Fellows Lectures Archive (2012-2013)

"G.W. LEIBNIZ'S EXOTERIC PHILOSOPHY"

John Whipple, Department of Philosophy
Date(s): Thursday, 9/6 3:00 PM to Thursday, 9/6 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
John Whipple, Department of Philosophy
“G.W. Leibniz’s Exoteric Philosophy “

 Abstract

In 1710 Gottfried Leibniz published the Theodicy:  Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil.  While it is undeniable that Leibniz engages these perennial topics with enthusiasm and erudition, the precise nature of his views and his aims in the Theodicy remain something of a mystery.  In this lecture I will argue that the key to properly interpreting this text can be found in the insufficiently appreciated distinction that Leibniz draws between exoteric and esoteric presentations of his philosophy.

John Whipple is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in 2007 and joined the UIC faculty that year.  His current research focuses on Leibniz’s mature philosophy, particularly the theory of monads, his account of intra-substantial causation, and his views on creation, conservation, and concurrence.  His articles have appeared in such journals as British Journal for the History of PhilosophyPacific Philosophical Quarterly (2008), and Journal of the History of Philosophy.

A reception will follow.

"REFRAMING GAMBLING: BOURBON MORALITY, PUBLIC TRUST AND THE ROYAL LOTTERY IN COLONIAL MEXICO

Javier Villa-Flores, Department of Latin American and Latino Studies
Date(s): Tuesday, 10/2 3:00 PM to Tuesday, 10/2 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
Javier Villa-Flores, Department of Latin American and Latino Studies
“Reframing Gambling: Bourbon Morality, Public Trust and the Royal Lottery in Colonial Mexico”
Click here to view the flyer.

Starting 1769, colonial authorities promoted the newly created Royal Lottery as an attractive substitute for illegal games in New Spain. But how did the Spanish Crown succeed in “selling” the new product to its subjects? What role did the staging, display, and promotion of specific emotions play in lottery propaganda in XVIIth-century Mexico? This presentation seeks to answer these questions through a detailed study of the emotional palette that accompanied the emergence of lottery consumption in New Spain. I will discuss in particular the challenges faced by the Spanish crown to secure and keep the consumers’ trust as a form of emotional commitment to the state, its products, and the reformists’ ideals of late colonial governmentality.

Javier Villa-Flores is Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Carlo Ginzburg: The Historian as Theoretician (University of Guadalajara, 1995) as well as Dangerous Speech: A Social History of Blasphemy in Colonial Mexico (University of Arizona Press, 2006), that analyzes representation, prosecution and punishment of blasphemous speech in New Spain from 1520 to 1700. He was an Institute for the Humanities Faculty Fellow in 2002-2003. His research has been supported by the Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States, and the National Endowment of the Humanities, among others.

"GOVERNING ARTS DISTRICTS: STATE CONTROL AND CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA"

Yue Zhang, Department of Political Science
Date(s): Tuesday, 10/23 3:00 PM to Tuesday, 10/23 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
“Governing Arts Districts: State Control and Cultural Production in Contemporary China”

Yue Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of
Political Science, UIC
Email: yuezhang@uic.edu
Phone: (312) 996-2396

Contemporary Chinese artists have long been marginalized in China as their ideas conflict with the mainstream political ideology. In Beijing, artists often live on the fringe of society in ‘artist villages,’ where they almost always face the threat of being displaced due to political decisions or urban renewal. In the past decade, however, the Chinese government began to foster the growth of contemporary Chinese arts and designated underground artist villages as art districts.  By examining the profound change in the political decisions about the art community, this talk explores seminal questions about state autonomy in the context of globalization and the relations between political control and artistic freedom in an authoritarian regime.

Yue Zhang is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2008 and joined the UIC Faculty that year.  She has published articles in Urban Affairs Review, Urban China Review and Town Planning Review, among others.  Her current research focuses on urban politics, comparative politics, Chinese politics and cultural policy.  She is working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled The Fragmented City: Politics of Urban Preservation in Beijing, Paris, and Chicago.

"THE COGNITIVE VALUE OF FICTION AND THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS IN PERSONAL IDENTITY"

Aleks ZarnitsynDissertation Fellow, Department of Philosophy
Date(s): Thursday, 1/17 3:00 PM to Thursday, 1/17 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701, South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354

2012-2013 INSTITUTE FELLOWS LECTURES

Aleks ZarnitsynDissertation Fellow, Department of Philosophy

The Cognitive Value of Fiction and Thought Experiments in Personal Identity

Imagine that after a terrible accident destroying most of my body, two of my intact and functionally identical brain hemispheres are successfully transplanted into the healthy bodies of two of my brothers, who look very much like me. The operation is successful and each of the people thinks he is me, recalls the episodes of my life, has my quirks, and in many other ways is psychologically just like me. What happened to me?
Outlandish thought experiments like this one are standard methodology in the philosophy of personal identity. But one might wonder why anybody serious about metaphysics of personal identity would look to such fictions to helps us understand who we most fundamentally are.

I argue for a ‘literary model of philosophical thought experiments’: their cognitive value can be found in thinking of them as like fiction. The cognitive value of thought experiments can be illuminated by thinking of them as incomplete fictions. When we bring the resources of the literary fictional to bear on our understanding of thought experiments we gain insight into the overall coherence of the cluster of features that we associate with a person’s life, and their interaction.
Aleks Zarnitsyn successfully defended his dissertation “Thought Experiments in personal Identity” in the Philosophy Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago in December 2012. His philosophic interests also include Philosophy of Mind and History of Analytic Philosophy. At UIC, Aleks held a UIC Dean’s Fellowship 2011-2012 and was awarded Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student in 2008-09.

' KITSHE, ARTIFACT, COLLECTION: THE LYNCHING PHOTOGRAPHY OF "WITHOUT SANCTUARY" '

Natasha BarnesDepartments of African American Studies and English
Date(s): Thursday, 1/31 3:00 PM to Thursday, 1/31 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701, South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
This talk explores the making of the Allen/Littlefield “Without Sanctuary” collection of lynching postcards and its transformation as a museum exhibit. Drawing upon recent scholarship on material culture and  possessions, Barnes investigates the circulation and reinscription of lynching postcards that began as white supremacist mementos of racial violence and have accrued new meanings through exhibition practice.

Natasha Barnes is an associate professor in the departments of African American Studies and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has held fellowships at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities. In 2009, she was awarded the Cox Family Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Professor Barnes is the humanities area editor of the second edition of Gale’s Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (forthcoming in 2013) and has been awarded a Silver Circle Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009. She is currently writing a book about at the exhibition history of the James Allen/John Littlefield Without Sanctuary lynching photography collection and has published articles in Small Axe, Researches in African Literatures and the Journal of American History.

"COOLIE: NARRATIVES OF RACE, LABOR, AND SEXUALITY"

Smita DasDissertation Fellow, Department of English
Date(s): Thursday, 2/28 3:00 PM to Thursday, 2/28 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701, South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
Smita DasDissertation Fellow, Department of English
“Coolie: Narratives of Race, Labor, and Sexuality”

My lecture will examine literary and cultural representations of “coolie” or South Asian indentured labor from 1890-1965.  Drawing upon a comparative history of labor migrations, I investigate how early twentieth century writers negotiated the terms of citizenship and national belonging through the figure of the deviant, unruly, or “wandering” indentured subject.

Smita Das is a doctoral candidate in the English Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago working on a dissertation titled “Coolie:  Narratives of Race, Labor, and Sexuality.”   In addition to studying literary and cultural representations of Asian indentured labor, Smita Das works on Postcolonial Theory, and Labor and Immigration in the United States.  Her publications include creative work nominated for Best New American Voices in 2006 and 2007.

"CURRENCY AND CIRCULATION IN COLONIAL NEW ENGLAND: NATURAL HISTORY, NATURAL LAW, AND POLITICAL ECONOMY"

Jeffrey SklanskyDepartment of History
Date(s): Thursday, 3/14 3:00 PM to Thursday, 3/14 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354

Lecture Title: “Currency and Circulation in Colonial New England: Natural History, Natural Law, and Political Economy”

Abstract: Circulation was to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries what evolution was to the nineteenth and twentieth, an explanatory framework for a wide range of early modern science and social thought. From bodily fluids, contagious diseases, celestial bodies, oceanic currents, and electrical charges to publications, colonists, coins, and commodities, circulation provided the pattern for many of the “laws of motion” found to govern both nature and society in the burgeoning Atlantic world. This talk will explore the foundational importance of circulation as a master model for modern economic discourse, by examining the ways in which it set the stakes of social struggle over the rise of banking and paper money in England and colonial New England

Jeffrey Sklansky is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His publications include The Soul’s Economy: Market Society and Selfhood in American Thought, 1820-1920 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), awarded the 2004 Cheiron Book Prize from Cheiron, the International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences. His work has been supported by year-long fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is also the editor of the book series, “New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History,” from Johns Hopkins University Press, and associate editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History, currently in the works from Oxford University Press.

"RISK, LOVE, AND ACCEPTANCE IN AMERICAN ADOPTION PRACTICE 1955-1980"

Sandy SufianDepartment of Medical Education, College of Medicine and Department of Disability and Human Development, College of Applied Health Science
Date(s): Thursday, 4/11 3:00 PM to Thursday, 4/11 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities, Lower Level, Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: 312-996-6354
“Risk, Love, and Acceptance in American Adoption Practice 1955-1980”

Sandra Sufian
Associate Professor, Department of
Disability and Human Development, UIC
Email:
 sufians@uic.edu
Phone: (312) 413-0113

“Overcoming” has been a staple trope in discussions about people with disabilities. The narrative of overcoming upholds the ideals of hope, courage, perseverance and independence so important in American national mythology. In this talk, I argue that adoption professionals asked adoptive parent applicants to accept disabled children into their family by overcoming fears of risk about the child’s future, about belonging in the family, and about medical expenses.  Parents were told to replace fear with love and acceptance.  In return, parents who “overcame” would experience the abundant rewards of family life. The “overcoming narrative” fit with a broader shift in adoption practice from a focus on the problem of childlessness to a focus on the need of the a child for a stable family.

Sandy Sufian, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and History in the Department of Medical Education of the College of Medicine and Associate Professor of Disability Studies in the Department of Disability and Human Development of the College of Applied Health Sciences. She is the author of Healing the Land and the Nation: Malaria and the Zionist Project in Mandatory Palestine, 1920-1947 (University of Chicago Press, 2008) and Reapproaching Palestine: New Perspectives on Israel/Palestine (Rowman Littlefield, 2008). She has published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Dynamis, and Science in Context, among other journals. She is currently writing a manuscript on the history of the adoption of children with disabilities in the twentieth century, which has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for the Humanities faculty fellowship.