Spring 2014

Writer, artist, and New York City Fellow at the Heyman Center (2007) Art Spiegelman presents an innovative hybrid of slides, talk, and musical performance created in collaboration with acclaimed jazz composer Phillip Johnston. For more information and tickets, visit the BAM events page.

As part of the Disciplines Series: Evaluation, Value, and Evidence, authors Alison Piepmeier, George Estreich, and Rachel Adams take up many of the questions raised in our November 2013 event on "Genes, Children, and Ethics" (featuring Michael Berube, Faye Ginsberg, and Rayna Rapp) in their discussion of "Parenting, Narrative, and Our Genetic Futures." Elizabeth Emens chairs.  

Poets talk about the scholarly resources that inspire them, including poetry anthologies, rhyming dictionaries, standard dictionaries, handbooks of poetic forms, and other resources, such as the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (the latest edition of which was published in 2013). Co-sponsored by Public Books.

Creative Writing Lecture Series: Elif Batuman

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In conjunction with the Creative Writing Lecture Series at the School of the Arts, the Heyman Center for the Humanities presents a discussion on the craft of writing with Elif Batuman. Elif Batuman is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a 2010 National Book Critic Circle’s Award.  

The anthology Local/Express considers what was changing, how, and why in the ‘90s in NYC. The title features seminal work from the ‘90s paired with new reflections about the confluence of arts, activism, and community and the legacies of this cultural moment. Come join us as we celebrate the release of this exciting new anthology from the publishers of the Asian American Literary Review. The evening will include readings by contributors Marie G. Lee, Sung Rno, Monique Truong, and Swati Marquez and Chin. Hosted by co-editor Terry Hong. 

Around the year 2000, a massive conceptual mutation occurred in the neuronal sciences. After the brain had been a chemical, synaptic organ for almost half a century, a new way of thinking and knowing the nervous system emerged –– a biological and cellular way that Tobias Rees would like to call “after neurochemistry.”  

Global inequality remains a deep and abiding issue for our times, even despite the emergence of countries of the south such as China, India, Brazil, etc. Indeed many have argued that form of emergence leaves inequalities as deep as ever even in those countries, creating only a larger metropolitan middle class.

Sounding Communities: Music and the Three Religions in Medieval Iberia

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - Friday, February 28, 2014

Poetry, song, and other forms of performance in Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Romance are central sources for the cultural and social history of medieval Iberia. This international conference brings together scholars of music, literature, and history to reflect on the insights that the sounding arts and their context can offer into Iberian communities and the interactions among them.

Columbia University welcomes back leading sitar player, Shujaat Husein Khan, and virtuoso tabla player, Samir Chatterjee, for a concert at Miller Theatre.

Toril Moi, James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies and Professor of English, Philosophy, and Theater Studies at Duke University, will give the spring 2014 Lionel Trilling Lecture.      

As a follow-up to the Lionel Trilling Seminar, Toril Moi offers a faculty and student workshop at the Heyman Center. Open to all faculty and students at Columbia University.

Are we our brains? Or, more precisely: how and in what contexts have the claims that “we are our brains” or that “the mind is what the brain does” become naturalized to the point they have by the first decade of the 21st century?  

The Disciplines Series
The History of Poverty in Africa: A Central Question?

Thursday, March 6, 2014 - Friday, March 7, 2014

In the popular mind, Africa exemplifies poverty. Media coverage focuses on destitution. Recent focus on a growing elite serves to emphasise the abject condition of the majority. This discourse depicts African poverty as timeless or as gripped in a worsening spiral. Africanist historians have long called for the historical study of the African poor with the argument that the most ‘useful’ or ‘usable’ aspect of African history could be to find solutions to poverty in Africa by developing historical understanding of the phenomenon.

An Inconsolable Memory: Films of Aryan Kaganof

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

South African independent filmmaker Aryan Kaganof will present and discuss his selected films, most of which have never been seen in the United States. He will be joined in discussion by Richard Peña, Professor of Professional Practice in Film at School of the Arts at Columbia; Hlonipha Mokoena, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia; Sean Jacobs; Assistant Professor of International Affairs at The New School; and Anna Grimshaw, professor of Anthropology at Emory University.

Internationally acclaimed writer and director Sulayman Al Bassam in conversation with his collaborator Georgina Van Welie on making theatre across the cultural divide. Political by definition, performed in both English and Arabic with actors and a creative team from across the Arab world and the West, their projects have revisited Western texts from an Arab perspective and challenged Western perceptions of the Arab world.  The Petrol Station will play at The Kennedy Center in the 2014-2015 season. 

This Society of Fellows talk, organized by Brian Goldstone and Grant Wythoff, addresses the topic of materiality in a discussion between Bernhard Siegert, Gerd Bucerius Professor of History and Theory of Cultural Techniques, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and Ben Kafka, Associate Professor, Departments of Media, Culture, and Communication and History at New York University.

Drones and the Obama Administration

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School and reporter for the The New Yorker, will deliver a talk on the Obama administration's use of drones. Coll will be in discussion with Manan Ahmed, Assistant Professor of History at Columbia, and Philip G. Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University.  

The Disciplines Series
Botanically Queer

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Plants have been profoundly queer players in the modern project of describing "life" for ethical and political consideration. From their taxonomic destabilizations of colonial order in the eighteenth century to their current questionings concerning agency in recent posthumanist discourses, plants demand that we think about living, being, and becoming in ways that interrupt anthropocentric and heteronormative figurings of ethics, agency, futurity, and life in general.

William Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, will lead a discussion on the idea of development as an authoritarian concept. The commentator for the talk will be Gregory Mann, Associate Professor of History at Columbia. Michele Alacevich, Associate Director of Research Activities, Heyman Center for the Humanities and Diplomatische Akademie Wien, will chair the talk.

The Graduate Writing Program at the School of the Arts and the Heyman Center for the Humanities welcome award-winning poet Jorie Graham.    

History and Psychoanalysis During the Postwar Period

Friday, April 4, 2014 - Saturday, April 5, 2014

Organized by Prof. Michal Shapira, Tel Aviv University, and cosponsored by the New York Area Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History. Despite the continuous interest in psychoanalysis as a modern system of thought and interpretation, the history of the discipline and the study of analysts other than Sigmund Freud are still developing. This two-day conference will bring together historians, gender studies scholars, and psychoanalysts to explore the impact of the Second World War on psychoanalysis in the post-1945 era and of psychoanalysis itself on different postwar societies and cultures. Full schedule at document link.

As part of The Writing Lives Series at the Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race's Artist at the Center Series, author Junot Díaz will read from his work and discuss his writing. Díaz will be in discussion with Alondra Nelson, Professor of Sociology at Columbia, and Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia. Note: Due to the large crowd expected at this event, please arrive early. The event space holds 400 people. We cannot exceed the room capacity for safety reasons and cannot let in any attendees over 400. Thank you for your understanding.

Author Jeffrey Eugenides will discuss the craft of writing. The event is part of the Heyman Center for the Humanities Writing Lives Series and the Columbia School of the Arts Creative Writing Lecture series. Jeffrey Eugenides is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Middlesex, and the greatly acclaimed novel The Virgin Suicides. His most recent novel, The Marriage Plot, won prizes for the best foreign novel published in France. Note: Due to the large crowd expected at this event, please arrive early. We cannot exceed the room capacity for safety reasons. Thank you for your understanding.  

1943 stands out as a year of transitions. Developments, ranging from Italy’s capitulation to the achievements of national liberation movements, illustrated the reverse of the tide and the victorious prospects of the United Nations; questions of social, economic, and political reconstruction produced novel forms of international cooperation; diverse “blueprints for tomorrow” reflected aspirations and concerns, while their implementation generated tensions that undermined the cohesion of antifascist unity. 

Refugees from states devastated by civil war and terrorism pose a challenge to the international community, which creates 'humanitarian' practices to contain and monitor refugees in order to deliver charity while reducing the risks refugees are perceived as posing to the international order and to individual nation-states.   

The Visualizing Universalism symposium coincides with the opening of a new exhibition at Columbia University’s the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Buell Hall publicly displaying the original UNESCO Human Rights Exhibition and its archive for the first time in sixty years. UNESCO’s Human Rights Exhibition from 1949 was the first international event that sought to visually represent the history and meaning of the then-recently adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Toleration involves many paradoxes. One we might call the paradox of uniformity: while the point of toleration is diversity, every particular theory of toleration--and the institutional regime of toleration that embodies or expresses it--likely rests on a vision of political life or human existence that is more consistent with some belief systems than with others.  To request papers to read in advance of the event, please email William Lowrance at [email protected].

Good bookkeeping makes for good government—but not for very long—according to this history of accounting in the public sphere. Please note: Seating is limited for this event.

Among the most striking trends charted in the humanities in recent years has been the remarkable investment made in trying to understand modern capitalism. This conference seeks to profit from that boom by bringing together a range of scholars from the various disciplines that have developed novel methods for studying economic life: history, sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies, literary studies, as well as economics, accounting, and business studies. Please note: Seating is limited for this event.

As part of the Writing Lives Series, the Heyman Center for the Humanities presents an evening with poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje—author of the Booker Prize winning The English Patient. Ondaatje will read from his work and a Q&A will follow. Michael Ondaatje will be in conversation with Saskia Hamilton, Professor of English at Barnard College, and C.D. Wright, I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University. Sonali Deraniyagala, Author of Wave and Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia, will provide an introduction. Please note: Seating is limited for this event.

Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being, will be in conversation with Ellis Avery, Author of The Teahouse Fire and The Last Nude. Sharon Marcus, Editor in Chief of Public Books and Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, will moderate the conversation.

Philosophy as a Public Humanity

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Max Hayward, Public Humanities Fellow at the Heyman Center for the Humanities, will present a discussion on the conception and implementation of Rethink, a philosophy community outreach program that runs philosophical talks with court-involved youth in Harlem.

Join us at the Heyman Center for an Evening of Poetry and Performance with poet Rodrigo Toscano, poet and visual artist Julie Patton, and bassist and composer Brad Jones.

Hedonistic psychology – the attribution of human motivation to aversion to pain and attraction to pleasure – has a long history, stretching from Thomas Hobbes to B. F. Skinner, and beyond. Starting from contemporary investigations of the psychology of appetite, addiction, and reward, this talk will ask what we might learn from the history of the science of pain and pleasure. 

This one-day workshop positions Eastern and Central Europe as a critical field for global modern knowledge by looking at the “betweenness” of East Central European intellectuals and their contributions to the history of social science in the twentieth century.  Workshop with pre-circulated papers. Registration required by Monday, May 12, email [email protected].  


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