Lectures take place during Common Hour, 12:15p.m. - 1:30p.m.
November 10, 2022, Dangremond Family Commons
Ibrahim Shikaki, Assistant Professor of Economics
Measuring Functional Distribution of Income in the Palestinian Economy
Recently, ample research has been produced on the impact of Israeli policies on the Palestinian economy. What is missing is examining the effect of structural and institutional changes on the income distribution within the Palestinian society. Dr. Shikaki’s lecture will discuss a remedy for this shortcoming which provides a refined time-series data set on the wage share in the Palestinian economy during the last 50 years. The wage share is a key concept in studying the functional distribution of income, that is, how national income is divided between labor income (the wage share) and capital income (the profit share). Similar to other developing countries, the institutional capacity to provide data for calculating the wage share in the Palestinian economy does not exists. Moreover, the peculiarity of developing countries including the size of informal work (and self-employment) necessitates a more nuanced measure than what is implemented in advanced industrial countries. The project tackles both those shortcomings and suggests an innovative alternative to measuring the wage share.
March 2, 2023, Dangremond Family Commons
Chloe Wheatley, Associate Professor of English
Epic Adapted for the Anthropocene
Dr. Wheatley will dive into her research interest in epic poetry and the history of this genre’s vital and ongoing adaptation, with a focus on the work of the internationally renowned contemporary poet Alice Oswald.
April 13, 2023, Dangremond Family Commons
Dario Euraque, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of History and International Studies
A Honduran and the Modernity of his Country: a Biography of Rafael Lopez Padilla (1875-1963)
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. 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.
Lecture Series in Past Years
February 24, 2022:
Shafqat Hussain, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian Studies
Human-Wildlife Conflict in Pakistan: An anthropological Perspective
Following the downgrading of the snow leopard’s status from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2017, debate has renewed about the actual number of snow leopards in the wild and the most effective strategies for coexisting with these enigmatic animals. Evidence from Pakistan and other countries in the snow leopard’s home range shows that they rely heavily on human society—domestic livestock accounts for as much as 70 percent of their diet. Maintaining that the snow leopard is a “wild” animal, conservation NGOs and state agencies have enacted laws that punish farmers for attacking these predators, while avoiding engaging with efforts to mitigate the harms suffered by farmers whose herds are reduced by snow leopards. Based on ethnographic field, I argue that characterizing this conflict as one between humans (farmers) and wildlife (snow leopards) is misleading, as the real conflict is between two human groups—farmers and conservationists—who see the snow leopard differently.
March 31, 2022
Eric Galm, Professor of Music
Finding Needles in Haystacks: Evanira Mendes Birdman and Brazilian Folklore
Folklore has played a prominent role in the definition of Brazilian identity since the Modern Art movement of 1922, in which prominent intellectuals attempted to forge a national identity, drawing from the country’s regional popular expression. Since 2004, I have conducted ethnographic research with Evanira Mendes Birdman, a Brazilian musician and folklorist who worked with the São Paulo Folklore Commission in the 1950s. She was a friend and colleague of some of the most important Brazilian literary figures of the era, received an national medal for service to the field of folklore, and author of some 80 columns published in a weekly São Paulo newspaper. Despite this prolific production, Ms. Birdman’s name and contributions have not been incorporated into historical accounts that chronicle the Brazilian folklore movement. Ms. Birdman, now in her 90s, relates intriguing first-person accounts of stories and songs from rural wandering troubadours, participatory research in Afro-Brazilian community dances, and observation and critique of Brazilian modern artistic expression in the theaters of São Paulo. In this presentation, I discuss some of the many challenges I faced in corroborating her own accounts with archival materials and other records.
MARCH 11, 2021:
Pablo Delano, Charles A. Dana Professor and Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Fine Arts
Uncovering The Museum of the Old Colony
Pablo Delano will discuss the trajectory of his project The Museum of the Old Colony, with an emphasis on work completed during the period of the Dana Research Professorship. The Museum of the Old Colony is a conceptual art installation that examines the complex and fraught history of U.S. colonialism, paternalism, and exploitation in Puerto Rico. Various versions of the installation have been exhibited at art museums and galleries in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean.
APRIL 1, 2021
Abigail Fisher Williamson, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Law and Director of CHER
Whose Health Deserves Investment? Findings from the AmeRicans’ Conceptions of Health Equity Study (ARCHES)
The AmeRicans’ Conceptions of Health Equity Study (ARCHES), is an interdisciplinary, two-phase investigation of how Americans form and change their views about who deserves what in the health realm. Phase I, from 2018-2019, included 170 interviews with a diverse range of community leaders, health professionals, and residents in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. In Phase II, findings from these interviews were tested in a nationally representative survey in October 2020. The lecture will share key findings from survey experiments, including how perspective-taking exercises can increase Americans’ support for health equity, as well as how experience of hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic affects views on health equity.
APRIL 29, 2021
Sarah Bilston, Professor of English
Women and Creative Practice in the Victorian Suburban Home
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.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020:
Lin Cheng, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor
Characterizing Large Scale Vehicular Networks from Realistic Road and Traffic Environment
While crash and proximity sensors create the “safety bubble” for high-end vehicles today, wireless on-board units will empower future vehicles for everyday people to form Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (VANETs). In VANET, vehicles exchange and relay messages wirelessly so drivers can look further away in space and farther ahead in time. This Dana Professorship talk will discuss some of my newest work on characterizing large scale vehicular networks, integrating real-world road environments and traffic data extracted from empirical measurements. I will present a number of network characteristics resulting from realistic simulations for tens of thousands of vehicles.
FEBRUARY 27, 2020:
Per Sebastian Skardal, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Fireflies, Power Grids, and Parkinson’s Disease: What Mathematical Modeling and Coupled Oscillators Tell Us About the Science of Synchronization
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.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2019:
Rosario Hubert, Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies
The Surface of the Ideograph
While Chinese classical poetry was a crucial reference for modernism at large, Chinese scriptural poetics did not penetrate in Latin America’s textual tradition as it did in its visual arts. It was not traditional lyricists but visual poets, translators and plastic artists working on the intersection of these fields who innovated poetically by engaging with the texture of the Chinese script. By exploring the physical dimension of writing (instrumentation, support, interface) in handcrafts, design and painting this talk casts light on the material dimension of the Chinese script and its transformations in world literature.
OCTOBER 24, 2019:
Kevin Huang, Assistant Professor of Engineering
Teleoperation – Controlling Robots at a Distance
Robots offer practical physical advantages over human beings, e.g. they are stronger, faster, more repeatable and precise. However, robotic autonomy is not yet amenable to dynamic and unpredictable environments. Humans on the other hand are adaptable and adept at making high-level decisions on-the-fly. Marrying the flexibility and understanding of humans with the physical advantages of robots produces a powerful combination, and effectively extends human intervention to spaces that are too dangerous or otherwise inaccessible. In this talk, I will describe a few pieces of published and ongoing work that investigate the design of teleoperated architectures to improve user performance as well as a novel modality in which human operators are tasked with controlling the gait of legged robot devices.
NOVEMBER 21, 2019
John Platoff, Professor of Music
An Opera is Not What You Think it is: Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti and Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Today an opera is thought of as a complete and unchangeable work of art, much like a novel or a film. But in Mozart’s time, an opera was fluid and evolving; from the very beginning it reflected negotiation and compromises among the composer, the librettist (who wrote the text), and the singers who would perform it. And once an opera moved beyond its original theater to other cities, it might be extensively altered without the composer’s control or even knowledge. In this talk I will demonstrate how this fluidity in operatic transmission affected the presentation and meaning of an opera, using as my examples a highly popular comic opera (from 1783) that is largely forgotten today, and Mozart’s famous masterpiece Don Giovanni (1787).
FEBRUARY 28, 2019
Christopher Hager, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of English
Illiterate: A Brief History of an American Prejudice
“Illiterate” means “unable to read,” and when large numbers of Americans were, in fact, unable to read, that meaning was ascendant; but as education became more or less universal, and illiteracy in this strict sense became uncommon, emphasis shifted to its other meaning—in the Oxford English Dictionary’s phrasing, “characterized by ignorance or lack of learning or subtlety.” An often neutral demographic marker became a pejorative, and illiteracy, once a social problem to be alleviated by education, became an identity trait almost as powerful as ethnicity. Cruising across centuries of American history, this talk explores this transformation, its effects, and its bearing on cultural divides based on education in the U.S. today.
MARCH 7, 2019
William H. Church, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry and Neuroscience
“Nip it in the Bud” – In Search of Biomarkers for Early Detection of Parkinson’s Disease
A significant roadblock to developing useful therapeutic strategies for Parkinson’s Disease is that patients don’t present with clinically relevant symptoms until the loss of the brain cells responsible for the disease has reached 70% or greater. The ability to accurately determine if cell death is taking place prior to clinical presentation might provide a strategic advantage in diagnosing and managing the disease. This presentation will report on work done in identifying and measuring candidate biomarkers in blood from a rodent model of Parkinson’s Disease. The development of an analytical method using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry and the correlation of these candidate biomarkers to dopamine cell loss will be presented.
APRIL 25, 2019
Yipeng Shen, Associate Professor, Language and Culture Studies and International Studies
Wolf Totem and 21st-Century Chinese Ecological Fiction
Through descriptions of religious rituals, folk traditions, and nomadic life on the Inner Mongolian steppe, the 2004 novel Wolf Totem compares the cultures of the ethnic Mongolian nomads and the Han Chinese farmers and condemns the agricultural collectivization imposed on the nomads by the Han settlers in the 1970s. My research explores the cultural meanings of Wolf Totem as a seminal case of 21st-century Chinese ecological fiction. Particularly, it reassesses the Confucian idea of “The Fusion of the Heaven and the Human” in the discursive context of global indigeneity, “ecoambiguity” (Karen Thornber 2012), and Chinese globalization.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2018
Meredith Safran, Associate Professor of Classical Studies
The Aeneid in America: From First Contact to Final Frontier
Unlike Homer’s Trojan War epics the Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil’s Aeneid, in which the Trojan refugee Aeneas fulfills his destiny by founding the future site of Rome, enjoys little popular recognition in the United States today. Yet for centuries, the Aeneid was crucial to the formation of American identity and continues to exert unrecognized influence. This talk traces the Aeneid’s influence from the colonial period to the post-9/11 television series Battlestar Galactica.
OCTOBER 25, 2018
Kent Dunlap, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Biology
Evolution of Brain Size and Brain Cell Production in Trinidadian Killifish
Brain size and structure varies tremendously among animals. Usually, biologist analyze this variation between species. However, from such studies, it is difficult to identify which evolutionary forces have influenced the brain. Here, I examine brain size and brain cell production among populations in a single killifish species (Rivulus hartii) living streams in Trinidad. These populations differ in one primary way: the level of predator exposure. Compared to fish living predator-free populations, fish living among abundant predators have smaller brains. However, they produce new brain cells at a higher rate, suggesting that they might be more flexible in their behavioral responses. This study demonstrates that predators are likely a potent evolutionary force shaping the brains of fish.
NOVEMBER 29, 2018
Janet Bauer, Associate Professor of International Studies
The Social (and Moral) Geographies of Islam in Diaspora: a project in search of its theme
This presentation provides an introduction to my multi-sited, longitudinal ethnographic project on diaspora and inclusion in muslim-minority societies in the West and articulates some of the conceptual issues this research poses for comparative diaspora studies. It will highlight the impact of gender, generation and race on the diaspora imperative to create local identities and belonging through translocal connections as well as the role of engagement (or non-engagement) with heritage Islam, using cases from the Caribbean, North America, and Europe.
2017-2018 Lecture Series
Tim Cresswell, Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, Professor of American Studies Fence
A Topopoetic Exploration of Place and Connection
Joseph Byrne, Fine Arts
Connemara Paintings: Excavating Place. Constructing Memory
Michelle L. Kovarik, Chemistry
Quick, Small, and Complicated: Meeting the Challenges of Single Cell Measurements of Stress Responses
Sarah A. Raskin, Psychology and Neuroscience
Remembering to Remember
Shafqat Hussain, Anthropology
Political Economy of Snow Leopard Conservation in Pakistan
Shane Ewegen, Philosophy and Julia Goesser Assaiante, Language and Culture Studies
The Task of Translator(s)
Sara Kippur, Language and Culture Studies
Transatlantic Pacts: America and the Production of Postwar
2016-2017 Lecture Series
Chris Hager, English
Letters of the Unlettered: Class, Literacy, & Communication in the Civil War
Cheyenne S. Brindle, Chemistry
Using Organic Triarylcations as Tunable Catalysts for “Green” Chemical Reactions
Stefanie Chambers, Political Science
Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations
Abigail Fisher Williamson, Political Science and Public Policy and Law
Welcoming New Americans? Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation
Anne Lambright, Language and Culture Studies
Yuyachkani’s Human Rights Theater: Modes of Theorizing beyond Academia
2015-2016 Lecture Series
Dan Román, Music
Music of the 21st Century: A New Common Practice?
Jack Dougherty, Educational Studies
On The Line: Hartford’s Urban-Suburban History in an Open Access Book
Joseph Palladino, Engineering
Biomechanics of the Heart
Ellison Findly, Religion
Lao Shamanism and the Mythic Imagination
Jim Trostle, Anthropology
Some adventures in global health and interscalar travel
2014 – 2015 Lecture Series
Kifah Hanna, Language and Culture Studies
Love and Desire in Lebanese War Literature
Zayde Gordon Antrim, History and International Studies
Mapping the Middle East
Martha Risser, Classics
Sacred Space at the Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia during the 6th through 4th Centuries BCE
John Platoff, Music
Francesco Benucci, Nancy Storace, and Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti in Vienna
Kent Dunlap, Biology
Ecology of the Brain: How Social Interactions and Predators Influence Brain Cell Production in Electric Fish
Kevin J. McMahon, Political Science
The Mass is Over: Law, Politics, and the Death of the Great American Church
2013 – 2014 Lecture Series
Pablo Delano, Fine Arts
The Lives of Photographs: Puerto Rico 1980 and Beyond
Brett Barwick, Physics
Imaging at the femtosecond and nanometer scales with ultrafast electron microscope
Lida Maxwell, Political Science
Zola, the Dreyfus Affair, and the Politics of Lost Causes
Scott Gac, History and American Studies
An Attempt to Reduce them my Force: George Washington and the Origins of a Violent American State
Scott Smedley, Biology
Into the Woods: How Human Activity, Past and Present, Influences Connecticut’s Forest Wildlife
Jeffrey Bayliss, History
Western Sport, Eastern Empire: the Dilemma of the Colonial Athlete in Imperial Japan