Arts and Humanities Inaugural Lectures

Each year, the Arts and Humanities celebrate faculty who have recently been promoted to the rank of professor by asking each to present a public lecture on his or her body of research or creative activity and current projects.

All lectures will be in the Faculty Club ABCD Rooms. Tuesday and Wednesday lectures are scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and all Friday lectures are scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. A brief reception will precede each lecture, which will also be followed by time for Q&A and discussion. All are free and open to the public.

2019-2020 Inaugural Lectures

Wednesday, Nov. 20Michael White Headshot

Michael White, Computational Linguistics

"Does Neural NLG Need Linguistics?"

Over the past few years, a deep learning wave has swept over the computational linguistics community, displacing methods that made explicit use of linguistic knowledge and representations. In the subfield of natural language generation (NLG) in particular, neural methods arrived with much fanfare and quickly became the dominant method employed in recent shared task challenges. While neural methods promise robust and flexible models that are easy to train across languages, recent studies have revealed their inability to produce satisfactory output for longer or more complex texts, as well as how the black-box nature of these models makes them difficult to control, in contrast to traditional NLG architectures. In this talk, I will review recent work by my group and others that makes use explicit, linguistically-motived intermediate representations in neural NLG in order to improve coherence and cohesion, and speculate on ways in which computational cognitive models of production and comprehension might find their way into neural NLG going forward.

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Wednesday, Jan. 8Guisela Latorre headshot

Guisela Latorre, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

"Museos a Cielo Abierto: The Spatial Politics of Chilean Street Art"

The return to democracy in Chile in the late 1980s allowed for the emergence of a radical street art movement there. The rise of museos a cielo abierto, or “open sky museums,” is an important component of that movement. These street art museums function as symbolic and physical reclamations of urban spaces commonly controlled by the state and the corporate sector. Latorre will argue that these museos a cielo abierto offer innovative models for activist art action that effectively democratize city streets.

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Wednesday, Jan. 22Ulises Zevallos Aguilar

Ulises Juan Zevallos-Aguilar, Spanish and Portuguese

"Cultural Agency in the Amazon. Indigenous Amazonian Painting on Extractivism"

Together with many Indigenous peoples from Latin American, indigenous artists have used different media such as literature, film, mural and performance to denounce and resist environmental extractivism since the 80s. They saw their people lose ancestral lands and suffer from pollution. They denounced the privatization of their territories, which their governments sold or gave in concession to mining and agrobusiness corporations without consulting them. In this presentation, Zevallos-Aguilar will explore the paintings of Brus Rubio Churay, a Murui-Bora painter, who depicts the effects of a new wave of extractivism of oil and lumber in the Amazon. However, instead of taking a frontal opposition against it, he essays a more complex interpretation and tries to change the idea that the value of the Amazon isn’t only related to natural resources. On the contrary, its value is rooted in bio and cultural diversity.

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Wednesday, Feb. 26Christian Kleinbub headshot

Christian Kleinbub, History of Art

"Conversations around Italian Renaissance Art"

Conversation was both a social fact and a cultural paradigm in early modern Italy. Not only do we know about numerous conversations from historical texts, but many others were enhanced, invented and recorded by the most prominent authors of the period, including the likes of Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Bruni and Baldassare Castiglione. Taking its cue from studies in early modern culture and literature, this talk considers how conversation, the actual activity and the cultural ideal, informed the visual arts. I ask to what extent talking about paintings — not to mention figures shown talking in paintings (e.g. sacra conversazione) — mattered to artists and their audiences in the period. 

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Wednesday, March 18Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm

Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm, Germanic Languages and Literatures

"Grammar at work: The interplay between language and social interaction"

Traditionally, grammar has been viewed as a cognitive system of rules governing the morphosyntax of a given language. In my talk, I discuss a different view of grammar, one informed by research in Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics. In these fields, grammar is viewed as an organized system that is dynamic, context-dependent and emergent in the moment-by-moment unfolding of social interaction. Focusing on practices that speakers use to get others to do things (such as requesting, prompting, etc.), I demonstrate how grammar is shaped by interaction. I do this by examining the interplay between linguistic structure (an imperative versus a declarative), prosodic features (stress, pitch) and embodied resources (gaze, body posture, gesture), as well as their relative and temporal position within conversation. In the second part of my talk, I discuss the implications of the findings of this line of research for second language studies, in particular, for analyzing learners’ language use in interaction and for language teacher training.  

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Wednesday, April 8Greg Anderson headshot

Greg Anderson, History

"Pluriversal History: New Horizons of Analysis and Critique"

Growing numbers of indigenous peoples, social activists and academics are now vigorously challenging the “one-world” metaphysical foundations of our modern capitalist order, variously pressing the case that life can and should be experienced in a “pluriverse” of many different worlds, not just in a universe of one. My talk considers the possibility of a “pluriversal history,” a bold new paradigm of historical practice that would be closely aligned with this larger cause. Using classical Athens (ca. 480-320 BC) as a case study, the talk will show first how this new paradigm can help historians to produce more ethical, more historically meaningful histories, encouraging them to analyze each non-modern way of life on its own ontological terms, in its own more or less distinct world of experience. It then suggests that these new histories could in turn provide a kind of historical charter for the larger pluriversalist cause, thereby supporting ongoing efforts to critique the “one-world” world of capitalist modernity and build more humane, more sustainable alternatives.

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Friday, April 24Declan Smithies

Declan Smithies, Philosophy

"The Problem of Morally Repugnant Beliefs"

This lecture explores a theoretical problem in moral epistemology. Can we be justified in holding false beliefs about moral principles? Epistemological orthodoxy says we can have justified false beliefs about any topic, including principles of morality. But is it really tolerable to suppose that we can ever be justified in holding morally repugnant beliefs, such as the belief that it's permissible to harm people just because they are members of certain demographic groups? Smithies will argue on principled grounds that the answer is no and will explore the consequences of this conclusion for theories in moral epistemology.

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2018-2019 Inaugural Lectures

Friday, Oct. 26:
Ludmila Isurin, Slavic and Eastern European Languages and Cultures

"Down Memory Lane: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Memory Studies"

In this talk, I will focus on three areas of memory studies, such as loss of memory for the first language, autobiographical memory, and collective memory; and I will take the retrospective and the introspective look at my contribution to these fields. I will discuss the joys and perils of being an interdisciplinary scholar and provide my take on the past, present, and future of memory studies to which I have been contributing for almost two decades. From the discussion of methodological issues faced by research on memory in all three fields, to the problem of finding an outlet for publication of interdisciplinary research on memory, this talk will be a travel down memory lane as well as my take on the future of memory research.

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Wednesday, Dec. 12:
John Grinstead, Spanish and Portuguese, Linguistics

"Interface Delay"

Patterns of child language development suggest that anaphora is challenging for children; more so for children diagnosed with specific language impairment (SLI). Anaphora suffers a prolonged developmental trajectory in nominal syntax with the delay of adult-like use of definite noun phrases of all types. In the verbal domain, temporal anaphora is similarly delayed. Because of the many roles played in syntax by tense, we find a set of cascading effects across language. In children diagnosed with the genetically-rooted, heritable language disorder known as specific language impairment, we find this pattern of delayed development of anaphora repeated, but prolonged and more severe. Tense marking in particular can be used as a clinical marker of SLI, across a range of languages, including Spanish. In the domain of meaning, we find a different pattern of emergence, perhaps more related to the language-internal integration of semantics/pragmatics with other sub-domains of language, including the sound system. There is a notable effect of the development of non-linguistic, domain-general cognitive abilities, including inhibition, on children’s interpretations of an array of quantifier types. Elucidating the interactions among cognitive domains in language is at the center of the projects in our lab.

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Wednesday, Feb. 27:
Stephanie Smith, History

"The Revolutionary Politics of Art in Postrevolutionary Mexico" 

During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, Mexico City acted as a nexus of radical artists and intellectuals — from Mexico and abroad — who met, organized, and created their works in this lively city. My talk analyzes the complex interactions of these folks from different parts of the world and the ways they shaped Mexico’s postrevolutionary cultural and political environments. In addition to Mexico’s leading artists, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, this presentation will consider the photographer Tina Modotti (from Italy); the founder of the journal Mexican Folkways, Frances (Paca) Toor (from the U.S.); the printmaker Pablo O’Higgins (from the U.S.); the controversial arrival of Leon Trotsky (from the Soviet Union); and others.

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Wednesday, March 20: 
Fernando Unzueta, Spanish and Portuguese

Newspapers and Literature in 19th-Century Latin America

Newspapers were central to the development and institutionalization of literature in Latin America’s 19th-Century.  They provided the main outlet for the publication of narrative fiction and discussions about literature.  I will explore this process in the Bolivian case, suggest that literary texts were read differently in the pages of newspapers, and that this interconnectedness contributed to their role forging a national imaginary.

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Wednesday, April 10: 
Scott Levi, History (Rescheduled)

"The Khanate of Khoqand, 1709–1876: A Journey into Central Asian History"

This talk will introduce key themes from my recent book on the Khanate of Khoqand, a surprisingly dynamic state that emerged over the course of the eighteenth century in eastern Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley.  The talk will address the ways that political, economic, technological and environmental developments influenced life in early modern Central Asia and contributed to the rise, and fall, of Khoqand.  It will also identify a number of ways that Central Asians influenced the policies of their much larger imperial neighbors on the Eurasian periphery – especially Tsarist Russia and Qing China.

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Wednesday, April 17:
Caroline Hong, Music

"Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125”

(Please note: This performance will be held in Weigel Hall auditorium)

Caroline Hong, professor of piano, performs Franz Liszt's two-piano transcription of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in collaboration with pianist Ryan Behan.

I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso;
II. Molto vivace;
III. Adagio molto e cantabile; I
IV. Finale

Franz Liszt redefined the piano through his compositions for that instrument as well as his own virtuosity at the keyboard. He also helped circulate many other composers' music by making piano transcriptions and paraphrases. He transcribed Beethoven's nine symphonies brilliantly as well as faithfully at a time before recordings and repertoire-driven orchestral concert series. In doing so, he helped place these works at the center of the musical canon.

Liszt's two-piano transcription (1851) of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is especially important. This was the symphony, closing with a setting of Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" for vocal soloists and chorus, that opened instrumental music up to the human voice and verbal expression. By crossing those boundaries, Beethoven's profound final symphony became important both to Liszt's development of the symphonic poem and to Richard Wagner's operas. Even with the loss of words and voices — and the substitution of two musicians for a hundred — Liszt keeps intact the Ninth's ability to deeply move its audience.

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Wednesday, April 24:
Gabriella Modan, English

"New Urban Chic: The Semiotic Landscape of Gentrification in US Cities"

City streets are texts that are written in words, images, and architectural features. Urban residents and visitors alike make judgments about city spaces based on the ideological frameworks they bring to interpreting the particular conglomeration of signs and symbols in a given space. In this talk I discuss the semiotic landscape of Washington, D.C., a city undergoing rapid gentrification. Focusing on name signs containing the work urban, I examine how, as the city gentrifies, the semiotic landscape contributes to a physical and symbolic reconfiguration of urban space as well as a shift in the meaning of the word urban itself.

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2017-2018 Inaugural Lectures

Maria IgnatievaWednesday, Nov. 29: Maria Ignatieva, Theatre

"Women Behind the Scenes: Stanislavsky, the System and Female Actors"

The Stanislavsky System, which has been practiced in the U.S. for over 80 years, is wrapped in the lore of facts and legends, conflicting teaching approaches, failures and international acting successes. In fact, it mirrors the path of its development. In my presentation, I will talk about female actors who have contributed to every single stage of the System from Stanislavsky’s first experiments until his death as muses, reluctant followers, saboteurs, faithful colleagues and devotees.

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Jeanine ThompsonWednesday, Nov. 29: Jeanine Thompson, Theatre

"From International Legend to Contemporary Influencer: Building the Legacy of Marcel Marceau at OSU"

In this lecture, Professor Thompson will share a bit about herself as an artist and will speak about her work with world-renowned mime artist, Marcel Marceau. Thompson will address what they accomplished together and how that work has influenced the development of the Ohio State Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute Library’s Marcel Marceau Special Collection Archive; research that utilizes Marceau’s motion-capture data; and the dream to development a first-of-its-kind program here at Ohio State. 

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Roger BeebeWednesday, Dec. 13: Roger Beebe, Art

"Meaning and Material: Two Forms of Film Research"

This presentation explores the two poles of Professor Beebe's film work: one focused on a material investigation into the basic properties of the medium of film, and the other a more essayistic practice concerned with the transformation of physical and mediated landscapes by the forces of global capital.

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Cynthia ClopperWednesday, Jan. 24: Cynthia Clopper, Linguistics

"Sociolinguistic Competence: What Children Know about How Speech Indexes Regional Background "

Adults use information in the speech signal to identify properties of their interlocutors, such as where they are from. Children must acquire this knowledge about the relationships between speech variation and regional background as part of the language-acquisition process. The results of a series of studies exploring children’s and adults’ perception of regional dialect variation in American English demonstrate both acquisition of the fundamental skills underlying adult-like sociolinguistic competence by preschool-age, as well as protracted continued development of sociolinguistic categories into adolescence, when adult-like performance is achieved.

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Abe RothWednesday, Jan. 31: Abe Roth, Philosophy

"The Practical Significance of Group Reasons for Individual Agents" 

One reason I had for biking to work today is that I enjoy it. I also took myself to have another reason – one having to do with the large-scale environmental damage associated with a car commute.  But is this really a reason for me to bike? Whether I bike or take a car makes no significant difference in averting climate disaster. We collectively or as a group seem to have reason to ride our bikes; it makes a substantive difference if many or all of us do our parts. But since it makes no significant difference whether I join in, it’s not clear how this fact about the group’s reason for action translates into a reason for me. How are we to respond to this skeptical “makes-no-difference” argument? I concede that there is a sense in which the environmental considerations are only a reason for groups that are large enough. I will argue that an individual can, nevertheless, be entitled to this reason, and this is what enables the individual to act for it. By invoking a distinctive form of agency exercised when acting with others, I hope to show how it is that group reasons can have a significance for an individual agent they otherwise would not have.

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Carolina Lopez-RuizWednesday, Feb. 14: Carolina Lopez-Ruiz, Classics

"Orientalism: My Way"

Long after “orientalism” was identified as a problem in the representation of the Near East, the field of Classics still adheres to Greek and European exceptionalism, which results in an siloed view of ancient Mediterranean cultures. In her work on Greek and Near Eastern contact, López-Ruiz explores the common ground between Greek and Semitic cultures, especially the Phoenicians, to offer a more integrated view of the classical world.

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Shannon WinnubstFriday, Feb. 16: Shannon Winnubst, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies*

"Doors: An Object Lesson in Race and Sexuality"

This project engages theory as a mode of world-making to construct a more robust affective syntax than classical liberalism offers for the complex formations of race. By locating the formation of modernity in a violent anti-black metaphysics, this lecture places incipient “whiteness” in relation to two doors: the Door of No Return that Dionne Brand names the catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and the door of the domestic bedroom that anchors Michel Foucault’s genealogies of modern sexuality. What might it mean to inhabit the spaces between these doors? How might this alter our understandings of both race and sexuality?

*Professor Winnubst's lecture will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Ohio Union Senate Chamber room.

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Friday, April 13: Simone Drake, African-American and African StudiesSimone Drake

Racial Angst from the Silver Screen to the White House

For over eight years the image and political ideologies of a singular black man dominated global media. The election of Barack Hussein Obama as the forty-fourth United States president was both a landmark for a nation built upon slavery, or, as Toni Morrison has called it, “on the backs of blacks,” and an occasion that rebirthed egregious public acts of anti-blackness. The Atlantic writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates’, recently identified reality TV star and business mogul Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the Commander-in-Chief as “the first white president,” while The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s Op-Ed declared: “Trump wants to be Obama.” The analysis by these two journalists position Obama as a specter of black masculinity that even when departed from The White House haunts Trump. This logic of haunting is not unique to Trump; it began manifesting in popular film in a particular way at the closing of the twentieth century. This presentation discusses such films as a foreshadowing of the current social and political climate driven by an angst surrounding white masculinity that is haunted by black masculine specters.

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Lisa VoigtFriday, April 20: Lisa Voigt, Spanish and Portuguese 

"Representing Brazil in Early Modern Europe"

Focusing on print illustrations and theatrical performances of “Brazilians” in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, this talk offers an overview of two current projects: one explores the recycling and copying of travel account illustrations, and the other the participation of non-European peoples in public festivals through music, dance and performance. Both projects look beyond the category of the exotic to explore how knowledge of the wider world circulated among European publics, including in ways shaped by non-Europeans themselves.

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This project engages theory as a mode of world-making to construct a more robust affective syntax than classical liberalism offers for the complex formations of race.  By locating the formation of modernity in a violent anti-black metaphysics, this lecture places incipient “whiteness” in relation to two doors: the Door of No Return that Dionne Brand names the catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and the door of the domestic bedroom that anchors Michel Foucault’s genealogies of modern sexuality.  What might it mean to inhabit the spaces between these doors?  How might this alter our understandings of both race and sexuality?  

2016-2017 Inaugural Lectures

Wednesday, Oct. 19: Angus Fletcher, EnglishAngus Fletcher

"The Hollywood Hack: How Story Science Can Reprogram Studio Movies and TV"

Fletcher will discuss how cognitive studies and other story science techniques have facilitated the development of progressive narrative structures in his recent projects for Disney, Universal and Amazon.

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Shannon Winnubst

Wednesday, Nov. 16: Shannon Winnubst, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies

"Decolonizing the Human: The Ontology of Mind-Blowing Racism"

Humans are a failed species: full of violence against one another and the planet that sustains us, we seem unable to constrain our destructive impulses, despite our ongoing self-congratulatory celebrations of the rational.  Drawing on theoretical work in both decolonial and black studies, this lecture frames the problem of “the human” through the question of its emergence, rather than its demise or eclipse.  The lecture will explore accounts that locate the emergence of the universalizing idiom of “the human” in the 15th century contemporaneous developments of Renaissance humanism and European (especially Iberian) colonialism, thereby locking the figure of the human directly into the violence of colonialist racialization.  By rotating the geohistoric axis of paradigms of both humanism and the concept of race from normative 18th-19th century northern European-northern American accounts, I will speculate on what this might tell us about the ontology of one of the most disturbing social phenomena of our contemporary times: mind-blowing racism. 

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Wednesday, Jan. 18: Danielle Fosler-Lussier, MusicDanielle Fosler-Lussier

"The United States Information Agency and American Music Abroad"

In the 1950s and ‘60s, the United States Information Agency shipped sound recordings and printed music all over the world. The USIA’s music collections embodied an attractive portrait of America’s ethnic and stylistic diversity: jazz, classical, folk, musical theater, and popular songs were well represented. This talk shows that the USIA’s program not only documented American music as it was, but also offered incentives that meaningfully shaped its creation.

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Theresa Delgadillo

Wednesday, Feb. 8: Theresa Delgadillo, Comparative Studies

"Afro-Latinidad in Fiction and Film"

Delgadillo will discuss her current research on Afro-Latinidad in  Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Chicana/o texts – film and literature, as a new line of inquiry that continues her enduring interest in the intersections of religion, gender, race, and nation. She will explore the cultural and narrative significance of cinematic and literary representations of worldviews and practices rooted in the experience of African Diaspora as well as uniquely and distinctly Latina/o in a variety of ways. 

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Wednesday, Feb. 15: Susan Lawrence, HistorySusan Lawrence

“The American Cadaver, 1880-1980”

In the 1960s-1970s donated bodies gradually replaced unclaimed bodies for human dissection in medical education. Professor Lawrence examines why this happened and discusses the implications for the anatomical laboratory and its students.

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Wednesday, March 22: Georgios Anagnostou, ClassicsGeorgious Anagnotou

"European Americans: How they Matter"

It is not uncommon for scholarship to dismiss the cultural relevance of European Americans, or even to interrogate their identity narratives as counter-productive to interracial understanding. This talk will explore the complexities of the category "European Americans" and discuss why and how their study matters. 

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Wednesday, April 26: Norah Zungia-Shaw, DanceNorah Zungia-Shaw

"What Else Might Physical Thinking Look Like?" 

Professor Zuniga Shaw's research focuses on placing choreographic ideas at the center of interdisciplinary research and creativity. She will share her work as a creative director for digital projects and her vision for fostering better futures through collaborations driven by creative motion and physical thinking. 

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2015-2016 Inaugural Lectures

Wednesday, Oct. 21: Dr. Peter Mansoor, History

Peter Mansoor.“The Iraq War and the Rise of ISIS”

The seizure of much of northern and western Iraq last year by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, shocked the world. The United States and its allies are now wrestling with the dangers ISIS poses and what, if anything, they should do about it. Dr. Peter Mansoor will discuss his research on the Iraq War and its role in the birth of ISIS, a terrorist group spawned from the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq by the Sunni tribal awakening and the U.S. surge in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. 

Wednesday, Nov. 18: Margaret Newell, History

Margaret Newell."A Tale of Two Kidnappings"

In 1676, two New England Indian families experienced the horror of being sold into Atlantic slavery.  One family made it back to freedom.  In telling their stories, Professor Newell will reveal the hidden history of Indian slavery in early America.

Wednesday, Dec. 2: Scott Schwenter, Spanish and Portuguese

Scott Schwenter"Would you just die already? Priming and Obsolescence in Grammar”

Why won’t some grammatical elements in a language just die out? In this talk, I provide evidence to show that persistence in discourse, the priming of a grammatical item G by some prior mention of G or one of its variants in discourse, plays a crucial role in keeping obsolescing grammatical items from dying out completely. Examples will be drawn from Spanish, Portuguese, and English. 

Wednesday, Jan. 27: Chris Pincock, Philosophy

Chris Pincock."Mathematics and Scientific Change"

Mathematics is a central part of scientific activity and seems to be responsible for many of the successful aspects of science. This talk considers a few of the ways that the scientific use of mathematics has changed over time. These changes exhibit an increasing awareness of how mathematized science can attain knowledge of a mind-independent reality, even concerning what is remote from experimental testing. I argue that this sort of reflection gives us a good reason to be optimistic about the long-term prospects for supplementing and correcting our scientific accounts of the natural world. 

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Janice Aski, French and Italian

Janice Aski."Trading places: Double object clitic pronouns from medieval Florentine to Modern Italian"

In American English we can say "I give it to you" or "I give you it". Medieval Florentine had a similar alternation: "Lo ti do" vs. "Te lo do". However, in modern Italian, only the latter (Te lo do) is acceptable. In this talk I argue that variation in language is rarely, if ever, random, and provide evidence that suggests how these two variants were used in medieval Florentine and how and why the alternation was lost. 

Wednesday, March 9; Jennifer Siegel, History

Jennifer Siegel."Money and Power:  Financial Diplomacy and the Sinews of War and Peace"

This talk will examine the give and take between high finance, international politics and domestic pressures through the lens of the early twentieth century Anglo-Russo-French financial relationship.  The story of British and French private and government loans to Russia in the late imperial period up to the Genoa Conference of 1922 is a classic tale of money and power in the modern era—an age of economic interconnectivity and great power interdependency.  Imperial Russia was the foremost international debtor country in pre-World War I Europe.  From the forging of the Franco-Russian alliance onwards, Russia’s needs were met, first and foremost, by Russia’s allies and diplomatic partners in the developing Triple Entente.  In the case of Russia’s relationships with both France and Great Britain, an open pocketbook primed the pump, facilitating the good spirits that fostered agreement.  And Russia’s continued access to those ready lenders ensured that the empire of the Tsars would not be tempted away from its alliance and entente partners. 

Wednesday, March 30: Wynne Wong, French and Italian

Wynne Wong.Liaisons: Building Bridges Between Second Language Acquisition Theory, Research, and Classroom Practice”

Processing Instruction is a type of pedagogical intervention that is designed to help second language learners acquire specific grammatical structures by teaching them to process input correctly and efficiently. Based on a theory of input processing, the intervention does not require production of target structures during training, and uses instead structured input to give learners practice with input processing. This talk will discuss the theoretical framework behind Processing Instruction and how this research paradigm resulted in the creation of Liaisons, a French textbook and film that bridges the gap between second language acquisition theory and classroom practice.

Wednesday, April 27: Joan Cashin, History

Joan Cashin."Subject Matter: Material Culture in the Civil War Era"

Historians of the United States have recently discovered, or rediscovered, the material dimension of the human past. Scholars have done a good deal of excellent scholarship on the colonial period, the late nineteenth century, and the twentieth century, but they have neglected the Civil War era. In this talk, I will explore the material culture of the War, specifically the Revolutionary-era artifacts that the region contained when the war erupted in 1861. The South included large physical landmarks associated with the Revolution, such as forts, remnants of forts, and homes of Revolutionary figures, as well as a widely dispersed array of hundreds of personal objects owned by the Founders and their relatives. Soldiers in both armies, plus members of the civilian population, viewed these artifacts as precious relics that had to be protected from the enemy. Their struggle over these artifacts can provide new ways of thinking about material culture and collective memory in nineteenth-century America. 

2014-2015 Inaugural Lectures

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014: Hannibal Hamlin


Hannibal Hamlin."Tobit's Dog: Reading and Writing the Bible in Renaissance England"

Though not widely known today, the apocryphal (for Protestants) Book of Tobit was one of the most popular biblical texts in the 16th and 17th centuries. The bizarre story involves a pious old man blinded by sparrow's dung, the archangel Raphael disguised as a hired servant, a woman beloved by a demon who strangles her first seven husbands, a monstrous fish with a magic liver, and the only domestic pet—a dog—in the Bible. In this talk Hamlin will explore the story's reception history in the writing of English men and women of all sorts, including poets and playwrights, preachers and prophetesses, many of whom seem to have been particularly fascinated by the loyal but curiously irrelevant dog.

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014: James Genova

History (Ohio State-Marion Campus)

James Genova.“Africa in the World: Transcending the Nightmare of the Past”

This lecture examines the struggle for liberation and development through the lens of early West African cinema during the transition from colonial rule to political sovereignty. It explores broad theoretical frameworks for analyzing historical processes as well as the construction of personal and communal identities in the context of “doing” African history. In the tradition of the progenitors of West African film, the paper situates the African experience in the global context making an argument for a African contribution to globalization while challenging essentialist renderings of Africa and Africans. The story of Africa is at once revelatory of humanity’s fight for a better, more just world and illustrative of the profound structural barriers that inhibit the attainment of that vision.

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014: Sabra Webber

Comparative Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Sabra Webber."Retrospective Light"

British anthropologist Marilyn Strathern writes, “Indeed, there is sense in which significance inevitably lies in what things become, for it is the retrospective light that picks them out at all.” This lecture’s overarching theme is a consideration of some of what has been left out of that retrospective light over the past 250 years. What Homi Bhabha calls “spillage” is bound to occur as we categorize, compartmentalize, hierarchize and generalize, in effect, colonize the past.   Recognizing a more intricate past and foregrounding points of rupture embedded in a Western-centric grand narrative enables a more productive relationship between past and present.  Data are drawn from recent research in folkloristics, anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines.

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014: Laura Lisbon, Art

Laura Lisbon."Some Notes on Painting"

Structured as an artist talk, the presentation will address Lisbon's studio practice from the last five years, a practice in which the development of the “set-up” has opened up a rethinking of the critical limits of painting. The hinge between painting and drawing has also been a focus of Lisbon's work, as well as a continued interest in the intersections between concepts of the tableau, language and architecture.

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015: Paul Reitter

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Paul Reitter."Bambi's Jewish Roots"

This lecture will reconstruct the complex—or at least idiosyncratic—Zionist commitments of the Viennese journalist, novelist, playwright and pornographer Felix Salten—and, having done so, it will attempt to reveal how those commitments echo throughout Salten's most famous book: Bambi (1923).

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015: Lucy Eldersveld Murphy


Lucy Eldersveld.“Imagine Them to be a White People: Fur Trade Families Resisting Racialization in the Era of American Indian Removal”

In the early 19th century, thousands of families of mixed Native American and European ancestry lived in more than 50 communities around the U.S. Midwest.  Unlike Hispanics in the Southwest or the Métis of western Canada, however, these populations avoided becoming a marginalized, racialized minority as a result of political factors, economic adaptations and the efforts of women as mediators, and they avoided removal.  This lecture will offer case studies of key individuals and events in the Great Lakes region in a comparative transnational context.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015: John Davidson

Germanic Languages and Literatures

John Davidson."Ecological Visions in Post-WWII Germany"

Increasingly, scholars stress the need for integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental-change research to counteract conceptions about the environment descended from the decades following WWII. This presentation returns to the art and thought of the “late modernist” period (1946-82) to ask about the role of aesthetic works – especially moving and still film images – in reorienting ourselves to the environment. While some modernist theories of the post-WWII era left much to be desired in their approach to the environment, late modernism exhibits complexly intertwined responses to technology and progress that remain of value.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015: Kevin Scharp


Kevin Scharp."Philosophy and Defective Concepts"

From familiar concepts like tall and table to exotic ones like gravity and genocide, they guide our lives and are the basis for how we represent the world. However, there is good reason to think that many of our most cherished concepts, like truth, freedom, knowledge, and rationality, are defective in the sense that the rules for using them are inconsistent. This defect leads those who possess these concepts into paradoxes and absurdities. Indeed, I argue that many of the central problems of contemporary philosophy should be thought of as having their source in philosophical concepts that are defective in this way. If that is right, then we should take a more active role in crafting and sculpting our conceptual repertoire. We need to explore various ways of replacing these defective concepts with ones that will still do the work we need them to do without leading us into contradictions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015: David Clampitt


David Clampitt."Aspects of Mathematical Music Theory"

After an introduction to some topics one studies generally in the field of music theory, via music by J. S. Bach, this talk will present a recent approach to fundamental elements of music--scales, modes, triads--through the lens of mathematics. Often when mathematics has been applied in a musical context, it has referred to acoustics, numerical ratios, or considerations of 12-tone serialism. In the current context, abstract structures are captured through the language of algebraic combinatorics on words, working with very unconstrained monoids of two-letter words. The argument will at least be broached that the structures uncovered are consistent with the intuitions of theorists in the historical development of music.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015: Michael Mercil


Michael Mercil.“An Artist in a Public University”

This multi-media presentation of recent Living Culture Initiative projects is focused on Mercil’s use of the Ohio State campus as his artist’s studio and platform for addressing the question, “If this university is a place not only for cultural reflection, but is also a site for cultural production, then what is the nature of the culture we produce here?”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Caroline Hartig


Caroline Hartig.“Solo Clarinet from Classical to Klezmer”

This lecture will celebrate  some of the repertoire, composers, and performers that have influenced the evolution of the clarinet into a solo instrument of eminence. This collection displays the versatility and communicative powers of the clarinet and highlights its ties to opera in the 19th century and its development, during the first decades of the 20th century, in the competitive environment of the Paris Conservatoire as well as the resurgence of Klezmer music into the 21st century.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015: Joseph Zeidan

Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Joseph Zeidan.“The canonization of the Greco-Roman form of theater in the Arab World”

This lecture will explore the ramifications of introducing the Greco-Roman form of theater into the Arabic culture in the middle of the 19th century. It will describe the process in which the European aesthetic was able to supplant the indigenous theatrical aesthetic. Zeidan will propose a new approach for writing the history of Modern Arabic theater.

2013-2014 Inaugural Lectures

Tuesday, October 8, 2013: Yana Hashamova, Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures

Yana Hashamova.“War Rapes: Redefining Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Nationhood”

Based on Slavenka Draculic’s S. A Novel about the Balkans (1999) and Jasmila Zbanic’s Esma’s Secret (2006), this paper considers the horrors of war rapes and their consequences for a generation of women who were forced to experience motherhood under transgressive circumstances, the mytho-creation of fatherhood, and the new(old) face of nationhood in Bosnia.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013: Rebecca Haidt, Spanish and Portuguese

Rebecca Haidt.“Mobilities in Madrid’s popular theatre: majo narratives of unsettledness, transport and displacement”

 Majos are some of the most important characters in popular plays and skits produced in Madrid between 1760 and 1825.  Plotted into working-class neighborhoods, Madrid's theatrical majos are construed as salt-of-the-earth defenders of a "Spanishness" resistant to elite or foreign interests.  However, what about majo accounts of immigration to the city, harassment by authorities, arrests for “vagrancy”, and transport to arsenals and African presidios?  The lecture approaches majo dialogues as a heterogeneous and fragmented collective narrative about 18th and 19th century mobilities, requiring analysis within new frameworks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014: Mark Bender, East Asian Languages and Literatures

Mark Bender.“Life from the Sky: Eco-Genealogy and Cosmographic Epics from Southwest China and Beyond”

The epic poem, the Book of Origins, is a major ritual text of the Nuosu (Yi) people of Southwest China.  This lecture will discuss the epic and other traditions which meld distinct features of the local environment with human experience.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014: Ben Caplan, Philosophy

Ben Caplan."Doing Ontology: The Case of Music and Fiction"

This lecture focuses on what are musical works and fictional characters. Do they exist? If so, where are they located in space and time? And what sorts of things are they anyway? Caplan will discuss recent work on these questions, which has tended to place a lot of emphasis on how we ordinarily think and talk about musical works and fictional characters.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014: Angela Brintlinger, Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures

Angela Brintlinger.“It’s About Genre”

Brintlinger has worked on biography, the short story, the novel, plays, poetry, and the essay. She has translated essays, dramatic scenes, poetry, literary biography and scholarly articles. She is fascinated by the epistolary and the diary forms, and has written letters, reviews, essays, and blog posts. In her inaugural lecture, she will look at the ways in which the idea of genre has affected her writing and thinking about language and the word.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014: Alice Conklin, History

Alice Conklin.“Down from the Ivory Tower: Anthropology and Anti-racism at UNESCO, 1945-1955”

Conklin’s lecture considers what happened when a global network of idealistic social scientists based in Paris got caught up in the power politics of the early Cold War.  Lessons from the past, she argues, can illuminate the possibilities and perils facing intellectuals today who seek to use their science to make a difference in the world.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014: Lisa Florman, History of Art

Lisa Florman.“The End of Tradition as Traditionally Conceived”

This lecture will explore the dramatic changes that artistic “tradition” underwent in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Florman argues that understanding the relation of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon to earlier works of art (including works outside of the Western tradition) may also help us think through some of the complexities of the multicultural and transcultural work being produced today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014: Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, History

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu."Afro-Asian Love and Politics in the Era of Bandung and Viet Nam"

This multi-media presentation draws from Wu’s past experiences as a student activist in multi-cultural politics of the late 1980s as well as her book, Radicals on the Road:  Internationalism, Feminism, and Orientalism during the Viet Nam War (Cornell 2013).  She explores how  travels across space and time fostered intimate and political relationships between people of diverse racial, gender, and national backgrounds.  These journeys provide an opportunity to examine how individuals and ideas traveled across geopolitical borders, how personal and political networks formed, and how identities and ideologies were discovered, negotiated, and represented.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014: Andrew Shelton, History of Art

Andrew Shelton."A Passion For Ingres"

Shelton’s lecture will address the role of passion in both the production and  reception of the art of the 19th-century French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.  The talk will also preview an exhibition he will be curating at the Columbus Museum of Art for autumn 2015, Ingres's Passion: Raphael and the Fornarina.

2012-2013 Inaugural Lectures

Ken Rinaldo.Wednesday, October 24: Professor Ken Rinaldo


"Symbiogenesis: When Biological & Algorithmic Species Meet"


David Steigerwald.Wednesday, November 7: Professor David Steigerwald


"Whatever Happened to Alienation? An Exercise in the Sociology of Knowledge from James Dean to the Unabomber"


Chan Park.Tuesday, November 27: Professor Chan Park

East Asian Languages and Literatures

"Mourning Becomes Song: The Ritual Origin of Korean Music Revisited"


David Stebenne.Wednesday, January 16: Professor David Stebenne

History and Law

"Economically Necessary vs. Politically Possible: The Crisis of the 1930's and Its Consequences"


Dorothy Noyes.Tuesday, February 5: Professor Dorothy Noyes

English and Comparative Studies

“Inimitable examples? Gesture and Tradition in Western Political Reform”


Jared Gardner.Wednesday, February 20: Professor Jared Gardner

English and Film Studies

"Popular Serialities and Reading Communities, 1787-2012"


Richard Torrance.Tuesday, March 5: Professor Richard Torrance

East Asian Languages and Literatures

"It's Tough Being a Man Revisited: Nostalgia or Parodic Realism?"


Lúcia Costigan.Wednesday, March 27: Professor Lúcia Costigan - CANCELLED

Spanish & Portuguese

"Between Prophecy and Politics: Descendants of Sephardic Jews during the Spanish and Portuguese Dual Monarchy (1580-1640)"


Chadwick Allen.Tuesday, April 9: Professor


"Re-scripting Ohio: Earthworks, Native Writing, and the (Im)possibilities of Indigenous Studies at Ohio State"


Maria Palazzi.Tuesday, April 16: Professor Maria Palazzi


"Synchronous Objects: A model for multidisciplinary collaboration"

2011-2012 Inaugural Lectures

Frank Donoghue.Wednesday, Oct 19: Professor Frank Donoghue


"How I Got from There to Here: Confessions of a Wayward English Professor"


Kai Hammermeister.Tuesday, November 15: Professor Kai Hammermeister

Germanic Languages and Literatures

"Defending Art against its Interpreters"


Linda Myers.Tuesday, April 17: Professor Linda Myers

African American & African Studies

"Black Again"


Ron Emoff.Wednesday, May 2: Professor Ron Emoff


"Ethnomusicology, Forest People, and Postcolonial Affects"


Wendy Hesford.Wednesday, May 16: Professor Wendy Hesford


"States of Exception: Children's Human Rights and the Humanities"


Lúcia Costigan.Wednesday, April 4 (Postponed to 2013): Professor Lúcia Costigan

Spanish & Portuguese