Lecture Series

Spring 2020

Lectures take place during Common Hour, 12:15p.m. - 1:15p.m. in Dangremond Family Commons.
A light lunch is provided.

Thursday, FEBRUARY 27:

Fireflies, Power Grids, and Parkinson's Disease: ​What Mathematical Modeling and Coupled Oscillators Tell Us About the Science of Synchronization

Per Sebastian Skardal, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Many natural and man-made systems rely on robust synchronization of many smaller parts, including firefly mating patterns, cardiac pacemakers, and the power grid. On the other hand, excessive synchronization can be pathological, like in the human brain where Parkinson’s disease is linked with stronger-than-normal synchronization. In this talk we’ll explore a wide range of systems that exhibit synchronization and describe how to model these systems mathematically. This gives us a tool for studying large scale-behavior in such systems, allowing us to answer questions and explain behaviors in the original systems using properties such connectivity patterns between individuals.  


Thursday, MARCH 26:

Women and Creative Practice in the Victorian Suburban Home​

Sarah Bilston, Professor of English

The association of the suburbs with dullness and creative absence was well-established by the middle of the nineteenth century; the faster the suburbs grew, it seemed, the faster the stereotype of the boring, identikit suburbs took hold. Yet the very loudness of the complaints generated calls for an answer, for a creative practice that could bring beauty to the nation and foster social cohesion in a time of rapid growth and industrialization. My talk will examine the Victorian literature of suburban gardening and interior design, identifying suburban-set vernacular creativities as practices that offered women, in particular, powerful new forms of self-expression. Exploring women-authored how-to texts and design manuals, the talk considers what forms of creativity were possible for Victorian women and how the suburban home facilitated, even enabled, creative practice.  

Thursday, April 23:

A Honduran and the Modernity of his Country: a Biography of Rafael Lopez Padilla (1875-1963)

Dario A. Euraque, Professor of History and International Studies

Rafael Lopez Padilla (1875-1963) was a Honduran banana plantation cultivator and exporter, and a critic of the monopolistic stranglehold of the United Fruit Co. over the Honduran economy between the 1930s and his death in 1963. The United Fruit Co. was the most power U.S. multinational corporation in Latin America & the Caribbean until the late 1950s, mainly through cultivation and exports of bananas. Its most important base of operations was in Honduras between 1899 and 1954. Rafael Lopez Padilla’s complicated relationship with the United Fruit Co. and its impact on Honduran modernity in the 20th century is the central focus of this lecture.