This paper will analyze the propaganda discourses of the US-based Katanga and Rhodesia lobbies. It is a part of my larger research project comparing the province of Katanga’s attempted secession from the Congo with the colony of Southern Rhodesia’s fifteen year secession from the British Empire. Though separated by several years and several hundred miles, these two secessionist movements make for a natural comparison, but it is a comparison that has not been adequately studied by historians. Deconstructing their propaganda gives a view as to how these regimes and their American supporters viewed independent Africa, the modern West, the United Nations, and the international state system. Among other things, it will highlight the tension between these lobbies’ rhetoric highlighting the affinities between their regimes and the West and their rhetoric which emphasized these regimes’ authentically ‘African’ character. In addition, this analysis will compare and contrast the differences between the rhetoric employed by these two lobbies, and argue that even though they both began within the same decade these two secessionist movements were born into very different regional and global contexts.

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