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.

5-6:30 p.m., Faculty Club, Grand Lounge
Reception will accompany each lecture. Free and open to the public.

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